Guest speaker explores systemic failure through digital art – Grand Valley Lanthorn


Grand Valley State University’s Department of Visual and Media Arts hosted guest speaker and visual artist Nayda Collazo-Llorens. At this event, she talked about her latest projects, their inspirations and gave brief glimpses of her new digital projects.

Collazo-Llorens hails from San Juan, Puerto Rico and uses her roots to convey feelings or thoughts in her art. With the United States as her second home, she uses insights from these experiences to convey a deeper understanding and connection to her relationship with the Puerto Rican diaspora.

Collazo-Llorens served as Stuart and Barbara Padnos Emeritus Artist in Residence at GVSU from fall 2014 to spring 2017. During this time she worked with GVSU to showcase her art in the Art and Design Department . His interdisciplinary approach to artistic creation has allowed him to connect with other fields of study at GVSU such as writing and acting.

In Collazo-Llorens’ creative process, she begins each project with a plan to achieve her goal of opening the minds of her audience. It can start with a small idea and develop it. For example, she can start her drawing with only letters or numbers that she could think of. As her work progresses, she sometimes implements movement and sound to create interconnection in digital art.

Collazo-Llorens said that through her work she hopes to get audiences to think deeply and find messages in her pieces. She said this is particularly prominent in her three-channel video installation titled “Rupture.”

“When I talk about ‘Rupture’ or what is breaking, it could be from the failing systems we are witnessing – whether economic, capitalist or ecological – the rupture of these systems also allows for some kind of transformation “, Collazo-Llorens said. “I see it as a process. It’s not just a break to put it back together, but it’s a break as a necessary process to open up or change things for the better.

A work that Collazo-Llorens presented at the guest speaker event was titled “Unclassified,” which was a video she created in 2020. The piece incorporates text from a 1952 government report into the sightings of UFO on the west coast of Puerto Rico. She was interested in the photos and scans of these reports, which have been reproduced and photocopied over the years and said that she was inspired by the quality of these images.

“They show an accumulation of marks, whether it’s redacting, handwritten notes, creases, folds, stains, or any residual marks from the various types of technology used to reproduce it,” Collazo-Llorens said. .

She took the scanned image of the report and ran it through optical character reader (OCR) software, which converts an image of text into text that can be translated. She wanted to explore the conceptual and poetic possibilities of inaccurate translations or marks on the page that translated into unique characters. She said she was more interested in that than the actual report of the UFO sighting.

“I was much more interested in thinking about uncertainty and how it might be perceived,” Collazo-Llorens said. “I was also thinking about data and coded messages as well as passing between text as marks, abstract marks or just language.”

In Collazo-Llorens’ work, his use of digital and traditional mediums can develop and connect different elements of art. Her work can be seen on her website featuring many pieces of his art and descriptions of his work.


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