The Age of Glass
When I spoke with Martinez about his work, he immediately spoke of perception, his own being physically affected by the fact that he’s red-green colorblind. “I always had this idea in the back of my mind that the world I perceive is slightly different than the world that everyone else perceives,” he said. “As I grew more intellectually mature, the questions got a little deeper, like how one constructs one’s reality.” Glass is a direct intermediary for sight on many levels—spectacles, of course, but also the glass of the many screens through which, these days, our reality, more and more, is filtered. “It playfully invites viewers to challenge their ability to reason with what they see and experience,” Martinez said.
Originally a science major in college, Martinez became interested in glass blowing on a fluke, and the challenge of mastering the discipline was what made him want to continue. “It’s a material that behaves in a way that I’d never experienced, but behaving according to gravity and all these physical phenomena that I was studying in my other classes,” he said. There was a certain spark in this conflation of interests that led the artist to obsessively perfect his ability to manipulate this beguiling material, and, as an artist, his work begins with a scientific inquiry—go figure.
“Glass is a material we use so much, I actually think we’re in the age of glass; from fiberglass installations to big sheets of glass which form skyscrapers, and then fiber-optics has changed communications,” the artist said. And what about water? Martinez’s interest in water was spurned by the Flint, Michigan crisis. That we take such a necessity for granted, something that can look clear as crystal but contain nefarious multitudes, ties into looking through glass but not at it. It’s another comment on the power of perception meeting reality—or, perhaps more importantly, when it doesn’t.