Emilio Torti He was born in Rosario in 1952. Visual artist and teacher, both his extensive pictorial work and his disturbing drawings - a universe of inexhaustible fractals - have always occupied his most important production. Through digital post-production and technologies, derived from those same inquiries, his current work continues to go through the visual experience as a particular adventure of thought.
by Aftermath laika
AL- Emilio, we should probably start at the beginning, and in the case of an artist I would like to ask you how you relate the nature of reality, the implications of the artist's life with the work.
ET- But what is reality? Is there something that is reality on the one hand and something that is not? Is this non-reality dysfunctional as it must be conditioned? Could it be that Eastern wisdom rebelled a deeper reality long before the Greeks?
True, the East included Greece in its ancient world influence. Then Greece wins the cultural battle; There's no doubt about it. Greece the great; Guide a group of inferior peoples and unworthy of knowledge. Your work resists in how to conceive knowledge as reality.
My intuition is trained in visual and Buddhist exercises: it guides me in the experience of a whole interpenetrated in a swarm of events that encompass matter –which by the way is very scarce in the universe– and our thoughts and emotions, something that is present in everything we did, do or would have done, so that it is impossible not to be in reality, everything is reality, even the inconceivable. And I add: that reality is life.
Okay, fact and fiction are a common organism.
In all this that we are sharing there is so much reality, including the false reality that our brains have to re-edit every morning to support the true Real, as in any other place in the Universe and I add that this reality is Life. And life is the sum of all living beings.
And regarding classical knowledge, its hegemonic syntax, its relevance as learning: How do these conditions influence the current artist's conception of the work?
From the visual experiments of the early twentieth century, artists free themselves from the nineteenth-century visual apparatus, the deconstruction of linear perspective, realism, even painting itself with Dada; so that they can turn their work, as is my case, into a thought experiment and turn their practice into a test bed.
Isn't mental experience mandatory?
Yes, but as long as an artist can observe and transform the cultural conditions that subject him to a norm. That aspect blocks the appearance of new areas of imagination. I try to apply the results of these exercises to everyday life.
So how much is there in the personal reality of that substance we call art?
Paul Valéry said that "The only interest of the Work consists in extracting from us what we did not contain, and therefore did not contain" My exercises are a kind of philosophy of life. I capture an image that calls me from the screen, I open it and intervene. Inspired by this luminous presence "I enter" into a kind of aura that allows me to transform it, dis-figuring it; disassembling; deforming, shaking it to release and make visible the force –poetry, “that” or whatever you want to call it– that beats in each of these appearances.
A matter of desire.
Yes, something like opening a fruit and eating it. Transforming what has already been done because nothing comes out of nowhere and there is always something before it and that "something" is what is transformed; for example: the famous problem of "the anguish of the blank page" is not that it is empty, it is actually full, but full of what? The sheet, the canvas or the score, etc. they are full of clichés, common places, stereotypes, the logic of language; it is filled to the brim with abhorrent common sense; how to make your way through such a tangle of obstacles that prevent you from leaving that boring comfort / control zone.
A kind of stagnation for the sole fact of not questioning the image.
You have to be able to suspend that; It is by no means an ally, and also, since we are, to suspend the bad habit of automatically judging everything because it blocks us, in short, just to begin with. As you can see, there is a lot of work with oneself, we are no longer looking to make a beautiful painting trying to please or get something in return, we are in something for which we have to strongly desire it, it is a challenge that one does to itself.
«The blank page is not empty, it is actually full of clichés, common places, stereotypes, the logic of language; it is filled to the brim with abhorrent common sense "
Approaching the work as a technique has occupied many theorists, designers and artists, and is an inescapable part of the history of the arts without exception. How much of your work is thought of as a technical mechanism and to what extent do you control and choose the tools at the time of production?
After several decades of trying to materialize Obra –failing– using different analog techniques, I realized that the problem I was facing was not a technical issue, it was my need to be accepted, to resolve the economic issue and that “production” –I hate this a word applied to these issues because it leads to the assembly line, to marketing - it was contaminated with the desire to please, to seduce a hypothetical spectator-consumer. I understood that I was forced to leave all that, that is, to stop looking outside. The solution was to sacrifice the analog matter.
