Via Satelite
A Contemporary Panorama of Photography and
Video in Peru

By Miguel Zegarra and Jose-Carlos Mariategui

The satellite as a transmission vehicle of specific documentation; the paradigmatic image of the periphery as an external point and view focalized in a center from which to inform of its situation. The transmitted information to this center configures a series of fragmented images of the peripheral landscape inside a scheme of information networks and subordinate structures.

Peru is situated in the periphery of a global cultural landscape. Through the Via Satelite project this characteristic relates it with other points of the global map that will receive its mediatic information. The different satellite points outline a new information network based under a cultural interchange structure that is located at the margins of the subordinating axes.

These new conceptual axes allow Peruvian artists and curators, respectively, to become also satellites, having as their mission to create information and to transmit it. In this way, cultural production crosses borders and participates in the configuration of a new and hybrid global image.

1. The Technological Pathway

As post-industrial forms of art, video and photography are not only machine-made types of art, they also perform social functions as powerful cultural and entertaining instruments and they are currently the “best” ways to portray and document contemporary society, characterized by its acceleration and productivity.

Photography and video are, maybe, the more innovative and critical developments in the contemporary Peruvian artistic scene. Its production does not only denote the proposals of a generation of young creators that use technology as an essential part of their cotidianity, but also the initiatives that question –from different perspectives and methodologies– the local and global cultural media structures, their possibilities, limitations and symbolic references.

An articulate thematic axis of this production is the urban experience. This experience produces different accounts and interpretations of the surroundings, referred to private and/or social experiences. The diversity of the urban experience in Peru and its fragmentary representations composes new cultural scenes that define the thematic criteria that group the different proposals of Via Satelite.

A first approach allow us also to observe with certain clarity that the proposals are linked to different situations, like criticisizing the influence of media in the configuration of new identities and new landscapes; all the way to the “portable” experience of the urban landscape, in the passer-by or passengers account, present in media production; or, the elaboration of documents, from the critical reading by artists of social facts and its protagonists, by relating them among each other to build new stories. Peruvian media artists do not deal only with one of these situations, they mix them giving origin to a hybridization of methodologies and contents.

2. Media mass /art media

The practice of the contemporary artist has multiple facets, because they are not assigned to a limited set of artistic ways or approaches. In the case of media artists, the material mean is complementary to the intention of the proposal, and this may require different solutions. Their productions are not part of the historically autonomous or traditional mediums, neither is privilege of a unique authorship, but they are part of collective processes of technical production.

Visual arts have entered in a dangerous alliance with the mass media. The tradition towards recycling, in which a good part of today’s media production has been transformed, is immersed in the context of the development of the media and its tendencies: trends and stereotypes. The phenomena of reality shows, video clip, or “free -style camera” have finally ended in a simple photogenic application of the mass communication media. However, set against the standardizing effects of TV, media art can and must actively make an interpretation of the tensions between the psychological and social realities, establishing a hypothetic image-space at the margin of the reality accessible through the media.

In the ambit of the criticism towards media, Peruvian video art has reacted turning back to the virtues of the first media manifestations of the sixties and seventies1, researching in the structural properties of the audiovisual, an intent to undertake the process of production of images. In Paisaje (Landscape), Iván Esquivel questions with a non-technological minimum gesture –a transparent glass with the inscription “landscape”- the efficiency of the technologic media in capturing a specific landscape. In this way, he elaborates a portable version of the landscape by framing – like a photographic or video lens would do- any space in which it will be put on. Here, the act of seeing of the viewer completes the capturing action. Therefore, we go back to a basic principle: the eye becomes the biologic mechanism that activates the reproduction of the multiple possibilities of the image. This type of questioning of the media is also present in the “video-pastiche” La Imagen (The Image), by Angie Bonino, an open critic to the TV a way of distorting reality.

However, it is important to mention that in the international scene, the artistic reflection about the media is a theme that has been overcome by the spirit of new paradigms. As Peter Weibel affirms, “Today in many cases art references the cinematographic imaginary as its central aesthetic source. (…) The point of reference is not avant-garde films but the Hollywood movie and film as a mass medium”3 . . In this context, proposals like La Muerte de Eros (The Death of Eros) by Diego Lama, where his main sources of artistic reference are the film imaginary, claims and faces the formal setting of movies that mixes with the freedom offered by video, as well as the integrations with other arts, such as theater, to create a hybrid production that still maintains elements of the formal film narrative. In spite of the complexity of its production, it has an easily distinguishable element that takes it closer to the commercial movie language attempting the visual perfection of today’s “super productions”.

