Photographs by Tuca Vieira, text by Guilherme Wisnik
This huge photograph is made up of many others. One hundred and five, to be precise. Thus, each photogram is, at the same time, a cell of a big, cohesive ensemble and a self-sufficient unit of a gaze that dives into the scenes appearing before it, seeking for details of the intimate life of others. And, then, just as in a detective game, unexpected – because invisible to the naked eye – scenes pop up before our views through the camera: people at the window, veiled outlines through translucent glasses, photos, drawings and objects placed at the end of apartments etc. This is not only about voyeurism. Here, the photographer’s poetics joins hands with cinematographic and literary fiction. I am immediately reminded of Alfred Hitchcock ‘s Rear Window (1954) as well as Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-up (1966), inspired by Julio Cortázar’s short story Las babas del diablo (1959).
The game of suspense sets riddles that go beyond the chance understanding of things. We live inside a great maze. The webs of daily life are endless and at times meet at unsuitable places. Chance’s great ludic game triggers uncontrollable associative relations, which may even lead us to solve a crime by successively magnifying a photo, as in Blow-up. This whole network of possibilities lies implicit in this work by Tuca Vieira: V. se encontra na posição da seta (you are located in the arrow’s position). Written on a lit signal located at one of the building’s entrances, this sentence of informational identification may be viewed as a tracking and surveillance index as well: you are mapped out, resistered, tapped.
Here, Tuca Vieira artistically devises the notion of mapping. For this is not just about a panoptical surveillance. By the way, we no longer are on the paranoid plan of the “eye of power” described by Michel Foucault. Now, this is surveillance that encompasses seduction, to a certain extent sought after and granted, as in TV reality shows or the flyovers and sudden dives provided by Google Earth, recently magnified by Street View’s both anonymous and indiscreet scenes. If mapping has been one of contemporary art’s core issues at least since Robert Smithson in the late 1960s, Tuca Vieira unfolds it out of a symbolic universe conceived by the technologies of digital search and mapping in the years 2000s, such as google and GPS, by focusing on an architectural icon of São Paulo.
Our daily experience is overwhelmed by images. We live surrounded by images, both tangible and virtual. We photograph and film everything everytime, storing the world in digital memories which will be available for any future researcher to know everything about the life we lead today. Obsessive consumerism has burst out of the world of things to reach its representations as well. Unlike what Hélio Oiticica wanted in the 1960s, the museum has not become the world, but the world has turned itself into a museum.
We also consume the representation of the world, its endless images. In this sense, Tuca Vieira’s work opens a dialogue with this banalization; but turns this spiral of endless and irrelevant variety into his favor. Some sort of control and organization is kept. The hundred and five photograms gathered make up a single image. Single but false as a totality, since the photos were not taken at the same time; hence, the scenes we see were never there together. But what is reality? Isn’t reality always a construction?
As they approach the furthest objects, zooming in, Tuca Vieira’s photos pixelate, take on the artifice, that is, the work’s digital reality. Or is it the world’s digital reality? We no longer can distinguish a real person’s face from a photo which was on the apartment’s wall, in a poster. We could not suppose that there was an identity between the pixels of a greatly magnified face and the geometric patterns of the hollow elements (cobogó) surfaces which seal Copan’s service verandas? What visual and building pattern is our life made of? Isn’t that your face? Questions such as these ones amplify as we follow these images. And the more we seek for the secret of others, the more we are reminded that we are the ones always in the position of the arrow.