Memory in Artist’s Work

Oscar Muñoz (born 1951) is a Colombian visual artist. He is known as one of the most significant contemporary visual artists in his country, and his work has also gained international recognition. Most of his art is concerned with the idea of representation, and his choice of art medium moves freely between photography (photorealism), printmaking, graphite drawing, installation art, audiovisual media, and sculpture. He also explores how images relate to memory, loss, and the precarious nature of human life.


How I See His work and What I Could Draw from

I think Muñoz represent his understanding of memory from his culture experience using his short-live material experimenting. A range of material experimentation with his photographic image reflects the temporariness of memory, but making this quality through presentation of images. Some his work needs viewer’s interaction with imageries, which engages people with his notion of memory and mortality in person. Going forward my experimentation, I could focus on my interest of the liquid glue – PVA glue – that I experimented on bottle last time. The the translucence of this material is the quality of memory that I think in my notion of the Mnemonic.

Question – How can I involve my notion of the mnemonic into my photography? The liquidity and transition?

Muñoz’s Work

Muñoz is also known for his use of ephemeral materials, in poetic reflections upon memory and mortality. For example, Aliento (1995-2002) consists of a series of seemingly blank mirrors. However, when the viewer comes close to them and breathes on them, subtle obituary portraits emerge momentarily on the surface. Muñoz’s video Re/trato (2004) shows the artist painting a self-portrait with water. As the water makes contact with the hot pavement Muñoz is painting on, the portrait vanishes. Muñoz often bridges the media of film, video, photography, installation, and sculpture.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Colombia was wracked with a war between feuding drug cartels and the Colombian government. Muñoz’s installation, Ambulatorio consists of a large aerial photograph of that city printed on a sheet of shattered security glass. Viewers walk on top of the glass floor, looking down upon the city. The work was inspired by a bombing; walking through Cali after the bomb exploded, Muñoz was fascinated by the prevalence of fragments of glass, incrusted into the pavement. The work has subsequently been re-made in Belfast and in Monterrey. “My work today,” Muñoz writes, “is based on my endeavor to understand the mechanism developed by a society which has ultimately suffered the routinization of war… A past, a present and in all likelihood a future full of violent events on a daily basis, which are stubbornly repeated, in a practically identical fashion.”

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