This opens again an old discussion about film and video, but in a moment in which the means of production have very similar technical characteristics. Much of the visual and narrative language of movies is used as an element of attraction and communication in the artistic proposals, a very similar strategy that video art and TV faced in the 60´s. Without antagonisms, we accept the mediatic condition on the public to introduce by this channel new data and negotiations, as we will discuss later on.

As a result of these negotiations, commercial films have also been developing alternative ways of production, getting closer more to experimental and media forms. Though film productions abounds, also abounds the immediacy in their contents and the fast caducity of their messages.

3. The simulacra and the urban experience

Big cities have become the main stages of contemporary art. In them, the experience of time in relation to the duration of daily events gives a particular sensation of acceleration of the rhythm of life.

Two decades ago, as a consequence of the migratory phenomena from rural to urban zones, different flanks, defined as “human settlements”, “shanty towns” or “poverty belts”, surrounded Lima –geographically and socially–. Now it has assimilated its old margins to become an overcrowded metropolis. A new urban organization has been imposed and the old oligarchic state of the, once called, “checkerboard” city, its gardens and its coasts, no longer rule not even over a reduced geographic and social space. If Lima was a walled city during the colonial Viceroyalty to be protected against pirate attacks, now its population is integrated due to a corrected and enlarged neo-pirate version. Its ancient places of observation compose, for a few years now, a “pirate combination”, like accurately is defined by the web project (Seven flavors)4 by Ivan Lozano, where iconic and moving figures get grouped as a comic book reflecting the iconographic fetishism of Metropolitan Lima, integrating its human behavior to this new configuration.

The process of urban homogenization has its origins in the universalized structures of consumerism. Applied to the context of underdevelopment, in which does not exist the necessary conditions for the post-industrial consumerism, these structures reproduce phenomena through a precarious imitation or simulation of the dominant media paradigms. This is how the foundations of the semblance phenomena are settled in a population familiarized with the cultural industry media –first radio, then TV and now the Internet5 -- marked by the dichotomy of the “lived reality” –full of non-satisfied lacks- and the “observed reality” or the media consumed one, that settles the existential mark of the necessity. It looks like those universalized experiences of consumerism will implicate an increment of the passive non-creative reception6 . . However in contexts like the Peruvian one, the virtualization of this experience prints new franchises7 in the collective imaginary. These franchises give origin to cultural assemblies, hybrid products or creativity mixes.

This accelerated freedom towards new creation, trespasses and transports the traditionally accepted limits to offer a new image of the city as the result of the fast development of Lima surroundings. The migratory processes and the popular overflow have unchained a complex and giddy growth in the last fifty years8. . During this period of time, failed intents of urbanization processes consolidated giving origin to new urban spaces connected to the parasitic “squared” city or “colonial arcadia”9.. Today we can say that six cities coexist in Lima10,, a situation that until few years ago was just empirically perceived by traffic jams, precarious “conquests” or invasion of lands, urban cultural transformations and the increasing lack of public infrastructure and services. The urban cultural panorama was presented in this way, as a fragmented panorama, as a landscape of juxtapositions and non-integrated elements.

In Peruanidad Technicolor, Beatrice Velarde makes a deconstructive semiotic reading of the urban spaces in Peru. She presents us with a “schizophrenic city” of creaky colors that follows the guidelines of a “post-modern esthetic conception of urbanism”, the expression of an emerging culture based in a multiplicity of combinations. It is a map of disturbed symbologies and accumulated elements without an order or hierarchy. The collective memory, historical and religious, merges with the images of consumerism: liberators, virgins, Greeks, military heroes, and Moche warriors11warriors11 are intertwined with casinos, advertising and Yankee phrases. These are the new structures of progress in Peru that bring out to light the tradition of the past as a sign of discomfort and poverty in the collective imaginary. For this reason, in state-owned monuments and infrastructure prevails the vocation for the new and the avidity for what is foreign, stating, in one way or the other, a lack of national identity12.


