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06 Jun 2018

Artist Interview | Carlos J. Gomez de Llarena

We caught up with former Lightbox Lab artist and recent Indigo Award winner to discuss his architectural influences and more. 

LB: You experiment with both physical and digital experiences. What is your philosophy behind these interactions?

CJG: I come from a family of architects and my mother is also a photographer. I have been engaged by architecture and cities all my life through this upbringing and by studying architecture in college.

At the same time, I was raised with the early computers and video games from the 80s and and logged into the wild internet of the 90s. To me these two worlds first collided when I started doing video art installations and VJ sets at raves in my hometown of Caracas, Venezuela. It all started as artistic exploration for me as I saw the potential of juxtaposing media with architecture in these early experiments.

When I came to study Interactive Telecommunications in 2000 at NYU’s ITP program, I took on the challenge of exploring this field further. I borrowed the term “Media Architecture” to explain what I envision since then: the design of hybrid spaces that combine built environments with digital technologies to create new spatial experiences which change our social relationships.

LB: What comes first? The art or the technology?

CJG: It’s not so simple, it depends on the case. I’ve started works from either side of this question. Sometimes I discover an interesting technology or hack that gives me an idea for a project, like the 1D Shadow (it was actually a bad setting on a software which looked great and made me pursue this in an installation).

Some other times I have an inspiration from looking at a space, an artwork or a situation that I am impressed with and which makes me want to communicate a new experience. An example of this is Freshkills Park+, an Augmented reality wayfinding app for New York City’s biggest new park and former landfill.



LB: You’re also a professor at Parsons School of Design. How does teaching influence your work? How do your students influence your work?

CJG: I started to teach four years ago to my students about the ways in which cities, architecture, technology and interaction design can be connected to solve challenges in public urban spaces. This is something I find intellectually rewarding as it keeps me engaged with research and critical thinking on a constant basis.

I learn much from my students because they come from many different cities all over the world and they are able to multiply the research efforts that I lead with them. I have also learned new technologies focused on mapping, data visualization, VR/AR and 3D printing from this practice, which I have incorporated into some of my own projects and R&D efforts at my studio.

LB: If not an artist or professor, then what would you be?

CJG: Probably an architect since that’s what I graduated in, and my family is also well know for that work in Venezuela.

LB: What is it about Lightbox that helps you deliver your vision? Why Lightbox?

CJG: When I first read about Lightbox I was blown away by the possibilities of this unique media space. Having a tall, spacious gallery fully covered in video mapping like this is simply an ideal canvas for any new media artist. I would like to do another project there in fact, they’re a great partner to work with.