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New York-based Errazuriz concludes his trilogy of lounge concepts for the brand with a space entitled “Foundations,” an immersive concept based on the resource at the heart of watchmaking: iron ore. An installation of 3D-printed, scanned, and hand-molded rocks references the Jura Mountains of Audemars Piguet’s home in the Vallée de Joux.
Quayola’s photography series “Remains” is also set in that same location. Whitewall spoke with the artist about his other-worldly images are made with advanced techniques, investigating nature and the history of landscape painting; and human perception vs. machine vision.
WHITEWALL: How did you first become interested in addressing the history of landscape in your work?
QUAYOLA: My work has always been exploring the unpredictable collisions between opposing forces: real vs. artificial, old vs. new, representation vs. abstraction, form vs. matter. I am interested in how new technological apparatuses influence the way we see and perceive the world around us. Studying Old Masters and related traditional themes is a way for me to emphasize these radical new ways of seeing. Suddenly, images that are so familiar become something else, just because they are observed through a different set of eyes—the eyes of the machine.
In the last three years I have been focusing on the tradition of landscape painting. Specifically, I am fascinated by how, at the end of the 19th century, artists started drifting away from representation and how landscapes became a point of departure towards abstraction. Essentially, how landscapes became a vehicle to explore new aesthetics. I have been studying landscapes on one side with a similar en plein air approach of the Impressionist painter, however on the other side by employing a very extensive technological apparatus to go beyond our way of seeing.
WW: What was the starting point for the series of works that will be on view at the Audemars Piguet lounge at Art Basel Hong Kong?
Q: In Hong Kong I’m presenting a series of large-scale, ultra-high-resolution photographic prints, the latest iteration of my ongoing series “Remains,” with these prints exploring the landscape of Audemars Piguet’s home in the Vallée de Joux. At a first distant glance the images have a realistic photographic feel, however as you walk close to them you can see they are computer-generated, all made by hundreds of millions of points. Instead of using a photographic camera, I have captured data using a high-precision laser 3D-scanner (Lidar). These renders are essentially generated by massive datasets of 3D coordinates. I first explored the origins of Audemars Piguet in 2012, when I collaborated with them on the 40-year anniversary exhibition of their Royal Oak watch, and the works I will present this year are a continued investigation into their natural heritage.
WW: What was it like visiting the Vallée de Joux for the first time? How did that first impression affect the direction of the series?
Q: I spent a long time in the forests of Vallée de Joux with my collaborators. Our objective wasn’t to capture the final images there, but to only capture the initial data. So, while the data is captured on location, the actual true exploration happens digitally in 3D-space. It is during this phase that surprising things emerge, as your perception of the landscape is very different than in the real physical experience. It’s like if we explored these forests twice, first physically in the real thing, and then virtually in the digitized versions.
WW: What kind of dialogue were you trying to engage in?
Q: While exploring the pointclouds of the digitized landscapes, I started to fall in love with the errors/patterns you get towards the edge of the scans. There is something fascinating in the contrast between the perfect digital replica in some parts and the impossibility of the same machine to capture such complexity in other parts. The resulting aesthetic is somewhere in between nature and machine. It suggests archaeological remains from a digital future. It is difficult to get an idea of the work if not experienced at full scale and resolution. This is the reason for such large prints, so to allow these small digital details to be seen clearly while also retaining the full photographic quality of a large portion of forest. These are for me objects of contemplation.