Doesn't producing imply a working model, an artistic management?
Yes, but the foundation of art as merchandise is that of the unique piece, which suddenly becomes a rare commodity, but that in digital constellations there is no such thing since each image is replicated as many times as we summon it with a simple click and this makes possible the desire to modify this false idea of creation because, since nothing comes out of nowhere, what we really do is recreate what already exists. And since we are here, I call on anyone who wishes to take the images that I have transformed starting from the pre-existing ones and do the same, yes, you have to add something, you have to transform the image.
Artists don't believe so much in sharing unless they are quoted, do they? Oscar Bony always said that art could not be thought outside of its status as elite.
Oscar Bony refers to that "Star Artist" a little servant of the powerful that this society imposes on us; he is the winning artist, successful and bagging good twine or not but floating on top of the cream.
The exemplary artist tied to art fairs
Yes, but the truth is that not a few people need the experience of an “other thing” in their lives and that they mistakenly search among the thousands of offers to “be happy”. Joseph Beuys said "The purpose of art is the liberation of people, therefore art is for me the science of freedom"
How do you think of the artist's work in relation to the rest of the activities that concern human life?
Monotheism blocked with its offer of salvation other human possibilities to be in the world, to develop and self-expand internally, to go to the confines of the self if needed. Now I feel; I think that we all have the gift and therefore the need to perceive ourselves and act in another way, to recreate ourselves, to exercise our autopoietic capacity for the search that may be for the self, for individuation or who knows what that unfathomable longing will be .
In that self-containment, do you also dream the works?
When I was young I strongly longed to do a work and tried to control, direct it by imagining it, calling it together. Over time I realized that the important thing was not to know in advance what image was going to be presented to me.
So you do not believe too much in planning, it seems that you approach the work as an impulse, a random order.
My practice consists of trying to do something where instrumental reason has no power (without calculation or strategy) that is, to be able to connect the unknown with the known (what is already in the power of reason, in memory and what is in the unconscious). My point of view of doing work is that it does not consist in expressing one's own original thought but in finding in oneself something that was not expected, that was not known to have, it does not have to be something new for the world, it is enough that is new to me, something that is beyond my thought and if possible, there, where the word has not reached.
The art market is a machine that feeds itself on novelties. It demands them in fact. Your position is a kind of suture in the very heart of artistic doing.
The destiny of doing work occurs when it is the answer to a very deep need, let's say, on the verge of despair. I feel that poetry is in all things and the exploration of the unconscious territory has the depth that each one needs and can access to generate areas of imagination.
And with regard to the language of design and its increasingly close relationship with art, can a work be designed to order? Does design and art coincide, or are they simply related by borders?
My experience is that the more things I hope to achieve than I am doing, for example fulfilling a commission, money, fame, acceptance, etc. what you do is less deep.
"My point of view of doing work does not consist in expressing an original thought but in finding in oneself something that was not expected, that one did not know that one had"
Is it worth saying that the expectation cancels the poetic, the artistic?
I think that I am not looking inward, I am looking outward hoping to get something in return, there are voices in my head that tell me how the result has to be to achieve an end, I am in an alienated task, I am far from myself.
As if the objectives annulled the very idea of the work, as a claim?
It is that the objective of the Work is myself who seeks to change something by using the energy of the forms to which I intervene, opening and transforming them.
Since artists should in principle live off art, and as there is a Market for this purpose that considers artistic production a work, do you have any routine and in the meantime, how do you explain this circumstance?
I've always had trouble accepting the coordinates of capitalism. When I understood that I am not, I do not want to be an art professional, I do not want to be a worker of culture, I refuse to have obligations or pecuniary matters with art I decided that this practice has to be marginal, as far as possible from any economic interest or narcissistic.
In this field of rejection I have no other possibility than to ask you, then, does the medium of art definitely differ from any other human labor universe?
I earn my living as a private teacher, I live in austerity, not in poverty and I am not subject to suffer a low self-esteem for not continuously acquiring unnecessary things to strengthen my ego.
