Interview: Codice Tuna
Global Location: The world
Códice Tuna is the name of the international art collective founded by Sinuhé David and Borayin Larios in 2008. Códice Tuna in Spanish means: “The Indian-fig Codex” and it draws back from our Mexican roots denoting, like the cactus fruit, the pungent and itchy but acid-sweet vision of our art.
It reads itself like a pre-hispanic codex where the word and image coexist to tell a story. Therefore we call our approach “visual literature” because often words accompany our images. We are currently exploring the use of languages
AP: Tell us about where you are from and where you are living now and how it influences your work.
CT: We’ll we are globetrotters. Sinux is currently living in Mexico City were we all grew up. Arturo Larios has retired to the beach in Puerto Escondido, a great beach town in Mexico. Borayin is currently doing his PhD in Germany. But we have travelled a lot and lived in many places such as India, Thailand, Switzerland and France. We take a bit of all the places we go to our hearts and to our art and the place also gives us back its character, its atmosphere, its own vibration. Our art is heavily in debt with the popular culture of these countries and Mexico and India in particular. We love the chaos and vibrant colors they exude.
AP: Did you have formal training - if so where and for what or are you a self taught artist ?
CT: Well, we are not professional artists. We never went to school for this and we both have our careers out of the art business. Nonetheless, Borayin comes from a family of artists and he grew up soaked in art. Sinux always had a flair for it and was always an avid reader and writer. But I guess, we are artists despite of ourselves in the vein of Art Brut. We are what we are and we let it out freely. When we met, we exchanged our views and found a common vision, a fascination for the world and for people. Then we bought a camera and discovered GIMP and we went crazy experimenting with photography and digital art.
AP: At what age did you start to make art and become inspired by words?
CT: Words like images have always been part of our education. Borayin grew up learning several languages and now speaks 5 languages fluently and is learning three more. Sinux speaks the language of machines as well as English and French. Words are a vital part in our creation process. Reading and writing. We love playing with words and even though we are currently doing this mainly in Spanish, we are looking forward to exploring other languages in our creative process.
AP: What is your medium of choice?
CT: We are currently more focused in creating digital artwork. GIMP gives you an endless world of opportunities and we are going for it. We love digital because it allows you to create quickly and you don’t need to spend money and resources to create your artwork. On the other hand we love textures and objects, we love putting things together: junk, objects from daily life, things we encounter.
AP: What is the relationship between technique and content in your work?
CT: The technique gives us the great freedom to create whatever we want visually speaking. This is a great advantage for us. When doing digital collages or using mixed media we do not need to go away from our desks or travel far distances to find the material we are looking for. We can also reproduce and play more freely with the material we already have.
AP: Describe your first experience of making art and how it affected your life’s journey.
CT: The first experience together, I think, was the book. We decided to create Códice Tuna when we put together the book “Caracol Asfalto” (Asphalt Snail). We had some images on a photo sharing site, each on his own account, and we started writing poems for some of the images that inspired us. I wrote on his wall, he wrote on mine. Then when Sinux came to Europe to visit me, we decided to put it together. It was an exciting process. We learned a lot from each other and started to figure out what was it that we wanted to do together.
AP: Describe your most recent experience of making art.
CT: The most recent piece was the “Octonaut”. It is a collage from a vintage astronaut photograph and an image of an octopus. We have a large database of images we have collected over time from several sources (old magazines, internet, photographs etc.) What I do, is I choose the images and remix them on GIMP. I add or modify color, add textures and let myself go nuts. Often I’m surprised with the outcome. The next step is to write the text that goes along the image. But sometimes we let the images rest for a while before adding the words. The images speak to us when its time.
AP: Take us on a guided tour through a day in your life as an artist.
CT: Well, unfortunately our day is spent working in our respective jobs in front of computers and books. We do not have the luxury now to do this fulltime, although we’d love to. Whenever we have some spare time we work for Códice Tuna: on the webpage (mainly Sinux task), creating new artwork, creating some awesome products on zazzle or marketing our art.
AP: How do you feel making “street art” differes from gallery housed work?
CT: We think that street art is a confrontation. We love the provocation it brings along. You are in a way forced to take it in. A gallery is great for people who already have the awareness to go and observe art… or at least they should! We all know how art can be a nasty business as well. For us street art is not interested in the money, in the fame or the ego trips. And it is a political statement as well; when creating art becomes illegal something must be wrong. Street art is raw, it is pristine, it is for everyone.
AP: Can you tell us about your self published book and what inspired you to make it?
CT: “Asphalt Snail” was the first experiment we did together. We wanted to capture the exchange of words and images we had had on our flickr accounts and to share it with everyone in the form of an object. It was also a great tool to explore if we were really on the “same page” with our vision and if Códice Tuna had any future at all. Guess what? It did. We have now many projects in our heads and hopefully more books and other goodies will follow.
AP: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions.
CT: Thank you guys! Artsprojekt rules!