Visual Arts

Going Underground with Pablo Gimenez-Zapiola (Steel Lounge Underground, That Is)

Multimedia artist Pablo Gimenez-Zapiola is just one of almost a half-dozen talents appearing at the annual Steel Lounge Underground at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston today, July 13. Derek Jones and Josh Zulu are hosts, with Esteban Torres, Suraj K., DJ Baby Jae and Omari Tau completing the lineup. Torres and the others are musicians; Gimenez-Zapiola is the only visual artist in the group.

Gimenez-Zapiola will be using six projectors to screen newly put together videos and animations, as well as selections from his Meaning in Motion series. Meaning in Motion involves projecting words onto moving trains. For Steel Underground he'll be screening films of past Meaning in Motion performances onto the walls of the museum over the people in attendance.

"Usually, I projected words or textures, graphics onto still things, walls or screens," Gimenez-Zapiola tells Art Attack, speaking with an Argentinian accent. "When I came to live here in Houston ten years ago, I saw the long trains that you have here. They last three or four minutes, and I came upon the idea of projecting words onto the moving trains. I find it very, very rich. The different trains, the different cars, the colors, the movement, if the night is overcast or starry, all that affects the projections."

Steel Lounge Underground is being held in the lower level of the museum, which has relatively low ceilings. "That room will be full of people, so I'll be projecting half on the wall and half on the people also. I always wanted to project onto moving people, it's part of the same concept."

Gimenez-Zapiola doesn't like to go into much detail past that. "If you say what the project is about, you are explaining to people what they should be see or perceive. I prefer people to see whatever they see. Every person is different. Art should affect in a different way to each one."

One person might see a Meaning in Motion piece and consider it funny; another person might consider it violent. Gimenez-Zapiola is happy with both reactions. "I like that, for the project to be open. I don't like to say what the person should understand about it. There's a quote, 'Things are not as we see them; we see them as we are.' I go around experimenting. I don't have a previous idea of what I'm going to end up with. I'm shooting all the time, I'm thinking, I'm drawing things. I have an idea and I write it down. But I don't have an ending in mind. Actually, I don't even have a beginning, because I'm just going into the street to see what I find."

The Steel Lounge Underground is at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 5216 Montrose, from 8 p.m. to midnight Friday. For information, visit the museum's website or call 713-284-8250. Admission is free; there's a cash bar and food trucks will be parked outside.

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Olivia Flores Alvarez