Site specific interactive installation
Isidro Miranda Gallery, Buenos Aires, 2006 / Centro Cultural General San Martín, Buenos Aires, 2007 / Vitrum Hotel, Buenos Aires, 2008
Thermosynthesis is a series of sculptures made with lamps and alcohol thermometers ordered in radial ways imitating flowers. These thermometers vary their coloration according to room's temperature -that increases with people presence in the exhibition space-. In addition the sculpture's lamps of are activated by sensors that detect people. These lights irradiate heat and the thermometers fill themselves as the temperature increases. In some sculptures the temperature is limited by a thermostat -to protect the thermometers-, but in others this device does not exist and the spectator is able to blow some thermometers bulbs with his presence. This extreme interaction modifies the piece in an irreversible way, whit many "bleeding" thermometers.
Conversation on Termosíntesis -Thermosynthesis-between Cristian Segura (curator) and Martín Bonadeo
Cristian Segura:Have you ever built your own instruments? Martín Bonadeo: Yes, in the firsts shows that I took part in, the art spaces didn't have slide projectors for my installations, so I decided to make devices to project single slides. These handcrafted projectors weren't like regular ones, so people payed as much attention to the device as to the image it was projecting, – something that never happened with a Kodak projector. When I noticed this effect I decided to change the projectors' color to white and to install them over pedestal -like sculptures-, which increased the tension between the technology and the image. This choice to re-think and modify standard industrial technologies is repeated in many of my works. I like to use devices in ways that weren't thought by their designers. For example in Moebius display – a LED screen shaped as a Moebius strip –, I had to work with square modules to construct a curve, because a screen is always thought as something flat. In a world in which most people don't know the way the technologies they use everyday operate, the simple gesture of modifying a machine to make it different from an existing technology becomes an artistic fact. CS: Analyzing your work, I noticed that light – either natural or artificial – is a very important component, almost a key element in many of them. MB: Light – and darkness, its opposite – occupies a central place in my work since I began making art with the slide projector I told you about before. It's something that goes through all of my work. I love to generate experiences where there is a tension between light and the lack of it. CS: I also find special references to plants, landscapes, and nature… I'm thinking, for example, in your overexposed photographs of leaves and flowers – Ojos de Alcancía, (Japanese eyes); in the dome's windows covered with translucent images of landscapes –Horizonte en cúpula (Horizon on dome); and in the projections of insects on flower patterned wallpapers – Vánitas empapelado (Wallpapered vanitas). In addition, I know you are working in a new project to build a tree with robotic branches that grow and move constantly to produce the same projected shade regardless the time of the day, and even at night with artificial light. Tell me more about these interests. MB: Thousands of years ago occidental religions became monotheists; an only God concentrated the power of the whole pantheon of pagan divinities. This synthesis trimmed an enormous amount of rites and adorations to little and great natural wonders. The sun, for example, was venerated traditionally by all archaic cultures and today mysteriously this adoration is lost. We assume that each time the sun hides in the West it is going to appear the next morning in the East. There aren't any social tributes or sacrifices to help this process to continue. Some of my works were thought as little contemporary altars for adoration and understanding of this kind of phenomena. I believe that it is a distortion to think of man as something different from nature; I feel we are another element in a whole system, and we aren't better nor worse than other phenomena in this planet. There is something in observing the stars and their movements, and the plants and everything that surrounds us, that helps us understand what is in our being, in an attempt to connect us more. In many of my works I incarnate this will and develop a project from my own point of view. CS: In Termosíntesis -Thermosynthesis-, your installation for the show window of the gallery, you use light like a caloric power plant to activate the alcohol contained in glass capillaries, thermometers ordered as to form the shape of a flower that turns red in the presence of the spectator. MB: The origin of this piece is in my childhood, in my desire to avoid going to school. One day I discovered – or somebody told me and I soon verified it – that by putting the bulb of a thermometer near the lamp of my night light, it could raise up to 42 degrees, worrying anyone. This scaling of mercury was very fast and doubly satisfactory: On one hand it was beautiful and on the other it implied – with a little help of some acting – not going to school. Today I'm a father and I'm still playing and worrying with thermometers and their measurements. There's a great contrast between the cold mathematical quantification of temperature and the warm associations to the red color of the alcohol inside the thermometers. The decision of showing thermometers without their scales modifies their utility. If aesthetic is a utility. When you invited me to participate in this show window, I found an ideal place for this interactive thermo-sculptures. It is strange to find in Buenos Aires pedestrians that stop to observe the display window of an art gallery and it is not very common to enter to see an art show. The idea of doing something reactive in the street interested me. Each time somebody is detected by a sensor the circuit is activated. I also choose to concentrate the entire show window in a point –a square-and to maintain it dark until somebody passes and activates the flower. It is very common to walk at night in Buenos Aires and activate the monitor lights placed over the door of many buildings. This piece works in a similar way –during the day as well – but it uses the light's heat transforming it into something else. CS: What is the motivation behind the site specificity of your projects? MB: I believe that each piece works differently depending on the context in which it is exhibited. Depending on the moment and the place, the same work may cause very different readings. Most galleries, in an attempt to emulate 179 a scientific laboratory –theoretically neutral – are conceived as white cubes. Most of the times I'm not interested in placing an installation in that asepsis. The more baroque the place is and the more history it has, the more complex the plot constructed between the work and the space. In the case of the Galería Isidro Miranda, I think the window is one of its richest spaces. Termosíntesis -Thermosynthesis-is placed to give a plus to people who are walking in the street by engaging a dialog between the gallery and other public – who are not used to interact with art. Whenever I can, I try to work just outside the art spaces, attempting a link with the mass audience. I feel comfortable suggesting discourses that dialogue with the problems posed by each site. My first installations were thought specifically for different sites of the house where I grew up with my parents and there is something of that process which I repeat whenever somebody invites me to show my work. Although there are some pieces that may work in different spaces, most of my production is thought for specific moments and places. CS: We may say that Termosíntesis -Thermosynthesis-concentrates all your interests: the use of technologies, the experimentation with light, the reference to nature and the site specificity. MB: Yes, after this conversation I can see it concentrates all of these interests, but I didn't think about that until now. Obviously, there are some obsessions that always appear in different forms in each installation I produce.