4. A new face

As Abraham Valdelomar –famous Peruvian writer of the avant-garde period at the beginnings of the 20th century- said while doing a deductive analysis of the national reality: “Peru is Lima. Lima is Jirón de la Unión. Jirón de la Unión is the Palais Concert. Therefore, Peru is the Palais Concert.”13" Valdelomar was right: sixty years later, the streets of Jiron de la Union, where the Palais Concert was located, are passed by human masses from every part of Peru. This reflection about the social centralism faces us upon breaking the stereotype of the “Criollo” (Creole) as only the “pure citizen” of this city. Lima is now a mix of rural and Andean population challenging the traditional ethnic-social hierarchies, transforming the face of Peru.

Visual artists have documented the face of the characters of this social change by going after their spaces of interaction. An exemplary sociologic zoom is the project of street portraits of the photographer Sergio Urday in the crowded commercial area of Mesa Redonda14. . In his proposal, Urday retakes the practice of the traditional studio scenic portrait of the 19th century, bringing it closer to common passers-by using an ambulant photographic portrait studio, showing us the new face of the “limeño” (person from Lima).

The project La Otra (The Other) by Natalia Iguiñiz, shows us housemaids and their employers sharing the same portrait. This proposal suggests a space of clear social confrontation in which the ‘look’ is the battlefield, through a relational image that reveals leftovers from colonialism, but also transformations in the traditional ethnic-social patterns that marked historic relations of subordination in the everyday environment that does not exist anymore.

Peruvian production of visual arts at the middle 90´s was defined for a moment to individualy subject through an introspective point of view. In this context the portrait was the centre of representation. But the change of Peruvian cultural scene for the progressive irruption… (hasta aca llegue)

In this context self-portrait was held as the main representation axis. Nevertheless, the transformation of the Peruvian cultural scene in the middle of that decade since the progressive irruption of global elements- that came from the spaces of cultural entertainment and mediatic spectacle - produced a turn in the local production: a new face was discovered through proposals directed towards a new reading of the no longer introspective individuality, but culturally located. This it is the case of Wannabe , of Juan Pablo Murrugarra, a series of photographies that composes itself as an album of stereotypes in which the artist dissolves his identity in his representation of different rolls. Under a glance that announces the identity through the appearance, the contrast point is in the final image that closes the series: 30 id photos of the artist - a systematic documentation taken during 30 days followed as confrontation sign of the identity from the individual in front of the group; an individual that stays perennial in spite of the minimal changes of appearance of the day to day.

We can also find bodies of resistance to the phenomena of socio-cultural homogenization. In Atipanacuy15, Álvaro Zavala “concentrates in the extended tourist-folkloric visions that circulate around the world as images of Peru. (…) The quick images of Zavala constitute a kitsch ethno drama and give account of the dramatic structures in which cultural change occurred. Through cultural stereotypes, this artist unmasks the speech about the end of History as a simple empty verbiage, to affirm instead that History is inextinguishable (…) The individual and media machines that build up myths puts the archaic structures and the most recent technology in a vital perspective for a radical critical media, and challenge us to reflect upon the relations being made”16.. This video represents, paradoxically, the renascence of a cultural fight through the reivindication of a traditional art. The scissors dancer is not a pure autochthon character, but essentially a hybrid one, since he incorporates foreign cultural elements and mixes them with traditional ones, in a process of constant evolution: the harp and the violin mixes with break dance and hip hop rhythms17.

5. Globalization “in my way”

New identities are generated not only through global media but also from complex articulations that take place in an unstable socio-politic panorama and from a local contact that mediates its relation and response with the global. This means that there is an ambivalence that gets transformed to a critical vision towards cultural western values represented by the media. This is why it is not only a matter to identify our local reality with tradition and the western world with modernity, we need to talk about a process of different identities or multiple perceptions.

The “strongly” globalized capitals of Latin America gave their backs to the provinces, an issue we must take to account to be able to face the situation in which we are in and to assume that most of the time the concept of “nation” gets to be a complex definition. Recently in Peru, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission18 noted that during the last 20 years of internal war suffered by the country, more than 60 000 people died. The rural population was the main victim of this violence. From the analysis of the testimonies received it turns out that 75 percent of the fatal victims of the armed internal conflict had Quechua or other native languages as mother tongue. It was a conflict that revealed deep gaps and failures within the Peruvian society. The violence process showed the importance of the ethnic-cultural inequalities that still prevail in Peru.

