Manuel Rocha Iturbide Exhibition

2000 11.21itue) to 12.2 (sat)

closed on Sunday


Thousands of bicycles circulate through the streets of Tokyo every day. It is quite remarkable to observe their disordered behavior as well as the existence of great chaos when these locomotive vehicles are parked (many of them fall onto the ground, others end up being used as trash cans, etc). Yet, it is even more striking to discover that many bicycles are abandoned in the city. There is as a big mystery arising from this, do some people steal bicycles to arrive to their houses after having missed the last night train? Or, do people just leave bicycles on the streets because they will buy a new one? The truth is that in the middle of continuous and organic movement, there are many bicycles that suddenly stop their daily transit and stay parked for weeks or months at the same spot. The police occasionally take some of these abandoned vehicles and pile them in a corner, or place them in an a special bicycle parking lot, but in spite of this, thousands of bicycles are becoming trash in Tokyo. These
transportation objects have a potential capacity of being used, and yet, they have suddenly gained a state of entropy, a state of complete and chaotic stillness.
First World countries like Japan, USA or France, are countries
where people consume in excess and throw to the trash what would be fixed or reused in less developed countries. And then, in Japan you have the absurdity of law, which forbids people from taking and reusing deserted bicycles.
Natural living rhythm exists in organic life, as when we go to
sleep every night, but then get up the next day to become active. However, what would happen if we suddenly fall into a state of coma? A clear drama is produced when we have potential stasis and movement within the same being, but one of the two stops working.
The purpose of this installation is to confront these two opposed
paradoxical states (still bicycles against moving sounds), hoping to spell out entropy from these agonizing beings and giving them new potential energy and hopefulness for survival.

Manuel Rocha Iturbide


Born in 1963 in Mexico City. Manuel Rocha Iturbide studies
composition at the Escuela Nacional de Msica in the University of Mexico with Julio Estrada, Ratko Tichavsky and Federico Ibarra. During three years, he works in the collective photography workshop of Pedro Meyer and he participates in various photo exhibitions in Mexico, Brazil, Cuba and Italy. His interest for electronic music, experimental video, sound installations and sound sculpture take him to the University of Mills College in the USA, where thanks to a grant from the OEA and UNAM, he studies with Alvin Curran, Anthony Braxton, David Rosenboom and Larry Polansky, and obtains an MFA in electronic music and composition (1991). Then in Paris, he takes a one-year course in composition and computer music at IRCAM, where he studies with Bryan Fernyhough (1991-92). From 1992 to1996 he works on his doctoral thesis on "Granular synthesis techniques" with Horacio Vaggione at the University of Paris VIII. Between 1992 and
1996 he produces electroacustic compositions at studios in different
countries (UPIC, IRCAM and GRM in France, LIEM in Madrid Spain, SFU
University in Vancouver Canada, University of Herefordshire in UK, etc). He worked as a researcher at IRCAM developing GiST (1994-95) and later as a professor at the University of Paris VIII where he taught synthesis and computer programming (1995-96). In 1996 and 1997 he was nominated at the Bourges Electronic Music Contest in the categories of program tape music and tape with instruments respectively, and in 1996 and 1997 he won the second prize at the Russolo Electronic Music Contest in the category of composition for instruments and electronics and tape alone. While living in Paris he collaborated with Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco and showed at the
Chantal Crousel Gallery. Since 1996 he lives in Mexico where he has
concentrated more on sound artwork than in composition, where he is the curator of the international sound art festival, and where he lectures on sound art theory at different institutions. Some outstanding international exhibitions where he has showed his work are: The biennial of art and technology, Connecticut 1994; Artists Space, NY NY, 1997; the Sidney Biennale in Australia, 1998; ARCO international art fair in Madrid Spain, etc. His music has been played in Mexico, USA, Canada, Europe, South America, Asia and Australia. He has been recipient of different grants such as The Japan Foundation Grant, the Banff Center for the Arts Grant, and the Mexican Council For Culture grant.

Statement about my work

An important part of my work has always been related to daily sounds that surround's us, as well as with the relationship of these sounds with context. In my recent sound installation Off Side (Mexico City, 1999), I have a slide projector showing 11 images of found objects that I took in India and Thailand during 1998. At the same time, there is a sound system playing soundscapes recorded in these two countries. A non-linear counterpoint between image and sound is established. Several of my compositions and of my sound artwork deals with the contemplation of different sound actions which are "musicalized" through electroacustic means. In this way, the sound of the screeching wheels of a car can become the central element of an artwork that could play eternally (Rocha, Orozco, 1994), or, the sound of a small water stream unfolded in time can become an electroacustic composition (Rocha, 1990). The precedent works explain the significance of my intention, I am trying to develop an
attitude towards the contemplation of the world through sound. One of the first concepts with which I started to work with was the idea of the unity related to the multiplicity. Of the simplicity converted into complexity. Unfolding a sound object by manipulating it with a computer is one of the ways to do this. The same thing can be said about objects. A deconstructed machinery, or anything broken down to pieces and converted into a sculpture. By changing the internal disposition of an object, we change its meaning and we create metaphor. This is a driving force in my music work and in my sound artwork. An example of this is In a fraction of a friction, an audio and video installation created starting from the ephemeral sound of a wooden match being lighted. This sound reproduced thousands of times becomes catastrophe, a natural destructive force, but also, it becomes ambiguous, it could be similar to natural phenomena like
rain which is a positive and productive force. Another very important line that helps to read my work is related to opposite forces and to their interplay. These forces could be antagonistic, contradictory, but also complementary. Their simultaneous display can create ambiguity; but then again, unity is always somehow regained. My doctoral thesis about quantum theory of sound (Rocha Iturbide, 1999) has only strengthened all these concepts. The duality of atomic particles, the simultaneous wave and particle condition of an electron is contradictory, ambiguous and irrational, but at the same time, complex, coherent, and organic. In this sense, Ping Roll (1997) is my work more thoroughly related with the atomic theory of particles. Nevertheless, all these ideas are not only related to physical phenomena, but also to spiritual thinking. My work Impasse is related to Zen Buddhism and Urnoboros is related to the alchemical serpent that bites its tail. Alchemy and Budhism, as well as the Tao, and other spiritual philosophies, have clearly to do with the Quantum
theory. Different conditions of matter, its transformation into different states, theory of chaos, going from order to disorder, continuity to discontinuity, processes towards entropy, etc, are also concepts related to my work. But once again, the physical facts are only a way to unfold poetic meaning from xsound and visual objects. What is the connection between my sound work and my visual artwork? It is the process, the way of looking at these elements and of presenting them. A visual object could be opposite to a simultaneous sound object presented in the same installation, but it is their coexistence and interaction which will create ambiguity, complexity, and which will unfold poetic meaning.