“I am the camera. My hands the mechanical levers, my eyes the prism and lens, my energy processes “negative capability” through painting, scratching, and drawing while using light to deconstruct and re-construct the mysteries of the visual image as I create self-portraits on this celluloid material of emulsions.”

The origin of my Scratch-Graph imagery was born out of sculpting time and space on a series of hand-painted films I made in the early 90s: Sporadic Germination (1994), The Revolution of Super 8 Universe: A Self-Portrait (1995), and Rumba Abstracta (1996-97). Using motion picture stocks, sometimes with photographed subjects, I used this flat dual transparent surface as my canvas in untraditional ways. Scratching and collaging the emulsion-based celluloid I produced Visual Music animations, building the kinetic image up frame by frame with acrylic paints and an experimental concoction of other liquids to give the work a history, layering it and destroying film strips of various lengths until the composition spoke to me and revealed light, new histories, and my visual offspring. This became a process of recording or documenting what I was thinking. After years of experimentation and thought, I began to work with the same process on photographic negatives with the idea of capturing the same “the light in the dark” and to recreate that screen or monitor reality as a freeze frame of my animations.

In starting to create an abstract picture, I have no compositional goals. My initial drive is choice by chance, which strengthens a random attitude formed by a process of constant unpredictable desires in an ocean of mental tranquility and to let the image or patterns come to me. The goal is to create something meaningful in the studio in the hope that it inspires others, and also becomes useful to them, and myself, so that it creates a dialogue between us. My work with concrete abstract photography follows in the tradition of avant-garde artists and filmmakers like Man Ray, Tony Conrad, Stan Brakhage, László Moholy-Nagy, and many others who often time radically contradicted the view of photography as only a product of cameras.

“When there is love, there is always an endless conversation, a consciousness that is ever evolving, and it’s accompanied by a universal growth.” 

After Rey’s film professor entered his abstract film in the Miami International Film Festival, he went on the create three more short films, one which he co-wrote and co-produced with a friend in Miami that landed him scholarships with the Independent Feature Project: Involve New York program and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers Writers’ Lab. While working as an Associate Producer for an indie production company in Manhattan in 2001, Rey returned home after the 9/11 attacks. In Miami, he turned to the Underground scene with friends there producing an interactive play dealing with their own interpretation of these latter issues and event whilst working on other photographic and time based media experiments.

Rey Parlá works like a painter and is inspired by the foundations of photography, but is not limited to the use of one specific tool or resource. He replaces the canvas for expired large format photographic negatives to create what he calls, “Scratch-Graphs.” Guided by intuition, Rey makes small paintings, concrete abstractions that he processes into unique photographic prints where the medium itself is the subject. Parlá’s dynamic works using photographic materials and one-of-a-kind Chromogenic prints originate from hand-made kinetic “motion paintings” or “scratch-films” the rigorous results of his early experimental filmmaking investigations to re-evaluate cinematic and photographic conventions of non-narrative forms.

Rey’s actions contribute and push forward in the tradition of artists he is reflecting on to expand the canon of avant-garde experimentation. Influenced by photography and film histories, Rey references artists such as Georges Méliès, Man Ray, Len Lye, Stan Brakhage, Tony Conrad, and László Moholy- Nagy and many others who often time radically contradicted the current view that photography or filmmaking must only depict the natural world.

Parlá is interested in re-mixing technologies and unconventional materials in the creative process to explore and analyze his production of visual images using the art historical canon of photography and film as mediums up to today through improvisation in order to learn how his experimental constructions work compositionally and have an effect on the viewer.

Rey’s lines reference his interest in how artists throughout history have used many kinds of different tools to draw lines on earth, caves, film, ceramics, and computer screens to explore the points and paths of the human body and mind in motion. Parlá identifies his visual “freeze frame” imagery as concrete abstractions where he plays with and investigates the absence of perspective and depth of field in a visibly tangible form with pictures previously not in existence.

Parlá figuratively and literally uses these borderless creative options and transcends his visions into photographs or “scratch-films” on par with concrete painting. Scratch-Graphs are Scanography related photographs. Celluloid acts as his medium and a raging metaphor presenting the core qualities of photography and film: light, space, movement and time.

Rey experiments and plays to create a co-existence between analogue and digital photographic processes, materials and tools, a “new re-mixed media art,” not limited to the use of the camera, and not discarding it altogether, using the photographic enlarger and dark room, light sensitive papers as well the scanner as a camera to register the form, materiality and haptic quality of large format photographic negatives, or motion picture stocks in Super 8, 16mm and 35mm films, which the artist shoots, paints, deconstructs, collages, scratches and draws on, and/or the 8 x 10” contact prints from these negatives the artist produces in the dark room or film negatives he paints with his hands as flat objects documented into the computer, which Parlá then slightly morphs and subtlety manipulates to create photographic artifacts that are fluid, indefinite, and open. Rey embraces continuous change, intuition, and adaptation as part of his transition from one medium to another by mixing emulsion with pixels to make visual poetry.

"Multiplicity and surprises have always been a part of my interests. Working between these shifting modes of creation is my intention." ~RP

I am interested in the duality of human existence's inner and outer worlds, the gray bridge that binds any life or the ambiguity of an inanimate object, and how perceptions of art between these pairs may be interpreted, contemplated, adapted, or documented. I significantly reference the framework of avant-guard aesthetics and the historical canon of photography as my medium without any limitation on its plural open-ended contemporary meanings and democratically borderless palette of unorthodox technologies.

The works are photographs of photographs. The study of line, luminosity, abstraction, self-examination, and self-reflection of photographic objects, concrete, pictorial conditions, and their possibilities are further explored with these intentions. The photographs here are objects presented - they represent themselves and not the real world.