Gumier Maier made fun of it in the '80s by publishing a cartoon in a newspaper promoting his classes: the text said "Be an artist" Is art a learned discipline?
For me, art is a skillful medium for exploring the unconscious and this can be transmitted as a technique. The contemplation or reverie from the images that manage to elude stereotypes is the destiny of seeing itself, the effect of which on the person who passes through it is to annul the perception of the passage of time; the inherent materiality of Life, thus transforming this world into another.
Beyond the fundamental concept of learning and the constant experience of who approaches knowledge, can it be taught academically to produce art as it happens in design disciplines?
It is in what each person is, going through the conglomerate of conditioning, unique and that some need to go deeper and deeper into the mind and that yes, perhaps, cannot be transmitted. The image works as a vision inducer that transports us beyond the conditioned mind and that is where the unconscious practice pays off.
“The creation of an inner world requires, like a garden, constant care; the person thus affected during this process does not find much time to pay attention to worldly affairs »
Are you worried that artificial intelligence occupies a privileged place in today's human development?
No, artificial intelligence is, of the abominations of the Technique that this civilization produced, the least expensive for the rest of the species; including humans.
Overpopulation, anthropocentrism, speciesism, patriarchy, monotheism, capitalism and general apathy that fuels the planetary disaster that is already irreversible with the constant advance of the deterioration of intuition.
Is the luck of the world dated?
We can no longer get further away from Nature. We are at the gates of something that is going to produce an even more unjust world as if this state of affairs were not enough.
If the artist's work is a construct that confronts the same culture through a discourse of poetics, an ethic, can it also face and become independent from market conditions?
Art is besieged by the logic of the market. It is natural for us to use terms such as "production" which has more to do with creating any kind of merchandise. The current artist works to make something that finds a niche in the innumerable gondolas of the supermarkets of contemporary art that with exploring the mind to witness and register that singularity that makes us unique and that together form this humanity.
Then he couldn't argue his time either.
Yes, but not only the artist but all people should exercise, without substances, of course, in knowing how to enter and exit the conditions imposed by the current value system.
How do you imagine the fate of societies, norms, well-being? Do you believe in utopias?
The Technique with its virtual environments changes and opens areas of imagination. Dominate better, control better, but humanity, at least for the moment, for the most part continues to move further and further away from the possibility of good living.
What is good living? Is there something like that in this world?
We don't know, but what we experience is not. The Technique in its desire to "improve" living conditions is limiting human capacities, it seems that everything can be done better. To the question, what should be changed? The answer is: everything, everything has to be changed.
"The current artist works to make something that finds a niche in the innumerable gondolas of contemporary art supermarkets"
What is your opinion about social media?
Social networks have become, like all media, the right hand of the great apparatus for the construction of subjectivity, as were the prevailing religions in other times.
It seems that individuals are increasingly distancing themselves from their own thinking to link to that of the multitudes.
Yes, there are even religious groups that have a very good affinity with the networks and have come to remove governments and shake others as they facilitate the rise to power of horrible people.
There is a kind of opportunity to expose, to be heard.
Discouragement and anger, control or lack of control, everything is handled in the same way: from the networks and spreading the poison of hatred at the speed of light.
In view of the fact that the world is nothing more than an enormous artifice, can the artificial at the moment be so easily differentiated from the natural?
The maddened trajectory of our species that unfolds between fury and fear has found in the success of the Technique in seizing nature a perfect tool to dominate whatever comes our way. The translation of the organic, that which arises from Life due to its artificial duplication does not stop and seems to advance to a total duplication of Nature because being a duplicate it is possible to manipulate and promote that which is "useful" and discard what is at the same time. System does not serve you.
A kind of progress, of design, of utility.
It seems an advantage and in fact in many cases it is, the problem is that it is not sustainable, nothing in everything we are doing is sustainable.
«It seems that everything can be done better. To the question, what should be changed? the answer is: everything, everything has to be changed »
Regarding art, is there a discourse on analogical processes that may still be of interest to humanity?