In this way we witness that the analysis on the development of art at global scale has most of the time been a sophisticated theoretical construction but empirically poor, building polished conceptual arguments that takes very little from reality. Because of this the development of critical proposals that infringe the global and local spheres are increasingly more necessary.

From a global perspective the “regional concept” could also be used to make a critical analysis against our own local situation. No-Latin Party by Diego Lama, proposes a critical look on the influence of artists that belong to the mainstream in the most influential artistic events (like the International Biennials) which most of the time are determined by the criteria of economic power more than the artistic value, that is to say, by a little “mafia” as Lama sees it using an emblematic sequence from the “God Father” series, of Francis Ford Coppola, where the actors appear sharing a cake. Here the work of Lama is compelling in relation to a market of art that for Gerardo Mosquera could be opened and be made more fair to everyone: “Equally important is the construction of international and contemporary art and culture in a true international way: in differences and from differences. That is, enacting difference rather than representing it, thus actively fashioning the 'international language' in multiple ways. It is necessary to cut the global pie not only with a variety of knives, but also with a variety of hands, and then share it accordingly.”19”.

In a similar way, the video Power Animation by Ivan Esquivel conceptually question the society in which we live in, taking examples from the mainstream language and placing video as the favorite media for reflecting today the power in artistic circuits and how artists participate on those systems.

The global image field seems redefined and re-contextualized constantly by young creators, which makes it extremely dynamic and allow us to measure the effects that media culture has over the new generations. In many cases, the richness is not only based through the image, but in the production of a piece as a whole, where sound and visual language share similar values, creating projects of a singular esthetic value. From 9Hz by Jorge Luis Carbajal, a project that gets close to an experimental short film by the relation that abstract sound production gives to the image, to the Magna Opera series by Rafael Besaccia, where the author relates traditional techniques of painting with sophisticated 3D animations that conjugate in an intent of creating a piece of art for all times.

Video is an international language of nomad producers. Inside this media language some “local dialects” are probably best-identified or more successful among the “local consumer”. SP Super Peru, by Carlos Letts and Jorge Luis Chamorro, decomposes our typical vision of the images we see associated with the ceremonial melody of the National Anthem of Peru: heroes, monuments, folkloric images, national emblems of doubtful pride. It is a visual essay that alludes to a reflection about “being Peruvian” taking elements of an intrepid routine reality, and, mostly from the media, showing the precariousness of most of this icons created by using media itself to criticize and ridicule them.

6. The social document

In spite of being immersed in the macro and micro contexts of globalization, that generates a wide range of homogenizing languages, there still exist problems of misunderstanding internal realities. We imply here phenomena of different cultural areas that coexist in the same geographic region. As we observed previously the analyses on the development of art in global scale builds sophisticated theoretical discourses but poor regarding the collection of sources from diverse realities. Because of these, the construction of different ways of narrating memories has a primary role that should be expanded to different areas of research. In this context the artists become producers of new sources or documents for critical researches, by reviewing specific social and cultural processes, which are quite complex and that necessarily require interpretation beyond the journalistic or stereotyped perspectives.

Artists that go around the analysis of political facts like in the case of Eduardo Villanes in Identity Transfer-After Denis Openheim exemplify the role of the social document and the role of the artist as a researcher or journalist of information to be created, different, or purely critical, to the usual reading of the media. By means of the presentation of the only two existing photographs known at that time of Mayor Martin Rivas, presumably identified as the intellectual author of the Barrios Altos massacre20 ,Villanes gives us a new document in which he makes himself, in a conceptual way, an identity transfer.

Always associated to objectivity, photography is usually considered a document when it gives information, a testimony or evidence21. . In El Cuaderno de Nancy (Nancy’s Notebook), Flavia Gandolfo elaborates a diagnosis of the cultural and social crisis in Peru. Starting from the treatment of the socio-cultural gaps produced by public education, it uncovers the conflicts of identity in relation to certain symbols associated with the vague and precarious construction of what is national in the collective imaginary. The visual analysis of Gandolfo departs from the systematization of the experience of photographing school notebooks from students of public schools in Peru22 .

