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Jose Benitez

José Daniel Benítez is a multimedia artist, activist, holds a master in media studies from The New School University, and a graphic communications bachelor of art from Baruch College. His work spans from participatory art, video installations, photography, and silkscreen printing. He is well known for being a core member of Mobile Print Power (MPP), a political silk screen printing collective, and for being a former member-leader at Centro Corona.

Artist: Jose Benitez

Instagram: jocoseben

Culturally Arts Collective features:

"ANTI-ART", February 15 - July 22 2023, Milostka Center for Exhibitions 

What do you aim to say by the themes in your art?
My artwork serves as an exploration of how through the use of art & technology, we are creating a new semblance of normalcy and reality. I'm concerned with how humans' identities and struggles interact, portray, and evolve alongside the digital landscape. Another exploration of my art is how traditional art and media are re-contextualized when uploaded into the digital landscape. Some influences in my practice include Hito Steyerl's Defense of The Poor Image, Walter Benjamin's The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Safiya Noble's Google Search: Hyper-visibility as a Means of Rendering Black Women and Girls Invisible, and artists like Nam June Paik, Peggy Awesh, and Katherine Behar.
Where does your inspiration come from?
One inspiration for me is glitch's aesthetic which is directly caused by both the emergence of art and the computation aesthetic. Glitch's origin is in correlation with capitalism and consumerism. It is the nature of rapid consumerism that leads to rapid advancement in technology that calls for the need for reformatting. Transcoding is where the factor of loss and transformation of code that causes a glitch to be introduced. The internet's collaborative and open process also leads to the rapid proliferation of uploading, uploading, downloading, downloading, sharing, formatting, editing, and re-editing files. This constant proliferation leads to both the phenomenon of the glitch but also that of the poor image.
In the post-internet age, the glitch aesthetic is used as a cultural movement responding to and challenging the status quo. This status quo can be capitalism itself and the art world. The glitch aesthetic's intentional use invokes the idea of the poor image and makes us challenge what we view as "high" and "low" art.
Do you have experiences that impacted your art?
In undergrad at Baruch College, I took classes to complete a minor in New Media Arts. The course work taught me to conceptually think about my artwork and build on my art practice. Later on, I worked in Baruch College’s New Media Artspace as a docent and was further exposed to more digital art and artists. In collaboration with my fellow docents, we would curate pop up exhibitions and conceptually build the shows and make artworks for the exhibitions. I got the opportunity to curate and have my work in a virtual exhibition for the New Media Artspace called re:semblance. 
Do you feel your art challenges existing barriers?
Hito Steyerl coins the term the poor image, and they describe it as, "The poor image is a copy in motion. Its quality is bad, its resolution substandard. As it accelerates, it deteriorates. It is a ghost of an image...." 
My art aims to challenge the criticism of the poor image's phenomena and argue that it does not degrade and cheapen the original image. But rather the notion of ownership and property is challenged. When digitized, they take on new meaning; they are decontextualized by the digitization process. What does it mean to find obsolete media and to translate and transform it into a new media form? Before being discarded, who did these photographs belong to? Who took the shot? Who is the subject being photographed? What’s the location?
What are your long-term artistic goals? 
To find the balance of making art and having it be sustainable. Another goal would be to have the opportunity to show my art more, and maybe even get a studio space.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Don’t be afraid of failing and asking for help. Also you do not need a college degree. Just make art you're passionate about and share it with folks and naturally you will be a network of people who support your artwork. One final advice would be don’t be afraid to do the first stupid idea that comes to your head.
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