Self-Interview Draft


Ricardo Santana

I have agreed to do this interview but I have a request and I would like it to be accepted. I do not want this interview to be an exercise in style.

What do you mean by an exercise in style?

I can think for example that we could make a backwards interview.

We could start at the end. Then we would have two options, the first would be to use the backwards as a tool to access the content, the second to present the interview as a backwards interview, which means that the interview would be read in the reverse order, beginning at the end. But I would like the interview to let me clarify certain terms of the content or at least point them out to leave me some space for reflection and further development. I think I prefer to focus on unveiling the thought, that’s why I would like the thought to remain visible. I am very interested in the point of view of the reader and the feedback that they can provide me.

Do you know that you are raising many problems? I think you’re claiming that the style is not content itself and I find that very un-artistic. Also you put me in a compromising situation, right now I do not know what kind of questions you would want to be asked.

Well maybe you could start by asking about my methodology.

Okay. What is your working methodology?

There are different channels that articulate my creative process, on the one hand is the theoretical issue or conceptual approach.

It mainly consists on reading texts that will provide me a context, an appropriate context. Then I try to understand the structural thinking of the writer and extract certain concepts that later will become practices in relation to my experience, my needs, my desires … This proceses of translation it is in itself a way of understanding, we can call it an educational tool but nevertheless there is not a didactic intention what underlies the practices. It is not easy to transform a concept into a practice, the practice should contain the concept more than represent it, and it has stand on its own. For example, if we talk about “Thought and Language” by Lev S. Vygotsky, I developed a practice out of organizing objects based on the categories that Vygotsky creates around the formation of concepts in animals and men. In this way objects were creating narratives through their organization. Something that interested me was to integrate my own body in the landscape of objects. This work, “La emocionante economía de los objetos en red” I never got to develop. I think I could make a fairly extensive list of works I ever did.

Another thing that helps me to deal with the references is developing grids that on one side summarize and organize the author’s thinking and secondly give a certain structure to the work, or at least to the process. These grids function as tools from which to develop practices. Using objects or other kind of technology are also recurrent principles in my work.

Maybe another step is the observation of the practice. Sometimes I record things but it is not the principal method of analysis. If I’m working alone, I am guided largely by what I feel when I run practices and these practices are giving me feedback, or in turn, informing me of the need of other guidelines to enrich them. When I work with others and I stand as an observer, strangeness is a concept that interests me, amuses me. I think that humor is essential in my work but I do not specifically do comedy, if I want to find humor I rather avoid it.

Usually when I’m working on something it becomes obsessive, so that times of daydreaming and sometimes insomnia produce a certain state of clairvoyance. Sometimes I wake up at night thinking of a project and I have a revelation, sometimes it develops and sometimes not. Sometimes I write things down and they make no sense when I read them again. Any time of the day can be a discovery; a conversation, an image, an occurrence. At this moments time functions in a circular manner. Casual becomes causal.

I always try to find my own production conditions, but these conditions are usually inserted in the course of what we call professional life. I deeply envy the ability of many friends to build their lives from their own desire. I guess it is a matter of choice but I also think it is a capacity that not everyone has, and of course I’m not talking about success. This is also part of my methodology, I would not call it a tool but certainly it is functional.

As you can see, and as it is usual in the work of many artists, work is endless and quite impossible to separate from all other areas of life, if we can still believe that life is made up of plots.

Why this interest in tools?

Basically because working with tools will divert you from working with the idea of ​​technique.

And what problems do you have with technique? Don’t you consider that “technique” works with tools? That each technique has its own tools?

Firstly, technique means to take for granted the principles upon which this technique is established and omits both the context in which this technique is developed and the operation of those principles in such contexts. So we face the problem of the universality of the term. does it operate under any circumstances? Can it be articulated by anyone? Where is its operativity and where is its agency? I think this problem leads us to the regimes of identification proposed by Ranciere in “Le Partage du Sensible”. Ranciere attributed to the images three regimes of different identification in Western history; the ethical, the poetic and the aesthetic. I think technique initially starts as part of the first and third regime but usually ends up inhabiting the second, with the disadvantage that it ends up losing the referent. From this point of view the work with techniques seems to be an alienation. I’m not disavowing educational processes or information processes that  are incorporated by almost all art schools, based on technical work, but I do consider that a reification is necessary each time that the technique is embodied, we need to take technique out of the flesh.

Regarding the second question the answer is yes. During the Carlos III Masters Program, I appropriated a definition of tool by Fernando Broncano, which would make a distinction between two types of tools: Tools for living, which would be the group of objects around us and without which we could not live as such as glasses, a bicycle, bottle, a notebook or an iPad … and on the other hand, tools for learning; which would another group that serves to develop skills such as the small wheels that we put on the bike when we begin to use it. In either of these two categories it becomes visible what is utilitarian or functional on tools and consequently a reference to a specific context on which they are operating. In my opinion the technical work would contain both types of tools. Actually the idea of ​​tool can be extrapolated and viewed from many perspectives and in different cases. The fact is, if the tool is intended and used as a tool. I think it’s important to bring it at the conscious level, but also we run the risk of alienating the tool.

Could you tell us about the work that you are developing now?

Right now I’m working on a project called “Reproduction” that is about producing a conversation between a group of people, at some point stops and he task is is to repeat  the conversation as originally happened. Once the tool is installed it can become more complex. There is a delay in time that produces new possibilities of meaning in that repetition. I am interested in these new circular and concentric meanings and how subjects appear within those micro-contexts. There are two other issues that I would emphasize. How much structure does a structure need? and how does a structure become inhabitable. These two still embryonic ideas, I think stem from the reading of Grammar of the Multitude by Paolo Virno.

Would you like to add something to finish?

I would continue but the truth is that time is short I hope we can meet again from August 4th when our schedules are more relaxed.


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