Week 3: Pablo Valbuena

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Pablo Valbuena develops artistic projects and research focused on space, time and perception. Born in Spain and currently based in the south of France.

Some key elements of this exploration are the overlap of the physical and the virtual, the generation of mental spaces by the observer, the dissolution of the boundaries between real and perceived, the links between space and time, the primacy of subjective experience as a tool to communicate and the use of light as prime matter.

These ideas are mostly developed site-specific, formulated as a direct response to the perceptual qualities, physical conditions and surrounding influences of a certain location or space.

This body of work has been presented in public and private institutions, biennials and galleries in the form of exhibitions, site-specific commissions and large-scale public interventions throughout Europe, Asia and America.

Upcoming exhibition at Young Projects

A contemporary art space that specializes in moving image artworks, video art, and a wide array of digital art practices.


Pacific Design Center #B230
8687 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90069


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40 Responses to Week 3: Pablo Valbuena

  1. My thoughts are best expressed by this illustration I made during the seminar. http://24.media.tumblr.com/c20293da62f605fdf20a7f3254a96535/tumblr_n07jrdHjr41qzy0nto1_r1_1280.jpg

    The relationship between light, time and space is very interesting to me. These factors have appeared in human culture since primitive cultures decided to inhabit caves; and they have shaped human cosmology from religious ceremonies to hollywood blockbusters.

    The ideas that Pablo Valbuena shared about this were interesting and it shows in his work, which seems to be deeper than the average projection mapping, which usually serves more as a showcase of a powerful projector than an exploration of the relations between light, time and space.

  2. Maggie Harbaugh says:

    Pablo began the seminar saying he wouldn’t talk about his practical techniques, which was somewhat disappointing. I wish he had touched on that a little bit more considering we will being doing projection mapping and I have never done anything like this before. I get the feeling he doesn’t want to share his secrets.

    Pablo’s work is interesting and I enjoyed all the pieces he showed us. Of course I would much rather see these works in person considering they rely on experience, but even just seeing records of the work I feel his efforts were successful because he definitely had me thinking about my perceptions; this was especially true when viewing “Corner Study.”

    • elisabethmann says:

      Take a look at the “Projection Mapping Guidelines” page at the top of this blog for some very helpful technical and aesthetic suggestions from the team at 7StarSun. They suggest creative ways to make your mapping successful; to make it “dance with the architecture.”

  3. Dustin Reno says:

    I thought Pablo’s work was quite fascinating, and he had a rather fun approach to the objectives of his work, despite it not being as much of a piece about immediate entertaining as more of the projections I have been introduced to in the past have. His video presentations were possibly my favorite part of the presentation because we got to see brief glimpses of how people were responding to the artist’s response to the space and the potential that he saw within them.

    He appears to be venturing into and exploring some interesting concepts in his work. I hope I can take some of the lessons and ideas he discussed into the projection mapping for the library.

  4. Yizhou Li says:

    I felt his work with the small patterns and changes that patterns could make were really interesting. It was very cool how he could create new rooms in windows and make walls look so different just with lines. I feel the look of just white light on the buildings and places looked nice, but I wonder how much different feeling the projections would have if he did an all color piece? I hope I can make such an interesting projection too.

  5. Evan Harbuck says:

    I had seen the James Turrell exhibit at LACMA recently and Pablo’s work remind very much of the experiential nature of dealing with light. I believe him when he says that his works are best understood when seen in person, when you’re able to walk around them, and feel them. I agree with others who have commented that I would like to hear more about his process, where he places his projectors and why, etc.. Projection mapping seems like such a unique technical challenge that I would have been interested for him to share his encounters, struggles, and discoveries in it as a medium.

  6. linhui wang says:

    He’s work was pretty funny. Especially when I saw the people walking pass under the light from projecting, the pattern on their surface following the projecting to change, it seemed like the players mixing some part of their bodies to the light and shadows. very good interactive concept idea!

