Zona Cero, Cenotafio Digital

Yosi Negrín

Zona Cero, Cenotafio Digital (Ground Zero, Digital Cenotaph) is an immersive and interactive installation by Yosi Negrín that projects the construction of an architecture facilitating the search and commemoration of the digital death of the image and the landscape.

Where does the image die? Where do images go when they are forgotten? How much physical space does the digital image occupy?The construction of this Zona Cero, Cenotafio Digital arises from the idea of commemorating the disappearance of virtual images, which are left behind, buried and forgotten in the e-archive. With this monument of death or digital cenotaph, the absence of the digital image is commemorated and honored. An absence generated by its own overproduction and abundance. A “cenotaph” is a symbolic architectural typology erected in honor of illustrious deceased, whose corpses are too far away to be buried or have been altogether lost. The word “cenotaph” derives from the Greek kenos, whose meaning is “empty”, and taphos, which means “grave”. Here the dead bodies become those images of landscapes that have been dematerialized on the internet and which have been physically stored in deserts or glaciers, under robotized, dark and refrigerated architectures.

The main structure of “Zona Cero” consists of a large postnatural sphere that rests on a scrapped car. Named as “chromatrope”, this architecture captures every subject that walks through the cenotaph, as an interactive panopticon that follows the visual morphology of a GoogleStreetView Car. During the exhibition, all these bodies and shadows are registered by this panopticon recorder, building collectively a moving image of reinterpreted abandoned landscapes. The bodies of the visitors become, then, stored as visual souls on the walls of this post-industrial building. Furthermore, the other main installation piece is a drone panoramic video projection which represents a journey through the human-shaped and eroded geologies of the Canary Islands, from stony and volcanic quarries to tanks or water reservoirs.

The car is another key element within Zona Cero, Cenotafio Digital. Here, it appears in a post-apocalyptic landscape as an abandoned and dismembered figure. This symbol manifests the fundamental role of the individual vehicle as the creator of the collective territory. In a sense, Google StreetView has become the panopticon of the 21st century: since, thanks, precisely, to this infamous vehicle we can create the very images of the spaces where it moves through. Moreover, the exhibition is accompanied by a sound installation created by local artist Pedro D. Sáiz, which mixes ambient and glitchy records of abandoned industries, emphasizing the already unstable atmosphere of the whole installation. Adding another layer to the immersive character of the show, during the opening day three foreign and disoriented souls walked around the installation as bodies that were lost. Likewise, the exhibition is also broadcast via the artist’s Twitch (linked below), so the audience can follow the development of the immersive multi-channel video onto their own screens at home.

In Zona Cero, Cenotafio Digital, dead and alive natures coexist with machineries, automobiles, screens, farming waste and artificially produced images, recreating the ruins of our future. By mixing these funerary and mythological architectures, the space of El Tanque becomes an interactive and immersive cemetery. One where devastating feelings come to us after being witnesses of this abandoned landscape from the future, of this digital and physical archive of death. This landscape of death is built through both naturalistic and technological elements, which resemble our future post apocalyptic ruins.

As a cemetery expanding under soil, Zona Cero, Cenotafio Digital expands above the digital, for its images occupying space in the cloud. On one hand, this impact of the digital in the physical world becomes evident in the technological yet material skeletons spread across the exhibition: computers, keyboards, PC’s towers. On the other hand, the material presence on the e-archive is realized on the screen projection, since all images of physically-altered territories become part of the cloud.

Furthermore, in Zona Cero, Cenotafio Digital the idea of “cenotaph” opens a direct dialogue with the building that back in time was a crude oil refining deposit. Indeed, “El Tanque” is a trace of the industrial historical heritage of the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, a surviving and reconverted skeleton of what was a striated and degraded panorama of the Canary coast. This scenographic installation offers the possibility of re-thinking the relationship between spaces currently dedicated to art and the memories we keep from our past. As well as our relation with the elements we choose (consciously or unconsciously) to keep for the near future, whether digital or physical. The museum, the place which in our desire to collect we consecrate to memory, has become a graveyard of accumulation. The pieces from the past are small gestures already dead that are preserved in the hope of obtaining a memory of what we thought was in the future.

Yosi Negrín (Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 1994) is an artist, architect, curator and editor based in Madrid whose works revolve around the territory and its digital presence, raising questions about the relation between technological objects and how they modify human lives. More specifically, his pieces focus on the study of both the physical and the digital map, and on the meta-narratives created by them which, at the end, build our reality. Informed by his architectural vision of art, Negrín works across moving images, 3D representations, found objects and post-produced images (made and found) to create a series of installations that highlight the constructed nature of our relation to (and perception of) spaces. Currently he is interested in exploring how technology shapes not only our vision of reality in the present, but also what we believe possible in the future.