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Acevedo in Context

Post Operative Artwork

Notes on the Art of Victor Acevedo - Excerpted from Power to the Pixels:
The Dissemination and Reformation of the Auratic Artwork
in the Age of Digital Reproduction

Charlotte Louise Frost
August 2001

    Victor Acevedo's work represents the post-operative artwork which is both severed and sutured. He takes an image of something quite ordinary, such as people at a wedding reception, and literally cuts through the piece with digital imagery. The digital imagery he uses resembles metallic structures which seem both familiar and alien. Although they are not what we would confront everyday, we have seen their likenesses before: molecular structures; scaffolding; perhaps even space-related structures from films; like any structure, they have a 'behind the scenes' feel. Their presence within the original image however is unusual. This clear division of elements makes the work perceptively and receptively montage. In fact it begins a discussion between the two factions, and how they are distinct from each other. Whereas the CCTV image is precisely fascinating because we will never know the real action it provides the prelude for, Acevedo's works us the action and more than this, are precisely about it: the literal collision of entities.

The original image feels imposed upon. As Faure Walker notes in the exhibition catalogue*, the photographs seem somehow fragile through the "idiosyncratic imposition of high-tech geometry into soft-centered photographs." At the same time however the original image appears more active than passive. It challenges its fragility by actively merging with the visible structures.

The head of the man in A Glass of Wine with Harry takes on the curvature of part of the structure. As the jarring elements gel, the result of this fusion creates a new almost unidentifiable entity from the pieces. Acevedo's images are like a sound you can't discern. This can be paralleled to the fascination instigated in the film The Blair Witch Project. Most obviously this film used heavily obscured home movie footage to confuse what was happening visually. More subtly the distortion was increased by sounds which also couldn't be determined. This was more effective as it is impossible to stop yourself hearing something in quite the same way as closing your eyes to stop yourself seeing something. Acevedo's images have created this effect visually,


In Dave in Orense the man in the image looks as though he is playing the structures as if they are a new, fantastical, musical instrument. It is thus impossible to take your eyes of the images because you enter into a perceptual exchange of attempting to understand bits of the image but never quite receiving an answer. Although all the elements seem familiar they are out of place or exposed. Like a surgeon you are unable to experience an integral whole, but only the parts of the image. Unlike the surgeon you do not control the incision and become merely a witness to the attack. Like the magician you notice a unity in the fusion of these two different worlds.

The simultaneous appearance of structure and facade exposes the way we look at art. The futuristic structures, which seem both at odds with, and also able to dominate the image, provide a visual metaphor for the structures which dominate our perceptions. The original image used in Acevedo's works could represent the auratic original artwork, whilst the new structures that could develop the outmoded view of art are represented by the futuristic structures in the image. On the other hand, the way the structures dominate the image and confuse us, could represent how the structures of auratic discourse get in the way of new experience by dominating our modes of art reception. The junction we currently occupy, where the notion of aura still affects our view of even non-auratic art, is visually described by the futuristic elements repeating the familiar, which is a notion that I will further develop in Section II. Here however this happens firstly because the futuristic structures resembles scaffolds or molecules, secondly because they literally reflect the room within their spheres and thirdly because the room reflects them; in A Glass of Wine with Harry the pattern on the carpet replicates the geometrical design. We have therefore the visual image itself and a visual image of how we view it. The people in the image however seem to have turned their backs on the intersecting metallic form, but we cannot deduce whether this is because the scene, and therefore also the structures of art reception are commonplace or incomprehensible to the untrained eye. Thus, we the audience, seem privileged to be exposed to the structures of art reception and their simultaneous visual rendering. Although, what we really become witness to, is the process of cutting and reassembling the image, defining how we receive it.

The multifaceted appearance of the piece means we constantly have to cut our own train of thought and recreate and apply a new one to the fragments before us. Although we are used to special effects in films, and often do not care whether the image before us is real or created, the stillness of these images, and the dichotomy of fusion and lack - there -of raises questions, '¡Kas Spielberg put it - digital effects operate most powerfully when you do not know they are there.' Here however the effects simultaneously emerge and retreat. The viewing process itself becomes much more fragmented. There is perpetual movement, whereby the image alters its position and seems to destroy its premise. This movement, created in a still image via its processes of production advance the possibilities first found in film. Whereas the filmic montage took the moving image and brought it to the still viewer in a cinema seat, here the digital image appears still, but makes the viewer the active protagonist, as they define their own position in relation to the image. This movement of the still image relates to its movement in our perception of it. We see therefore in Acevedo's work that the modes cutting and reassembling shown in the production of Digital art are reflected in our modes of reception. But because the shattering eradicates the fixed engagement implied by aura, our perception is in constant flux.

* (Silent Motion, at Stanley Picker Gallery, Kingston University and Colville Place Gallery, London, 2001)


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