Insa Keeps Tradition Moving
If you’re driving through Mexico City and get to the corner of Colima con Orizaba and Roma Norte, look up and you’ll see part of Insa’s latest piece. It’s only part of it because “Divididos Caemos” is GIF-iti, and what’s still up on the wall is the final frame. Divididos Caemos translates to “Divided we fall,” an important message for the world during a time of political turmoil, and a good thought to remember as a part of the festival Insa is participating in. He created Divididos Caemos for the Tag CDMX Festival, an annual gathering of self-described nerds who come together to share ideas and collaborate.
The aesthetics of the piece are drawn from traditional Native Mexican Huichol art and their process of creating beaded mosaics with black wax. This technique has historically been applied to animal skulls, and sometimes to human skulls as well. Insa reflected the painstaking process by mirroring it in his own way: each of the “beads” in Divididos Caemos was painted separately as a spray paint dot. Each layer of the composition is made up of 4,999 separate dots and is photographed upon completion, and then all the photographs are compiled into a GIF. With eight layers that means Insa painted 39,992 dots by hand! Most amazingly, especially with a process this involved, Insa doesn’t check his work. He applies the paint and takes the photos, but doesn’t cheat. He waits until it’s all done to make sure everything came together. “With the making of a GIF: I don’t like to check if it’s working,” he says. “I like to just wait until the end. So I guess some challenge is being committed, or feeling sure enough that it’s going to work. It worked! It’s either going to work or not work.”
INSA’s GIF-iti raises a captivating question about art in the digital age. He’s creating work in the real world, but because of its interaction with time it can only be seen later in the digital sphere. As we move into more digital lives, our ephemeral nature is scaffolded by hard drives and digitization. CGI art can be printed out, or applied to film to be seen as video. But Insa’s work is a marriage of the tangible with the intangible, creating its own space and unique identity. Only time will tell how the world reacts to a new and original form.
Insa Brings Daredevil Around the Globe with Netflix
Streaming entertainment systems like Netflix are slowly taking over the world, and for those who use them it’s no surprise. They offer original content without the outdated commitments of cable or the analogue reality of being tethered to boxes. One of the breakout hits from the last couple years has been the original program by Netflix and Marvel, Daredevil, and they wanted to celebrate season two in an unprecedented way. They linked up with muralist and graffiti artist INSA who had plans for a world spanning GIF. “I wanted to do a literally global project and start at every place we could,” say INSA. “It ended up being sevendestinations: London, Paris, New York, Dubai, Taipei, Singapore, and Madrid. We did them in that order.” INSA would make these seven stops all over the world painting frames of a GIF that would be brought together into a single moving image once the journey was complete. He calls this unique process "GIF-iti."
To most, that kind of expedited world tour sounds like an insurmountable challenge, but for INSA this kind of pressure and travel is exactly what he thrives on. “The challenge is the conception. Once the conception happened, it came down to the physical doing,” INSA explains “There’s no short cuts. There’s no way around it. It’s just about doing it. I thrive on getting to see something different every day. Even though it was a very hard thing, it was just exciting getting to literally three days later be in a different city, and then two days later be in a new city. I’ve never been able to compare the globe so quickly. I would be walking down Houston in New York and then two days later be on a boat in Dubai. It was brilliant, crazy.” The huge trip became its own event, so Netflix had a team following INSA at almost every turn, filming a companion video that shows off the pure scale of the project. At one point their globetrotting even lined up with the lead actor of the series, Charlie Cox who plays Matt Murdock aka Daredevil. They saw him in both Paris and Singapore, which meant he was able to make a cameo in the companion video.
The surprise favorite this season on Daredevil is Jon Bernthal's Punisher, a grieving husband and father who turns to vigilantism to avenge the deaths of his wife and children. Unlike many of Marvel’s heroes, The Punisher doesn’t hesitate to use violence, finding solace in his vengeance. Because of his unique philosophy, The Punisher has always garnered a rabid fanbase and INSA counts himself among that group. “Since being a kid I’ve always been a Punisher fan,” says INSA. “Punisher was always a favorite of mine. So to build the hype for Punisher’s arrival was quite exciting.” Media as broad as Netflix's is set to make fans of us all, no matter where in the world we are. But even those who don't count themselves among the hungry binge-watchers of the latest season of Daredevil we can still watch in awe INSA's GIF that spans the globe.