Finally, the work with historic documents of religion, like in the case of the video Daniel, by artist and publicist Humberto Polar, denotes a reflection of the political and ideological character of what is sacred nowadays, and allow us to reflect upon the ancient power of religion in comparison to the actual power of the media.

Creating alternative readings of reality, based on the recollection of documents, faces the author directly with the “official reality”, a reality exercised by power mechanisms. This brings to light testimonies and feelings that most of the times are hidden, darkened or unnoticed by traditional mass media. The great challenge of these kinds of proposals is to edit the information and represent it as an experience. In this situation, the job of the artist in not just to show a piece of art, but to participate in a series of questions and precisions to complete a narrative approach with a critic attitude.

7. From the spectacularization to surveillance systems

As Foucault affirmed, libidinal foundations support the hidden powers behind surveillance systems. Contemporary society has gone from spectacle to surveillance, and from this situation to the spectacularization of surveillance. Today, surveillance has become a constitutive part of the public eye in the context of a society traced by voyeurism23.

The political paranoia of the last Peruvian dictatorship –Alberto Fujimori (1990-2001)- represented by an acute increase of social control and surveillance systems was contrasted with an expanding city open to new horizons. But like any colonial city, Lima still keeps the remains of a halted and decadent modernity, which is observed from its corners, plazas and orifices.

From this panorama we can distinguish different types of views. In one side there is a silent view –and not by that mean non critical-, that portraits the cultural constructions within the metropolitan power. This is the view of Philippe Gruenberg and Pablo Hare in the development of their stratigraphic research, of “concrete-armed” integration of interiors and exteriors of a city that becomes a new cave of shadows24.. On it, the ghosts of the ancient paradigms of the urban bourgeoisies and oligarchy get dissolved in between the dysfunctional masses. These are the signs of times of a power corroded by the bureaucratic structures of surveillance and punishment.

The artists, as active witnesses of their history, do not receive in a passive way the images projected by the media in the threshold of the cave, anyhow they search for them, quoting and transforming using the tools offered by the technological wisdom. In this way a critic towards the power of the media is built in relation to the distortion of information, from the construction of an image that changes in terms of transitory political and economical power under the form of spectacle.

As the Spanish artist Antoni Muntadas recognizes “one of the duties of today’s artists is to make visible the invisible side of the image”. A critic sensibility, and a social responsibility have to be promoted in the artist that has to be transmitted to the public.

The panoptic and oblong view of the urban landscape in the proposal of Andrea Miranda Vision tele shows us the new captured images in relation to the media. From this perspective, the new paradigm of the media system of surveillance, TV, is located as an omnipresent and omniscient monolith: symptomatically critical and challenging the medial “off” circumstance of the TV apparatus in this proposal, in the specific context of its production. Now the vigilant monolith -the absent camera or the TV apparatus- looks directly to the Palacio de Gobierno (Peru’s Presidential Palace) armed with its silence from the Plaza Mayor (Lima’s Main Square): defying the old state, symbolically canceling the media corruption system implanted by the dictatorship of Alberto Fujimori25 .

In Hola y Chau (Hello and Bye) by Roger Atasi, the author looks for the most ironic way to participate in this “open media act of corruption” like somebody that appears in Big Brother TV Show, which means, a common man that suddenly becomes a star, synthesis of many TV series and reality shows within the raw reality but equally mediated.

Video art is not the only way of extracting “something” from TV, the spectacle becomes parody when scenes of what is public with what is private get mixed. The piece A day in the life of Max Hernandez faces us within the family context and the creation of life, confronted by scenes of cheap sex: pleasure versus reproductivity. Using a disguise as an absurd resource, the author parodies how the mass media would show a ridicule comedy.

The denying of the artificial media landscape is reflected in Que lindos son tus ojos (How beautiful your eyes are) by Alvaro Zavala. This piece comes in response to the null intention of investing in new technologies and creativity in the production of vernacular popular music gender, clearly commercial and at the same time a strong tool of national identity. Though this music gender is born in the Andean area, today it is sang almost completely in Spanish, leaving the Quechua language by the side and welcoming the electric bass, the harp and electric drums without leaving the traditional instruments aside. It is clear that this gender results of a mix of traditions but with clear social prejudices born in the centralist capital.

