Federico Díaz is driven by questions of perception of seemingly invisible, yet inherently present aspects in our everyday reality and natural environment. Since early 1990s he has used cutting edge technology to reveal phenomenons which are elusive through human senses. Since early 2000s a common thread in his work has also been the use of industrial robots.
From the outset of his career, Federico focused on newest technological developments, often predicting its further use and implications on society. Most recently, his main interest has been artificial intelligence. His latest project, in collaboration with Jonathan Ledgard, focuses not on humans, but on animals, in the days of an omnipresent AI.
Federico often works with new technologies that later become used widely. For instance with an architectural project E-Area (1998-2008) he proposed a plan for a smart city, Intuit (2000-2002) offered a system of a smart home or Muscoxen (2002-2003), and Sakura (2004-2005) dealt with an idea of global governing corporations controlling our bodies. BIG LIGHT (2016), and its sequel BIG LIGHT: The Space of Augmented Suggestion (2017) touched upon the topic of new materiality. BIG LIGHT offers a vision of a post-capitalist future society based on an open distribution of all knowledge through artificially created substances serving the role of data storages.
Another focus of Federico’s work is the human body and its anchoring in various socio-political contexts. A critical framework for these works is a concept of so-called ‘mass ornament,’ introduced by philosopher Siegfried Kracauer, member of the Frankfurt School. From this perspective, distinctive features of a certain location are materialized in people’s movements and different nuances of their everyday behavior. Federico decided to analyze and map these easily overlooked differences with the help of various technical means. This interest can be traced back to the works FluidF1 (2006), LacrimAu (2010) commissioned by the World EXPO in Shanghai, Outside Itself (2011) specially prepared for the 54th Venice Biennial, followed by a site-specific installation You Welded the Ornament of The Times (2014), developed for the Cafa Museum in Beijing. Such tendencies are present also in the project Eccentric Gravity (2015) presented at the Belvedere of Prague Castle. Besides the above mentioned projects, a formative role for this part of Federico’s practice was also played by a study for a possible project Consistency (2015), questioning the laws of gravity, and Etalon (2012), a film made for the Sao Paulo Biennial. A connection can also be found in a series of public sculptures called Subtile (2013-2018) most notably in the monumental version on the riverbank in Sacramento, California.
The early stage of Federico’s artistic development is marked by a tendency to establish a direct interaction between works of art and their audience, breaking away from back then absolute belief that art should not be touched. These works, just to name a few, are Dehibernation I and II (1993-1994) Federico’s first haptic holophonic environment, Generatrix (1999-2002) and Mnemeg (1999-2002), a very first reach into the field of artificial intelligence in Federico’s oeuvre, confronting the viewer with an artificial being reacting autonomously to a given stimulus. Besides the interactive works, Federico focused on 3D modelling by mean of rapid prototyping, which was completely new in the late 1990s.
To understand Federico’s practice, one has to bear in mind his long lasting conviction that art needs to stay radically avant-garde. Federico works as an archaeologist of our possible futures, digging deep into the fabric of shared beliefs and habits, reshuffling them and forging new meaning for things which we were until then used to consider as normal. Such an approach Federico also applied for his ten year long professorship at the Academy of Art, Architecture and Design in Prague where he established in 2007 the studio of Supermedia, constantly challenging his students to overcome any habitual boundary imaginable.