The sounds of a wanderer: An interview with Gil Delindro
Gil Delindro is a multidisciplinary artist focused on the conflicting relationship between the ego, nature and technology. Through an extensive cross-border practice tracing filmmaking, sound, installation, performance and theatre, his work offers a detailed bridge between mediums and research perspectives, often facing concepts such as animism, time, memory, isolation, contamination and post digital conflicts.
You are an interdisciplinary artist exploring the conflicting relationship between the ego, nature and technology. Can you elaborate?
The ego is self, the intent of an individual, but also of a species, nature is all and technology is what binds the exchange between them. These forces are at constant interplay and that is the starting point for my research. In this spirit, my work is like that of a fictional archaeologist in an unexplored world, looking for hidden geographies and time frames. I’m trying to explore specific ephemeral moments, moving layers of matter, instability, memory, decay – things that cannot be fixed in space. Therefore, a major factor here is also time. My installations often become independent beings with their own life expectancy.
I think about technology in a broader sense. Nature is using mechanisms all the time and in the same way, human technology is the tool that allowed our evolution. These days people often forget that a tool is channelled into something, they become so fascinated by the mechanism’s possibilities that they praise the tool more than the actual purpose. It’s almost as if a painter would be more fascinated by the paintbrush than by the painting itself, or a farmer would be in love with the shovel and not the potato. Technology has become the most exciting end in our interaction with the living world. As a teenager, I really enjoyed Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and today the similarities are huge. Technology has become a strong and addictive drug that has people craving more apps, more laptop power, more resolution, more illusion, faster and faster. But faster to where? The equation ego – tech – nature is ruled by the tech side and the human part is losing ground. My work does not address this in a direct way, and it is neither against technological development. I’m just an observer questioning directions and eventually finding ways to relate to landscape in a more direct and honest way.
How do you interact between these various fields and what questions/concepts do you employ?
I’m trying to work within “simple” chapters, searching for a place where the mediums lose strength and where a work can simultaneously speak in different languages. The main interconnecting point between them is sound because it is a time based element – sound is the continuous collapse of the present into the future, and most of my questions have something to do with this quality of movement and transformation in nature. Time as a spatial and sculptural element is a common ground in the different fields and projects I have been working on. I try to play with instability – by this I mean that no physical element can be fixed in space, even a hard stone comes from a fluid origin, and in my concept the world is like a floating land, where nothing can be stabilised, whether it’s an idea or a material entity.
There are always symbols and connections between my works, but one of the best examples of a piece that is not static is TAO – I believe this piece can simultaneously speak as a symbolic, ephemeral, sculptural, spatial, sonic and technological concept. As a time-based piece, it lasts around 23 hours, and it basically tries to assemble the cycle within the different stages of water. That process is so complex and alive that it’s like a Land Art performance, you create the conditions, but it is the organic that creates the narrative.
Field research is an important part of your modus operandi. How do you choose locations and how do you proceed with the work while you are at a certain location?
I don´t choose locations so much as they come to me. For the past 5 years I’ve always divided my time between the city and isolation, the equation changes, but most of the time I spend at least four months in very remote locations. Normally I travel alone, but in the case of the desert, everything happened thanks to a residency called The Weight Of Mountains. I have always been interested in remote areas. My process is to first arrive at a location without any intention, and afterwards discovering what you are looking for out there; the place should open you up and not the other way around.
You have spent 3 month at a residency in the Sahara desert. How was this experience?
I grew up in front of the ocean in a humid area, and ever since I remember I’ve been fascinated by water, so finding myself in the driest place on earth was not easy… but super important! I think one can only understand the dimension of something if one is deprived from it. Water is a key element in the Sahara, the ultimate cause for this landscape, so again you have the hidden layer, a ghost or mirage. There is no place in the world where information can be reduced to such a minimum, the colours, smells, no vegetation, texture or animal noise. It sits in exact opposition to a rain forest. That unique quality transports you to an altered state of mind. Somehow reducing the input can heighten your senses. You stand in front of this massive dune of sand and at a first glimpse, there is no movement at all, but by amplifying the senses one can notice hidden events and intangible processes that occur after first contact. The desert is full of these experiences, it can be super intense. For me, this is a crucial sculptural idea, the belief that most aspects of a space exist as invisible forces and movements that constantly perish.
I’m still processing the work done there, but I’m particularly happy with Burundam, a black and white documentary that follows a Berber family living in total isolation. I also spent long periods of time taking long distance walks and chasing sandstorms. This led me to create strange works of long duration such as Continuum and Floating Summit, where even the smallest contact between grains of sand creates the most dense percussion piece one could ever listen to.
Do you think humans have become too detached from nature in the era of the Anthropocene? How can one engage with nature in a meaningful way as an artist and human?
To start with, I don’t really know where nature starts or ends, if we are natural beings, and if whatever we build or do is also born from nature. I believe it’s more a question of intention and overall bad processing. We can relate to this world in an infinite number of ways, and the one we are using now is just not helping us to benefit from the qualities of our surroundings. We have become more advanced in terms of comfort, but more distracted as a species, number and more disconnected. I see the period we are living as an era where our impact in all strata of the planet is evident and colossal, yet there is the individual feeling that one cannot interfere (or is either responsible) for such impact, which creates frustration. Technology has put things on a collective move in such a way that we have lost control over it, it has become an identity of its own where networks, computational systems, algorithms and information run independently and faster than individuals. It is the first time in our history that our action as a species has become so interconnected.
It does not matter if you’re living in the desert or in a loft in New York, this machine of resource consumption affects the most remote places and species on the earth. It’s like a button that someone has turned on, but that no one really knows how to turn off nor where it will lead us. In this sense I don’t believe an individual artist or person can influence this process and engage in a “better” way of doing things. In my case, I primarily work with creating dialogues and observation points because it is a necessity, but I’m aware of my impotence, so my way is very individual. My nature also lives in my imaginary naïve place. I need the land to understand myself and although I often think about all these questions, I don’t really have solutions for them. Maybe humans do need to go against some kind of harsh wall. Sometimes I just wonder who will be here to contemplate it.
Interview by Lucia Udvardyova