The focus of my imagery is guided by the intuitive process that gives birth to a personal concrete work formulated by introspection, improvisation, and reflection. This allows me to arrange and design works with "multiple compositions," a borderless and non-hierarchical universe, which can be rotated vertically or horizontally as desired - the focal point is up to the viewers, so that in this way, they may better access the artist's system of choices.

My work is concerned with the process of image creation. The themes of light, color, forms, and consciousness are the central components of my work. My mind and body are fully involved, engaged, and interconnected in conceptualizing the objects from ideas into what I label "action processing" - the works take time to be fully observed and produce open-ended meanings for the audience.

I ground my practice in experimental thinking to arrive at the process of making decisions and draw upon the history of photography. It uses old and contemporary techniques to create its own rules, particularly with perception, time, and creativity. I am also influenced by poetry, music, design, and painting. My work triggers an intuitive response from the viewer through these endless interests in various methods to produce an art of diverse experience by creating images with and without a camera. Although it is difficult to deduce the entirety of my own ways simply by looking at the works' this often happens in experimentation, errant geometric marks and lines that often appear throughout the images, suggesting etching or mark-making onto the raw material of the negative's emulsion. The rest can be interpreted as being shrouded in a veil of artistry and mystery, as I enjoy and have encountered a lot of art.

My works continue to defy categorization with interest in various methods to produce abstract optical results with multiple singularities of illusory creations. I am inspired by experimental cinema, where in my own work, I have tried to capture movement in a kind of freeze frame that vibrates with a hum of silent breaths. These elements are woven together into a forward-thinking fabric presented as one unit. At once elemental and sophisticated, historical and freshly contemporary, rigorously analytical and full of uncertainty, my work is much like the global atmosphere, both politically and environmentally. The pieces are lyrical and precisely intense, with an elegiac aesthetic awareness of cosmic uniformity. I am focused on the creation of images rather than on photography in the conventional sense;. However, I am not divorced from the natural world of documentation; I live the life of an artist between the illusory and the real on a bridging hyphen of creativity.

My initial motivation to create a work is haptic with the film negative to create a camera-less photograph – the fascination began by wanting to capture the movement of the images I was making in the abstract cinema I was producing in the early 90s. I can scratch the film negative, draw on or through it, engrave it, create my emulsion using various viscous liquids or sprays, or anything I can find in the studio that visually calls out a combination or combinations for experimentation. The process is reprocessing photography into its concrete form - photography about photography and what this idea may represent to the viewer. These works represent memory, the passage of time, and the evolution of capturing movement and arriving at its absence.

It all starts with the film negative's emulsion and material transparency to explore abstraction to bring about "painting with light" to create forms, points that interfere with each other and grow into lines crossing structures and changing values; the self-referential constructions of time, and color as the essential materials that allow me to visualize time passing as intuition guide my hand and eyes, arriving at a composition that has no center, but is an infinite multiplicity when the work is rotated clockwise or counter-clockwise wise.

Chaos and Order are in my practice, sister, and brother - "The medium is the message" McLuhan's coined phrase is the strategy at play here through the various technologies used to manipulate exposure and to build up layers for the eye to dance. I work with acrylics, water, my hands, needles, and engraving tools - this idea I got after looking at a show of Lucian Freud's display case at the Royal Academy of Art in England - sometimes brushes or sand-paper, other times sand-witching negatives together in various ways and processed in the darkroom through an enlarger. However, the creative process continues through other mechanical means by reprocessing the film negative through scanners, my iPhone, using a Leica T or Canon Mark II camera, or making a print from multiple exposures of combined film negatives. These are the tools that I use to assist light in continuing its infinite path in space and onto photographic paper.

Spontaneity, improvised reactions, the transfer of accumulated experience, sensuous thoughts in concrete form – cryptic memories, the personal search to go deeper into the spaces between forgetting and remembering – inter-connected layers of multiples - the physical and mental realities of human life, the subjective and the objective, the ideal, the real, and the fictive; the works for Multiplicities are the hybrid imprints of my soul and evidence of the passage of time. These created worlds reflect me – self-portraits of my own multiplicity.

The subject is mainly the processes of photographic technologies, allowing me to explore various ways of non-linear thinking in their creation and what they can mean to the audience. Maintaining a constant aesthetic has not been the aim in my realm of experimentation; that would not be a challenge but a predictable possibility. The focus here has been two-fold by conceptualizing ideas that equally excite the eye and intellect so that through this dynamic dichotomy, I can push forward a discourse that plays between the range of the combinations these contrasting forms will offer the viewer.

The essence of the ideas of my works is the focus first as I transfer these ideas through a chance-by-choice decision process of discovery and surprise guided by intuition. Sometimes this happens very fast, and other times, they are ideas that have lived with me for an extended period that take a slower pace to come into the world; mostly, it is unpredictable and random how and when they will be born. This can materialize with a film projection, an intervention in a space, a concrete photograph, or a painting. There is much more enrichment to creating a photographic or non-photographic object in this multiplicity of multiplicities, which is a part of the language of contemporary art. For each work or sometimes a series of works, the creative process is different - this is where I experience an exhilarating excitement, an energetic, spirited momentum, and boundless inspiration that is highly addictive. Each work represents the ideas of the works that came before it – they are, in the end, a family. There is a rich capacity of visual ideas open for interpretation; lines are also a figure, photographs, and works that represent their own existence, autonomous – no reinterpretation of famous works of art or nature abstracted down to its micro-biological level here.

In the variability of these works, new light and meaning are formed, which imbues a variety of perspectives and characterizations of the show as nuances from one piece to the next are objectified; dots connect to form lines of thought. Our nature is multi-faceted and ever in flux; these visual systems reflect my imaginative landscape to interplay parts and lines and bring structure to an unruly world.

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