¿En qué estás pensando? – Entrevista para Create Culture

Hace unas semanas tuve el placer de conocer a John Rouse, co-fundador del sitio Create Culture. Paseamos por San Telmo y esta es la entrevista que surgió de aquella experiencia. Espero traducirla en el futuro.

Originalmente publicada en Create Culture el jueves 27 de mayo de 2010 [enlace original]

Valentin was one of the first members on Create Culture. When I went to Buenos Aires recently we wandered around San Telmo and got to know each other a little bit better in person. The following is an interview that came from this meeting……. -John

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Valentín Muro and I’m 20 years old. I was born in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, a small town in the northwest region of Patagonia but now I live in Buenos Aires where I study Philosophy at the University of Buenos Aires. I enjoy long conversations on subjects ranging from the universe, physics, philosophy, religion and atheism to music, movies, social design, web design and life itself. I’m an enthusiast of topics like genetic research, evolutionary biology, internet, information technology and technology in general. One of the things I enjoy the most is writing. I write short science fiction tales -Ray Bradbury being my biggest influence- and I keep many blogs.

I got interested in computers when I was 6 and since I was 15 I work as a web designer. I’ve been a community manager of two big websites for the past three years. I also collaborate as a tech assistant and consultant with an NGO from my hometown that focuses on preventing HIV, STDs and drug addictions by giving workshops and making awareness campaigns. On my spare time I play the acoustic guitar and sing.

Tell us about your art world in Argentina.

My first serious approach to any kind of artistic expression was when I was on my early years of high school. Around that time I started to experiment with graffiti and stencils, finally sticking to the latter a couple of years later, designing more than 60 different ones. While starting to design stencils I did some research looking for graffiti crews in my town. Of course there was none, but in Buenos Aires the situation was different. I got in touch with some of them and started sharing my work on online forums.

After working with stencils I discovered the potential of stickers, making lots of them in a really short time. I draw what I call “little monsters”, figures that I use to make stickers. I started making those weird characters when I got bored in school. I used to feel really lonely during my high school years so I created these friendly monsters that would keep me company. In fact, I disliked so much high school that I did some effort and finished a year early.

Tell us about your art work and the bubble project.

It all started back in 2006 when I was just discovering stencils, stickers and street art in general. I got online and found out about this awesome project that a guy was doing in New York City. It consisted of placing blank speech bubbles on ads, letting people fill them with what they wanted and then keeping a photographic record of the results. That guy turned out to be a genius by the name of Ji Lee and the project was known as the “Bubble Project”. I got so excited on the idea of doing the same thing locally that I translated the whole website to Spanish in one night and emailed my work to Ji. He was very kind and supportive and helped me with starting the project. At first it didn’t have much response from the people and, in fact, I had to wait until I moved to Buenos Aires to fully develop it.

Once in Buenos Aires things went pretty smooth. During the initial stage people didn’t know what a blank bubble placed on an ad meant but after a while they came to realize that it was there to be filled. By that time I had my best friend Mat helping me and we’ve been partners since.

Unlike the original Bubble Project, our take on the project (Proyecto Burbuja) is not as popular as the former. Apparently, people in Buenos Aires show a different reaction to their surroundings than people in NYC… Some tear apart the bubbles for no apparent reason (maybe they think they are more ads), some stare at them in awe and leave them as they are and some don’t even notice them.

What is truly gratifying is when people discover them and start asking themselves these questions like “Why am I being exposed to so many ads?”, “Why should I take this use of the public space as natural when it is not?” and many other questions that help the subject doubt about the status quo. Once they realize that ads are in fact intrusive and can be considered a violent invasion of our public spaces they want to do something about it. The Bubble Project turns the corporative monologue into an open dialog”, as the manifesto claims, letting the passerby engage in the reclaiming of our common everyday places, in this metaphorical way.

Tell us how studying philosophy shows itself in your art work.

I tend to make a lot of questions. I’m just too curious and I enjoy learning about everything that surrounds me. One of the things that studying philosophy gives me is the ability to ask better questions, to take my doubts or inquiries and turn them into relevant questions that could deliver an interesting reasoning. It is while I’m thinking about these questions or the things that amaze me that I get most of my creative impulses. Sometimes I can think of really complex plots for a story, or the core idea for a new online project or maybe even a drawing I’d like to make after letting my mind wander around some ideas for a while. By studying proper reasoning I can unleash many streams of thought that I couldn’t even imagine before. It is through the use of reason and a true connection with what I feel that I’m able to express myself in a meaningful way. There’s one quote by Bertrand Russell that I really like that says “The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge” and in some sort of way that sense of “good life” is what I try to follow.

Tell us about your artistic dreams and goals.

Right now I’m really excited about the possibility of making collaborative video projects. I’d like to work on 10-minute long short-films revolving around different subjects. What I mean by “collaborative” is that I’d like to choose a subject and then ask different people around the world for their take on it, expressed with video and maybe music. I’d like to mix these different video sources and create a coherent message with the different parts.

Besides that, I’m still an enthusiast of urban interventions and more recently of what is called “performance art”, just like what the guys from “ImprovEverywhere” do. I’d like to do something like that in my city and keep playing with people reactions.

One of the things I’d love to do is to travel around the world. I haven’t even been to other countries in South America and I hate feeling like I’m losing a world of experiences out there. I hope that by connecting with people around the world that share my interests I might be able to get traveling opportunities.

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