Exploring Manufactured Realities with Juan Jose Egusquiza

juan jose egusquiza

juan jose egusquiza

Just beyond the bounds of what could be, you’ll find the Impossible Landscapes of New York based visual artist Juan Jose Egusquiza. Stitching together slices of the banal, he builds a quiet, surreal vistas confined to the boundaries of each manipulated photograph. At times, the end results almost evoke a sense of tranquility and peace – others contain the sort of chaos and destitution characteristic of post-apocalyptic hellscapes.

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Egusquiza and ask some questions concerning the intersection of photography, technology, and the dreamscape.

juan jose egusquiza

juan jose egusquiza

You’ve mentioned before that photography has been a lifelong passion of yours. Can you talk a bit about your artistic background and your progression as an artist?

I like to work with images, and I’ve been involved doing that for a decade now. Some years ago, I started traveling and taking my camera with me. On those long walks, I started to pay attention and noticed all those ordinary and simple things in our daily life that captured through a lens, can become a powerful image. However, I started imagining stories and scenarios around those simple things that were beyond the act of taking a picture. That’s when I decided to move to NY to search for new ways to capture, create, manipulate and share visual content. 

And how do you go about constructing the landscapes on a technical level? In addition, how do you go about making the decisions on whether to add or omit specific details?

In all these years I have gathered a large collection of images, and every time I go somewhere I take my camera with me so I keep adding more and more to the collection. And I have different types of images, from wide landscapes to detailed shots of objects; so in that way, I can have different elements to play with. Then it’s basically me looking at the images and thinking about what kind of story or emotion I want to transmit. From there, is a lot about playing with layers, however, even though I have created some surreal scenarios I try to make it as subtle as I can. 

juan jose egusquiza

juan jose egusquiza

What are ideas or individuals inspire each digital collage?

For me is a lot about the story that the image is trying to tell. During my walks, I started looking at places and thinking things like “I wonder how this street would look like if it was filled with water and people swimming in it. Then I think of the exact moment I want to create and I look if I have the images to do it; if I don’t, I will go out and capture them!

What role does technology play in your personal creative process? Do you view the expanding role of technology in day-to-day life as a positive or a negative?

I would say plays a big role. When I decided to explore different mediums, I ended up creating different kinds of projects, from stills to animations, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and interactive experiences. I don’t feel constrained to one specific tool and the fact that many tools are economically accessible for us makes me excited about the unlimited options we can have to play with the images.

The terrain featured throughout Impossible Landscapes often proves to be bizarre, and at times, almost dreamlike. What is it that attracts you to the impossible, absurd, and infeasible?

This project started for me as some kind of experiment about challenging perception. We have created our own ideas of what certain images are and how the world is supposed to look like, but what if we don’t want to show something as it “is” but more as for how you see it? or how you want to see it? I like to think about dreams, we spend a good amount of our lives sleeping and dreaming so our dreams are also part of our life and reality; the problem is that we can’t just take a snap of them… but I can surely try to recreate them!

juan jose egusquiza

juan jose egusquiza

Looking through the project, I’ve noticed quite a few recurring motifs – deserts, skyscrapers, tanned sunbathers. Do these recurring thematic elements hold any sort of special meaning to you?

I grew up in a desert next to the ocean (Lima, Peru). I’m used to seeing hundreds of kilometers of just plain desert throughout the whole coast of Peru. Now I’m living in a city that is characterized oh having skyscrapers all over. I believe that contrast had a big influence. 

Are there any additional messages, concepts, or commentary points that you’d like to convey through this body of work?

This project started as an idea about challenging perceptions and was basically me combining images without a really clear and specific goal but experimentation. But when I started creating landscapes I thought of the idea of telling a story through an image. If you look at a city like New York,  you will realize is always changing, is always been re-imagined, people move in, people move out and they bring their own stories and ideas and they help to build this city; this is my way of re-imaging the places and telling stories.

All photos are courtesy of Juan Jose Egusquiza.