A Google search of obsolete media formats turns up some old favourites including 8-track and cassette tapes, but ask local “part-time” artist Albert Joaquin and he’ll tell you they still have a lot to offer.
Joaquin buys 8-tracks, 8mm film reels, VHS tapes and Nintendo cartridges that were destined for the dump and extends their lives — as art, often using them as both the canvas and the medium.
“I get a lot of it from eBay and estate sales,” says Joaquin. “People have boxes of this stuff and usually they just junk it. But I think there was a lot of thought that went into these things when they were manufactured and they’re still good for something. Plus there’s just an abundance of it out there.”
A cook by trade, Joaquin got interested in art about a year ago when he had some serious time on his hands. He was unemployed and seeking a new direction so he turned to art as a form of therapy.
“I was creatively frustrated,” says Joaquin. “I tried drawing, painting and sculpture, but I wanted to be good at something right away. I’ve always loved stencil art, so I decided to try a form of stencil with cassette tape.”
His first piece was a take on the Beatles’ famous Abbey Road album cover made out of cassette tape on a plain canvas. In his second, a portrait of Freddy Mercury, he decided to add some colour.
“I’m really into pop art and those in-your-face bright colours,” says Joaquin.
When he was gifted a box of old 8-tracks he glued 28 of them together to make a canvas, painted them red and created a stenciled portrait of Ben Folds out of the tape from the cartridges.
Joaquin moved into VHS tapes, then on to 8mm film reels, representing characters from his favourite films, including Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, Superman, and a series of monsters (Dracula, Woolfman, Frankenstein, etc) just in time for Halloween. The Batmobile and the DeLorean from Back to the Future are also subjects in his works.
A need to go bigger drove Joaquin to purchase a lot of old Nintendo cartridges on eBay and childhood memories of playing video games with his brother motivated him to do his biggest piece yet — Mega Mario. Mario is made up of 144 game cartridges (don’t worry, none were games worth playing, Joaquin assures me) and is larger than life. He takes up a floor-to-ceiling space in Joaquin’s front entry.
“I think this one really represents who I was as a child,” says Joaquin. “And I really love that pixelated look.”
Even though friends and family were encouraging Joaquin to share his art with the public via a gallery, for the better part of the year he wasn’t really interested. “I was mostly doing it to cover the walls of the apartment,” says Joaquin.
It wasn’t until he started running out of space on his walls that he started entertaining the idea of partnering with a gallery. The last straw was a dare from a co-worker and Joaquin had no choice to go public. He contacted The Fifty Fifty Art Collective and his debut show, Analog Eco, is opening this week. Mario will be in attendance. M
The art of Albert Joaquin
The Fifty Fifty Art Collective
Opening Reception Thurs, Dec. 15, 7-9 p.m.
Show runs until Dec. 29