In the magical surrealism of Cyan Sunset

The young Dominican photographer reveals the magical process that moves his projects.
Written by Federica Ciotola – teacher, architect and interior designer –

In an exciting and magical interview, the Dominican photographer opens the doors of his poetry and perception. His spiritual universe is interconnected with the projects and the people who are part of it. The result is truly exciting.

1. From which inspirations your photographic projects come from? 

To talk about creativity I must first talk about the triggers of creativity and the methods of creation. In my case, I use three different creation methods. Each method has its procedures or steps and they are linked to specific topics and sources of inspiration. This ordered in a degree of importance might be called “Moon”, “Sun” and “Earth”.

1.1. – Moon: this is my favorite and the primary source of fuel in my entire library. This method is related to the higher creative mind. When I create from this, everything becomes divine, oneiric, surreal, weird, and dreamlike. I feel that I am creating something for someone other than myself, as this process is driven by random acts and decisions, the influences of emotional states, and the use of intuition. The themes here are the world of dreams, transcendence, multiverses, and spirituality, or the magic within the world and human existence. The sources of inspirations are meditation, symbolic and esoteric readings, desires, the representation of spiritual concepts, etc. 

1.2.- Sun: this is is the opposite of the Moon. Works born from this method are fully planned but there is always a touch of intuition added to them. Inspiration burst like a chain reaction after seeing a scene in real life or the dream world, other pieces by artists of all kinds, listening to music, or just happening spontaneously. Here my abilities and genius are the main boosters of the process. Inspiration in this sphere depends on how balanced I am and how much time I have to plan a whole Idea. The results are always linked to the day to day life in a heavy way. The theme of the pieces created from here prioritizes real life and the real body, unlike Moon. You can sum it up as the path of someone who has discovered their magical powers and is willing to play with them.

1.3.- Lastly, we got earth: this method is like the midpoint between the Moon and Sun. Moon and Sun are meant to intertwine with each other to create great things, but on Earth, the ego appears. The idea behind the pieces is usually forced to show itself by a driverless version of the genius. It’s kind of a spoiling process where your ego takes over the genius mind (Sun) to make it take something without permission from the higher creative mind (Moon) and represent it in the real life. This method prioritizes the main elements of my library (leaves, flowers, trees, strokes, effects) over the meaning or main idea. It kind of creates without a soul. The result is great but something is always missing. It takes 4 to 5 hours to have something done, not counting the shooting. It is the kind of art I do when I’m tired but feel desperate to create so I can unwind.

2.- The surreal charge is what seems to characterize you. Would you tell us about the choice of this style?

I feel like surrealism chose me. Back to when I started to create, I didn’t have any experience in art, nor did I know the many styles out there. I started creating, and soon people were telling me how amazing my surreal portraits were to them, at times when I thought I was creating something so private that nobody was able to classify it. After getting these criticisms, the love for the style appeared and I began to look for it in my pieces deliberately but always looking for my personal label. 

If at some point my choice was to keep it over time, it was because I find it aesthetically fascinating and the best way to express myself. At the end of the day, all my work grows and develops from an urge to make the unaccountable amount of worlds and realities that coexist within us, to intertwine with each other. It is simply the best way to do it, specially in cases where the aim is to capture the essence of spirituality, nature, energy, and the eternal dialog between light and darkness. Being honest, given my current ability level and the way I work (mostly from improvisation rather than planning), right now I can’t think of a better style as versatile as surrealism to hold my creations or endure the charge of magic within it. 

3.-How important is physicality in your compositions?

On a scale from 0 to 10, I would say that the importance is a 10, but don’t get me wrong because it is only because I work with topics related to emotions, dreams, and states of mind. My work is all about displaying the fragility of the human condition, it is all about showing instead of hiding. However, it’s true that the years have proven that the beauty of the human body plays a relevant role in my pieces when it comes to connecting with other people. I didn’t care about it until I found myself fascinated too! Ever since that happened, one of my goals had been learning as much as I could, to take advantage in the future of all this time of experimentation with my own body and my gentle models to turn my project into a showcase of diversity in all types possible. But first I have to learn a lot about a couple of things I haven’t learned yet and I need to upgrade my tools and methods. 

