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Pictured is artist, Marton Robinson. A dark-skinned bald Black man with a five o clock shadow. He wears a relax fit, black linen button up shirt, slightly unbuttoned to reveal his necklace.

Photo: Whitney Legge

With Marton Robinson
Date and place of birth
b. 1979, Costa Rica
Current location
Toronto, Canada and Costa Rica
Year(s) of residency and/or fellowship
202122, Democracy Machine Fellow

How do you characterize the media you work in?

Each project defines the media (technology) I used in my work and experimentations. I based the research on a consciousness built around (or built without regard to) new technologies, considering the existence of an inter-technological consciousness that can be an intentional component of any given technology.

How does your practice engage with technology?

My practice involves technology under the principle that the human body and Humans as Cyborgs were the first mechanisms of colonialism and capitalism. Also, we live in a systemic world, country, and even a systematic art structure. My work engages with technology in the appropriation of content and medium that allows for an exploration of the fundamentals of colonialism. This strategy straddles a cultural mediation between Latin America and North America. If you understand the system, you are able to defeat it somehow and play with it. I find value in the idea that I could somehow dislocate the system and manipulate the design. Of course, this is all based on the reach and scale of the projects.

What was your focus during your time at Eyebeam?

I focused on concepts of knowledge economies, translation, and language. It is necessary to understand the intersection of aesthetics and knowledge as a social phenomenon that coexists in constant state oppression within art structures of colonialism. I am interested in transforming the so-called peripheral materials (knowledge) into the cornerstone of my production.

Video: Whitney Legge

Was there a culminating project?

Since 2015, I’ve been making posters that are reactions to personal events or situations I’ve encountered while traveling. My signs are written in Spanish and English, sometimes using Google Translate. My observations of the Google Translate application is captured as an example of the appropriation of decoding, established around an exploration of language, translation, and formal/informal modes of communication. If we think about Google Translate, the program cannot understand or conceive a complete sentence; it’s just glimpsing at symbols (text) and attempting to get meaning out of it. At times they dictate a new form of language that needs to be codified—outside normal codes of reading and interpretation. The visual aesthetics of the installation frames the text-as-form instead of form-as-text (the text function as pictograms) in the configuration of meaning. Most of the time, I translate these words and input the translation as the real meaning when it doesn’t have real sense. So, I’m trying to fuck with the system by inputting the wrong translation into Artificial Intelligence (AI) and not giving agency to the software or AI technology to develop.

How has dialogue or collaboration with Eyebeam artists and alumni factored into your work?

My conversations with other Eyebeam artists have affected how I engage with my practice. I’m more interested in the labor embedded in the art practice—how we are constantly producing and this question of what or for whom we are making art. Eyebeam also allowed us a platform to open up a conversation around knowledge: asking where knowledge comes from, how we understand it, what its value is, and who validates it. So much happens for artists based on proximity and connections, so the cohort wanted to ask: How do we expand beyond our groups and develop new systems to validate and incorporate other ways of producing knowledge beyond the center of arts and academia?

How do you think about the role of the artist in society?

I can only speak for myself and speculate that my role/position as an artist is to answer the inquiries my Black body navigates as a geopolitical tool truthfully. The questions will likely be a reflection of the moment we are living.

Eyebeam models a new approach to artist-led creation for the public good; we are a non-profit that provides significant professional support and money to exceptional artists for the realization of important ideas that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Nobody else is doing this.

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