Communicating Devices

Manuel Saiz


¿Cuánto podemos acercarnos al yo sin perderlo todo?
(Counterpoint, Don DeLillo 2004)
How close we can get to the ego without losing it all?

Art is a system of knowledge: it is appealing because it has the hability to show us what we are. The attraction is not always pleasurable as it reveals our fears. However, despite our conscious struggling we are bound to it, due to vanity perhaps. Its modus operandi, as I experiment it myself in my work, in my perception of art, in my fears, is as follows:

The work stands as an enigma, an inconvenient quiz that has to be solved, something that questions our nature. We search our memories, our database of conscious and unconscious meanings, a pattern that can be compared to it, that explains it. Solve it implies to find a meaning that fully covers it, that overlaps completely without any gaps and abolishes it.

But there are new works that exist, expressing new meanings or, better, that still do not have an associated meaning. Their cancellation process is difficult, because they require more and more similarity checks; they process possibilities at an increasing speed. Meanings combine, interchange, collide with each other and generate electric shocks. At a certain point this frantic activity feeds back on a vicious circle and claims every available resource. Large areas of our daily life get out of control and the barriers that previously restrain our fears are overflown: fear of failure, of pain and, ultimately, of death. We are at the edge of the abysm.

Fear is inseparable of human condition and we invented language to deal with it. All technologic evolution that gives shape to our civilization has its meaning only if seen from this perspective: it is used to remove death, and by extension, to banish the fear of death. But technology that is freed from fear also brings it back in a higher degree. The language of production is devoted to hide the presence of fatidic and the language of art to show it, suddenly, in its full intensity. The alternating routine of these two languages occupies all our existence. We are technology escaping death.


These two Works of SW are technological devices, written with technological tools that use technical metaphors to speak about fate. They show a window to a private action, symbolic, at the same time being sculpture, performance and video, interaction between two characters.

But as the manuals say, the two characters and the relationship between them are only one for those who dream them. The viewer reflects in the action (and not only in the characters) like in a mirror, despite that a representation of the “ego” always requires the participation of several dramatic elements.

Shadow Boxing

The image recalls the hydraulic arms of robots operating in deserted industrial spaces, moving fast and precisely while welding around the object. All the contact between devices is electrical, and concentrates in the electric arc that bridge the two figures in the point of maximum tension.

When striking the man model, the shape of the woman scans her surface on a frantic refresh. If the sequence of hits would stop for a moment, her body would collapse formless. Activity is constant and because of this the situation is stable and the communication fluent. For him, energies that trigger the hit and those that break it are balanced and get cancelled in the right moment; on the other hand, she executes a still choreography in which there is no possibility for any exchange of energy: the one who shakes is relaxed, the frozen is in tension.

This is an image of dissuasion. Catastrophe takes over the calm through the announcement of its imminence in security protocols, status indicators, prevention systems, in failure warnings. Peace is based on a constant menace and disgrace stays at this infra-light distance that doesn’t destroy the contract, doesn’t annihilate the captured enemies, but that slave them.

Conversation Piece

Even if it can be thought that this work opens up to an exterior world, in fact it is also a snapshot of intimacy between the artist/viewer and himself. The balance of energies is similar but the way they are organized has different coordinates: in one case the operator administrates fear, in this one, desire.

Desire circulates in opposite directions to the objects that generate it. The operator is who calculates the messages’ exchange, sending doses that scarce to cancel the need, incomplete data, but enough to keep balance in a critical state, to maintain the potential difference between the terminals.

On the receptors’ side, the performance can improve by trial error, making communication more fluent, more adjusted and efficient, with more sophisticated references and more accurate words. And this process quietly absorbs her dependence.

But as desire always stays, the flow of information never ends and inner dialogue is constantly renewed, full of anxieties and delights.


The coordination of the mechanisms shown by these works makes life a more interesting passage. If the images of the works are seen as portraits, implications and referents multiply, enhancing the experience of its contemplation. Their economy is exemplary: a minimum of elements with the maximum combining ability.