A different glance of the city is given by the discovery of testimonies of memory in the private space, where the camera arrives to capture vestiges and to transform moments. In these spaces stories marked by a nostalgic glance are exhumed. This it is the case of the project Casa of Jose Carlos Martinat, photographer who prayed the dust scab of the forgetfulness to intervene its familiar history during a century. The installation was conformed by a series of 65 photographies that captures objects, people and photographies found in this place; in addition to intervention of different ‘dark' spaces of the house – family room, bedroom, kitchen, etc. -, that, while during the installation presentation, was crossed by the spectator helped with a lantern, between video projections, scents and sensors that activated sounds, between the original objects of the space. "In this house my paternal grandfathers grew up from his childhood, they shaped a family here. Later it would become his woodcraft space. This it is a place which I have remembered throughout my life, because from my childhood I lived near here, and after many years I got here to settle and to live (...) Casa began like a photographic project that captured the objects that I was finding in this space, the majority were made here; and using images of my family I finally worked with the real space and everything that what in it."i26 .

Epilogue: The construction of new landscapes

The experience of capturing landscapes is universal. Landscapes acquire a condition of portability and mediatization when are shot to film or taken into videotape, for being then reproduced or simulated. Different contemporary technological ways –like the Internet - offer new possibilities of configuration of landscapes. Meanwhile, the creation of artificial or virtual spaces gets mixed with real ones, constructing innovative sceneries.

This is how the city can be abstracted by the artists, and used as an interface to attempting to transform it into other space. In Ciudad*Postal. Colección en construcción (Ciudad Postal. Collection under construction,, Gilda Mantilla uses the web format to find a new vehicle to communicate the landscape. Taking into account previous works, such as Lima*Peru and Lima para llevar (Lima to take-away) –that used the postcard format and the physical mail way- Mantilla accomplishes to systematize, through an interactive web site the virtual transmition of postcards which means the transmition of the urban landscapes in different places of Latin America (as Lima, Bogotá or Puerto Rico). This project claims the phenomena of displacement and the communication as collectible forms of art that transcend the condition of an object in a determined place or specific moment. This interface remains open to constant constructions, by incorporating new landscapes and experiences incorporated by the visitors from all over the world.

A similar situation is generated by the network of interrupted actions of communication that forms running of Luz Maria Bedoya in the project Muro . During three years (2002-2005) Bedoya dedicated herself to include incomprehensible messages in holes found in the walls of the streets of different cities of the world: Dublín, Lima , Porto Alegre and Venice . The messages contained texts composed of words invented by the artist from the grammar and phonetic structure of the language of the position area - English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian, respectively -, impossible to understand when lacking a semantic sense. "In Muro , the photographies and shootings did not have as solely purpose to document the set of actions (...) The way in which the artist lead his action in the streets demonstrated the importance of the image in her work: during the insertion of messages in the walls, Luz Maria Bedoya observed and lead its gestures through the camcorder, so that the natural movement to wrinkle a sheet of paper and inserting it in a crack, already was a finished image (...) Determined to capture certain sequences and cuts following simple steps, repeated in each fence and each wall, Luz Maria Bedoya communicated the empty, monotone and banal dimension of the streets of such different cities. It is by the image that we always intuited ' that it is always the same' in Muro (...) is the image that ties us with that gesture of incomplete communication."27. The meeting of the similar intervention in different landscapes gives origin here to a project that materializes in space acts and vestige of thought .28.

Y sincero… (Videokatarsis 2) (And sincere…) by Carlos Letts emphasizes the portable and artificial character of the image, by depicting how reality and fantasy intertwines in the search of nostalgic feelings. Making a questioning between seeing and being seen, the author becomes a DJ of all those romantic songs, beloved and yearned, making a radio composition that also has, like in traditional radio, moments or inserts that generate “noises” either sonorous or visually, bursting in the tranquility of the artificial landscape and bringing us back for a moment to reality.

A landscape is capable of conditioning and influencing on the spectator. As Luca Galofaro mentions: “Everybody lives and sees a landscape. However often something escapes or ever better, we cannot get in contact to the world that surrounds us. Art possess the capacity of stopping us, of slowing down our rhythm restoring the value of time and the slowness of contemplation. Art awakes again our interest for everything that surround us, suppressing the rules and rewriting the space we live in”29”.

