Various media studies + closing exhibition (graduate thesis)
GIFs, collages, diagrams, typography, charts, photos, sketches, binder, Adobe Premiere, Adobe Illustrator
Graduate Media Design Practices Studio (Pasadena, CA)
This line of research was inspired by what I learned over the summer working with skaters in Museo Tamayo (Mexico City), especially through observing the amount of enthusiasm the skateboarding community expressed towards intervening in fine art spaces. I was curious to know more about the relationship between these two disparate seeming yet equally artistically-inclined populations, especially in regards to their obsession and passion towards forwarding a certain cultural aesthetic.
In skateboarding, cultural aesthetics are delivered through means of videos that show off technical dexterity and precision of the skater’s engagement with urban space, in the forms of magazine ads, posters, zines and graphics that emphasize the countercultural and anti-capitalistic attitude of skating, and through the likes of the shared stylistics, tricks, looks, fashion, lingo, perspective or behaviors of skaters that became replicated by millions of practitioners in cities all around the world.
Whereas skaters, who live on the margins of mainstream culture and are often socioeconomically excluded from the Marxist society, often find themselves in a position where it becomes crucial to use their very bodies and existence to propagate their cultural aesthetics, fine art spaces on the contrary possess the means to construct physical architecture such as white box galleries to physically represent their aesthetic on an institutional scale and level.
Some of the original questions I brought into this conceptual space hit a dead-end (e.g., why do skaters love skating in galleries - besides the fact that the floor is super sleek?). But the various media studies were useful in 2 ways:
(1) I was able to play with different tools to visualize the creative processes and fundamental difference between skaters and museums, using things like collages, diagrams, flipbooks, illustrations, and typography. The GIFs, for instance, were first created as a way to emphasize the precise moment where skateboarding could be considered a political act (through how the skaters orient and use their bodies specifically in ways that allows them to subversively create conditions for play), but then evolved to provide context as to how both skaters and museums use construction as a delivery method to produce culture, which ended up also being a dead-end, but was an interesting concept to toy with.
(2) I realized that museum guards, and not museums, had a lot more in common with skaters than I initially thought. This insight led to a current project I’m working on: the guard and the city.
The project was also useful in delineating the history of institutional critique that was helpful for writing about my work in museums. Essentially, skate + museum studies served to create a critical through-line for my next set of research questions. What is the role that design can play to support non-institutional actors in negotiating greater spatial agency in institutional spaces? What can negotiations (that advance one’s agency or understanding of self through the reproduction of spatial meaning) look like as a form of spatial engagement – and what are its material and immaterial manifestations, histories, and implications?