It is not easy to try to turn your models into gods or goddess, mystical creatures, or the representations of spiritual beings, when your tripod is a shoebox or you don’t feel worthy of their time. I’m not complaining , as I always try to bring the best from the worst of the scenarios but you can get accustomed to it, especially when you can boost it or can fight to make it better and face other kinds of challenges.

4. – Has your photograph always been connected to people?

Yes, it’s been connected to people since the very beginning. I love the shapes of the human body, how light interacts with it, and how expressive it can be. On the other hand, since my work is connected to more or less “spiritual topics”, my gear works better for portrait purposes given that I have a “thing” to try to make visible the hidden part of humans, situations and worlds. Fate has forced me to work with people and it is something that I enjoy. Also, portraits are a good way to connect with others and make really good friends which is something I love.

5.- What is the photographic project that best represents you?

The answer to this question is hidden in images where I’m the basis of the character of the composition. Especially if my head is cut or my body is fragmented. Why? mostly because when it comes to me , I’ll try to express how weird dealing with my emotions can be, how I feel and I interact with the energy that surrounds me or, in some cases, places I would like to visits which are not in a physical plane. Talking about this, there is one specific piece that describes me the best right now. It’s called “Astral projecting” and it was made during the quarantine period here in Spain. The moment was hard but it was a gift as well. During this period I had the chance to reconnect with my most creative self and participate in different projects of art. This one describes me the best because it sums up one of my biggest wishes “Be able to astral project consciously” and my favorite field of life “DREAMS”.

6.- The choice of male subjects is prevalent over female ones. Can you explain why?

The main reason why I mostly work with males subjects is, that I love contrasts and certainly putting a male character in a scene full of sensible/feminine content works great. Also, given that I tend to work with what I have on reach which is my body, I’ve attracted a community that is interested in Male shape. This fact has led to a bunch of collaborations with people that have material that fulfill the technical specifications that I look for in a photo to work with and wanted to take part in my project. This has led to attracting more people interested in the same topic. I appreciate this and have been using the provided content in moments where I’ve been unable to do a shooting because I don’t always have time to take pictures and this solves a huge problem. 

So as you can see, the reason why male models are predominant in my works is not only because I look for it, but also is a result of the situations I’ve been involved in. 

I love the amazing community I’ve grown during these years but I’m conscious and want to stay true to myself in terms of experimentation and promote all the diversity out there, so the ultimate goal of my work will be to be able to showcase all the different types of beauty hidden out there by the trends and oppressive systems.

7.- Often you are the subject in the photos yourself. What do you associate the need for self-representation with?

As I’ve been saying, I tend to work with what I have in range and, in this case, the closest subject to work with is me. This could be seen as a disadvantage but here it turns out to be a chance to explore the deepest layer of the personality, difficult concepts or learn from scratch by experimenting. Also, I tend to feel like I’m always missing something, and after years and years of being looking at it outside, I’ve been using my pieces as a way to dialog with my unconscious trying to identify what is happening and where the feeling of hollowness is coming from. On the other hand, I also use my photography project to show the world how I think, feel and see existence to make those who don’t seem to understand me to do so, or at least make them questions their belief system.

8.-Post-production has become an integral part of the digital photographic process. In your case it is crucial. Can you explain the process that leads to the accomplished work? Does the image you want to create come before or during the postproduction process?

I love this question! I tend to have a holistic approach to my pieces in most cases. Certainly, everything develops over throughout the whole process. I get up early on Saturday, turn on the camera, and start to pose as my soul dictates. After  that, I transfer the images to the computer, choose one that I like and start working on it. Sometimes I have an idea but it always ends up being thrown away and turned into a more enhanced version or a totally different version of the original one. I try not to be closed-minded when it comes to composing. I let the scene, colors, light, shape, poses, etc. to talk and tell their own story; the only thing I add to the process is my hands and ability to work with Photoshop or After Effects where in cases  I animated the scene, which is something that you should know. Each of my projects is conceived to be in motion and depending on the time I have to do it too. I would like to explore the motion graphic world in the future.

9.- What kind of future do you see for photography?

I see a future full of possibilities and incredible technology upgrades in the photography field. I see photography coming to an even wider range of people compared to the present time and maybe going even further in terms of advances. I see all sorts of people expressing themselves in so many different and richer ways,  exploring new diverse and exciting techniques or genres and modalities in which I would like to take part of , or at least leave something useful for others.

Edited by Denisse Guzman

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