Breaking the fourth wall
Paulo J. Futre. Artist statement
I grew up watching my father on television. He was a famous football player in his day. Due to his career, I had an overwhelming childhood, raised among journalists, cameras, autographs and fans. The fact of seeing him every day in real life, but also constantly on the media, stickers, shirts, advertising and even those first videogames, produced in me an experience of confusion and disturbance about the blurring boundaries between physical and virtual reality.
The adult need to assimilate this experience led me to the thoughts of Paul Virilio, Jean Baudrillard and other postmodern philosophers who also reflected on my existential doubts. Especially the latter, who claimed that reality itself is dead, diluted among the massive proliferation of simulacra, as the real world has been replaced by a simulated new paradigm he called “hyperreality”.
Starting on this theoretical basis, my artwork is conceptually designed as a videogame where the spectator enters through his reflection, situating metaphorically reality and simulation on the same level. For this purpose, I use pieces of glass in which I apply a self-created silver procedure that reflects partly like a mirror. I personally call it “Liquid Mirror Paintings”.
The act of painting literally creates an aesthetic virtual universe that interacts with the spectator. At the same time, it also questions the role of figurative art throughout history with the ancient desire to imitate and reproduce reality, reflecting on the work of my great referent: Magritte, who in his paintings questioned the danger of mimetic representation that replaces the original.
Another important concept for me is the “the fourth wall”, the imaginary wall that separates the audience from the play, that is “broken” when an interaction is made between the proposed fantasy and the receptive reality. This idea was first mentioned by philosopher Denis Diderot and is common in several creative fields, especially movies and TV. Beyond the simple narrative resource, I find the perfect poetic analogy to express Baudrillard’s thoughts and my lifetime concerns: the act of skipping fiction to interact with reality, places both universes at the same height.
That is my final aim: perpetual videogames that break the fourth wall to create an abstract new reality without any real references. I start on a simulacra, the mirror, to create my own new universe. The territory no longer precedes the map, it is the map that engenders the territory.
However, the Liquid Mirror Paintings as physical objects are always unfinished, since they need the interaction with the environment to be completed. Hence the vital importance of photography and video to document this dialogue, which complements the final artwork.