Briefly describe the work you do.
We are not focused on producing an aesthetic. Against ratio we find intuition. Against the light, representation of the place acquires the status of chromatic sequence that all cultural landscape contains. Image explores the varying limits of perception, presents as border character, when colour no longer as the real reference, when light (white or black) is question and not security. Contrast of the firm and comprehensible, draws a complex, only decipherable horizon for a new calligraphy of the senses. The image is a complex language alphabet, grammar and own syntax that fits poorly in the simplicity of generalizations and stereotypes. Approaching their reality to try to understand it means accepting its own laws, its particular relationship with time and its ability to create combinations of spaces and planes as changing expression of landscape.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
Photography forms a part of the investigative process of space and emptiness, of colour and perception. We do not distinguish between an architectural project and a photographic project; the search and the reflection are one and the same. Our interest lies in the space existing between things. This may take the form of an investigative project regarding chromatic landscapes or a sound and image installation in an urban environment. Now, when looking back at our collective trajectory, we can clearly see these issues, which have always been present in distinct formats. Even in proposals for architectural design contests, our perception of the site and the solutions included this unbreakable language.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio”.
Our workspaces are all those spaces we feel. They are anonymous places -of passing (the Stockholm metro, an airport, the exit of a Paris museum)- that still hold onto the human footprint. An absence, the footprints of man that are still felt because they have truly transformed the spaces of the inhabited site. We pay particular attention where inside and outside comes together. Two positions collide: a restrained, quiet language and an explicit, self-reflective expression. Interior and exterior are interwoven. We like to play with the principle of the active presence that materializes itself in the space. “I am the space, where I am”, in the words of Nöel Arnaud.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
The images we make are results. We are not interested in effect for effect’s sake. A sound, the light, could be the first principle.
We build with the image and building is too slow. We are professors, architects, researches, editors, designers… In an image we are confronted with the development of creative project, the fundaments must always be present and they must highlight the whole process. We communicate all the layers, but our work needs to be self-explanatory. At the same time, there is an unknown story behind, which you do not have to know to enjoy it.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
More than an extensive relationship or stereotypical moments, we wish to consider situations. A duet is a permanent cooperation agreement. We have always worked like this so it’s something that we no longer even consider; it has become so natural as a work method and a way of thinking: our only way of understanding work. It helps us to create an on-going discussion. The work becomes a continuous dialogue, a permanent tension. The discussion becomes the process. This dialectic method has the advantage of continually enriching and refining the investigation. Although we must recognize that on occasions, it prolongs and complicates it. This is another advantage as it shows your work when it has been subjected to processes of substantial decanting, settlement and crystallisation. Often we are asked about the difficulty of understanding how photography is collective work, being that it is an instantaneous act, identified by the closing of the camera’s shutter. But more and more in contemporary art, creation is considered to be a process of time. For photography, this begins with the shot selection and it does not end until the final decisions are made regarding support and exposure devices. We make this journey together. In each of its stages, we discuss and compare different options.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
Our work always changes because each body of work is a research of a new idea. The two bases of our images are emptiness and colour. Both of these are related, united by their common quality of communication. In our book, A_chroma, we use this as a proposal and conscious declaration. There are images whose colour scheme must be felt internally by the spectator. Where is the colour? If it is not in what we see, the response is as simple as the possibility: in the emptiness, in the space between the object and myself. We also wish to insist upon the interaction and ability of the creation of architectural projects and images to change over time and we are convinced that they change over time along with our consciousness. The book of architectural projects Sintagmas cromáticos is the result of a considerable amount of time. It is the culmination of a process based on time and its overlapping. But the latest work, K: emptiness, a book published this year 2015, proposes this dual character of individual narration and apprehension of the world: an anonymous individual expressing himself through photography, adding his impressions via personal comments, reviewing and classifying some of the images that have been key in his life. These are scenes that are recorded in his memory, marked by perceptive sensations, capable of recalling the most sensitive moments of his past. Travels, cities, places, viewed based on a need to remember and to defend the uniqueness of each experience.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
There have been critics who have noted the overlapping of classic foundations with contemporary sensitivity in our work. We cannot separate ourselves from this. It is true that research, like teaching, demands this dual task of knowledge of the past and experimentation and innovation. Once, at the beach with the sand’s textures subjected to strong eastern winds, we felt the touch of Miquel Barceló’s work, and this led to the use of cotton paper and specific types of ink… We have discovered the concept of the “in-between”, the interstices, in the writings of Oteiza and we cannot tell you how long it has been in our language or if we have changed it after the reading of Merlau-Ponty. Thus, we clearly recognize, in strong contrast to the self-educated who often arrogantly and ignorantly proclaims, in the face of this external absorption, to be indiscriminate, that in the end, we are found to have our own personal and distinctive language.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
What are our other interests? Light… The effort to create the light is to control their effects and encourage the architectural space bathed in her life. This space is the fragment of a landscape in which interior and exterior are involved: a camera activated with light variations. The light that filters and their reflections and shades coloured spaces. In that regard, landscape and architecture is not a formula that can accept or reject, does not depend on detailed or arbitrary decision.
_marina_morón is the creative team of Jesús Marina Barba, PhD in History, professor in Granada University, and Elena Morón Serna, PhD in Architecture, whose work explores tangible connections between the image and architectonic space with an emphasis on the experiential qualities of color and the concept of emptiness.
They are an artistic team based in Sevilla and Granada (Spain). They have been directors of various research projects and attend international conferences as speakers. They have written three books. Their publication A-chroma was finalist at PhotoEspaña Book Award 2013. Their current project, K: emptiness (Kehrer Verlag, 2015), proposes a dual character of individual narration and apprehension of the world.
Their Images explores the varying limits of perception, presents as border character, when color no longer as the real reference, when light (white or black) is question and not security.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.