A game of simulations, a game of realities
Between dual states such as love, the ego and insecurities, Matiz’s work places us in a space of reflection regarding who we are: our reality and our pretenses. It is a work which –in his words– is 70% made up by the viewer’s experience.
A simple order, command or desire. A form of communicating, conveying and interpreting. Walking along the corridors of an art fair distances us from certain realities or, perhaps, brings us even closer to that potentiality which we experience in the moment: Take a selfie, a phrase which invites the viewers to act quickly. There, the click of the phone’s screen to snap a picture becomes something that is immediate, something that is done without thinking, but rather, through a quick action, like an act/reflex.
And later, the message remains, since Camilo Matiz isn’t just confined to the simplicity of self-portraits taken by a cell phone –which is the most popular on both social networks and the internet in general–. It is a high-profile way of showing, reflecting, exhibiting, and even selling oneself. It is another way to objectify the body and the being through photography, this time with a difference, by also showing the place where you are, the people around you and how “successful” that can be. Fake a life, simulates and only simulates… just like Braudillard predicted in Simulacra and Simulation: “the simulation calls into question the difference of what is ‘true’ and what is ‘false’, of what is ‘real’ and what is ‘imaginary’.” It even makes something that isn’t real, seems real by immersing us in a false tale of what happened. It is here, where the simulation of a life can become real; that reality which exists for all who see, inspect, monitor and keep an eye on it through the current panoptic of social networks.
Matiz’s outlook goes much further. It’s not just a question regarding contemporary culture or the simulations of social networks; it’s also a stance on free interpretation regarding different messages. That is how I love you, a tradition in love, the most important phrase in a relationship, which binds two people in a commitment, can be reflected as a harsh reality that grants multiple interpretations: I’m over you. In the artist’s words: “This is one of my favorite pieces because of how people react to it. Couples spend a lot of time together and how it is interpreted depends on the emotional state of the viewer. If you are in the passionate phase, I’m over you, makes sense; if you are going through another phase, it refers to something else,” a harsh, cruel meaning that is completely real. A meaning that emerges from that simulation where what’s real and what’s fake are jumbled together in a reality that isn’t accepted; meanwhile, in the background there is a relationship of corruption: “In Miami a woman repeatedly visited the stand over two days, waiting for me in order to thank me. When I asked her why, she told me that she was undergoing a difficult emotional situation with her partner, and after seeing my work, it helped her understand that she could control which side of the image that she wanted to be on, whether in the reflection or in reality,” explains Matiz. Through that, for him: “the work evolves like we all do. Nothing is black or white, everything is altered and the work transforms into us.”
That is how the pressure of relationships is a reflection of that love that once existed; also, that is how messages like: Believe you can, turn into phrases like Lie to yourself anyway; or You are a star, is a mere reflection of You bastard. In those junctions of realities, “isn’t he who simulates [an illness], sick or not sick with ‘real symptoms’? For Braudillard, a single response is key. Objectively, you can’t treat him as neither sick nor healthy. Psychology and medicine stop there, in face of a truth of the untraceable illness henceforth.”
Between cameras and realities. Pretending in life
“The mirror is a tool to confront ourselves in a three-dimensional emotional space: that which can be read, that which is reflected, and, most important, our image in this context,” explains Camilo Matiz, audiovisual director, advertisement director and producer of the film 1989, along with Vincent Gallo, an artist of many talents who spends his life between cameras and realities; between games and simulations; in scenes that place the viewer in front of a projection of his own life opposite the big screen, opposite the TV and commercials, opposite of the reality of the Here, Not Here, of his work.
All of these elements are one and the same: photography, cinema, music, visual arts, are for Matiz, forms of expression for different emotions, “they are brushes,” he says. Through this, the brushes help him as: “mediums with very different objectives, but with very similar patterns. They are like two neighbors that like each other but won’t admit it,” says the artist. He continues, “Art is the essence, the foundation, but undoubtedly they complement each other and all are ways of expressing my creativity in different mediums.”
This need to express oneself, to feel, to show and reflect the complexity of this both fictitious and real world, originates from several images and memories of sounds and colors. In stories that involved a motorcycle along with his father when he was a boy, when he felt the night air, the wind, the noise of the motor beneath the music of Strauss, Ruben Blades or Coltrane, with the eerie colors of the Caribbean and critical messages. “My father lived in Cuba for 12 years, six during the Batista years and six during Castro’s time, and he always thought that I would experience a revolution like he did: to change his life. Although he didn’t complain about his experiences, he always wanted to prepare us: he taught us that we are only what we know; and my mother taught us to be closer to what we feel. Through that, unintentionally, they showed us that art is a comprehensive tool,” concludes the artist.
This comprehensive tool is what is reflected in the framed mirrors, where his phrases are converted into realities or simulations, or, into a stunted truth that we aren’t able to see, that we don’t want to feel or the complete opposite: simulations that we want to show to live, revive and feel.