Artist Marcus Zúñiga
INRoman mythology, Jupiter is the supreme god of Olympians, ruling the weather, manipulating human affairs, and brandishing, when angered, his powerful lightning bolt. He isn’t someone to trifle with. Jupiter the planet, by contrast, is a more permeable presence — a gas giant, less solid than its many orbiting moons. New media artist Marcus Zúñiga takes a more prosaic approach to Jupiter than the myths and legends do, using footage of the massive planet, shot through his telescope, as the basis for a hypnotic video projection called Hidrógeno/Helio. The work depicts a soft, blurred image of the planet in rotation with a computer-generated grid of vertical and horizontal lines that are superimposed on the image to give the swirling blur a sense of spherical structure.
“I like to recontextualize what I see and introduce it to people from a different perspective and that perspective is usually formed by my Mexican-American heritage and my Aztec heritage,” Zúñiga, a Silver City native, told Pasatiempo. His first solo exhibition in Santa Fe is on view at No Land. “But Jupiter wasn’t something that was observed by the Aztecs. Instead of trying to think of it as this planet of lightning and thunder and whatever else from Greek and Roman mythology, I think of it as just what it is: hydrogen and helium. They’re two of the most common building blocks in the universe.”
No Land is the new art space founded by Kyle Farrell, Jordan Eddy, and Alex Gill of Strangers Collective, a group of local artists and writers. They plan to use the space to highlight young artists with full, conceptually strong bodies of work. Zúñiga’s show Ya Veo (I see) is No Land’s premiere exhibition. Most of the work on view is the result of his ongoing interest in astronomical observation. “I’m pretty much always working with new media and electronics,” he said. “The whole time I’ve lived in Santa Fe, I’ve been doing a lot of work with my telescope. I have a camera set up over it. I use a variety of different recording devices and then I layer the footage together to create these abstractions.”
Ya Veo consists of two- and three-dimensional works, digital projections, and multi-channel videos. One video work called Constelaciones shows a close-up view of a distant star that moves slowly from left to right across three LCD screens. Each screen has a white circle in the center that encloses images of fields of stars. “I’ve layered it several times to create these fictional constellations based off simple geometry. As the video plays, the constellation will distort. It makes a certain pattern at this specific point in time.” The patterns that the constellations form are based on a Penrose triangle, a spiral, and a tesseract cube, a type of polyhedron. “It’s really important for me to do this work because I want to understand the universe for myself and relearn it.”
Zúñiga’s process alters the experience of viewing the universe from our Earthly perspective, where distant objects in the night sky can appear to be fixed in their positions. He provides, instead, a sense of the dynamism of constant movement in the vastness of space. “When I think about whatever sort of Roman mythology is attached to it, it’s adding all these characteristics that I don’t think are necessarily