  7. Ivan Sayon says:

    I liked Pablo’s work, and I echo the idea that the work is probably best experienced for yourself in person. I liked the pieces of his work that took a simple room in a vacant mattress factory and expanded the corners and faces to imply a different perspective or windows to other rooms that aren’t even there. What I found interesting was that Pablo did not seem very open to discussing his process further and that expanding the applicability and use of his work is a direction he would rather not take. I think it would have been enlightening for him to demonstrate some technical aspect of how he lines up his projections and animations as he briefly mentioned his work to be similar to gesture drawing/sketching for a fine artist.

  8. Jiexi Wang says:

    Pablo’s work reminds me a lot of James Turrell’s exhibition that we visited last semester in LACMA. It amazed me again how lights can trick human’s brains and make us believe in a completely fake space. Like the boxes/rooms appear on the white building. I assume to accomplish those work, you need to do a lot a precise calculation and measure, which seems very hard to be perfect. Thus I admire Pablo’s work, very neat. Also, after the lecture I think I have a little bit more understating of light and projection art, which might be useful for the coming Wonderland project.

  9. Ruthie says:

    Pablo Valbuena’s approach reminded me of Quayola, another great installation artist we had in seminar, because he reveals and plays with the geometric structures in a building/object’s design. Or in the case of his trompe l’oeil pieces, expanding or inverting those structures. The work where he traced the placement of art pieces in a gallery space was interesting because it introduced the idea of recording movement of objects in time and space, and seeing the crosspoint of those patterns. It would be really exciting to see if he continues with more of these types of studies that incorporate some kind of record-keeping and lets the lines and information build up, but I also liked his reasoning that light is a symbol of time passing and it is also an ephemeral ‘invisible’ thing.

  10. Josh Weisbrod says:

    I was most interested in the optical illusion aspect of Pablo’s work. It was cool to see how large a canvas can be used to trick the eye into believing there is space where none really exists. I also would be interested in seeing where he puts the projectors as well as hearing more on his thoughts behind the process.

    I also liked his description of how, even though this work is similar in some ways to paintings that create an illusion of depth from a certain vantage point, adding the additional dimension of time makes the work into an entirely new and different way of showcasing this type of painting.

  11. Ryan Gillis says:

    I thought Valbuena’s talk was really stimulating. His work was really effective, and what I thought was most surprising, is that it was effective in the way he intended. I know a lot of fine-artists that have intentions when they make something, but ultimately the effect it has on people is very subjective. But Valbuena has really mastered the tools necessary to craft these experiential installations that cause people to start to question their own perception. Or experience seeing, like he said.
    His responses were thoughtful. I like thinking about light as a medium that transfers data, and the data is transfers is unique to each person receiving it.
    When Simon asked him about the potential religious-vibe of his work, I thought Valbuena spouted some good general advice for any creator, to be aware of all of the implications, limitations and conventions of your medium, even it it’s just to ignore them.

  12. Junjie "Jake" Zhang says:

    Valbuena’s works are really experimental and original. I appreciated the point he showed and gave us that ” using light as tool to recreate the sense of human’s eyes”. It’s very interesting and it is like leading audiences to a brand new point of view without noticing the changing.
    It reminds me light as tool of storytelling, light can really a strong method to make dramatic moment. Maybe there will be more experimental ways using light to a dramatic moment in the area of storytelling.

  13. Jason Ronzani says:

    I thought Pablo’s work was very interesting and it was great timing to have him now that we are thinking about our own projection mapping assignments. Unfortunately, I thought he was very cryptic and contradictory in his explanations of his work. I was interested in his process and I was disappointed when he seemed to dodge Lisa’s very direct question about his technique. I still think he was a great guest and I would love to experience his work in person. Perhaps then I would get a better understanding of it.