Today the intervention of the landscape is a need that shapes modern culture. Landscape and art, both had become tools with which is possible to represent an idea of space that most of times is hard or useless to represent physically. Landscape is therefore an active system directly related with the creative action.

Therefore, the landscape in no longer a passive entity, but an active one, in constant transformation, that passes on to new applications and reinventions of the territory. The Internet allows to transport information that leaves the established format to burst in the computer screen of any user and establish a dialog that tends to become a communication necessity. Through projects like the ones of Ivan Lozano or Gilda Mantilla we can state that new portable landscapes seek for the public participation and not longer a passiveness in front of an image.

What happens here is an interchange between the real world and a contained immaterial world: the Internet generates imaginary architectures and desires, an immersion in structures that we can build to our cravings and from which we can get “off” just by doing “click”. The physical experience is replaced by the visual: the space gets dematerialized, and the medial world becomes tangible.

With the Internet we come back to define an information system as a set of relations kept and transformed independently from the related elements. As Foucault explains, “before any human existence, any thoughts at all, there was already a knowledge, a system that we rediscovered”30”. We can say then that we are going back again to define things through theoretical or thought structures, forms in which people experience and react to situations that change in time and society, but that are always present.

In a similar way, photography, cinema and video define what we see. The shots and stills that make us live a particular experience in a defined landscape are born from the act of appropriation by the author, taking advantage of art’s property of abstracting the viewer and taking them to new ways of seeing a landscape.

The construction of a new landscape bursts into the Peruvian contemporary art scene. As foreseeing with boldness a speech situated at the margin of the local mainstream formal art form, it gives back to us, with sincerity, many of the illusions that once we thought were lost.


1>This maybe a result of its late incorporation to the local artistic scene, at the end of the nineties.

2> Flusser, Vilém. Hacia una filosofía de la fotografía (Towards a Philosophy of Photography). Trillas / Sigma, México, 1990, p.12. In this text, Flusser develops the notion of the power of the technical images to restructure reality and transform it into a scenery or simulacre. In a beginning, images, seen as information surfaces that absorb elements of reality, serve as mediator tools for humankind. Flusser observes that through out history the power roles man / image have been inverted. Images become “screens” that do not present the world but they represent it, displacing it and placing them in front of the eyes of men. In this way, an idolatry phenomenon emerges in which “men lives in function of the images that he himself has produced and the omnipresent technical images restructure reality.”

3> Weibel, Peter. Jordan Crandall: “Art and the Cinematographic Imaginary in the Age of Panoptic Data Processing”, in: Crandall, Jordan. DRIVE. Hatje Cantz Publishers, Vienna, 2002, pp 1-2.


5>The proliferation of public Internet cabins in Peru is a particular phenomenon that allowed an expansive growth. Today, more than 90% of the Peruvian web surfers get online through cabins. (

6>Jiménez, José. Teoría del Arte (Art Theory). Colección NeoMETRÓPOLIS (Alianza Editorial / Tecnos), Madrid, 2002, p.211.

7> In their text, Franquicias Imaginarias. Las opciones estéticas en las artes plásticas en el Perú de fin de siglo (The esthetic options in the plastic arts in Peru at the end of the century) (Fondo Editorial de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Lima, 2002), the Peruvian art critics Max Hernandez and Jorge Villacorta allude precisely to the incorporation of global cultural referents, of artistic and extra-artistic international language (mass media information, elements of consumerism in contemporary society) in the most recent generations of Peruvian artists. They locate the development of these phenomena in the 90´s, building the idea of the “franchise” to indicate the local assimilation and reproduction of global cultural structures.

8> In 1940, Lima had only 661 000 habitants. The migratory phenomenon has transformed it today in a city of more than 8 million habitants, by this, one of the most crowded capital cities of the world.

9> Defined in this way by intellectual Sebastian Salazar Bondy (Lima, 1924 - 1965) in his work of critic and cultural chronics Lima La Horrible. Editorial Universidad de Concepción, Talcahuano, 2002, fourth Edition, p.137.

10> A recent study by market research company Apoyo Opinión y Mercado divides Lima in six big cities in continuous development: North Lima, Old Lima, Callao, East Lima, Modern Lima and South Lima.

