7. The Virtual and the Real

Of special significance is the way in which Magdalena Fernández succeeds in taking the virtual image to its limits, particularly in her installations. Fernández not only makes this virtual image grow such that it departs from its physical media (by projecting it), accompanying it with sounds, but she detaches it from any system of prefigured representation, creating a real experience in which "virtuality" is exceeded, transforming into a sensible datum, a body and place, a moment. Indeed, in the moving images or objects that Fernández elaborates, the convergence of light and sound unfolds as the exponential growth of some of the fundamental elements of geometry, a growth that absorbs the totality of the space in which it finds itself resignifying existential and experiential relations, making them unpredictable, unthinkable and unstable, turning "space"—place—into an imaginary instance, in which image becomes emplacement and imagination becomes visible and sensible reality.

Understood broadly, as the appearance or the presence of the realm of the "as if…" (objects that are something determinate without being so physically or materially), virtuality has always been admitted to the domain of the arts and aesthetic experience, constituting one of its privileged regions. In a sense, it is precisely this milieu that is opened with the "as if…," which bestows artistic practices with their capacity to construct an "among all:" a place of coming together and convergence in which different types of people overlap and mutually recognize each other. The "as if…," the virtual, is thus inscribed as a place of communion and connection with the world on the basis of imaginary and semantic elaborations.

A paradigmatic case of this intimate paradoxical connection between the real and the virtual can be found in 2iPM009, in which a perceptual experience that disarms phenomenological conventions is realized. As a result, it manages to develop a formal exercise, breaking its own grid lines and schematism and appearing as a malleable ideal construct capable of indicating and insinuating the natural world's rhizomatic structures. It presents an intangible dimension of experience, thanks to which virtuality, made phenomenal reality, transcends the limits of both space and representation, of both presence and perception, in order to instantiate an "image" that is also materiality and space. The same happens in the installation designed for the lobby of the Museo Amparo, in which the interwoven lines expand the architecture's structural layout, turning its walls into a framework that occupies the entirety of the space, thereby determining the route through it.


Magdalena Fernández's work is underpinned by a dualism between nature and its sensible and affective modes of apprehension. Rather than oppositional, this dualism is functional to addressing a new artistic configuration that is characterized by the polarities of the virtual and the real, as already present in the sculptural architectures of Jesús Soto and Hélio Oiticica. Instability resonates as functional to artistic configuration by resisting actualization through the marking of temporal deferrals as evinced by the gaps, intervals, fluxes and intensities that emanate from the substrate of Fernández’s images. The virtual configuration of her works can be perceived through a number of surface effects that the artist masters through the reinvention of the abstract and formalist registers. In her work, the virtual is ascribed to the synthesis of multiple forces to suggest diverse and multiple orientations as they emerge from the pure force of nature. The virtual dimension of her works, whether it be experiential as in the installation Homenaje a Jesús Soto (2019) or immersive as in 1iHO008, Homenaje a Hélio Oiticica (2010), is mediated by a play that is articulated to a mirroring function, the structuring of forces, and the purity of the sign.

This duality also reflects a tension between artistic freedom and natural necessity, as remarked by the artist’s interest in a chromatic scale that is almost entirely limited to the use of black and white. This style suggests the synthesis of a practice in action that is drawn onto points, lines, and spaces through an intuitive, conscious process that is subject to endless variations. The virtual window of her installations, video-installations and mobile paintings frames a field of reminiscences and rhythms, and extends the traditional understanding of abstraction through a synthesis that intertwines the virtual and the real. As Brian Massumi would suggest, in Magdalena Fernández's work the virtual is an echo of experimentation that keeps the viewer alert to the indeterminacy of nature whilst addressing the chanciness of the artistic sign. Between the virtual and the real, her works explore the disclosure of a natural order that is subject to the becoming of life.


< >