  14. Fan Feng says:

    Pablo’s work is so artistic which reminds me my college life. When I was in college, contemporary art was the focus of my major. I think Pablo’s work is included into the category of contemporary art which is focusing on the composition of space, the function of line in the space, etc. For me, If I meditate on space , I will endlessly think and get an incredible silence.
    I like his work, very slow camera movement, very exquisite composition of very scene, very good light and shadow effects.
    It inspired me a lot.

  15. Zheng Kang says:

    Pablo’s work was very fantastic. It was very cool that he could create new rooms in windows and make walls look so different just with lines. It amazed me how lights can trick human’s brains and make us believe in a completely fake space. After the lecture I have a more understating of light and projection art. It will be helpful for the coming project.

  16. Joanna Barondess says:

    I agree with my fellow classmates in that it would have been nice to hear more about Valbuena’s process. His concepts are beautifully simple and to learn more about how he measures the light with the chosen structure and how he comes up with these concepts would be fascinating. I also agree that to get the full experience, Valbuena’s work is best viewed in person. iPad video really doesn’t do it justice.

  17. Joseph Yeh says:

    Pablo’s work is nice! He really captures a new space with each of his installation and his ideas are inspirational. I think is approach and process is solid. I would like to see him try an installation focusing on color. Thanks for the wonderful presentation!!

  18. emily says:

    Pablo’s work is very interesting. I like to hear more about his working process Because.I personally would love to work on that. Great presentation

  19. Yawen says:

    Pablo‘s work is really beautiful, very abstract. but most of them is concept, I think if we can see more works in real set that’s will be more amazing. I especially like the room with two windows, he use the single light to make the space change and extended.that’s the magical of light.

  20. The thrust of Pablo Valbuena’s talk, that “Light Matters,” is fundamental knowledge for all visual artists. His assertion that “Light has memory” felt right, and sounded less obvious than his thesis. Though I did not understand his explanation, I imagine that by pushing away darkness, Light can reveal hidden truths; that by the time it hits our retina we are actually seeing what was there at the tine of impact. Typically this difference in the time of initial impact and retina impact is negligible, unless it is happening in the vast space of the universe, where astronomers are actually looking back in time.

    Mr. Valbuena’s work was stylish, and handsome. His work mapped to architectural space felt more like exercises, perhaps for projector calibration/registration, than meaningful works of Art. And his work, which extends real space into virtual, really only works from a fixed location/perspective,and looking through only one eye. But it did seem to correlate with his earlier comment that the perception of a Rainbow’s location is dependent POV.

    I attending the opening of his exhibit at Project Young gallery. It’s a wonderful show about light artists, including works by Turrell and Campbell (whose work motivated, in part, my Body Scrub device.)

    About Turrell: http://jamesturrell.com/
    About Campbell: http://www.jimcampbell.tv/
    Body Scrub example: http://youtu.be/xCEy-MYNEj0

  21. Tim says:

    I really liked seeing how Pablo used light to create new edges and dimensions within the spaces he projected onto, the videos made me wish that he’d had the time and opportunity to actually create one for us to see first-hand. It makes me very excited to see what we all come up with for the Wonderland project. While it was interesting to get an understanding of Pablo’s thinking, I do wish he could have spent more time on the practical implications of ‘storyboarding’ and creating one of his installations.

  22. Andrew says:

    Pablo’s work and presentation and really got me thinking about some fun ways to use projection mapping. I think the reason his work is so interesting is that he uses the minimum amount of alteration to change a space, staying limited to lines and simple patterns. It is the minimalism that reveals the power of light and shows how much our minds/eyes want to see things transform and change.

  23. Robert Calcagno says:

    Pretty mesmerizing work from Valbuena; it’s an example of the kind of work where not only is the environment and presentation important, but that subsequently you can influence the architecture. With augmented reality and everyone being equipped with digital devices, there’s no telling which direction this type of light-art can be taken. While the cynic in me might not like it being appropriated by corporations; however, architecture is the identity of a metropolis and incorporating light-imagery and projection mapping in this fashion…the possibilities are endless. Just look at the facial 3D-projections that are being featured at Sochi; it’s already being used.

