David Torres II

“a nostalgia for the future”

Film, video games, animation, and the networked globalization of images are the lingua franca of our time. These mediums, in particular film and gaming, don’t merely reflect back the world or point out our interaction, but directly model it. I am interested in the history of stories where the unseen forces of morality are at work. The PTSD factor embedded in culture has drawn me to the idea of the “hero” as an empathic ideal for people to aspire to. I am also interested in the illusion and delusional discussions that surround the complexities of the racial, sexual, religious, aging; old and young identities in culture. As a way of investigating these identities I created “Riakman”, an alter-ego, designed under the influences of 1990’s anime, video games, and my father’s middle school drawings. By channeling “Riakman” through video animation, I re-link pathways through high art and popular culture. Through him I tell a story within my fictional planet “Runetech” about a way of being in the world. Within this fictional world, I tell stories with an embedded nostalgia for a future to contend with the disillusionment that exists within culture today.

I am influenced by Matthew Barney, Trenton Doyle Hancock, and Henry Darger, specifically how they immerse audiences into their fictional worlds through color, form, and mark-making. Directors such as Nicolas Winding Refn of Denmark, Stanley Kubrick an American, and the French director Alain Resnais influence my studio practice as well. Resnais uses the cinematic process of having an action or gesture continue from one sequence to the next to describe his engagement with how we project ourselves into a moving image. Resnais calls this engagement the cinematic gesture. He, more than any of the other French New Wave directors, influenced contemporary filmmakers like Refn to create landscapes within film that operate both as spaces for participation and contemplation. I have adopted the psychological and psychokinetic devices of both Refn’s films and of my favorite anime like Mamoro Oshi’s Ghost in the Shell, and Hiroyuki Imaishi’s Kamagata’s Gurren Lagann. Video games such as Dark Souls and Final Fantasy do something similar while also, emphasizing the textures of their characters and architecture through a handicraft and technocraft sensibility. These aesthetic frameworks are important to me because I feel it is a powerful tool needed to ground my fictional world and its stories within the internal subconscious space of my audience.

My stories deal with the trials and tribulations of entering a world filled with rules and a history that is unknown. In my work the unseen forces of good and evil exist within these rules. Someone who is portrayed “good” might actually be evil or vice versa once more information is revealed about the rules and history of my fictional world. My episodic animations Enter Sliff’s Fortress, and Riakman Reborn Part I & II show the journey of Riakman as he learns and contends with the dark history of the world that he was born into, while at the same time must find his voice within it. In traditional stories revolving around the hero’s journey the world is often painted in a way which it is obvious to identify between forces that are good or evil, and it is clear how the hero must find his or her direction in that world. I wish to challenge this in my animations by blurring the lines of what is understood as good and evil in my fictional world, Runetech. By doing so, I can contemplate my own morality and ethics while asking myself “what is humanity”? and “what is my purpose existing in a world that is governed by rules built upon an unclear history”?

Challenging these frameworks allows me to understand the issues of race, oppression, and morality through my fictional characters. Growing up my mother always preached to me that it is important to judge someone by their ideology, morals, and ethics rather than how society represents them. This way of viewing the world is largely why my animations deal with topics such as the complexities of good and evil. Systems which judge what one can say or express by one’s race or gender, rather than their ideology, morals, and ethics, I find problematic.  I have experienced situations where those who are not the same race or gender as me can empathize with the prejudices I have faced as an African-American male.

Showing an ideology based on what we feel our moral responsibilities are to our fellow man is often more important to me than showing race or gender.  For this reason, I want my fictional world to explore the unseen forces that lie behind the act of empathy.  It is this illusion for the values passed onto me from my mother that I carry with me as I challenge and resist the delusional forces that threaten a possible future where there is empathy and an awareness of the many nuances that exist within the voice of humanity. My stories are about shedding light on that future.

Website: https://vimeo.com/user16514217

Education     Mason Gross School of Arts (MGSA), New Brunswick, NJ

Master of Fine Arts, Visual Arts 2017

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Providence, RI

Bachelor of Fine Arts, Painting 2014

Art History, Concentrator

Marie Walsh Sharpe Summer Seminar, Colorado Springs, CO

Pre College Summer Program, Fine Arts 2009

Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, West Palm Beach, FL

Highschool, 2010


Artistic: oil, acrylic, animation, clay, printmaking, papermaking, glassblowing, drawing and video.

Computer Skills: Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premier Pro, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After effects



Runetech and Valley of The Silent Immortals, BigToe Gallery| Online Gallery 2018

Chin Up Sad Masc Masks, (Group Show) HereArt Center| New York, NY 2018

Stranger Loops ,(Group Show) Foley Gallery| New York, NY 2017

Runetech Screening, Governor James J. Florio Special Events Forum| New Brunswick, NJ 2017

Action at A Distance, (Group Show)  Mason Gross School of the Arts Gallery| New Brunswick, NJ 2017

Enter Sliff’s Fortress Screening, Governor James J. Florio Special Events Forum| New Brunswick, NJ 2016

Riakman Reborn Part 1 Screening, Governor James J. Florio Special Events Forum| New Brunswick, NJ 2016

                          Divers, (Group Show) Mason Gross School of the Arts Gallery| New Brunswick, NJ 2015

Awards, Residencies

Rutgers MFA Summer Travels Grant| 2016

Rhode Island School of Design Honor Award| 2014

John A. Chironna Memorial Scholarship| 2013

LeRoy Neiman Foundation Oxbow Fellowship| 2013

Full Scholarship to Rhode Island of Design| 2010 – 2014

Pathfinder of Arts Scholarship|2010