Published in Vitamin PH. Phaidon Press inc., Rodrigo Alonso, 2006
Surpassing mere glossy seduction, Esteban Pastorino Díaz explores the fundamentals of how photographic images are produced: the far-reaching metaphors and meanings embedded in the process of creation itself. His photographs are the outcome of an ongoing experimentation with imagemaking processes and their relation to depicted reality. Through mechanical camera modifications and other tricks, he unfurls new possibilities for photography, which in turn reveal unusual approaches to viewing and comprehending the world.
For each series Pastorino Díaz designs a precise photographic device. He gained recognition following a series of elongated urban landscapes created with a camera adapted to expose the whole film continuously in each shot. The camera was attached to a car driven by the artist, so he could neither frame nor compose the final images. The photographs were in fact produced by the device itself; the artist was involved only at the very end of the process. Movement and time are imprinted on these pictures as much as people, buildings and objects. Defying central perspective, they develop the "decisive moment" -the core of photographic practice according to Henri Cartier-Bresson- on to space, transforming time into a linear succession of entrapped moments. Sometimes movement acquires a physical presence, as in Marathon (2004), where the runners' feet leave their trails imprinted on the photograph, reminiscent of Étienne-Jules Marey's chronophotographs and futuristic paintings. Sometimes movement dissolves the figures, turning them into a dizzy presence or a passing ghost. At other times the objects appear curiously sharp and defined, creating a conflict between the whole and its parts: focusing on details erases a sense of the whole picture, while heeding the complete Image forces its components to dissolve. In any case, the city becomes like a river, everything fluid within it. Not surprisingly Venice plays a part in this series.
More recently Pastorino Díaz has been working on aerial photographs taken by a remote-controlled camera mounted on a kite. Again, chance is a key feature in this series: the artist can see the images only after the film is developed, so his control is reduced to the final selection of the prints. Even when he manages to capture the decisive moment, no subjectivity, no personal view is imposed on the pictures; instead the gaze is that of a distant camera, modelled by the soft edges of the less. The photographs show suburban areas from a low altitude, at just the point where things begin to took unreal. Cars, planes and boats seem like toys, houses like pieces of an architectural model. The selection of particularly ordered places and the frequent absence of people reinforce this impression. Even when the pictures have been taken in motion, everything is perfectly quiet, as if stillness and solitude were attributes of these places-no doubt a camera effect, but, in the realm of photography, what is reality other than a camera effect?