Artist Archive

2008. Fernando Llanos. DEJÀ VU, 2005




DEJÀ VU, 2005
Presented in the Casa del Lago, Ciudad de México

Casa del Lago (House in the lake) is a historic monument with a very rich past: in 1908 the first lacustrine area in the old Mexican Venice is created as seat of the Automobile Club. Later, it hosted literary gatherings and dances for the Mexican aristocracy as well as elegant parties during the celebrations for the centenary of Independence. At one point it was even the private residence of the ex-president Adolfo de la Huerta, the Agricultural Ministry and Headquarters of the National University’s Biological Studies. In 1959 it becomes a Cultural Centre outside the UNAM, turning into the biggest educational institution for new public, a nationwide model of Arts Centre and a landmark for the rest of Latin America at that time. It is there where, many years later, Andrea di Castro will present his first tele-installation and where Sarah Minter would teach her first video-art workshop. Nowadays it averages about 4000 visits a week.

“Dejà vu” literally means “already seen” in French. It’s an experience that psychiatrists define as “any inappropriate subjective impression of a present, which is familiar to an indeterminate past”. Some theories state that it has to do with unfulfilled wishes, that it’s the expression of the wish to repeat a past experience, but this time with better results. 70% of the population has experienced, at some point, a dejà vu.

This is a piece that deals with memory, or, in other words “about the lack of…”
About one’s will in relation to past (or yet to come) situations and events.

Ernst Kapp reflected on the idea that every machine is an extension of the body and that in their construction is reflected, in a direct or veiled manner, a way of conceiving nature. The video camera enables us to visualize and better interpret how the act of remembrance works, by generating a temporal route of images captured to recreate an experience. The act of bringing something to memory is intimate; the camera exemplifies that way of grasping that which is ungraspable and brings forth its ephemeral nature.

The materiality of a memory is similar to an image in movement, it’s a collection of captured data, by the human-mind, or camera-mind; only that the video creates a collective experience, where intimacy is captured in a massive gesture, to alter the course of the memory, for at the moment the images are captured by the eye-camera they become a series of past moments that are conserved.

Thus, Fernando Llanos extends his body to a time machine, in a coarse artefact where delayed moments are apprehended. The game consists of decoding and showing the moment it takes to bring what is captured, in some way it makes the mechanism’s process evident, to open up the access to human factor in technology.

The project serves as impulse to activate awareness on the complexity of technique and focus on the facts, in the past that remains impregnated upon a place to hear it’s own chronic. By investigating the inside of each place we will find the echo of a thousand events, where the mind of the artist can recreate, re-signify and offer an open interpretation so that memories with a dejà vu scent may emerge from a tape.

Liliana Quintero
*Fragment of a text published in the catalogue of the Mexico 70 exhibition.

*See more photos, texts and video about this work in: