Interactive new media artist Gabriel Barcia-Colombo takes on television's digital takeover

As a 2012 TED Fellow and teacher at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, interactive video artist Gabriel Barcia-Colombo is deeply involved in the cultural and artistic exploration of communications technologies. Working primarily with video sculpture the ITP alum has long been interested in memorialization, and the urge for one to leave their mark for generations to come. For his most recent work, “Tube“, Barcia-Colombo has focused his interests on the societal shift towards virtual communication and its subsequent threat to physical connections in our lives.

Currently showing at NYC’s Paley Center as part of the group exhibit Luminance, which features video media installations by students and alumni of ITP, Tube speaks to the changing nature of television from analog to digital. “Today we consume television as a fluid medium. It exists in the air, on the Internet and outside of the constraints of a linear traditional time based medium.” By using video mapping software, a miniature pico projector and special projection acrylic placed inside the glass tube, Barcia-Colombo captures a virtual prisoner trapped by this theoretical displacement of space and time.

Remnants of an analog age, the 1964 RCA television—chosen for the tube burnout effect found on old Cathode Ray TVs—produces static from which a tiny figure seems to emerge. Once out of the physical device the digital figure finds himself stuck among others in a digital purgatory of sorts. Only when the characters touch are they reabsorbed back into the television set.

Such themes of connection and collection have become common throughout much of Barcia-Colombo’s recent bodies of work, often focusing on the way we embrace social media in everyday life, and thus inadvertently replacing physical social circles with digital ones. “I feel that today we collect our friends online through social media outlets like Facebook,” says Barcia-Colombo. “I just collect my friends in jars or domes.”


Another recent projection-based project was “Wall“, for which Barcia-Colombo created a sculptural version of his Facebook wall, projecting images of his actual friends onto the plastic grid for all the see. Each digital friend announces their Facebook status out loud, bombarding viewers with a physical experience of the virtual community.

The creativity found in combining video and sculpture allows Barcia-Colombo to realize his interests in one form. “As a filmmaker I will always be interested in storytelling, but as an artist I am interested in taking stories off the two dimensional screen and bringing characters into real life,” says Barcia-Colombo.

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Tube” will show at NYC’s Paley Center as part of the Luminance exhibit through 30 April 2012. For more details on Barcia-Colombo’s more and less recent work head to his website.