Main Gallery


Leo Castañeda:
Demo(s): Levels & Bosses (launch)

The first image above depicts the first environment in Castañeda’s video game Levels and Bosses, the production of which was supported in part through a Locust Projects 2018 WaveMaker Grant as a long-haul project. The pictured environment is a place where liquids, solids, and gasses areinterchangeable. Though at this point in the development interactions were limited to traversal around the landscape, this image exemplifies the target visual quality of the game.

Demo(s): Levels & Bosses (launch) at Locust Projects will be a culmination of Castañeda’s WaveMaker-supported research and development into the creation of his game project, Levels & Bosses. The exhibition showcases the demo/vertical slice of the artist’s game project displayed through a multimedia installation spanning video-games, AR/VR, sculpture, furniture design, and apparel, in conjunction with paintings and drawings.

Merging conference aesthetics with fine-art installation practices from sculptural controllers to wearable AR and VR machines (COVID-pending), Demo(s)’ experiential expo booths reimagine the public presentation of immersive experiences to entice audiences traditionally avoidant of fine art institutions to engage in meaningful arts experiences. The exhibition will detail the process of creating the prototype of the Levels-and-Bosses video-game. The project will present works including paintings, drawings as concepts for characters, areas, textures, and experimental interaction models in the game, in feedback loops of analog to digital as well as furniture/industrial/fashion designs based on forms from the game will be present, blurring design and art in the accessible legacy of the Bauhaus and indigenous cultures.

Levels & Bosses is a transmedia adventure game that explores neo primordial worlds where all landscapes, technology, and beings are identifiably interconnected. The game follows The-Other on a quest to understand their impact on the biomes around them after emerging from a cataclysmic explosion. As destruction prevails, unearth vibrant spectrums of observation and communication techniques to shape transforming conditions throughout Levels & Bosses.

In the installation, sculptural elements will react to what’s going on in the player’s screen, such as a haptic interactive sculpture that provides the feeling of a living environment, e.g. Level-One where liquids, solids and gases are interchangeable, felt live through a sculptural gaming chair or large scale sculpture. Virtual actions will affect the physical world.

ARTIST STATEMENT

Using the language and structure of video-games, my work generates multi-media worlds that explore the semiotic bounds of identity, progression, and interaction. My practice encompasses film, video-games and mixed-media installations as well as drawings and paintings that evoke othered worlds between abstraction and speculative fiction. The alien and familiar converge across feedback loops between analog and digital works: paintings and sculptures become forms, textures and blueprints within digital environments just as virtual spaces become references for IRL compositions.

The surreality of my childhood growing up in Colombia and visiting family the Brazilian Amazon largely functions as a point of departure for my world-building, with level-design influences, then ranging from Latin-American Surrealism & Abstraction (Roberto Matta, Agustín Fernández, Maria-Thereza Negreiros) to 19th-Century Romantic Painting (John Martin, Caspar David Freidrich) and Sci-Fi Literature (LeGuin, Butler, Borges) as well as epic video-games, anime mythologies, & blockbusters (Dragon Ball, Evangelion, Journey, Shadow of the Colossus).

My works are organized under the linguistic structures in video-games, where words such as “bosses,” “levels,” “items,” and “stages” recall hierarchies of power throughout economic, cultural, and religious infrastructures. Deconstructing these political terms for formal and narrative exploration, my practice reimagines representations and modes of engagement with these figures.

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