11> Moche was a pre-Columbian culture located in the north part of Peru, in the Lambayeque Valley. To it belongs the archeological findings of Sipan by Walter Alva (1989).

12>Beatrice Velarde. Project text.

13>The Palais Concert was a gathering spot of the Peruvian intellectual elite at the beginnings of the 20th century. It was located at the Jr. de la Unión, one of the few pedestrian streets that still remains in downtown Lima and that now is surrounded by various commerce walked by thousands of people daily.

14>Located in Lima’s downtown, this informal commercial space got a huge fire on the 29th of December of 2001 that left a total of 291 deaths. The origin of the fire, that destroyed five blocks of commercial stores, was the explosion of pyrotechnic material (fireworks) usualy sold during Christmas and New Year celebrations. After that incident the commercialization of these products is forbidden. In spite of that, city revisions have found in the last years plentiful material commercialized clandestinely.

15> Quechua word for clash

16> Haustein, Lydia. “Machu Picchu Interactiv“. Frankfurter Allgemaine Zeitung, Nr. 194, 22nd of August, 2000, Germany.

17>Mariategui, Jose-Carlos. “Video Arte Electrónico en el Perú”. In Peru/Video/Art/Electronic. Memorias del Festival Internacional de video/arte/electrónica. Alta Tecnología Andina / Universidad Ricardo Palma, Lima, 2003, p.17.


19>Mosquera, Gerardo. “Notes on Globalisation, art and cultural difference”. Rijksakademie van beelbende kunsten and RAIN, Amsterdam, 2001, pp. 26-36.

20>In 1991 agents of the Army Intelligence Secret Service (related to Fujimori’s advisor Vladimiro Montesinos) killed 15 people during a local neighbourhoud bash in a humble area of Barrios Altos, in Lima.

21>Majluf, Natalia and Jorge Villacorta. Documents. Three Decades of Peruvian Photography. Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, 1997, p.15

22>In Peru, the educational crisis is a reality that besieges us during all our contemporary history. Precarious public schools are the main sign of this crisis that leaves a generation from poorest segments of the society in an uncertainty of ignorance and oversight.

23> Foucault, Michel. Vigilar y Castigar. Nacimiento de la prisión. Siglo Veintiuno Editores, Madrid, 1990.

24>In the photographic series Lima 01 a low-tech mechanism gives origin to a politic and visual reflection. The starting point is to transform the interior of an old building in a pin hole camera to reflect the inverted way to the exterior –the landscape of the new city– on top of its old walls. About this, refer to “La ciudad: el camello por el ojo de la aguja”, essay by the Peruvian art critic Rodrigo Quijano about Lima 01, a Phillippe Gruenberg and Pablo Hare project for the 25th Sao Paulo Biennial, Ediciones Galería del Escusado, Lima, 2002.

25>Alberto Fujimori, Peruvian president reelected unconstitutionally two periods in a row (1990-2001). In 1992 he declares a military “autostrike”, after being democratically elected in 1990, closing the National Congress. His regime was characterized for using the mass media –press, TV– as mechanisms of social control in favor of its government. In 2001, after a fraudulent electoral process, and a illegitimate government of constant attempts against human and citizen rights, the first “vladivideo” was discovered. It was a video recording of the clandestine comminations between Vladimiro Montesinos, presidential advisor and chief of the National Intelligence Service, and a member of the National Parliament, to whom the first gave him money. The video was transmitted by the local TV channels. This media finding of corruption of the government politic system was the reason of Fujimori´s run away and resignation via fax from Japan in 2001.

26>Salazar Bondy. Op. Cit.

27> Bernardes, María Helena. “Retrato da Utopia”. En: Dos Santos, Maria Ivone y Alexandre dos Santos (comp.) A fotografia nos processos artísticos contemporâneos. Porto Alegre, UFRGS, 2004. pp. 192-203.

28>Luz María Bedoya. Testimonio. En: Bernardes, Maria Helena. Op.cit.

29>Galofaro, Luca. Artscapes: El arte como aproximación al paisaje contemporáneo. Editorial Gustavo Pili, Barcelona, p.102.

30>Foucault, Michel. Saber y verdad. Ediciones de la Piqueta, Madrid, 19, p. 33.

About the Curators