Jose H. del Rio (Duende), the Spanish multidisciplinary artist
Hello Jose! Your background is quite eclectic, can you tell us more about it?
I learned everything on my own: I was 15 when I began to DJ and to work on my first short film. Years later, I became Sound Technician for a national tours organizer and shortly after, the company offered me a Light Technician position. That’s when I decided to study Lighting, by myself too (there was no training for these skills in 1999-2000). At 30, I was making audiovisual jobs and working for Pacha Costa del Sol in Malaga as Light Jockey and VJ, with the most talented DJs on the planet!
I started teaching lighting lessons. Then, I came back to the national tours as a stage designer, Light and Video Technician, until I participated to the longest tour in the Spanish music history, winner of the National Arts and Science Academy Prize for Best Tour. This prize has been a key step because I decided to go into stage design in depth, to make it digital and interactive. I started to learn sensors, codes and various kind of software to reach this point of passage in my work.
Travelling seems to be important for you. What were the most striking destinations you went to which were decisive for the evolution of your work?
I was living in Chamonix after secondary school, I found up there how great and powerful nature was! You can find impressive mathematical representations, the world around us is an endless number of physical forces coexisting and constantly fighting, the chemical structures, the symphony of sounds that make a landscape. I like to work on geometrical forms and patterns which appear in a natural way.
Living surrounded by mountains was a perfect energy recharge before living in London, a city which truly made me who I am today, where I found anything I’ve dreamt of, culture, technology, art… Then, I went back to Spain to study and become be a professional. Madrid gave me the opportunity to work with international very high skilled technicians and creative people.
Why and when did you decide to integrate lights and video mapping in your activity?
When I started working in Pacha, the VJ didn’t fit with the requirements so I was asked to replace him, to be LJ and VJ at the same time. I’ve been so lucky and it has been a real gift : I did animations for John Acquaviva (PLUS 8), Wally Lopez (Global Underground), Erick Morillo (Subliminal, Pacha), David Morales (Grammy award), Jonathan Ulysses (Space Ibiza), Harry “Choo Choo” Romero (Subliminal), DJ Chus (Chus & Ceballos) and many others!
Video mapping came into my life five years ago, thanks to fine arts and paintings. I was living in Pepa Caballero’s art studio and the first thing I’ve mapped was the frames of those 40 pictures hanging on the wall showing motion videos into the pictures, called Cuadro Corcho, for an exhibition in April 2013.
You are a self-taught man in lighting projection and video mapping. How did you learn? What was the easiest and the most difficult?
My favorite tool was the user guides for the machines, desks, and softwares, without a doubt! I’ve also practiced a lot. The easiest for me to learn was Sound and Light because I’ve studied Sciences and both are simple harmonic movements in different spectrums. The hardest was to learn coding… Fortunately, my teacher (Javier Melgar aka Animatek was so humble and motivating I got more confidence when programming sensors and visuals. Then I attended many workshops at La Térmica in Malaga (Art of Music and Postmedia – sensors interactivity, video mapping techniques for video clip), I read several books and also online courses with foreigner universities, like California Institute of Arts, Goldsmiths University of London and Vanderbilt University, Michigan. I also took many Daniel Shiffman‘s tutorials on Processing.
When did you start working with HeavyM? Do you enjoy it?
I discovered HeavyM when it was in beta phase 4 years ago. There was only one video, in French, but well explained! HeavyM was offering solutions to everything I needed, to all actions causing me too much work, troubles and time with other programs. HeavyM definitely helped me to speed up my production pace.
What are the best advantages of the software? Which evolutions would you expect the most?
What I like the most is the stability, functionality and positive evolution of the software. I really appreciate the great user guide and the continuous support from the team. HeavyM encourages to progress with its online tutorials to improve the use of the software and master the new features. Besides, the team is always available to help me and answer my questions. And of course, I must salute the saved time: there is no lost time from the idea to the projection and I actually did some really cool street improvisations.
Did these new skills open new fields of actions and business for your activity?
Yes, of course! I’ve added projection video to my skills and it’s amazing for my clients to see the video exactly fit on the surface, exactly like how they imagine. And for example, I am currently working to develop a visual environment to treat the fibromyalgia thanks to exercises with Kinect.
I have always wanted to work on a dance show where the video is controlled by the dancer body movements. That could be a nice project to realize next winter…
Do you feel influenced by your Spanish legacy? How does your interest in contemporary art transform your vision?
My main influences are mostly from other countries, Plato, Pythagoras, Leonardo da Vinci, Dante, Eiffel, Sol Lewitt, Mondrian… From Spain, I’d say Picasso and Gaudi mainly. Last but not least, because they are very close to me, I quote Damaso Ruano and Pepa Caballero (who always tries to make me see the artist behind the technician). My way to design things is definitely influenced by contemporary art, I have worked on the legacy of these artists to give new perspectives.
How would you describe the multimedia art scene in Spain? Do you see a bright future for video mapping?
Most of the video artists in Spain are women and that is good, but only a few are working abroad with my friends Tatiana and Søren (Desilence).
The future for video mapping is right now. We have to look forward because, in any technical art, there are always going to be a rhythm defined by the industry and the products placed on the market, which will bring what artists and technicians need to do fantastic shows, like holograms and drones.
Can you share with us your best memories? And your next projects?
My 30 years of work are full of great memories!
My best ones: the first time I played a speaker at nine years old, the first record I put on as a DJ in Zona Malaga, my first festival as a technician where I met Adamski, Nina Hagen and Gloria Gaynor, the day I had coffee chatting with Ray Charles, when I had a few beers with Apollo 440 before the concert, when I sold two of my songs in London, every time a tour that I worked on achieving the deserved success, when I began to make interactive visuals with Kinect, when I decided to create Duende to promote my work. All these events were occasions to make new friends, with great international artists who inspire me and very good artists whose work denotes having been inspired by something of mine… That is perhaps the most rewarding gift of all, being a source of inspiration for other artists.
My three next projects are :
- a surround mapping show,
- a Lemur interface I’m doing to control HeavyM
- some workshops with HeavyM, in Spanish, in my city
Teaching is going to be another way of how I’m developing English myself, I’m translating parts of the User Manual and I would love to work with HeavyM to conceive didactic material for Spanish speakers all over the world.
The first workshop just occurred on April, 9th! With as audience teachers from the Official Arts School and from the University of Malaga with some of their students, a light technician and a motion graphics designer.
This first lesson was quite a success, other courses will be organized soon!
Jose Hurtado del Rio uses HeavyM Live to create art & tech atmospheres
Follow Duende on Facebook