Leo Castaneda (born Cali, Colombia 1988) is an artist based in Miami and New York working in the intersection of painting and virtual reality. He uses these among other mediums such as drawing, interactive sculpture, and animation to analyze and deconstruct the structures of video-games, and how these structures relate to those of Art and the world at large. Castaneda received his BFA from Cooper Union in 2010, and in 2014 received his MFA at Hunter College. In 2014 Castaneda received a scholarship from the Cisneros Foundation to attend SOMA Summer in Mexico City.  He has also attended a semester abroad in Universitat de Barcelona, Spain, and studied in New World School of the Arts in Miami. 
My work is an effort to turn the structures of video gaming into a lens for analyzing the world.  "Levels", "Bosses", "Items", "Continues", "Extra Lives", and much more are the words that dominate the world of virtual entertainment.  These labeling systems delineate and provide hierarchies reminiscent of both ancient mythologies and corporate structures, while hi-lighting the arbitrariness of their boundaries and naming.  The work was initially an effort in gaining image freedom in painting through a notion of "worlds without justification" (Nick Kelman "VideoGame Art" 2006 pg 143), where I could make random images reconciling abstraction vs representation fit within an imposed hierarchy, rather than seeming like confused paintings without an aim.  The images would be conceived on the day and would fill the slot they would be assigned (i.e. "Level One", "Level Two", "Level Three").  Future paintings were to rationalize the gaps between the painted worlds and serve as subsections or mapping (i.e. "Level One-One", "Level One-Two", etc.).  An aesthetic effort to deny the preconceived notion of games as loud, flat and bright was the only guiding principle, which led many of the images to an aesthetic bordering sci-fi and romantic regardless of the level of representation.  Over time, the investigation has grown, with cycles of control to come with it.  Sometimes I obsess over the aesthetic or character, sometimes over the conceptual structure, and somehow the work manages to realign itself like some mini political system, with branches and parties, treaties and coup d'états.   Throughout the years, the work has escaped medium specificity too with works verging into sculpture, comics, performance and virtual reality itself.  Encompassed within the same exhibition space, the medium mashup is bound by image and narrative though expressing it at different speeds.   The medium becomes both the thing and the interpreter of a random mythology that finds purpose and then disintegrates it, only to gain it again, ideally through the viewer's identification as protagonist, the most powerful quality of video-gaming and virtual reality.  
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