If the desire is set on doing something that does not obey common sense, a desire to find oneself and the abandonment of everything that keeps us subject; Everything is valid. I can be cooking a lentil stew and experience enlightenment. Now for those who need to be in the latest fashion trend, perhaps, there techniques and ways of doing things are discarded for what guarantees you visibility.
It seems impossible today to declare the death of painting again
Yes, but in the 90's there were no longer any samples of paintings, from one day to the next, many painters went to the facilities or anything other than painting a picture.
You are currently working with contemporary techniques, but they are not exclusive.
The technique opens up new psychic and psychological zones, areas of imagination. In my case, the transfer from analog to virtual was a big change, it would be good if other techniques were not filed, first because this order can collapse like a house of cards and second because what is achieved with matter is not the same that when we operate in a virtual environment with compliant software that says yes to everything as a result of the absence of matter, weight and gravity. I experiment through analog drawing and also with digital post-production.
"All living beings, no matter what species, suffer"
But at the end of the day it is the same question. Are we talking about work, or should we differentiate the results because they are so different means?
It is that the innumerable accidents that are experienced in dealing with analogue matter are not registered in the manipulation of virtual matter and that, contrary to what is generally believed, is not an advantage.
So the artist's mistakes are necessary?
Of course. Those "mistakes" or botched things that happen when dealing with analogue material confront us with opportunities to get out of the known zone, the famous comfort-control zone where our mind controls ourselves, blocking contact with the unknown or unconscious zone which is where art has to take us. It is a good intention to take advantage of those errors.
In the same way that it happens in many activities, the deep practice of a discipline achieves a kind of seclusion. Does that happen to you?
Loneliness is always creative, prescribed by many thinkers.
Could art get you away socially? I say it with regard to that creative loneliness.
The creation of an inner world requires, like a garden, constant care; the person thus affected during this process does not find much time to pay attention to worldly affairs.
"The practice of art has to be marginal, as far as possible from any economic or narcissistic interest"
What do you think about the artist's passion, that suffering that seems to describe the path of the work as a kind of ordeal, of destiny?
All living beings, no matter what species, suffer.
Some artists find there a kind of previous depth, a claim to direct the work. It seems like a Chinese story.
The Story highlights the lives of some artists because their work became relevant and propelled by the gadgets of marketing. Later it was novelized and made public as the case of Van Gogh, Gorky, Pollock, Rothko, etc.
How, then, are artistic success and failure measured?
One of my interests, if not the most expensive, has been that path illuminated by ancient philosophers such as the river of Heraclitus or the jewel of Indra. A kind of non-theistic double vision in which everything flows and simultaneously everything is interconnected.
You worked and continue to work with paintings. Some of which you modify in a later process and through digitization. How does the spiritual influence the technical decisions of an artist?
In the eighties I felt that something was escaping from my fabrics, that something was missing. Later, Buddhism pointed out a very clear direction for me: the understanding of the infinite non-linear and interpenetrating causal flows that make up this reality. That first step led to another: the intuition of an invisible web or network that causally fuses organic and mineral matter with our conscious and unconscious thoughts with the whole.
«If the desire is set on doing something that does not obey common sense, a desire to find oneself and in the abandonment of everything that holds us down; Everything is valid"
You then rehearse with that perhaps invisible matter: the web of thought. Do you think other experiences would put that language at risk?
It is a direct and ineffable experience of life in all its forms, that experience in which a consciousness embraces all the contradictions that humans carry, which is why it is often confused with the inner peace that is, in reality, its effect.
Can artistic practice modify the spiritual, that is, turn art into a mere technique and even into an uninteresting commodity? Or is that spirituality a precondition of being an artist that protects you in advance?
In my case it seems that the practice of painting led me to Buddhism and this to ecology and this in turn introduced me to an imaginary non-scientific space where ethics and biology, quantum physics and recently feminism meet.
A tension between religion and human morality
It was a paradigm shift. My beliefs collapsed in a moment and I was free to explore more deeply spaces of my present, which are significantly the spaces of my interior.
China Sea, May 5, 2021