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Life & Work with Anthony Diaz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anthony Diaz.

Hi Anthony, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I started making focused visual art about six years ago, initially working in the drawing medium. Having been a creative kid drawing in the margins of my school notes, I developed a style intent on filling pages with optical black and white patterns. I have had the opportunity to display my pen and ink works in various galleries and have sold prints and other merchandise at local shows in the Los Angeles and surrounding areas. Once I had used these drawing methods to explore concepts such as perspective, depth and representation of movement, I was inspired to push my work into the video medium. I set out to explore the melding of analog video art with optical moire patterns, and thanks to a few initial collaborations with close peers in the DIY art community, I established my personal craft under the name Moire Bender.

After hours of late night experimentation with a variety of classic psychedelic lightshow techniques, video mixing, and practical fx, I began doing visuals for shows in LA. I have provided lightshows for a variety of artists, events and spaces, and I continue to collaborate with local artists in different capacities, such as being a crew person for Stranger Liquids lightshow. Adapting to the pandemic challenges, I have contributed visuals to livestream events for pockets of the vaporwave community and also done video commissions for Stoned and Dusted’s Live in the Mojave streams. Continuing to enrich my craft with new gear and techniques, I eagerly await the safe and conscious return to in-person gatherings and opportunities to share one another’s art.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Any art career is benchmarked with challenges, some concrete and others more mental. One unique challenge to the video medium is wrestling with archaic hardware and overcoming the learning curve of retro video formats. Because a lot of the gear used is old, there often isn’t ample information that is easily searchable on the internet. But through trial and error, you eventually come up with solutions, sometimes solutions that work for you and not for others. And through that personal struggle, I believe your art becomes better. As an artist really what I would say is my personal biggest challenge is literally everything else in my life getting in the way of my art. It’s really tough to carve out the proper time and dedication to your personal craft. And it even requires many supplementary tasks that are totally separate from actually creating art. These days you’re constantly told it’s not enough to just be making art, that you need to package it, advertise it, commodify it, etc. And while these are great skills to develop and you should be proud to show off and share your work, you must remind yourself why it is you make the art in the first place, for yourself. You do it because you feel the urge to do it. And the big challenge is really to manage to overcome the rest of mundane life and tasks and responsibilities to get back to that pure experience of making art because you enjoy doing so.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
As Moire Bender lightshow, I explore the analog video art medium and combine different visual elements to create an optical lightshow menagerie. As an enthusiast of moire patterns in the wild, I had always thought that the mathematical arrangements and otherworldly movement would be a perfect visual backdrop for live music. Building an arsenal of patterns and collecting video gear piece by piece, I built my personal rig which morphs and travels for my various occasions. For shows, I’ll usually bring some combination video mixers, glitch gear, a CRT, my patterns, and some holographic layers to manipulate under a digital presenter. Depending on the space and how many projectors I use, I’ll usually project onto a hung backdrop and surrounding walls to create an immersive experience and encapsulate the audience in the performance. For at home experimentation, I have my full video, which spans an entire 6 foot dining table and my adjacent desk in an L shape. This intricate heap of gear is arranged in ways to optimize signal flow and variety without having to unplug things.

But as an artist always reviewing my own work and process, I tend to outline on paper and reorganize my entire rig again every couple of weeks. This has been to my benefit though as it has also allowed me to incorporate new pieces of gear and experiment with things like glass in unconventional lightshow manners. Video artist collaboration work is also very enjoyable to me because it splits out and plays with the various roles to be taken by each artist involved. One person is usually the final mixer who makes the decision as to how much of everything goes into the final mix, a skill that is developed and requires a lot of grasp of both people’s contributions. Other times however it is very enjoyable to not be the one in charge, as you can focus more on what pieces to be sending in to be mixed. In these times, I often push my pattern work to the forefront because it sort of represents my unique contribution to then be “live remixed” by the collaborator.

What do you like and dislike about the city?
The best thing about being in LA is that you won’t be bored. This city has something different happening in every pocket, and every culture and art scene can be found thriving somewhere in our midst. The sheer range of different types of people that flock to this place is wild to me and has definitely influenced my work. Living here has made me a person with diverse interests and has made me more inclined to give my attention to things that push beyond the norm. This mentality definitely influences my work as I will often do things in an unconventional manner to really see and know what things are for myself. This city is a double edge sword in that it is hard to accommodate the needs of everyone in such a diverse melting pot. Even though it is a liberal mentality echo chamber, marginalized groups continue to be kicked to the curb. The corrupt housing and real estate politics have gentrified culture-rich neighborhoods and strained communities into homelessness, which the city does a terrible job of responding to. The politics tote social consciousness yet the corruption still goes right through to the top with bloated police budgets. And frankly, the hyper-glam aesthetic of LA can be pretty exhausting with everyone claiming to be larger than life. It’s definitely a very fun place to live but it can eventually feel overwhelmingly ingenuine.

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Image Credits:

Roger Kelly Faith Foster Robert Staley Jesse Luff

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