Bilbao’s SC Gallery proudly presents “Es lo que hay” (It is what it is), Jorge Isla’s first solo exhibition in this gallery.
The exhibition will be open until 8 April 2022 at SC Gallery.
Information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
A white square, a black square and a fistful of dollars
The white square is by Hiroshi Sugimoto. It appears at the center of a series of photos taken over the years in several locations around the world. The images are related to each other by two issues: the first is the architecture and the second is the white square. Perhaps everything we find is related to these two issues.
To talk about image is also to talk about where that image happens, how, how it is seen, how it is transported, how it is breathed, how it is touched…
Sugimoto’s structures are cinemas, theaters and drive-in theaters. These are spaces for the body and the contemplation of image, architecture designed to sit the body and to place image at the center. Rows, boxes and seats to accommodate different bodies facing the same point. It is also important to talk about how the machine, in this case the car, has been incorporated as a spectator and another body in these temples of image contemplation, building its own structure of drive-in movie theaters. It is a first step of unification of the image and the potential object of a specific social moment such as the automobile and all its economy, but let’s not cover that aspect yet. Let’s go back to Sugimoto’s cinemas. Seats, bleachers and boxes empty of people, but with all the machinery working perfectly. Architecture designed with a central element: the screen, the white square. A white square that illuminates the rest of the room. The series shows in a single photo a whole screen full of time, image and light. A white square that overflows with enough image to illuminate the whole place, because in these photographs what illuminates is not the light, but the image. A long exposure photograph that presents us with a white square containing a complete film. The idea of being able to contemplate a complete film in a single moment, in a single image, is fascinating. A white square containing an entire movie. A white square containing all the films in the history of cinema. They all fit there, they are all there… all the scenes, all the sequences are happening. It can be any film that can be projected in a cinema… Love, drama, horror, science fiction, documentary, martial arts… it is a single white square that gives us back all the stories that deserve to be told.
The black square is on us, in our hand, in our pocket, in front of our eyes. A flat, simple support with an inoffensive presence. It doesn’t require structures or architectures… it is not linked to great actresses or actors, it is not related to great geographical locations… except for San Francisco (where it is designed) and China (where it is manufactured).
If the cinema as a site is a structure for projection and contemplation, the cinema as a place has undergone the necessary transformations according to the social moment it has lived: it has been at once spaces of protection, of rest and comfort, of business, of violence, as well as a place of reconciliation, of confrontation and of conflict. Spaces for learning and also for disconnection, spaces for consumerism and capital but also for resistance, culture and conscience. Aren’t some of these premises the promises of the black square that Jorge Isla uses as a tool? Safer, more connected, closer, more operational.
The black screen of our phones is the place where current image lives. There is no need to remind the moment where we live when it comes to the production of images. More people producing images than consuming them, more people with the tools, skills and desire to produce images than at any previous moment in history. Never have so many still lifes, so many landscapes and so many portraits been produced, but we already know that. I don’t think it’s necessary to talk about data or numbers, everyone already knows what Instagram is, knows that the meta verse is coming and that you can get rich selling dunnowhat.nft, and it’s clear that the window to all these issues happen in a device that fits in our pocket. It has taken over the vehicle and automotive. Ford’s American dream has transformed into the desire to be the startup that launches the next app that everyone wants to download. All the images fit in that little black square. All the old images, all the contemporary ones and all the ones being developed.
As an exercise, let’s think about how many images have passed through the screen of our phone, of our black square. Let’s think, to give it a volume, how many sheets of paper we would need to print each image that has lived on our screen, even if only for a few moments: photos, videos, gifs, memes… What would that tower of paper be like, that immeasurable tower of sheets? Now, let’s add to our tower the amount of text read and written… and why not, let’s transcribe the conversations and audios we have sent and add it to the pile of paper. Well… when we see one of Jorge Isla’s black squares, built through accumulation, we are not only presented with a question of accumulation of emptiness… but of saturation. Those screens are not broken, they are finished. As an exercise, let’s imagine the towers of sheets that the images and the rest of the contents that have passed through the screens of one of those Jorge Isla’s black squares would occupy. Let’s envision the amount of images that make up the whole exhibition. An exhibition developed by black squares based on millions of images.
If Sugimoto’s white square is fascinating for its poetic ability to make us think of the idea of watching a movie in an instant, the idea that an image uploaded to Instagram has the capacity to be reproduced on every screen on the planet is terrifying. 6 billion supports to reproduce that image. Let’s not forget that Jorge Isla’s work is the work of a photographer.
A photographer who, in order to talk about image, has smashed the photographic device against the ground, putting the body at the center of the action. It is a very interesting gesture to present those little black squares smashed against the ground in order to talk about image: if the presentation were through pristine, perfect screens, we would not talk about image but about desire, design and economy. With those black squares smashed and accumulated, we can talk about scarcity of resources, of materials, of chips, of Covid, of a delayed world capitalism due to some mud in the Suez Canal… How fascinatingly evocative a crack in the right place is, and how quickly another image will come to take this one out of our minds.
Juan Pablo Ordúñez / Mawatres.