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Domingo Castillo, Tropical Malaise or The Perfect Storm

Alan Gutierrez

Domingo Castillo , Tropical Malaise: Prologue, 2017. HD Film, 18:20 min 
Domingo Castillo’s Tropical Malaise at New World Symphony Soundscape Park (October 5, 2017) 


The Perfect Storm (Oct 30, 2017 – NYC). 

As an impending weather phenomenon prompted New York City media outlets to remind their viewers of the expensive effects of Super Storm Sandy, I was a bit surprised that most of the NYC locals I brought it up to had no idea the “perfect storm” was to hit the following day. 

The television news show warned of 2-4 inches of rain as they rolled through a montage of the inundated subway system after the 2012 hurricane. 

Yesterday the storm hit Manhattan: A full day of rain and, as a Miami friend noted as we peered out the window of his parents’ forty-second floor second home at the misty Empire State Building, “this perfect storm is just a rainy day in Miami.” 

I started to think about media and speculation. 

Image and fear. 

Spectacle and suspense. 

And, obviously, the agents that can create these psychological cause-and-effects. 

An agent can do minimal research, some witty and cunning editing, and disseminate an eye-catching, slightly mysterious advert, conjuring an experience to be had by others that potentially creates a psychological reaction. 

In these culminating actions, media, imagery and spectacle cause suspense, fear, and speculation. 

Screening at New World Symphony Soundscape Park, Miami Beach FL on October 05, 2017. Photo by Zachary Balber.


It was “just a rainy day in Miami” but, rain or shine, the speculation, fear, and suspense do not rest in the minds of the inhabitants. We can see Purdy Avenue flooded during any given King Tide, but do we really know what it would be like to be surrounded by waves in a flash? Do we know what the fear of being dragged and displaced would actually be like? Can we assume that a rebuild would be an optimistic experience of copy and paste? How do we prepare for the eventual rise of these questions and answers?

There are powerful agencies in Miami that create robust economies, slowly pummeling down through the streets of the city, which operate in a network of spectacular image-based mediums, ultimately causing a disdain for our current circumstances. Whether we are able to feel it or not, we can see that there is a life that is different from this one. There is a condo which gleams brighter than my apartment at 64th and Biscayne. There is a body that is tighter and smoother than my own. The suspense of waiting for my rendered future gives me (more) anxiety. The fear is there because our rendered futures already exist in a cache of exports tagged for convenience. My attention holds tight to the image towering over me because I’m a sucker for spectacle, but who doesn’t enjoy a fireworks display?

I wasn’t here for Sandy, but the news show’s montage of damage made me sympathize with those that experienced the storm and think of my own experience with Hurricane Andrew and even the recent fallen trees of Hurricane Irma. But I could only sympathize so much. I’d like to think that if the news producers and editors had used the key techniques so well utilized in cinema, that I would have had a stronger emotional reaction. The soundtrack was nonexistent, the narration was very clear and matter-of-fact. The transitions were straight cuts. There were no subtleties, constructed or serendipitous. They relied solely on the image and the speculation, but not on the spectacle. If you want a blockbuster then you need to maintain a high-level of showmanship.

If you expect to receive a perfect storm, then the agency needs to produce a perfect storm.

Alan Gutierrez is an artist, writer and performer whose current solo exhibition, INTRO, is on view through November 19 at Artist Curated Projects in Los Angeles, with additional work currently on view at Jack Shainman Gallery, NY. His latest book, “Reflections While Driving,” is available now through Line Script Diary.