Above, Noberto Rodriguez
Come take a look at barrier-breaking performance artist Norberto Rodriguez, latest video-art collection, “Untitled (Sketches for a Still Life)”, produced in partnership with the digital art platform, Blackdove. Now on view for a limited time right by Nightowl Cookies and Aesop in Jade Alley, Miami Design District.
What is Blackdove? It is a downloadable app that allows “a new way to enjoy video art on any screen,” says Blackdove’s President Dan Mikesell, who is leading the company with founder Marc Billings. “We recognized the market for a broad library and delivery of video art, and Blackdove fills that, as you can enjoy our video art on any of your devices. Our open collection explores emerging global digital artists with mass-market appeal artwork. Everyone can find something that they like on the platform. Our subscription art is complemented with collections like that from Norberto.”
In early 2020, artist Noberto accepted an invitation to a month-long artist residency program in Miami, Fountainhead Residency, but the impending Covid-19 crisis extended it unexpectedly to three months. That time culminated in the creation of several videos that are part of “Untitled (Sketches for a Still Life),” which you can find on the app, but also in brick and mortar formation at the Miami Design District.
When asked about how Norberto’s collection was selected to be displayed, Dan responded, “The Design District has some of the best public art in Miami and Blackdove wanted to show one of our strongest artists in that atmosphere.”
Above, Sitting at My Desk No. 2, Above, Laying in Bed No. 1
The series features 42 long-form videos a year of an almost non-moving Norberto performing small tasks … editing a photo, packing for a trip, sitting during a flight… bringing the viewer directly into his experience. All of the videos are framed in a subtle black box, a contemporary version of a gold frame. The title references a style of paintings - still life - which historically features inanimate objects. The bright light that colors the videos and stills is reminiscent of the work of the 16th- century Dutch master, Vermeer, who helped bring the art style to the forefront of art history. “The idea is that it's a contemporary version of a classical painting,” says Norberto.
Norberto is a famed performance artist (he was once planted like a tree for the opening of a retrospective at the Bass Museum), his work consistently circles around the theme of blending art and reality and eliminating the differentiation between the two.
Why did you create these videos specifically?
“Untitled is the culmination of many ideas that I’ve been exploring my whole life + I’m continuously looking for ways to create through the documentation of my life + perspective as purely as possible. Before the internet + digital media, an artist would have a meaningful experience, then go make a painting reflecting on, or capturing that moment. Now that step, although still beautiful, is unnecessary. I can still share those experiences with others in real life through my performance work, but now I have access to billions of people through digital and social media. I can bring the viewer directly into my life + share the story of being an artist without creating a secondary product, like a painting, drawing, sculpture or photograph. The viewer now has unprecedented access + permission to engage with me + my work as it’s being made anytime they like through this beautiful handheld frame they carry with them everywhere they go.”
For you, is art life or is life art? Is there a difference?
“No. I actually believe that art doesn't exist. It's a name we invented to help us point to a very complex + abstract experience we are constantly having in our lives as we evolve. We think art is separate from life because we're used to thinking of art as a thing inside a frame that you hang on a wall. Now, the frame is your phone, the canvas is digital + the painting is the unfolding story of being an artist. Making a painting of a sandwich + eating a sandwich are the same. I believe that right now we're entering a new renaissance where everyone's an artist + everything is art. A world where every aspect of life can be as sacred + meaningful as any traditional work of art. And, if I can empower other human beings to see themselves as unique artists with a very particular story to share about how their lives unfold, then art as an idea no longer needs to exist.”
How does the exhibition differentiate from the viewers' experience directly on Blackdove?
“Through the Blackdove app, you can get a monthly/yearly subscription which will allow you to receive the weekly episode releases of my work on your phone + also stream it to your existing tv at home. The other option, which is available at Design District’s exhibition, is the option to own a limited edition, a stand-alone digital canvas which includes a 42 episode, year-long subscription. Each canvas comes with a signed + numbered certificate of authenticity + a disk containing all 42 episodes from that year's edition.”
Was there a process or theory behind the activities you decided to showcase?
“Yes, there are definitely rules/principles I "create" but I'm too young to know what they are specifically, ask me when I’m 90. In general, they definitely have to do with art somehow being tied to our experience of time. Being present is at the core of how I think our experience of art changes our minds + actually evolves us.”
You can see Norberto’s meditation on life and his exploration of the separation between art, life, and the de-construction of what art is in Jade Alley, the exact location indicated below, any time.
With a subscription, users can unlock a vast library of content and gain access to more than 3,000 works from 350+ artists, which they can then stream on their personal phone, computer, or in their office space.
Learn more and see more digital media art on Blackdove.com