By Manuel Rodriguez

Manuel Rodriguez is a multidisciplinary artist that presents us in Dream Magazine a teaser video of his project SCREENSAVER. He is a dancer, choreographer and visual artist; he centers his work in the power of image and its abstraction, using the scene as a field of conflict with the aim of transcending perception and form, where the body becomes a vehicular and plastic tool. He studied Classic Ballet, Contemporary Dance and Plastic Arts at the Real Conservatorio de Danza Mariemma and at the Number 10 School of Arts of Madrid. In his professional career he has won several international choreographic prizes in countries like Denmark, Poland, Germany and Spain.

The description of the work SCREENSAVER in the artist’s webpage says that our reality is a product of our way of seeing things, in some way we see what we want to see. Tell us how the idea came up to do SCREENSAVER.

Now that I think about it, until I got to release SCREENSAVER nearly three years went by. It was a project into which I put a lot of effort, due to the fact that I combined it with other scenic projects. The most significant project while I developed SCREENSAVER was my collaboration as a dancer with James Thierre, grandson of actor Charles Chaplin, in France. It took me a lot of learning since it was a bit format production and to be able to go to cities all around Europe in theatres of up to 3.000 people. At the same time I kept working with the dancing company La Veronal, apart from two other projects in Barcelona and Valencia.

The project started to take place as a consequence of an artistic residence in the mountains of Bologna, Italy. I lived for some time in a place that was rather unwelcoming at certain times, while I was working on a piece of a choreographer from there. I remember there were impressive snowstorms, with nearly two meters of snow outside. Due to the fact that I was the only one in the group that didn’t live at the center of Bologna I would spend a lot of time quite immerse in that landscape. I started to do illustrations of the collage type, photographs of landscapes and of natural elements to mix the later with graphic symbols. Since I was a teenager I was very immersed in the graffiti world, from the more purist side to being interested in more geometrical and abstract things, I guess all the graphic themes that were in these first images I confectioned have this influence. Nowadays I still paint in the streets but the difference with before is that the ambition that moves me is to have the experience of being with my friends, drink some beers and have some fun.

What is SCREENSAVER? What do the objects that appear in the video suggest to you? What feelings do you plan through each one of them? Do us a summary so that the audience can understand what you’re trying to express in this teaser with respect to the total project.

SCREENSAVER is the title of my penultimate piece, it is a scenic solo/performance and a photographic display. It is also the given name to the informatics software designated to “saving the screen” , normally they are changing images in the computer screen that get activated when there is inactivity from the user’s side.

In SCREENSAVER I try to dig into contemplation through the body and its projection, a landscape that invites us to reflect on how we build our reality by means of images. Each one observes something, in good time he ends up seeing himself reflected. Our reality is a product of our way of looking at things, in a way we see what we want to see.

On the other side, I don’t try to focus on anything in particular, only create an ambience. Image is very simple but can be very suggesting depending on how it is exposed. In this case there is color, light, shape, texture, the text in the song, the rhythm, the balance, etc. I wanted to create a mystical climate, at the same time erotic and somehow sober. I also wanted to give voice to the object and light helps in this, it could be a portrait. The color gives us a status, it establishes a path between black and white, the opposites: positive and negative. The target is to do the maximum with the minimum, like volume rises from the light in the shadows. The fact of it being marble brings of course more meanings, its use in architecture, in art, its relationship with death…  I think it’s a summarized way of accounting the scenic piece. I think there is something homey and even domestic, futuristic and ritual, etc. The piece is a constant clash between opposites, the artificial and the natural, the known and the unknown, the visible and the occult, black and white.

Objects are an extension of the body in a way, they are a human invention. All the ones I use suggest a symbolism that takes to different concepts, religion or belief systems, ways of connecting with something that is in an unknown place, hidden, even everyday elements such as a plant pot. All of them acquire at certain moment hierarchies, superstitions, etc.

In the video of SCREENSAVER appears a white marble triangle, as the one only object, over a black cloth background. What priority or importance do objects have for you at the time of creating a project of these characteristics?

I like to think that the object is an extension of the body and vice versa, therefore the object and the body I treat with the same importance. There is times when an idea can start to project itself through the purely physical (the body/performer) and later get to the object. Furthermore, this idea can take form within an imaginary in which it takes form as a certain object. It is a very broad field which I am still investigating and I don’t have very locked conclusions, since I haven’t spent much time centered in this type of dynamic. Examples of this are my last two projects, SCREENSAVER and the recently released R.E.M. In fact, lately I am abstracting more of the idea of an object, I think sound can also work as an object, the same way light does. In SCREENSAVER the object dominated since the beginning the creative process to the point that there was a clear division between the functionality of it in the scene and the body/performer, I guess there was an intention of inhabiting the object physically, but with a clear separation between both concepts, body-object. On the other side in R.E.M. it was having an empathy with it, the idea of inhabiting it is still present but from a point of view where the object affects the body and ends up finding a kind of symbiosis.

Since you were young your sensitivity towards design and painting has been very strong. A part from dancer you are an illustrator. That’s why we know all your compositions have been mark with a very concrete imaginary based on very simple and abstract geometrical shapes. What is the relationship between the objects in your illustrations and those in your audiovisual compositions? What relationship do you have with them?

To me everything is the same, all the formats are linked together, but maybe for now, when I set out an image in a format that is not the scenic, like for example in a digital illustration, it makes me be more aware of the abstract that is implicit in shape and color. I let myself go more in that sense, everything remaining more open since there is no reference to things that can relate to our everyday reality. Time stays on another level, a type of plasticity remains nude that transports to that place where the journey of contemplation reaches perhaps another dimension. My way of looking and understanding in an artistic representation that takes place in a real time format, that being in my work or that which I may experience, takes me to live a little bit the process that happens when I face the composing of an image in a two-dimensional surface.