Atmos is a drone-based project that captures , in still image and movement, 6 spaces of the city of Valdivia and its surroundings in the South of Chile, from 2017 to date.
It is a look from the air, that explores in the Southern landscape that geometry defined by nature and the intervention of man. It is a look that reveals the remains of structures that were once a whole and discloses how these transformations have built a new landscape. The set tells us a story drawn by light and the natural atmosphere that transforms what we see.
Francisco Rios Anderson
A central phenomenon in photography is its ability to make us feel that time can freeze. Likewise, and almost instantly, a contradiction occurs in the mind that we still cannot get rid of despite the two centuries gone since the photography was invented. Are we really capable of capturing a moment, of stopping and retaining it? Do we really have the ability to transform it into an object and take it to our most private sphere? This contradiction, somehow apparent, has only been exacerbated with the appearance of cinema and therefore of a "moving" photograph, which is nothing more than a sequence of linked photographs. Nonetheless, there are actually two processes of movement in the exercise of filming and that of photographing: the movement of the camera (and who or what manipulates it) and the movement of those elements that appear in the frame, be those alive, dead or mechanical.
The photography of Francisco Ríos (Pancho from now on) converges in the double act of filming and photographing, and often in a capture where both elements intersect. It is a photography that has undergone a profound journey due to constant concern about movement. In many of his early jobs, especially those with wide-angle in the middle of the past decade, it was common to see a still, stationary camera waiting for moving elements. Locomotives, ships, people moved there, as inside a fixed frame that gave them a specific margin of action, determined by a horizontal line. Progressively, it seems to me, that work has led to a search for a movement growingly stopped, subtler, less evident within the framework of what was being observed.
Two "objects", or rather places determined by objects, have been key in that search. The first, and most evident, is the "mole" near Pupunahue, an old abandoned factory from the mid-20th century, that has never been brought to its final shape. The second, less explicit, is the ship-braking yard in the Las Ánimas neighborhood in Valdivia, behind the Asenav boatyards, an equally mysterious place, but certainly more interweaved with its urban context. Although the two places have been part of Pancho's life for several decades now, it was always from a distant place, with no apparent aesthetic or psychological relevance.
The new aesthetic proposal of looking at the world Pancho makes has its origins, I think, in his observation during the last decade of these two object-places, completely stopped and suggesting a frozen movement or action at the same time (the ships on land, the abandoned factory). The movement has become by now so subtle that it almost doesn't seem to be. This becomes especially explicit from the air with the drone technique. The drone generates the movement of the camera that advances along with the subtler one of the non-centrally photographed elements: the river, the fog, certain raindrops.
That is how a new look is shaped: one where it is the lens that moves and certain secondary elements. The approach produces a strong sense of unreality, further exploited by the decision to photograph in black and white. The technique expands in Atmos, as aerial imagery, to a series of objects and spaces that pose similar problems: subtle camera movement and a frame that points to apparently static objects (cranes, ruins, forests, mountains, bridges) surrounded by the almost imperceptible movement of nature (particularly water and clouds). Some of the texts that accompany the images seem to point out that "Only the adjoining is visible to us". It is as if the stopping of some elements necessarily entails a new attention to what is not central to the frame, but determined by movement.
Perhaps, then, the deepest impact occurs no longer in the immensity of cranes, forests, mountains, boats and moles, but in a technical element that is only noticeable to the Southerner: the environmental conditions that accompany each image. Nature and its ways are tremendously exceptional, those instances, often very brief, in which the climate in constant change and transformation seems to halt, freezing breezes, clouds, mist, dew, those particular states that, accompanied by light, only occur in very particular moments (such as early autumn and spring) and at critical hours (in the morning, usually in the first minutes of the breaking dawn).
Thus, when converting movement into static photography, something magical happens to the Southern eye: it is able to contemplate instances that we usually see only out of the corner of our eyes, shortly before waking up or sleeping, as an unreality distanced from everyday life, but also a central part of the apparatus of our imagination, of our visual consistency. There we return, for a moment, to that curious contradiction of photography in its origins, the ability to stop time and capture moments that, although familiar to us, often exceed the limits of reality. Drones, machines and technique are left behind, an irrelevant framework for an unexpectedly more concrete moment than they are.
José Manuel Izquierdo König
Film and photography
Francisco Rios Anderson
Juan Carlos Iturra
José Manuel Izquierdo König
Edition and web design
Edmundo Cofré G.
This project was financed by the CORPORACION CULTURAL MUNICIPAL DE VALDIVIA through its competitive fund CONARTE
Francisco Rios Anderson
Francisco Rios Anderson lives in the city of Valdivia, Chile since 1989. He is a self-taught artist with accomplished works done in sound, lighting and image.
In 1997, Francisco begins a long artistic collaboration, as an electric bass player, with the Valdivia composer Coke Vio, that continues to the present days.
In 1999, they tour Eastern Europe as "Coke Vio Trio" together with the US African American artist, Oludoye Adetoyeshe. In 2001, Francisco and Coke Vio form the musical and audiovisual production company GUAIRAO.
In 2001, Rios joins the Theater Company of the Universidad Austral de Chile, under the direction of Roberto Matamala and Margarita Poseck later on, where he studies acting and lighting.
That same year, the band “La Rata Bluesera” (The Blues Singing Rat) is formed, led by Javier Aravena. “La Rata Bluesera” has published five albums so far and Francisco is still currently working with them as a bassist.
In 2005, the artist works with the Epicenter Theater Company, directed by Sergio Hernández in Valdivia.
From 2009 and to the present, Rios has been the technical director of the “Lluvia de teatro” (Theater Rain) and “Danza junto al río” (Dancing by the River) festivals.
In 2010, he initiates his work as a cameraman and a cinematographer with Margarita Poseck and later on with Pepe Torres.
His collaboration, as a cinematographer, with Christian Boltanski in the “Animitas” audiovisual piece of work, exhibited at the Venice Biennale 2015, stands out.
In 2015, he co-directs the TV series "Looking for the Mother Instrument" shown on the national channel LA RED.
Among his productions are the documentary "Los Pasos Buscados" (The Sought Steps), the sound art project "La Mole", and the video dance "Manada" (The Herd).
Francisco Ríos is currently post producing the experimental film "puru" with music by the Canadian duet "Not the music"; the film "Echoes of China" with music by the Swiss Julie Semoroz; and the film inspired on Fernando Prats´s installation "museum over museum", filmed inside the MAC Museum (Museum of Contemporary Art) of Valdivia, to be released for the MAC reopening in 2022.
Ríos´s projects for the year 2020 are: to make the short video dance “El Encuentro” (The Meeting) with the choreographer Patricia Campos; to create the video clip Fonmus by the Valdivia singer-songwriter Camilo Eque; to work on the design of the theatrical lighting for the staging of the play "Katricos"; and to design the projections for a sound installation that belongs to the musician Felipe Otondo, to be exhibited in the Valdivia museum “Todas las aguas del mundo” (All the Waters of the World).
 Animita is the Chilean term used to refer to a place of religious or mythological veneration, generally developed as a chapel, hermitage, sanctuary or temple, which recalls a tragic event in public spaces.