In a seemingly unphased world, encounters with the ephemeral can inspire change and reframe an individuals conceptions of the world around. For Calgary-based artist Jose Macasinag, engaging with his audience is vital for the realization of his "alternative futurist" vision.

As a self proclaimed media artist, Macasinag’s art allows the audience to interact with his ethereal depictions of the planet. Through the use of technological systems, individuals can engage in the exploration of potential possibilities. Before one realizes it, Macasinag opens a portal to a space that isn’t all that familiar. While it’s still Earth, something’s different and only by working through the installations can audiences can reveal the bigger picture.

Inverse Sunset by Jose Macasinag. Image courtesy of Jose Macasinag. This projection mapping installation allows the audience to view a sunset through the eyes of a butterfly. 

This invitation to explore acts as a means to question notions of the environment and way of life. Rather than being passive observers of anthropogenic and social change, the artwork eases how an individual can  actively insert themselves into the equation.

In an interview with Arts Help, Jose Macasinag expands on how his art captures the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of Sustainable Cities and Communities and Reduced Inequalities.

Hyper Particles by Jose Macasinag. The hanging fluorescent sculptures are illuminated by black light, referencing the degradation of plastic polymers under UV radiation which are amassing in living organisms at a growing rate. The background is a live projection of the space which is constantly morphing. Image courtesy of Jose Macasinag.

For individuals unfamiliar with your work, how does interacting with your pieces deal with social intersections of life?

I like to reflect on ongoing issues that we all have to face. While I don’t sit with one rigid area of topics, I want my art to capture our social and natural environments. I’ve had the opportunity to showcase work and witness how people are drawn to play with my pieces. After they get to play around the installations, I believe their subconscious starts to notice how this relates back to them.

Anthropocene environments appear as an important thematic presence in your work. How does that influence make the audience an active participant in your art?

Sometimes I look around and where we've come feels like it wasn’t always how things were meant to be. It just worked out that way. I want to explore the artificial systems we’ve put in place. Industrialism, politics - these can seem like arbitrary rules that justify and implement order in our society. So I invite the audience to complete the circuit.

The audience is the conduit that connects them to the piece; they complete it. You can play and feel safe in these spaces. My hope is that you’ll see how you fit into what I’m trying to embody.

Passages by Jose Macasinag. The artwork is an interactive video installation which critiques the negative human effect on the hoodoos found in Drumheller, Alberta. The projection tracks the audience’s movements, revealing alternative visions of the rock formations only if one is still. As one moves around the installation, the hoodoos dematerialize. Image courtesy of Jose Macasinag

As you explore negative impacts on our climates, much of your work places humanity as a catalyst and mirror for our issues. How does this dichotomy inform your process?

I want the audience to recognize the inherent beauty of my work. Through that beauty, I also wish they see that we are the cause of what I’m emphasizing. There’s a reason these are ephemeral depictions of what we’re facing. Getting a glimpse is what we need, but a glimpse doesn’t tell the full story.

Many will experience anthropogenic change more than others and I don’t want my audiences to forget that. The environmental degradation of our planet’s been brewing for centuries. Bringing attention to these ideas is one thing. But feeling as if we can bring these changes into fruition is another.

In my spaces, we can picture a better path and reflect on how to achieve change for all and not just for some.

When working on a project, when do you know what mediums will be part of the piece?

When it comes to materials I want to highlight recycling and reusing objects from their traditional modes. Repurposing materials from their industrial or commercial origin highlights our transient role. Our lives may be temporary but our impacts last for a long time. After all, the impact and role we as humans play can’t be undermined.

By engaging with the installations on this front I get to begin change. Visitors can interact with these systems up front, removed from how they leave an impact.

Party Bus by Jose Macasinag. A hanging sculpture of a bus has loops of partygoers projected onto it. The background video projection is of dashcam footage of evacuations due to wildfires in Alberta. The artwork highlights the difficult questions of collectively addressing climate change, as many struggle due to inequity. Image courtesy of Jose Macasinag

In your art, technology offers us new angles to look at life in. Where do you imagine you fit into this equation?

I see myself as a mediator. I’m allowing for the audience to arrive at their conclusions, without forcing a message. I don’t want my ego to be present in the art.

When I’m creating, I have a BIPOC futurist view of the world in mind. Moving to Canada, I saw how people could be categorized just as workers. In my art we don’t have to be limited by that framework.

Marginalized individuals are disproportionately affected by negative anthropogenic effects - although I recognize humanity is holistically impacted, this fact isn’t an afterthought in my art. I utilize technological systems to highlight these injustices, so we can improve on the collective solutions to these problems.

Nevertheless, for Macasinag, awareness isn’t enough. Recognizing and learning how to move with intention is how we bring these ephemeral depictions to life. By interacting with the installations, one can reflect on what the world could look like. The audience is the key that completes the artwork for a reason, Macasinag’s artwork reminds that humans are the cause and solution to negative anthropogenic change.

For more on Macasinag’s art, visit

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