  24. Caress says:

    I really did like seeing Pablo’s work. To be able to project illusory images onto flat surfaces isn’t the easiest thing to do. I did find it interesting how elusive he was about some of his techniques, like what software he used for all of his mapping. I happened to have a slight idea as to what techniques he used, but that’s only because Mike Patterson covered a lot of it in Visual Music, which everyone hasn’t had the chance to take. Interesting artist nevertheless!

  25. Amelia says:

    Pablo was really interesting and his work was awesome. I wished that I had been in one of his spaces instead of hearing about them because I’m sure they are much more dynamic in person. My boyfriend is interested in architecture and I have been to a few conceptual exhibits around town and they are always fun to explore – wish I could explore one of Pablo’s.

  26. Sophie Xing says:

    Pablo’s works remind me of James Turrell. I like Pablo’s works more. He combine animation, light and spaces all together. It’s very fantastic. I like how he using lights to create different spaces which is very smart.

  27. Frederico de Sa Fernandez says:

    Pablo has a beautiful assortment of mapping works. Loved how he simplifies the use of masks within the building’s angles. His style was what made the bigger impression on me, specially when he multiplied one animated pattern and created such an intricate network of fractals. I think his works carries great inspiration from both new as much as old architecture forms. I want to follow more of this kind of work, it has great artistic endeavor in my humble opinion.

  28. Catalina says:

    Pablo’s work was very impressive, it reminded me of Julio Le Parc and his light sculptures. My favorite piece was the the time tilings. I am a fan of patterns and see his works was very inspiring. I also think his work has great potenial for interaction.

  29. Yifu Zhou says:

    This seminar is very inspiring for me because it shows a way of combining architecture and animation together and make it into a whole new art!

  30. Christina Brous says:

    Pablo’s work was very interesting. We don’t often get to listen to a projection mapper speak and it especially fit the theme of our class this semester. I was also annoyed that he didn’t speak about his process. Although we do have the projection mapping guidelines, it’s nice to hear about how the artist himself goes about making his work. If we don’t hear about the process and the artists’ own personal thoughts and we just spend seminar viewing images and videos of the work, it’s like we could have just looked at their website.

  31. Brian Rhodes says:

    I really love his work and was thoroughly inspired. I loved these simple yet sophisticated designs. Although I thought some of the concepts were more about tricking perception for the sake of it, I do think he has a great visual eye and aesthetic. I wanted to incorporate this simplicity into my Wonderland project.

  32. Li,Xia says:

    great work, I was enlightened by some his works,

  33. Simo Lliu says:

    It was great and fun to see his projection works. Personally, I’m interested in projection, and his work inspired me a lot, especially ,the part he projected the frame on the wall looking like perspective window which people can go through. That’s amazing. I’m really appreciated to see his works.

  34. Sijia Huang says:

    I like Pablo’s art works a lot. Some of his art piece remind me of the work of James Terron. I did a lot of sketches of his art during the seminar. They are so well made and beautiful. The way he combined light and building is amazingly beautiful. And the way he use lines to divide the wall is interesting !

  35. Eric Cheng says:

    This is a impressive seminar,Pablo Valbuena’s works reminds me James Turrell’s exhibition I saw in LACMA last semester. The way he use space and animation to spread information are really cool!

  36. Ning Xu says:

    I discover light can be a amazing element in the art work. the basic element like lines sometimes create the best visual art.

  37. Lanzhu Jian says:

    interesting seminar with art work.

  38. Chaoqi Zhang says:

    I want to call his art to be lighting dimension space, there are such a potential of lighting, very spiritual.

  39. this was en enlightening seminar 🙂 I really enjoyed seeing his work, I find such abstract work fascinating, and locating the work in spaces seems to give great challenges. I will definitely follow up his work

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