René Torres Escoto: Knowing How to Look

By Rodrigo Diaz Guerrero

At the beginning of the year, my friend Josemaría Moreno and I gave a talk that we called «The Narrative Being.» The premise was to recognize our narrative capacity as an element that we use to make sense of our existence. As far as we know, we are the only beings who tell each other what happens to us just as it happens—which is what Spanish philosopher Miguel Morey would say. When I saw the work of René Torres Escoto, I returned to this reflection. In his camera, through his eye, is a narrative that gives meaning to our existence from the most subtle to the most ostentatious. The photographic camera is a tool that freezes us at a particular moment and in any context. That is where art per se lies—a moment can tell a story or suggest the story. But to see the hidden story you need to know how to look. 

Torres was born in Mexico City in 1980. He has a degree in psychology from the Universidad Veracruzana and has done various studies related to the visual arts. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Artistic Production MaPA at the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos. He has had 20 individual exhibitions in cities like Xalapa, Querétaro, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico City, and Chicago—and many other collective exhibits in different countries such as Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Spain, and the U.S. Here is a talk we held with him. 

RDG: What virtues and scope do you see in photography in terms of art?

RTE: When photography was born it freed painting from the responsibility of “reproducing reality” and painters took advantage of the new freedom to break each of the rules through “isms.” Sometimes I think that video liberated photography, and photographers are finally beginning to explore the medium with reproducibility through technology. The popularization of photography through digital camera devices includes factors that continue to weigh when it comes to equating it in the market with other media such as painting or sculpture. But as for the future of image creation, I believe that when chemical photography stops fighting with digital photography, with artificial intelligence, and even with other media the boundaries between techniques and disciplines will be erased and all the possibilities will be understood as complementary tools. At that point what is really important will be the content and the technique or techniques chosen which will be directly linked to it.

RDG: Was there any particular epiphany that pushed you to jump from psychology to photography?

RTE: I was a photographer before I was a psychologist, I just forgot about it for a few years. Later I found out that photography and psychology are best friends.

RDG: There are many ways to define and approach art, but one that seems undeniable to me is its function as a medium or vehicle for exploration. An artist is moved, reflects, and provokes with his work. What does Torres explore—what does he intend to find with the artistic exercise?

RTE: My engine is banality. Above all I like working on projects that if they are not done nothing happens. Working with the invisible (which is a challenge from photography). In these moments, more than photography, I am attracted to photosensitivity—the idea of working with a material that records time and what happens in front of it through its reaction to light. Everyone is photosensitive, everything and everyone is affected by light and we react to it—from the park bench that fades, to our skin on the beach, this idea allows me to work with «the photographic» but without the immediate need for technology. A person with a sunburned back can be the walking picture of your vacation. I work with that premise for now.