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DOREEN A. RÍOS, digital practices that challenge physical standards

Interview Lula Criado

Conexión (in)discreta x !Mediengruppe, Bitnik para Salón A+T, Fundación Telefónica

Doreen A. Ríos is an independent curator, chief curator of the Centre for Digital Culture in Mexico City and a lecturer of the M.A. in Visual Studies and B.A. in Digital Arts at Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México. Working with digital art and specialising in digital cultures and new media practices, Ríos’ curatorial practice focuses on hybrid materialities. She is also the founder of [ANTI]MATERIA, an online platform dedicated to the research and exhibition of Latin-American Digital Art.

Ríos has curated exhibitions in Mexico and the U.K., like My Wall is Your Filter Bubble (co-curated with Matthew Plummer-Fernandez), EMPTY VESSELS||VULNERABLE BODIES, Southampton: 2117, When removed from view, removed from existence, Archipiélago, fuera del círculo, and White into Green. She is very interested in creating and sharing the local approach towards the use of technology in our daily lives and discussing the asymmetric flow of information, lack of accessibility and how we’ve been able to hack and overcome some of this in the face of an interconnected web, Ríos told CLOT Magazine. 

Curation is not only an act of preserving, selecting and displaying artworks. As Ríos says for the audience to create connections between artworks and actively understand them as part of an art circuit, they need the expertise of a curator who can make meaningful links between artworks and encourages the blurring of unnecessary boundaries within them. A graduate of the B.A. in Architecture from Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico and the MA in Contemporary Curation from Winchester School of Arts, U.K., her background in architecture, fused with technology, has influenced her curatorial work. Doreen A. Ríos refers to the Metabolist Architecture movement and the experimental design of Archigram as the main influences to understand the way she approaches digital art. 

Ríos is particularly interested in the digital practices that challenged physical standards by creating artwork within the web. She is convinced that the internet is the first serious contender of Architecture, where developers, artists and the public, in general, have created places to go, places to see, places to interact and even places to appreciate art.

Híbridos dimensionales, Festival Desdoblamientos

You are the founder of [ANTI]MATERIA. Could you tell us a bit about how did you come up with the idea and what is the intellectual process behind it? 

The platform started in 2015 as an information platform regarding digital arts in Mexico. At first, it didn’t really have a structure and functioned more like a directory of artists working with digital devices. Yet, pretty quickly, I realised that this wasn’t enough to openly discuss and research this area of knowledge and creative production, so I decided to expand its contents and started exploring how to design and create the exhibition spaces needed for this type of artwork.

Almost at the same time, I started properly researching and writing about all of these processes and sharing the outcome both in English and Spanish. It became very important for me to be aware of both: international discourses and urgent local topics, for which I’ve actively used social media to share and discuss this.

What makes [ANTI]MATERIA different from other platforms focused on the field of digital art and new media? 

I guess, first of all, the fact that its core is focused on Mexican creative production, from which I’ve followed the networks that lead to other countries and, hopefully, have helped develop new ones. On the other hand, I am very interested in creating and sharing the local approach towards the use of technology in our daily lives and discussing the asymmetric flow of information, lack of accessibility and how we’ve been able to hack and overcome some of this in the face of an interconnected web. I am certainly not as interested in being “different” as I am in having an active exchange between what happens locally and facing/being part of the broader picture. 

What is the new technological advancement you are most excited to see how artists either use it or reinterpret it?

It’s not a technological advancement in itself, but I am very excited to see artists more actively hacking and repurposing social media platforms, especially emerging artists. However, I am also excited about the research towards non-human intelligence and the possibilities behind multispecies communication.

In your opinion or experience, what are the biggest challenges curators are facing nowadays?

From my perspective, it’s the constant precarisation of art professionals. Personally, I find it very hard to work with little to no budget since I firmly believe everyone involved in an exhibition (or any other art activity for that matter) should have a decent income. On the other hand, I also feel that we still face a big lack of representation of diverse humans in the exhibitions and research we perform, and, although this last part can be more accurately approached from a curatorial perspective, the question towards inclusion is still very far from being fulfilled.

What would be your biggest curating extravaganza?

If I could think about anything I’d really really want to be able to do one day is to work on developing an exhibition space which could function as its own tiny ecosystem in which all living things inside it could either be consumed and/or transformed into part of this ecosystem. I envision it a bit like a botanical garden but with digital and ephemeral artwork that could become part of the space so that with each exhibition, there would be a new layer of life brought into it.

You couldn’t live without… 

Human contact/the furry softness of my cat.

(Images courtesy of the curator)
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