"I became focused on screens since we were always staring at them": Gabriel Esteban Molina, artist
04 dec 2016 by Brooke Eastman
Gabriel Esteban Molina is a London-based artist originally from Canada. His practice is concerned with the fundamentals of how digital processes create imagery, the mimetic relationship between physical and digital phenomena, and the altering of perception through abstraction.
B.E. What are you currently working on?
G.E.M. Right now I am playing around with an analog camera, a Canon AE-1, which was a gift by a very generous studio mate. As well, I am working on some proposals for public art opportunities, as they challenge me to think outside my normal methods of working and producing.
B.E. You were recently featured in art:i:curate’s exhibition ‘Urban Bliss’ at Graphic Bar. Tell me about the work you displayed, Prt Scr II.
G.E.M. Prt Scr II is one of my favorite pieces particularly because it feels like you are looking at a lenticular print. The combination of dark spaces, the right amount of blur, and the color creates an effect that is unique to this piece. Somebody once told me that this piece made their ears ring, and I always thought it was cool that it literally evoked synesthesia in someone.
Gabriel Esteban Molina, Prt Scr II, Digital print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag mounted on aluminium, 2016.
B.E. How do you source inspiration for your work?
G.E.M. My inspiration comes from what surrounds me, as well as the medium I work in. Observation of my environment has always been a source of inspiration since my undergrad, and when I was working in traditional mediums, I used to take pictures of my friends and their technology as inspiration and references for paintings. Naturally, I became focused on screens since we were always staring at them, and I felt there was an interesting conversation between photography and video, and screens themselves. Nature is also a huge inspiration, and I've always been interested in patterns in nature, especially fractals and how they represent nature mathematically.
B.E. Could you tell me a bit about your artistic process?
G.E.M. The process itself can be inspiring and it usually is spurred by having a new device to play with, such as a new camera, lens, or screen. Sometimes its going back and looking at something I did months or years ago and seeing how I feel about it now. Maybe there was something there I didn't see then and might see it differently now. It's a methodological approach: going through the results of an initial burst of output and looking to see what works and what doesn't. Eventually an exhibition opportunity will lead me to take something that existed only as a JPEG or video online and try and figure out how to best give it form physically, whether it be a large scale print, or a projection.
B.E. You’re particularly interested in the relationship between digital and physical. How do your works address this relationship?
G.E.M. I found when photographing a screen that it gave it a sense of authenticity. What I was seeing was not computer generated, and that it was something that I actually photographed made it seem more real, even if it was on a screen. Working in macro heightens this feeling as sometimes the context of the source is completely erased and you really have no idea what you're seeing.
As well, I feel like the work exists between digital and physical in that sense, as it was made with a digital camera, which also lets me play around without the constraints of software and having total control. I learned from painting that sometimes accidents can be a blessing to the process. Glitch aesthetics harness the appearance of the unwanted or unintended in technology to make something interesting, especially in an age when the images we see are so tailored to convey a specific meaning. I think grainy pixelation, blur, and distortion are some things that highlight imperfection as both a goal and reminder that screens and the images on them were created by other people.
Gabriel Esteban Molina, Decreased, digital print on polypropylene vinyl, 2016.
B.E. What roles do form, scale and color play in your prints?
G.E.M. I try and exploit all these factors to create a visceral experience of viewing. Forms can give a sense of movement, texture and depth. The organic and basic nature of these forms is a call back to nature in all scales, be it astronomical or microscopic. The scale of the print is sometimes an experiment as well, but regardless of the size, having a print still lets you interact with the image as you would on a screen, you just have to walk away to zoom out or close up to zoom in, and because you're looking at pixels, it will look different up close, and may fall apart completely, or come together in a different way. Scale also dictates how you read the colors and in an impressionistic way. Our vision is made up of RGB just like the pixels on our screens combine in different ways to make other colors and forms. This way scale affects perception of color, and again references the micro and macro nature of reality.
B.E. What’s a typical day in your life?
G.E.M. Typically I am trying to pull myself away from screens, be it my phone, computer, or TV, so I can take care of things in real life, or I am pushing myself into screens, be it my phone, computer, or TV, so I can play around and make something interesting to look at. I used to work a night shift security job, which only worsened my screen habits, but it did make my work better.
B.E. In what way?
G.E.M. It really pushed me out of a normal life and drove me into a near total isolation, as I was never awake when anyone else was. I had just began this new body of work, and being constantly in front of screens showing me cameras recording nothing but neighborhoods and construction sites gave me ample time with my subject and medium.
B.E. What’s next for you?
G.E.M. I don't want to say too much, but 2017 will be a very busy year, so keep an eye out for any updates on my instagram or tumblr!
Gabriel Esteban Molina holds a MA in Fine Arts from Chelsea College of Arts London, (London, 2015) and a BFA in Fine Arts from University of Alberta, (Canada, 2013). He has been featured in Less Common Magazine (2016) and Aegir Magazine (2016). Exhibitions of his work include 'IMAGINARY | BOUNDARIES Part I', Bearspace Gallery Deptford, (London, 2016); 'Intertwined Perceptions', LV Gallery Deptford, (London, 2015); Chelsea College of Arts Postgraduate Degree Show, (London, 2015); Creative Practices Institute in Edmonton Canada, (Alberta, 2014).