I am Ignasi Cunill, a photographic artist whose practice explores the boundaries between seeing and knowing. In broad terms, my photographic enquiry emerges from understanding that the relationship between what we see, name and know is never settled.
Within the context of everyday experience, the faculty of seeing is often uncontested in its power to enable our understanding of the world around us. However, seeing and naming are both learned experiences, both conforming to specific patterns within specific cultures. In short, the words and images we create and use to make sense of our surroundings seem part of a reductive, rather than an expansive system. In this way, verbal and visual language often interact to enforce expectations: they teach us what to expect from what surrounds us and, one wonders, may even teach us what and how to experience it.
Alongside verbal language, photography is a ubiquitous form of language for seeing and naming. I therefore take great interest in the semantic capabilities, boundaries and expectations arising from their interactions. Ultimately, these fuel my desire to imagine metaphorical middle grounds where words and images could interact less rigidly. Between the natural and the man-made, the physical and the psychical or the public and the private, lies a hypothetical interface where attempting to see, name and know, becomes all the more fascinating.
This new series sees culture and its by-products as both makers and destroyers of the human condition. From what we eat to what we wear, think and feel, cultural intrusions bombard humans unstoppably. From cultural fads entering our minds to chemical and radioactive compounds entering our bodies, the affect of cultural intrusions is not only psychological but also biological. Here is how the human is metaphorically linked to a cultural monster, deformed by an overdose of impositions that have affected even its genetic integrity.
As exotic specimens are displayed in glass tanks recreating their habitat, the series present metaphorical enclosures through the glass of which the viewer may rethink what can be seen, named and known as human. In HOMO SAPIENS, digitally constructed scenarios represent the cultural habitat of the human being as a cultural monster. Within this context, common ways of understanding the human at cultural and genetic level no longer apply.
As a cultural construct, our understanding of the landscape is mediated by the prescriptive language that defines it verbally and aesthetically. This has prompted my desire to reflect on traditional conventions on the landscape, while being fully aware of how it may be perceived and experienced in a contemporary context.
Being intrigued by spaces of elusive categorization has been central to conceiving the landscape as a repository for psychic, rather than merely physical qualities. In URBAN LANDSCAPES, the resulting images present liminal spaces full of subtle contradictions where ideas about the natural and cultural overlap. Focusing exclusively on metropolitan areas, this series aims at dislocating the precarious balance between words, mental and photographic images that aim at containing ideas on the natural and the man-made.
The faculty of seeing is often uncontested in its enabling our understanding of the world around us. The complexities regarding the experience of our surroundings and our position within them, may appear to be simplified by very prescriptive ways of seeing. Yet the relationship between what we see and what we know is full of uncertainties. Acknowledging this, THE UNDERLYING entertains the idea of disrupting conventional ways of interpreting our surroundings.
In its metaphorical approach, this work reflects on intellectual uncertainty and the possibility to question not only what is being seen, but also who is seeing what. within this frame of perceptual ambiguity, reductive views that aim at making sense of our surrounding world are re-examined. Thus perceived boundaries between the inside and the outside, the natural and cultural, the physical and the psychical and the tangible and the intangible, are no longer taken for granted. This is how the title of the work plays plays with the idea of searching for something else beneath the obvious, something beneath the outer layers of appearances and assumptions. In its unsettled state, what is underlying is then, by definition, something implicit, concealed but perhaps detectable through careful contemplation.
Traditional representations of the landscape have both idealised and vilified nature and human intervention. But crucially, ideas on what is natural and what is man-made have often been depicted as opposing one another. This opposition has been cemented by perceiving nature and human creation in terms of their relative function, as well as their relative superiority or inferiority. Reflecting on these historical distinctions within a contemporary context forms the basis to this series.
An interstice is an intervening space between closely positioned things. Within this series, the idea of the interstice enables the creation of a potential middle ground where the natural and the man-made are brought closer together. This is possible by recognising them both to be cultural constructions. Acknowledging this proximity, INTERSTICES consists of fictional landscapes of unspecified function. Traditional pictorial conventions converge with digital manipulation to make hierarchical distinctions between the natural and the man-made become unclear.