When we contacted Spanish photographer Felix R. Cid, the Brooklyn-based artist is in Ibiza, the dance music Mecca — which makes sense, since so much of his work focuses on gigantic dance parties. The man takes photos of hundreds of thousands of revelers at EDM festivals around the world and then delicately compiles elements of those images together until his hedonistic swarms become something altogether different. They morph into surreal solar systems, apocalyptic human landscapes, and dense, flesh-colored seas. Depending on your affinity for crowds, his startling pieces can make you feel both claustrophobic and entranced by the energy these mega-festivals incite.
We're big fans of his work, so we asked Cid to explain both his process and his fascination with these large, dance-driven gatherings.
What fascinates you about crowds? When did you start focusing on them as an art form?
I started using cameras by working in a photography business oriented in tourism. I used to photograph about 800 people per day on busy clubs and beaches. I did not see it as an art form then. But it definitely influenced what I did after. Crowds are built by many individuals sharing a common experience. That gives me the access to capture a lot of drama in a single frame. I am interested in this amount of drama.
How do you get your bird’s eye views? Do you use any drone technology?
No drone technology. :) What you see is an image made of hundreds of different points of view. I work very traditionally, with a point and shoot camera walking around the crowds. I always look for higher points or some elevation so I can get more of what is in front of me. But that's about it.
Would you describe your process of shooting and then turning your photos into very intricate compilations of those photos?
Is a very simple process. I go out there and shoot. I am looking for the right or best photograph when I am there. I'm interested in that. I don't think of what the images might and will become after. Then back in the studio I just start putting them together in the computer, creating a larger picture as it feels right and wrong. There is no plan in advance of how I want the photograph to look like. I guess it then becomes a very similar process to any other artist in the studio. Perhaps most like a canvas painter.
How long does each of your pieces take to create?
The time really depends on each work. I can say that there is an average of about 300 hours of work. But again, it depends.
How would you describe the different composite personalities of the crowds you’ve shot? Taken en masse and turned into these compositions, what sort of energy does, say, a giant EDM music festival have versus a traffic jam?
X, the project on the EDM festivals, was a very specific idea for many reasons. One of them was my fascination with the experience since I was younger. But also I was interested in the idea of how they have grown in the last years. In a world where the younger generations seems to communicate and relate to each other on platforms like the internet, here comes this very physical and flesh based experience where they can release all this energy. I also realized that a large percentage of the people attending the events would never buy the music or follow the artists ( DJs ) playing as they would with a Lady Gaga concert or The Rolling Stones. They are there for the shared experience that the crowd creates more than anything else. I liked that.
Does each city have its own personality that comes out when you start to collage the photographs from the festivals you shoot?
I actually found it fascinating that no matter where I was, on any continent, I would eventually find myself on a dance floor listening to the same tunes that I was [hearing] in the last country. I was actually interested in that globalized realization.
When you were shooting the EDM festivals, were you also there as a lover of the music, or are you more of an outside observer curious about the nature of large crowds no matter the scene?
As I said, I enjoy that culture. But when I am shooting, even though I am one more member of the crowd, moving around and shooting, I am also an outsider voyeur. I know I am there for a different reason.
What’s the biggest crowd you’ve shot?
I shot the Zurich electronic parade in 2013. That was 900,000 people.
How do you feel when you’re inside these crowds?
When I'm in there I am only looking for the next photograph. That's all I really think about — what will be the one photograph that will be next.
New York Magazine recently printed your photo of a crowded traffic scene. How does this piece fit into your work now? Are you moving into scenes involving vehicles?
The LIE photograph was a commission. I was interested in the idea but it was an isolated event.
What else are you working on next?
I am working on a project of a very different nature [involving] appropriation and lot of studio work. And also a long video piece.
Where can people see your art next?
You can follow Cid on Instagram @felixrcid.