Watkins Mind Body Spirit Magazine Issue 48
Artist Alexander de Cadenet introduces the amazing work of Jose Montemayor
Jose Montemayor is a young Mexican artist, working in London, who is pioneering a deeper experience of art through the use of the virtual reality medium. On a trip to the mountains of Nara in Japan he experienced a spiritual ‘awakening’ and a sense of how his work may make a contribution to solving the problems of the world. From this awakening and his experimentation with the emerging field of virtual reality, ‘Virtual Awakening’ was born. This visionary platform brings art and technology together to create fully immersive and provocative perceptions of reality that expand viewer’s perceptions of reality and expose negative cultural conditioning. He hopes to enlighten people’s perceptions of themselves and the world.
Jose showcased his most recent virtual reality experience, ‘Virtual Awakening’ between July 23rd and 24th 2016 at the very first TAC, aka The Art Conference in London, a series of exhibitions, talks and screenings dedicated to the relationship between technology and the arts.
‘Virtual Awakening’ takes participants through an experience as if they are actually dying and proposes how that experience may be for the individual. One is taken on a journey within a 360 degree panorama which changes and alters depending on which direction an angle one looks within the headset.
The virtual reality experience is made from a collection of photos that are stitched together to create a fully immersive experience when one dons the headset.
The various experiences along the journey begin with entering a church to the voice of counter culture writer/philosopher Alan Watts (who famously posited the idea of The Institute for Creative Dying), speaking about death – “You have a great chance right now, before it happens to let go of everything…When you have accepted your own death, in the midst of life, it means that you have let go of yourself and you are therefore free, you’re not any longer plagued by anxiety and worry.”
Next we encounter ourselves being lowered into a hole within the church, surrounded by otherworldly alien-looking ‘sentinels’; we are then being confronted below the ground with an abstract ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ scenario, something often reported by those immersed in a near death experience.
What follows is a collection of moments back in the real world that typifies many of the current ills of the world today. At one point we are standing within a crowd in Parliament Square, a politician is speaking about the inequality of wealth distribution on the planet; on another occasion we visit a shanty town and experience how some of the poorest people on the planet are living, all the while with the paradoxically beautiful sound of wild birds singing within the jungle. On another occasion we are informed how much CO2 is released into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuel or how much food is wasted in the Western World while others are starving. Throughout, an ominous, deep vibrational musical ‘mantra-esque’ accompaniment adds to the gravitas and ‘other-worldliness’ of the statements being made.
At various times and set within each environment visited, in the sky or between the factories bellowing out smoke and toxic refuse, statistics or quotes from enlightened individuals are presented to educate the subject on his ‘near death’ experience. As the participant, there’s the feeling that you’re being judged for your role and the impact you have made on these issues during your lifetime. Encouraging others to question their role in this reveals a deep engagement with social and ethical issues of today and belies a maturity in Jose that is beyond his years.
Jose’s manifesto gives an insight into his aims and objectives and how his artworks have been born from his own awakening:
"WE BELIEVE ART HAS THE POWER TO COMMUNICATE AND REVEAL A DEEPER, MORE ECSTATIC TRUTH TO PEOPLE. AS ARTISTS WHO ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT WHERE THE FUTURE OF OUR PLANET LIES, WE FEEL IT IS OUR DUTY TO BRING OUR CREATIVITY AND IMAGINATION TO PRODUCE AND CAPTIVATE AN AUDIENCE IN A STIMULATING, INTERACTIVE ART PIECE THAT HAS THE BENEFIT OF INSPIRING AND CHANGING THE WAY PEOPLE SEE THE WORLD. IN AN ERA WHERE THE ABSENCE OF CONSCIOUSNESS IS EVIDENT DUE TO THE REPERCUSSIONS OF OUR CHOICES THAT ARE DAMAGING OUR WORLD SOCIALLY AND ENVIRONMENTALLY THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A MORE DIRE NEED TO BRING AWARENESS IN THE HOPES TO REDEEM THE HUMAN SPIRIT SO THAT WE CAN LEARN HOW TO UNITE AND LIVE IN HARMONY."
MEET THE ARTISTS:
JOSE MONTEMAYOR is an emerging young Mexican visual artist and photographic pioneer based in London whose work is transcending traditional media. He began a search for deeper meaning in his work and life and a self-discovery expedition to the mountains of Nara, Japan, transformed both. Jose’s evocative work explores areas ranging from fashion and nudes to documentary photography, film, art installations, visuals for music and virtual reality experiences. On the web: www.josemontemayor.com
ALEXANDER DE CADENET is a visual artist who has been exhibiting his artworks internationally for the past twenty years. His ‘skull portraits’ and sculptures cast in meteorite metal explore philosophical and spiritual questions about the nature of life and death, human achievement and the sacredness of art. The first comprehensive retrospective of his work, Alexander de Cadenet by Edward Lucie-Smith, was published in April by Unicorn Press. He is also the Arts Editor of Mind, Body, Spirit Magazine.
On the web: www.alexanderdecadenet.com
“Virtual Awakening, a VR experience designed by the talented young Mexican artist Jose Montemayor is truly an immersive installation that awakens the mind and spirt. Montemayor has used VR to go far beyond visual stimulation, the experience literally transforms you and leaves a lasting impact on how we treat our planet and ourselves. It leaves you changed and inspired to act, exposing you to the possibilities of virtual reality to create empathy and spiritual awakening.” - Tina Ziegler, Founder of the The Art Conference (TAC)