Whitehot Magazine

Enrique Agudo: The Cultural Artifacts Of Technology

Ipseity opening night, Enrique Agudo, courtesy Vellum LA.


“I’m interested in creating a mythology that is important and pertinent to the times that we’re in,” says artist Enrique Agudo. “That includes people that are often less seen, that is encouraging of identity in a self-made way, while at the same time making critique of the cultural atmosphere that we live in.” 

Working at the intersection of art, fashion, technology and culture, Agudo has made strides in such work through his 3D couture artwork that lends itself to the grand worldbuilding and research-based mythologies he constructs for his viewers.  

Agudo is an LA-based artist currently, but he is originally from Madrid. Having also spent time living in London, he’s had a fair amount of artistic influences from the world around him. 

As a student living in London in 2007, Agudo got to experience club kid culture with fashion that was a flamboyant, punkish sign of the times, as well as the queer culture that he now includes in his work. He also experienced the many nightclubs that carried through an iconic time in fashion and pop culture.  

Agudo has a background in architecture and the technical prowess and rigid nature of that field may not seem so closely related to queer club culture on the surface, but for Agudo, his background in architecture was more than just measurements and calculations. 

“From the get-go, architecture was another vehicle of storytelling. It felt like more of an anthropological course of study than it was technical,” he says. 

Agudo recounts going into nightclubs and paying attention to features like a grand doorway entrance that these adorned partiers would strut through or how the sinks in the bathroom might be at a particular height, all to contribute to this experience of the night.  

Past his keen eye for the spaces that facilitated that queer, club kid culture, the fashion in those spaces, as well as what he experienced back home, also has a major influence on his work today. 

“I always say that I was raised by drag queens,” he explains. “Through nightlife, you would never know what you were going to find at the club.”

Agudo remembers seeing people create full looks just to wear for one specific night out. While Agudo was a bit more shy at the time, he was always an observer of how fashion fit into the culture of queer nightlife, taking portraits of the extravagant looks he would see. 

In his home country, the fashion and ornamentation he experienced through religiosity also impacted the cultural relevance he saw in fashion.

“I come from Spain, and my culture has a lot of reverence for Catholicism and all the folkloric campness that goes with Christianity,” he says.  

Although he doesn’t subscribe to those religious traditions, Agudo is always conscious of the fanfare surrounding holidays in his country and how integral fashion is to that process.  

“This ornamented celebration of the mythology that is Catholicism is interesting as a cultural artifact. I think that’s really valuable,” he explains.

And that’s the same thinking he brings into his art.  

The mythology Agudo mentions is a great source of inspiration for him as an artist, and it reaches far past Catholicism.  

Kindred, Ipseity, Enrique Agudo.

A part of Agudo’s worldbuilding process is extensive research into different mythologies and the cultures through generations. Not only does mythology help Agudo’s thinking as a storyteller, but it also helps him present queer culture in a way that we haven’t always had the privilege of seeing throughout history.

“I’m interested in mythology as a subject because it’s the only narrative tool that’s sustained generations and has included queer characters and stories in a way that wasn’t an abomination to mainstream culture,” he explains.  

Agudo recently closed out his first ever solo exhibition, Ipseity, at digital art gallery Vellum LA, which perfectly displayed the intersections at which he works and how mythology lends itself to technology and art to create provocative pieces influenced by allegories passed down through generations. 

Curated by Sinziana Velicescu, Ipseity featured eight digital paintings that explore our relationship to technology through imagined deities in imagined environments that highlight contemporary ideas around our identities. 

With integrated generative animations using real-time data to manipulate pieces in the exhibition, and with ancient, regal designs, created with a diverse team of mostly queer creatives, the exhibition was a masterclass in how technology can be used to look deeper into ourselves and our identities.

The Keeper, Ipseity, Enrique Agudo.

Technology is inextricable from Agudo’s work because it’s inextricable from our society. In a time when the conversation around art and technology is questioning the authenticity and legitimacy of things like AI art or NFTs, Agudo is showing that technology isn’t just an additive to our lives. The digital is now also a part of the cultural significance of the physical. 

“I find it important to create technology and art around technology that celebrates it being an expansion of humanity and not something that reduces it,” he says. 

As an artist who is interested in the anthropological implications found at the intersection of art and technology, Agudo believes there’s a certain humanistic ritual that happens between us and our technology that we are still so hesitant to accept. For Agudo, though, he’s keenly aware of how impactful the process of connecting to others or experiencing the world through technology can be.  

Reflecting on the romantic partners and friendships he’s made, he’s forthright in saying how many of those genuine, fruitful connections have started online. And although he’s experienced the humanity that technology can bring through interpersonal relationships, he’s still aware that our society has ingrained in us that, somehow, the digital is not as valuable as the physical. 

For Agudo, the mistake there seems to be the misconception that the digital is still on the opposite end of the spectrum from the physical. Agudo seems to say that there isn’t a value judgment to be made there because they aren’t two ends of the spectrum anymore, but rather continuous.  

However, even he still recognizes the pressure our society puts on prioritizing the physical, tangible connections we experience. 

“I have formed a lot of relationships online, but I continue to regard the physicality of existing far more important than the digital. But how do those relationships not validate the experience of the digital in it all? Why am I still looking for the other shoe to drop?” he asks.

Agudo feels as though this looking down upon our digital culture contributes to this dystopian idea that somehow our future with technology is a desolate, cold place where tech has taken over.  

The Saboteur, Ipseity, Enrique Agudo.

“We need to create a culture around technology so that technology doesn’t become the thing that dehumanizes us. We don’t see it as a cultural opportunity. We see that culture is affected by technology, but we are not creating culture around technology in an organized way,” he says. 

Agudo’s art is just one perfect example of how art and technology can be used to create, empower and influence culture.  

Inspired by those early fashion and cultural influences he experienced in Spain and London, and using his architectural background, Agudo has been committed to expanding the boundaries of digital media to further manipulate how deeply we can enmesh technology into our living, breathing world. 

How are the rain drops on your weather app in conversation with your reality when you look out the window on a rainy day? Why does an Instagram engagement give you a physiological boost of dopamine? How does a deified couture art piece help you reimagine the power in queer identity? 

These are the questions Agudo is asking that dare us to embrace and interrogate the culture we’ve created around technology, how it impacts the “real” world and how much longer we’ll even be able to exclude the digital world from the real moving forward. 

To learn more about Enrique Agudo, you can visit his website, and view his collection with Vellum LA on SuperRare. WM


Victor Sledge

Victor Sledge is an Atlanta-based writer with experience in journalism, academic, creative, and business writing. He has a B.A. in English with a concentration in British/American Cultures and a minor in Journalism from Georgia State University. Victor was an Arts & Living reporter for Georgia State’s newspaper, The Signal, which is the largest university newspaper in Georgia.  He spent a year abroad studying English at Northumbria University in Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK, where he served as an editor for their creative magazine before returning to the U.S. as the Communications Ambassador for Georgia State’s African American Male Initiative. He is now a master’s student in Georgia State’s Africana Studies Program, and his research interest is Black representation in media, particularly for Black Americans and Britons. His undergraduate thesis, Black on Black Representation: How to Represent Black Characters in Media, explores the same topic. 

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