Archie Oclos: This Week in Pixelated Children in Media

No Need For Back Up

In his essay, “Meditations on a Hobby Horse,” art historian E.H. Gombrich stresses how perception is acquired in the objects that he is exposed to. Like in a hobby horse, with only a horse’s head and a stick for a body, the child experiences sheer wonder. He sees the whole horse with it, how he likes to ride on it and even go to far away places with using his imagination. The symbolic connotation is not it resembles a horse but the pure fun the child can have with that “stick with a horse’s head.” We can learn much from children as they know the proper use of things as they transgress them.

What more with unadulterated media wherein studies prove that for a child there is no distinction between product commercial and the main show? This is what young artist Archie Oclos’ first show “Paradigma” seek to resolve and the seven works contemplate how media indeed profusely affect our lives. 
Need Back Up is a critique of the days when indigenous games were played and occupied our busy streets and expressions of joy, triumph determination, ardor and vigor are experienced at play. Patintero, Tumbang Preso, Taguan, Luksong Tinik, and Teks – these were the games we used to play, games that taught us teamwork, patience and fair play; games that developed dexterity and ingenuity.
“Ito ay ang unti-unting pagkalusaw ng mga larong pinoy sa henerasyon ngayon na kung saan uso o in ngayon ang mga computer games such as Counter Strike, Dota, etc. Sana maipabatid kung gano pa rin ka-importante ang larong pinoy kung saan mas nabibigyan nito ng magandangbenefits ang mga kabataan tulad ng pagiging patas sa laro, ang interaksyon ng pakikipagkapwa tao, makatutulong sa pisikal at mental na lakas ng kabataan, di tulad ng computer games na sa “birtwal” na mundo na sila gumagalaw o ang nakikita nilang reyalidad ay ang mga birtwal na bagay na kung saan nababawasan nito social skills na kayang ibahagi ng kabataan.
 Nagkakaroon din ngconflict ang pananaw ng mga kabataan ukol sa “reyalidad” na kanilang 
 kinagigisnan sa ngayon, kung ang reyalidad ba ay makikita sa birtwal na mundo o sa mundong 
 kanilang tinutuntungan at maaari pang ma-discover,” explains Oclos. There is indeed childhood lost as the kids are alienated in technological interaction as early on in their lives, this time with the aid of computers. The possibility of growing up introvert, for Oclos what started out as naïve family computer games have bloomed into serious Role Playing Games (RPG).

Identity Crisis
We are alarmed and even scared some more with the piece Identity Crisis as one’s self identity is lost by ironic divulging of information such as age, school, address, hobbies and interests in social networks. Even how one feels at the moment of writing your status is open to all. Everything is shared even personal photos are accessed to all who may have the time to lurk in your account to the point of stalking you.
“Para lahat nakapaloob as “advertisement” lahat ng bagay tungkol sa’yo, alam na ng lahat. nawawala na ba ang pribadong sarili? Nais ko lamang ipabatid ang responsibility ng bawat taong gumagamit ng social media networks, kumbaga “think before you click,” Oclos advises.

His colors have that strong multiplier effect as the gallery lights hit his brushstrokes. The natural outburst of varied hues reflects immensely giving viewers a visual treat of its shades. Such as in the piece Swiper No Swipingwhich is for me the best piece in the collection. The show about games is a game on shows. As the clash of good and evil is reenacted, Oclos uses every possible weapon available emulating the many heroes he has played before to slay the enemy in the form of a dragon. Determined to fight until the end, the dragon continuously breathes red streaks of lightning coming from his mouth. Oclos finely captures this fleeting moment of equanimity by using metallic colors of white, blue and fuchsia along with monochromatic earth tones.

Swiper No Swiping

Mind Controlled

One can almost hear the ethereal movement in Oclos’s Mind Controlled. In garnering more points, they make you want to grab a game pad and continue the game after pressing “start.” Going beyond being whimsical to suggest significance yet often overlooked connections between monitor and canvas, Oclos reflects: “More than escape for me, mas masaya angart and gaming than reality because you get to realize things that you cannot accomplished in real life you could do it virtual gaming.” In bridging the two realities in this show, Oclos has validated his thoughts about computer games.
Style-wise, Oclos considers himself well-versed both in abstraction and realism to create his own. The subliminal use of video games music was also very instrumental in coming up with the paintings. They were conversing with Oclos while he was sketching and mixing paints in preparation for the show. It should have been evident in the pieces.
Oclos adds “Gano ka-influential, manipulative ang teknolohiya sa kaisipan ng bawat indibidwal, kung saan halos lahat ng ating ginagawa ay naaayon sa kung ano ang mga sinasabi ng mga commercials kunwari maganda ka kung gumagamit ka ng whitening products, hindi ka maganda kung maitim ka or what, slim o payat para sa mga kababaihan, may abs at macho para sa kalalakihan, maraming reality shows na kung saan nalalapit daw ito sa realidad ng buhay, dahil dun nakokontrol nito ang batayan o “standards” ng kagandahan sa lipunan.”
All art is play but not all children grow up to be like Oclos. Of late, cotemporary art has actually morphed into one big playground. You can actually say that Oclos is both a progressive and a conservative artist. Progressive in the sense that his visual language is new, like using images from games as art forms is fresh perspective. Conservative because a revelation of meanings unfolds in every depicted image. In every canvas marked by his own dual aesthetics, one in real time and one happening in cyber world, Oclos has composed something ethereal yet less stolid. His desire to render “grayness” or in sepia in his works rustically sit well, against the futile colorful aesthetics found in most exhibitions coinciding it in the art scene today.
 Oclos’s works are meant to be viewed on many occasions and not just on opening day. The works eventually reveal more with every successive viewing. He has spent so much time researching and sourcing from his past games, in relation with his art, he translates these shapes and colors in a kind of relevance and transformations in art in the context of modern technology. This is clearly evident in Option A at Option B.
He expounds “Tungkol po ito sa dalawang options na maaari nating piliin kung “positive o negative” ba ang epekto ng teknolohiya sa atin na kung saan tayo ay natatali sa ganong kalagayan. ang pagsasabi ko na nasa bawat indibidwal ang desisyon kung pano nila gagamitin ang kahalagahan ng teknolohiya.”
One of the most critical decisions a serious artist makes is when to have your first solo show. As Oclos passed his first test, he has even all the trappings for a future in contemporary arts. UP Fine Arts graduate, check; Philippine Collegian Graphic Artist, check (read activist); Had group shows in Tin-aw Art Gallery and Jorge Vargas Museum, double check.; now for the look, bonnet and goatee, check. 
There may be artists who have the skills but they are somehow caught in the quagmire of commissioned works (can you do school of me coy fish?) or joining art contests t(it’s a bad habit to break) in boosting one’s career that career-wise they have failed to plot whatever artistic style they want to pursue. Such that they get left behind in terms of growth as an artist or worse they stop painting for the love of it. We hope Oclos is wise enough to know the differences.