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Marcelo Vidal lives and works in Montevideo, where people don’t really care about media art. But our hero managed to create his video mapping company, develop the field from a scratch, play with Ricardo Villalobos and visit a lot of international festivals. In this interview, Marcelo describes the most important steps in his career and lets us feel authentic Uruguay vibes.
Lumen: First of all, we need to know what’s going on in Uruguay. How many large art institutions do you have in Montevideo? Are video mapping, VJing and media art popular among local people?
Marcelo Vidal: Well, in Montevideo there is nothing big, we are a small city in a small country and the resources devoted to culture and new expressions are very few. VJing scene is really small, only one techno club open all year and has an appropriate design for video, on the other hand there are few events a year to pay a decent cache for VJs or pay for content. Video mapping is very rare. I started with the mapping in 2008 as an innovator of this technique and there have not really been major video mapping projects that I did not direct to me, it’s like having a monopoly in this area.
Lumen: When and how did you create your main project – Chindogu?
Marcelo Vidal: I was directing my own graphic design / Creative Studio and, at a point where I didn’t want to work more in this area, I was really bored and feeling like the clients didn’t want creative solutions. Then I started experimenting with visuals in real time and experimental techniques, at this point I found Chindogu on the Internet, a Japanese word that means useless invention and I took this concept to build an alter ego that my main objective is to create and improvise freely. In parallel, I started to hack controllers to get new expression inputs like wiimote, guitar hero, wacom tablets and build my own. In this search I was experimenting with perspective transformation tools when I first heard the word “mapping”, so I was quickly fascinated by the new possibilities of audiovisual narrative and dialogue with architecture, sculpture and painting. Then some brands started to trust my creations and after some successful events they started to grow and I started to dedicate my full time traveling to festivals and connecting with projects mainly in Europe.
Lumen: What are the pros and cons of having this financial airbag in the form of full time job while starting your own business?
Marcelo Vidal: I worked 10 years before as an independent studio, so for me it was not traumatic, knowing that for certain events the brands invested large sums of money and always had artistic options that did not fulfill the purpose, I began to see that they could be a concept for certain products and brands that need to connect a message of art mediated with technology, I saw that it was viable without losing my freedom of creation, be honest and motivated with these projects and I think I began to learn how these immersive experiences connect with emotions. Also, as nobody was attending to these demands, I realized that I could direct these projects and trust my sensitivity, so that magic really happens. It was a natural process to me and I´m always learning.
Lumen: Who are your clients and main channels for earning money now – after 10 years on the market!
Marcelo Vidal: I made mappings and developed audiovisuals projects for Hyundai, BMW, Pepsi, L’oreal, HSBC, Samsung, Citi, Unilever, Johnnie Walker, Heineken, Miller, and also Government of Uruguay, National Visual Arts Museum from Uruguay, School of Architecture from Uruguay.
Lumen: Which show became the most memorable?
Marcelo Vidal: I think the first mappings were a completely mad and involved new experiences, the lack of time and unexpected results. Once the French Embassy in Uruguay called me to make an audiovisual piece and a visual set for the Argentinian/French hip hop performer Jeronimo Saer on his visit to Montevideo. I wanted to make something different and had a couple of days to solve it, so I went to the theatre and, for my surprise, I found an architectural model abandoned behind the stage about 3×3 meters. The theatre was full of activities so they told me to come back at the day of our concert. We got the model in the morning and in the evening was the event, so I had really few hours to make it and I didn’t know what the artist was going to play because of touring a new experimental set. In the other hand, at this time we didn’t have any video mapping software capable of doing this kind of job. So I used a very basic tool on experimental basic: Adobe illustrator. So I put the beamer and started drawing over the 3D model and in a few hours I had to get an audiovisual piece for the beginning of the show so I used ableton live in “Clip view” mode and sync with Modul8.
Lumen: How did you connect your visuals to the music?
Marcelo Vidal: The connection with the artist and the final results were really weird and really fresh and it was incredible because I never met the artist because I was working hard on the animations while he had to make the sound check while I was preparing on other backstage room the A/V part, if I had to think for something like that with more days maybe it was really different.
The incredible story was some month later I went to Buenos Aires and I was hanging out with 1024 Architectures guys in order they present Euphorie performance and we went to a bar to drink something and there were only a couple in the other side, then Pierre Schneider and François Wunschel started to sing some funny songs and laugh, and in this moment this guy went to our table and said to to me: “You are Chindogu? I’m Jeronimo”. I presented him and his wife that they were living in Paris too, and together Jeronomo, Franz and Pierre made the most incredible rap improvisation I’ve ever heard.
Lumen: You’re a musician, too! Which styles and genres do you like to experiment with?
Marcelo Vidal: Experimental, ambient, dub, techno, house.
Lumen: Your latest project implies projecting visuals onto the rock of a hill. How did you manage to realize this idea? I mean, technically.
Marcelo Vidal: The topology of the rock is captured with a 3D scanner with 0,3 mm precision, the textures are slow motion captures of events of nature that i have been filming the last year ah 1000 fps and applied as shaders in cinema 4D, for the music summons producers with the premise that has no beat and it goes from the dark ambient, ambient synth, drone, field and experimental recordings which make up an LP. I use 2 projectors in a total of 3840×1200 pixels anf for the performance i used Resolume and Mad Mapper in sync with analog synths and effects and some DMX lights.
Lumen: This project seems to be a great metaphor for first human attempts to make art, with rock paintings. But it’s only my vision! What was your original concept for Cerro Negro?
Marcelo Vidal: You are really right! The concept that we developed with the oenologist and owner is to tell the history of life and the humanity in relation to agriculture and wine culture. So we go back to the cave paintings and the narrative is based on those codes.
Lumen: What are your favorite video mapping festivals to visit?
Marcelo Vidal: Artistically: no. 1: Genius Loci in Weimar, then I had an special feeling with Mapping Festival in Geneva it is very important to me and it was decisive to dedicated to this, obviously Fête des Lumières – Ville de Lyon, then Girona Mapping Festival has a beautiful tour on his city, also Live Performers Meeting all on Europe, Bella Skyway in Torün, Poland, Circle of Light in Moscow, now in Southamérica it starts growing: Küsefest´s this first year Light Festival in Santiago de Chile that we had honoured with the first prize on best video mapping the last edition.
Lumen: Do you trust the chaos or try to organize and schedule everything?
Marcelo Vidal: I need chaos for creativity and order to make it work.
Lumen: What’s the most useful social media network for visual artists and why?
Marcelo Vidal: All are as useful, as well as badly addictive. If you can use your social media accounts like real networks, you win. If you can’t, you just waste your time.
Lumen: Share your creative plans for 2018!
Marcelo Vidal: I´m working hard on a live A/V with my music partner: Androoval a set music only played with hardware fully synced with visuals and i would like to start playing this live as soon as possible the project is called: Robots in Dub. I had some portable light sculptures installations mixing video mapping, dmx lighting and sound that i want to share on many cities i could, the idea is work in collaboration with some local artists and made a sclupturedrawingpaintg piece made an inauguration and fly away. And I’m looking for challenging projects to interact with artists from different disciplines.