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.