1. Congratulations on the selection of your interactive installation CONTROL NO CONTROL. What was your reaction upon hearing the news?
Even a few days since the reveal, it still seems quite surreal. CONTROL NO CONTROL has toured over 35 times around the world since its creation. It has also developed over the years, and we could not be more proud to unveil its most evolved, advanced, and refined version yet in front of none other than the Flatiron Building. We couldn’t have dreamed of a better context, in the middle of a buzzing city where people from all walks of life and backgrounds can explore and interact with our giant signature cube.
This also marks our NYC premiere. We never presented here, making this event even more special to us. While documenting the artwork at the Plaza, I was really struck by how far out I had to walk to take a photo of the installation with the Flatiron Building behind it. It really gave me perspective. It all happens on such a bigger scale in this city. It’s quite fascinating.
2. Tell us more about the concept, the inspiration, and its name.
CONTROL NO CONTROL is one of the studio’s first pieces and still proves relevant today as it continually draws people’s curiosity and creates magical moments of dialogue between humans and art through digital interaction. It was created as a sort of socio-digital experiment, exploring the relationship between participants and interactive art installations. This giant minimalistic cube tests the artwork’s ability to intrinsically instruct and delegate the final audiovisual result to the audience that, if curious enough, ends up gaining control of the piece as it reacts to everything that touches it and every movement performed on its surface.
After presenting it many times across continents and cultures, CONTROL NO CONOTROL revealed that people all over the globe tend to behave the same way around the cube, and all seemed to spend a lot of time engaging. This in turn suggests the ability of the artwork to manipulate the public as well, highlighting the back-and-forth nature of the control relationship.
Who controls who? This blurred notion or illusion of control is where, evidently, the title of the piece stems from.
3. What do you hope the public’s takeaway will be from engaging with your artwork?
All of our work is incomplete without public interaction. The challenge for us is thus to always find ways to attract the crowds and excite them to engage no matter where we are in the world. After 13 years of presenting this artwork elsewhere, we are finally testing our ability to achieve this in the heart of New York City, where the pace of life is unrelenting and audiovisual stimuli is omnipresent.
Our goal is to pierce through the NYC lights, the sirens, the traffic, and the overall madness of the city, and create special, personal moments suspended in time where life stops for a few minutes, sparking wonder and amazement in the eyes of all curious participants.
This falls right into our more general mission of turning cities worldwide into interactive museums, making digital art accessible to all, anytime. We are first and foremost public art creators, and our overarching objective is to create and share artworks with everyone who occupies public space, wherever that may be. We want encounters with interactive art to be a regular occurrence in people’s daily commutes and everyday city strolls.
4. Speaking of public spaces, Flatiron and NoMad are known for their striking architectural structures. What’s your favorite?
There may be some bias there, but truthfully speaking, the Flatiron Building is one that really stands out for me. Its peculiar and impressively flat shape speaks to my aesthetic, and seeing it standing tall behind our geometric clean-cut cube creates some sort of underlying communication between the two structures that is very appealing.
5. You’re a native of Colombia, Bogotá whose family migrated to Canada. In addition to being the founder of the Montréal-based digital art studio Iregular, you’ve also worked as a web developer and interaction designer. What inspired you to choose a career in the visual arts? For aspiring artists and studio business owners, what professional advice can you share?
I always like to stress that to me and Iregular, it’s audiovisual arts, and not simply visual arts. Music and sound are a central part of the art we create. As someone who makes and loves music, I have always been passionate about exploring ways to match music with a visual representation that makes it more easily intelligible. This journey led me to the realm of audiovisual art, which uniquely allows me to translate music into visual patterns that aim to echo the beats and rhythm intrinsic to sounds I like.
Reflecting on my experience, I strongly believe in the responsibility of an artist to publish and exhibit their work without succumbing to the notion of perfection as a hindrance to sharing. This is the main advice I can give: don’t endlessly delay showing your work and don’t be afraid to share your creations. It’s essential to recognize that growth stems from sharing one’s creations rather than hoarding them. I advocate for artists to throw their work out into the world, no matter how it is received, for withholding it only stifles the potential for collective evolution. Ultimately, sharing art isn’t just a choice; it’s a duty that contributes to the expansion and enrichment of the creative landscape.
6. When you’re visiting Flatiron and NoMad, how do you like to spend your time there?
I’m not a New York connoisseur, I haven’t been here much before, but I can share a discovery that I made during this very visit. I often go to Miami, where I always try to stay at the Freehand Hotel. I just discovered that it also exists in NYC! I spent a lot of time there this time around, and tried its restaurant/cafe. Just like in Miami, it carries this relaxed low-key vibe that I really enjoy, as opposed to the many more pretentious places that big cities tend to offer. It’s really pleasing, offers good coffee, good food, and is on the more affordable side.
7. Finally, choose three words to describe Flatiron and NoMad.