Some of the ancients knew of the material outside the realm of our atmosphere as aether. Mexican artists Thomas Sanchez and Gilberto Castro don’t subscribe to their outdated rationale but are interested in the ethereal region that exists between art and interactive technology.
That is precisely why they named their new audiovisual installation Aether for, as the duo put it, “aether is not only the region between the universe and the earth” but is also viewed as “the element that fills the imperceptible region between the earth and [all] living beings.” That metaphysical link is in full array here as participants run their fingers across large format screens, and so, cause source footage of nebulas taken from the Hubble Space Telescope to respond in vivid fashion.
It’s like running your digits through a sentient cosmic pool.
It was shortly after the project was developed that it became clear to Sanchez and Castro that if they were going to be working with dynamic particles and transformational physics that the universe would have to be involved somehow. This way the microcosm, us, can interact with the macrocosm, that thing we’re still trying to understand and figure out, through the idea of symmetry.
As a part of a series of studies in geometric symmetry, then, Aether isn’t just about painting with pretty colors; Sanchez and Castro see it as an opportunity for participants to superimpose the “printed spirals in our fingerprints” onto the “spiral shapes of galaxies.” And is precisely why the artists don’t consider the installation a multitouch wall but rather a mirror of shapes.
While Aether isn’t the first new age artistic project to use the universe as a type of medium, it is one of the most concerned with interactivity. It is “all about making the audience part of the artistic process.” The duo go on: “we want that the audience feels deeply inserted in the piece, where they can transform and affect [the] particles with their own hands. We believe that interactivity is a tool that opens new doors and enables new ways of communication between art and technology.”
The communication between the two certainly starts at the meeting point for this particular project’s influences. Sanchez and Castro have not only been inspired by the contemporary wizardry of Memo Akten and Quayola but by the far-reaching pictorial hands of greats like Picasso and Nicolas Poussin, who may be further entrenched in artistic tradition but who also dabbled in their own science:
“We are definitely very inspired in the work of Memo Akten and Quayola," says the pair."For us, their work is fundamental for any serious study related to visual graphics and interactive technologies. Memo Akten and Quayola are the wizards, the shamans or alchemists of our time."
"Picasso's Seated Nude was our first visual referent. We start searching for visual representations of triangulations and mathematical forms in nature. Poussin's work was also...always in our minds. We used Picasso´s and Poussin´s work as a visual referent to study the code behind the painting, the mathematics hidden behind the pictorial forms.”
For more behind the audiovisual experience that reaches beyond our own earthly experience, check out the video below.
All images and GIFs are presented from source material that comes courtesy of artists Thomas Sanchez Lengeling and Gilberto Castro Esparza.