Roc Parés Burguès, born in Mexico City, is an artist and researcher in the field of interactive communication. Associate Professor and Researcher at Grup DigiDoc, a member of the Department of Communication of Pompeu Fabra University, he has worked with dozens of artists, scientists, engineers, institutions and groups, with whom he has promoted various pioneering platforms in electronic art, such as Galeria Virtual, devoted to exploring virtual reality as an art form, MACBA (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art) En línia, devoted to art on the web, M.A.L., devoted to art made with smart mobile devices, and the Master’s Degree in Digital Arts at Pompeu Fabra University, of which he was co-director.
His artistic works, characterised by poetic and critical experimentation with digital technologies, have been presented and exhibited internationally at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, Fundació Joan Miró, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Centro Cultural de Belém, Tate Gallery, Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, Centro Cultural de España en México, Ex Teresa Arte Actual, Laboratoire Paragraphe Université PARIS 8, Brandts Danmarks Mediemuseum, Centrale Montemartini, and Bòlit, among others. His research has been published by the British Computer Society, Academic Press, FECYT (Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology), MACBA (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art), MIT Press and Springer, among others.
For Roc Parés, Honorary Artistic Creator of Mexico’s National System of Art Creators (part of the FONCA, or National Endowment for Culture and Arts), currently one of the eight artists invited to start a new period at the Santa Monica Art Centre, art and science are two of the many forms of knowledge. He is not only interested in the relations between these two areas of human thought, but also believes in the need to maintain connections across all forms of knowledge, including humanistic knowledge, technical knowledge and also, despite acknowledging that he was raised to be a cultural positivist and an agnostic, and indeed identifying as such, all knowledge related to spirituality. The gaps between the widely diverse fields of knowledge, he explains, create spaces of interconnected indeterminacy. Roc Parés sees himself as part of a generation capable of delving deep into all these forms of knowledge as a tool for questioning the false appearance of an absolute knowledge with a single source; a generation characterised by a sensitivity that has allowed it to break down barriers only justifiable in the domains of specialised studies and by the rebellious spirit that leads to interdisciplinarity, cross-disciplinarity, and even the lack of discipline. He believes that taking an interest in the interactions between art and science is the beginning of the struggle against monolithic forms of thought.
A review of these first thirty years of our guest’s work on interactive communication, art, and scientific knowledge reveals artistic thought centred around essential questions about what we humans are. It also presents us with an author fiercely opposed to narratives that try to tell us who we are from the single perspective of the dominant media. His works take the form of interactive installations and robotic performances that create paradoxical situations insofar as they confront preconceived ideas constructed by the action of dominant cultural trends with the subjectivity of visitors, subjectivity being a question of great interest to researchers throughout the history of science. They are, according to him, attempts to escape the homogenisation of the identity of each individual in society; individuals, all of us, who in one way or another, try to evade the framework set up by the powers that be. This is why Roc Parés has a predilection for phenomena such as the acquisition of oral language or writing, and calls for the transgression of the pressure of language when confronting identity constructed by powerful corporate interests. In short, he seeks ways to question the ideas of subjectivity beholden to short-sighted perspectives that present the image as the centre of the world. In his work, we can see an effort to question conceptions of the world resulting from limited perspectives, a symbol of the ideal subject that the official narrative would like; therefore his works force us to adopt non-paradigmatic perspectives, alternatives to the perspectives of those structures that condition our equidistant self-perception, when in fact our places in the Milky Way and the Universe are essentially marginal and relative. The devices themselves, the language and the structure itself are vectors of power rhetoric. As such, one of Parés’ favourite tactics is to place the mirror in front of the camera and, in doing so, expose the technical device that constructs the subjectivity that shapes the culture of our time. If we have already taken for granted that videos are reality, he asserts, the next step is to consider as real the conclusions that artificial intelligence can draw from the videos we use to feed them; and this points to an ontological dysfunction that will condition the coming decades.
For him, the idea of uncertainty is fertile. It is not something that must disappear. On the contrary, it is part of what makes us aware of the incompleteness of our sensory and cognitive systems, unable to encompass the extraordinary complexity of the universe and life. To explain this point of view, he turns to Maurice Merleau Ponty, who rightly confronts us with these limitations of the sensory experience of the world, while at the same time suggesting that we reclaim the lived body as a fundamental element, in order to attain it from a place of limitation and uncertainty. He argues that we in the West have allowed ourselves to seduced by a fantasy whereby we can solve and encompass everything, but the truth is that there is much we struggle to identify; an example of this being the fact that we are unaware of the appearance of the parts of our body that the perceptual systems do not have full access to, such as the neck, ears, back, and so on. The idea is not to be an apologist for this, but rather to work with uncertainty in order to create points of indeterminacy as an anti-dogmatic counterweight to the dominant ways of interpreting knowledge and progress, which have led us to the mirage of conceiving of the existence of our species in terms of an appendix to the economy of infinite growth, even if this flagrantly runs up against the irrevocable reality of limited available resources. This clash, he insists, in addition to endangering extractivist economies themselves, makes us especially aware of all that we are.