Derek Tumala for Esquire
This is the second of a five-part series detailing the artworks on the five covers of our special all-illustrated issue. Check out the rest of the features: Blic, Annie Cabigting, Gary-Ross Pastrana, Carlo Vergara.
In our effort to explore the variety of artistic media that can be employed in making magazine covers, we commissioned video artwork for our fifth issue. DEREK TUMALA created one of five covers for our October 2016 issue—a video cover that’s exclusive to the Digital Edition. Tumala, who is known for video installations and mixed use of sculpture, light, and moving image, has exhibited his works in galleries and alternative spaces in the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, and Japan; including the 2015 Art Fair Philippines and the 2016 London Binnale Manila Pollination.
His cover artwork is entitled “Study on Nowness”—a video of three-dimensional shapes against a blank background, whose surfaces illuminate and blink erratically, and then almost with a rhythm and with different light patterns, before easing to a stop. We spoke to Tumala about this work, as well as about his own artistic background and influences.
ESQUIRE: How did you start making art? Was it something you always thought you would do?
DEREK TUMALA: I never really thought of being an artist when I was young. It's not really in the culture of my family to be in the arts; [I’m] the only one pursuing an art career. I impulsively enrolled in a Fine Arts degree, because I thought I was really interested with my arts subjects back in grade school and high school; I loved doing art projects. Arts and science were my favorites back then. It was really in college and post-college that I honed my interest in what I do now.
ESQ: Tell us about your artistic background. Where or from whom did you learn, and what influences you?
DT: I grew up seeing my mom making clothes. She was a fashion designer and [she] had a small shop near our house. The thought of making things sparked my interest to create. It was part of growing up and seeing things done by people collaborating in a room full of machines. Influences come and go—part of my process is "aesthetics mining" in the oversaturated, democratized do-it-yourself era, I tried to look on the possibilities of medium and see what sticks, and then create my own work. I think the Internet taught me and influenced a lot of what I do now. But if there were one person who I can name right away, it would be Olafur Eliasson.
ESQ: Describe your style as an artist, on a technical level and a conceptual level. What are your most common themes, and how do you usually express them?
DT: My work is comprised of a lot of technical processes in the intermedia of sculpture, light, moving image. These processes have become the work for me in creating conceptual context. I think light is a very difficult medium—you are harnessing an intangible object and trying to make it tangible, or an experience. I always wanted my work to be experiential, conceptual context comes from the sensorial dimension, thus my work can be a tangible phenomenon or a sensory reflection.
ESQ: Tell us about the work you created for Esquire.
DT: This work is a transfiguration of an object by using video mapping and light. Transformation is the underlying concept of the work, in which I wanted to convey the objectivity of what is "new" and what is "best." The object being subjected to a light transfiguration has become another entity, while still being the same object. It's like shedding new light on an old concept.
ESQ: Could you describe the experience and process of making this artwork?
DT: I'm actually doing my solo show with Drawing Room, currently entitled "To Where The Sky Will Lead Us." Around this time, most of the work I'm doing deals with light, cosmic science, science fiction and the undying search for the new, for reason. I wanted to echo that as well in the commissioned work.