Tradition and technology are sometimes cultural enemies, but when the two are united they can become a powerful and stimulating force for change. One such union has begun in Mexico City, taking the form of Maizz Visual’s projection mapped Dioses del Maíz, or Gods of Corn.
Maizz Visual, a studio operated by operated by digital artists José Morente and Israel Villalobos, projected the faces of eight ancient native Mexican gods onto the trees in the Parque México during the 12th Roma-Condesa Cultural Corridor festival, which focuses on celebrating local art, culture, and social issues. The projections created a stunningly floating head effect, almost reminiscent of the heads on Mount Rushmore, though more similar to the work of likeminded, tree-focused projection mapper, Clément Briend.
The faces were specifically designed to fit the park’s trees, taking advantage of the irregular shape, texture, and movement of the trees. The interaction between the trees and the projections creates imposing, weathered look that lends each face the power and mystery that comes from being one with nature.
The artist explained their projection-mapping process over email:
"Firstly we take a picture of the sculpture with the right lighting, and then we work with the image using several software to get the 3D animations, so we can brake, explode or diffuse them. Then we find right trees for projection and we mask some areas of the trees. We used four video projectors that were placed in the middle of the square. Four trees each had two images of two different gods that were switching from one to another through 3D transitions. The idea was to give dynamism to the whole scene while not really altering the essence of the god represented."
Maizz Visual created Dioses del Maíz to raise awareness of the increasingly dominant role genetically-modified organisms have taken in Mexico’s food supply. Morente and Villalobos explained that corn, in particular, is being threatened by "transgenic seeds that contaminate conventional crops and ruin the ground in the long term. Mexico is even putting the famous Monarch Butterfly in danger because the transgenic seeds carry pesticides.
Though it should be evident on why the artists chose the gods of corn as their projection-mapped subjects, Maizz Visual elaborated more:
"All Mexican cultures, Zapotec, Olmec, Aztec and Mayan, were united by its cult to corn. They even shared gods, like the Aztec and Olmec who worship Tlaloc, the god for water. So the idea was to bring them back to send a message to our society, but in very unusual way."
As an art piece drawing on ancient Mexican culture in order to spark discussion about pressing social issues, we’d say Maizz Visual hit the nail right on the head. The gods included in the exhibit include: Cocijo I & II, Zapotec water gods; Tlaloc I & II, Aztec & Olmeca water gods; Quetzalcoaltl, the god who obtained the first maize seed in Aztec mythology; Chalchiuhticue, Aztec fertility and corn harvest goddess; and Xilonen, Aztec corn goddess.