For his second solo show in Guayaquil, Vicente Muñoz presents Sublimis, a new series of infrared photographs that explore the inevitable struggle of man against nature—his desire to control and tame it through the constant thrust of urbanization.
Sublimis is comprised of 38 chrome film photographs in large format, using the sublimation technique on aluminum. In this series, nature is dramatized and abstracted by a vibrant red color, a product of the interpretation of the infrared signal of the film. Originally used for aerial photography in combat zones, infrared film was used to detect warlike armament in enemy territory through contrast. The film continued to be used sporadically until the end of its production in 2011. Richard Mosse worked on documentary photography in the Congo using the same medium. Muñoz has obtained the film through secondary markets, scouring online sources and expired film archives.
The title of the series takes its name from the large-scale painting Vir Heroicus Sublimis (Man, Heroic and Sublime) by the celebrated abstract expressionist Barnett Newman. With Vir Heroicus Sublimis, a red canvas stretching 7 meters in length, Newman hoped that the viewer’s senses would be exacerbated, overwhelmed. Newman believed deeply in the spiritual potential of abstract art, a notion fully on display in this work.
Muñoz comments: “I see a direct analogy in the extinction of this medium, which has helped me to decode and interpret the relationship between the city and nature, and the effects of climate change on the topography of different cities. We could even infer that this means of photography helps through its quasi-extinction to assess what we still have left unconsumed.”
Sublimis was on view in Guayaquil on August 30th for a single-night viewing in the residence of architect Antonio Plaza, whose Neo-Classical home served as a dramatic backdrop to the infrared artworks.