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Tides, floods, and changing times

By LISA GUERRERO NAKPIL, The Philippine STAR Published Nov 15, 2020 5:00 pm

Like the stereoscope, Uncrating O2O doubles the art-viewing experience. According to organizer Trickie Lopa, ’The project provides a traditional way of viewing art through a public installation, yet also harnesses the power of popular social media platform Instagram.’

There was a day and age when photographs taken in twos or in “stereoscopes” were the height of cutting-edge technology. It was certainly a cut above the watercolors and lithographs of a bygone era that illustrated the daily news.

In fact, stereoscopes were how the United States digested their very first colonial conflict in the Philippines. Writing in The War from the Parlor, historian Jim Zwick said that to win that war, American also had to conquer hearts and minds, not only of the insurgent, hostile Filipino population but also the citizens of its very own homeland. It was important to create visual — if not visceral — propaganda to justify this war.

 “Philippine General Hospital under water, 1910” (Collection of University of Michigan)

“At the turn of the century,” Zwick writes, “the viewing of stereoscopic images was an extremely popular form of parlor entertainment. Stereoscopic images were created by taking two photographs of the same scene from slightly different angles. These would then be pasted to a card made to fit a special stereoscope viewer. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the realistic 3D effect obtained by stereoscopic images was worth at least two thousand more because it added credibility to the images. Although ostensibly meant as entertainment, they contained implicit — and sometimes explicit — messages about the nature of the war, and about the Philippines and the Filipino people the US government was trying to conquer.”

Alongside stereoscopes, there was also grand “live” entertainment. (For our post-pandemic world, this referred to such experiences that were “face to face” and “up close and personal.”) The Philippines was actually invited to one of the first American World’s Fairs in 1876, for the centennial of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. One of the featured artists was the 21-year-old Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, whose dreamy, romantic scenes of life on Manila’s Pasig River entranced the Yankee expo-goers.

 “Carretela navigating the floods” (Collection of John Tewell)

Fast-forward to how technology has moved light years ahead. Does anyone even remember the photograph-hosting site Flickr? In 2019, Instagram had one billion users. It seems the time is right, not just to view art on the app, but also to actually score stuff on it.

O2O — which stands for “Offline to Online” — is a “hybrid” art event with just that purpose, explains co-founder Trickie Lopa. (Art enthusiasts will know Trickie and her co-conspirator Lisa Periquet from the other events they have founded such as Art Fair Philippines and Art in the Park)

 “School of Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo” (León Gallery, Kingly Treasures Auction 2020)

In short, it combines both an in-person gallery experience and an internet one.  “When we pivoted ‘Art in the Park’ online,” Lopa adds, “we reached out to a new audience. It showed us that there is interest for both physical and digital events. It allowed us to keep highlighting art and artists, even during the pandemic. We’re very excited that this project will provide the traditional way of viewing art through an installation in a public space, yet it will also harness the power of the popular social media platform Instagram.”

  (From left) Trickie Lopa and Lisa Periquet at the Uncrated O2O launch

For its first edition, Uncrating O2O features two exhibitions in a pocket venue: a group show featuring the work of 45 artists from a single Makati gallery, and a solo exhibition from the fairly mysterious street artist known as Egg Fiasco. The press statement describes Egg as an artist “with a huge following who works in the realm of street art, combining iconic images with colorful graphics that reveal a sophisticated and dynamic interpretation of visual themes.” Prices range from P2,500 to P250,000, according to the online catalogue. (We were also told unofficially that the works are selling at a fast clip.)

   The Uncrated O2O launch at Greenbelt 5

And of course, to capture the spirit of unboxing, designer Ed Lacson Jr. used an installation of crates as props for the show, now ongoing until Sunday, Dec. 6. If you want to go the MECQ route, the works are on show at Greenbelt 5.

  The artist known as Egg Fiasco

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The Uncrating O2O online catalogue can be accessed digitally through Instagram: @O2Oart. It includes the artwork on exhibit at the physical venue at the Greenbelt 5 Gallery as well as additional works exclusively available at @O2Oart on Instagram. Uncrating O2O is organized by Philippine Art Events Inc. in partnership with BPI Visa Cards, with support from Ayala Malls. The Philippine STAR is the newspaper partner of Art Fair PH.