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Poetics of a parallel reality: Leo Castenada and his rift to alternate spaces.

What makes for spaces in the virtual void? – One may call it a void also because it allows you the liberties of construction and creation in the most coherent or in its fairly banal articulations – a space that nonetheless commands a locus defined by expected lexicons. Leo’ work locates itself in similar orientations as he strives to create an alternate space placed within a physical space, coaxing the latter to engage in an interlocution with the former. The lexicons developed thereby are employed to deconstruct the very framework of video games to its bare components – frame by frame. The Oculus Rift brings a potential space to a kinetic viewer, relocating visual sensors to abstracted existences; the space being installative, painterly, sculpted and coded. The oddity of the objects and the absurdity of its existence in these environs take on the jargons of ones visual compatibility in the largely visual domain of virtual entertainment.

Leo allows what we could call ‘maneuvering the space’ using the trope of movement deriving from gameplay, yet forming a hinted course of exploration – an aspect that brings a surprisingly simple yet visually complex experience to the viewer. Interestingly there is both – a regard and disregard for detail fluctuating between the elements to trick one with a constantly mobile focal point. This also tends to the rather dramatic identity of the viewer as he/she constantly correlates to a space, which is elusive and constantly seeks an adaptation with its shifting pace.

He uses a haunting existence that shares the virtual space with you, but refrains from defining its iconography, nevertheless attributing a evident ascendancy to his position. The ‘Boss’ as he identifies it, rarely acknowledges its authority unlike the iconic and powerful bad guy from the badlands of a game. The lack of inactivity in terms of his ‘actions’ is testing, often making one move their eyes towards it to seek some movement in its fairly frozen presence. However, one wanders back to align the physical space one is on to the virtual space one is within.

The narrative is self-constructive as it constantly loops Castenada’ cues with the receiver’ interpretations forming a ‘player’- specific conversation, making it devoid of plurality. This makes for his core focus as well, with the reduction of all the other layers too its minimal synonym more so to facilitate both access and assessment (he brands the structural movements as levels for example). The antithetical color schemes disassociates from the high colors of video game concepts and works to lend an ambient tone to the presence of the strange Black Cube, which is often unsettling in its stark manifestation.

What remains constant to his work is the existence of the structure in its shifting intonations – the existing structure versus the altered and the created – yet telling of an impermanence in its variable ‘levels and bosses’. The structure is also that of mythologies that are established and the corporate modules that are created; both of which are alliterative and allegorical to each other, whilst stemming from similar characteristic functions.