People enjoy many things about cannabis, ranging from relaxation to the mere fun it can provide. Some of the more “artsy” people, though, often bring up how their perception of “reality” is altered when high.
Interestingly, one does not always need to be high to question what one sees. In fact, there’s a special type of art conceived especially for that: optical art, or OpArt for short.
I rarely write about arts beyond music and film, but I decided to give it a shot one afternoon that found me reflecting about a particular Latin American artist and how his work always makes me wonder if I’m high – with the answer often being no.
Meet Paul Sende, an artist who explores the limits of perception, driving us to different space/time universes. Using lights, video projections, translucent materials and microcontrollers, he mixes both analog and digital worlds to make spectators trip without being stoned.
Even though I’ve been to numerous exhibits Paul presented in America and Europe, I vividly remember the first time I came across one of them. I was in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Walking past a garage with an open door, I heard music and murmurs, and decided to walk in.
The place looked like a barn, but it was filled with vintage art frames – and I mean thousands. Lights were off, and people were walking around with wireless headphones on.
As it turns out, this was part of the show too. The exhibit included two simultaneous live DJ sets. As I started exploring the gallery (Paul now tells me it was called Chien Noir, and that the building it has since been demolished to build an apartment complex), I noticed art pieces were hidden all around. Like a fly, I followed the lights in the dark.
I remember a particular sculpture made of acrylic, and retro illuminated with what seemed to be LED lights connected to some kind of microchip (an Arduino, maybe) programmed to turn them on and off following certain patterns. I heard the people around me ask the same question I was: is this a two-dimensional image or a three dimensional sculpture?
Shapes and lines, light and darkness, working together to defy the boundaries of perspective. This was the first of many times one of Paul’s pieces would make me have to stop and think if I had smoked a joint before going in.
I kind of recollect other art pieces Paul had put up there, like a series of “empty” frames with video mappings inexplicably moving in them, fixed backlight designs, smaller light sculptures, screen printed compositions… But that first sculpture suck with me.
Check out some other crazy pieces by Paul Sende.
“I started playing around with technology when I was a kid, disassembling old stuff and trying to make circuits with techno trash,” Paul told Civilized. “As a teenager, I experimented with animation software and started making little clips.”
“I remember the first time I saw a video of mine on MTV I was 12. That day I realized I wanted to be an artist for the rest of my life.”