MasterMind 2015 Honorable Mention: Juan Carlos Zaldivar

Fillmmaker and video artist Juan Carlos Zaldivar has dedicated his artistic efforts to exploring the duality of how we feel and how we seem, but he keeps his pieces as subjective as possible, because that's half the fun of life.

"From the filmmaking point of view, I'm really interested in making films that don't use dialogue," he says. "I'm really more interested in something that's a little bit more open where you create a set of characters and a place in the world, but you don't really give all the answers. The person who's watching is left trying to project some of their own experiences."

He attacks different points of view through the lens of highly experimental projects, all exploring the same complex themes of self. We honor his playful and plentiful perspectives with an Honorable Mention in the New Times Mastermind Award.

See also: MasterMind 2015 Honorable Mention: Peter Hammar

For about the past decade, the Miami transplant has been exploring that dichotomy of self and self-representation through a series of videos, installations, and web projects. None of it is very straight-forward, but that's because Zaldivar isn't simply going for entertainment, he's going for introspection.

"The overall theme is to get people to question or to think about how they think of themselves and then how the world views them," he says. "That's the root of a lot of social challenges that we face, and there's also a lot of personal conflict that comes into being, not being able to reconcile those two things or accept that they're fluid in some capacity."

This central theme runs through everything Zaldivar has done in the past few years, as does the aspect of interactivity. In the beginning, it was hard to get people to understand, but as the ambitious project comes to its close, the final image becomes clear. When all is said and done, each individual project will be hosted on a website, something he'd begun hinting at through his recent WebBodyProject, and the whole kit and kaboodle will be tied together by a short film, the final piece to the puzzle, though Zaldivar is hesitant to call it a "culmination."

This short film will act as a landing page for the final website, It will also be presented in two versions; one more direct narrative with background information, and one more metaphorical and lacking in dialogue. The two are meant to be compared, each offering a look into the story with links to other parts of the project, these other videos and installations he's released throughout the years, each one telling their part of the complicated story of our human experience.

"It's an experiment in storytelling, but I'm really interested in that right now," he says. "I think the technology has just advanced so much, even in just the last two year. I'm now taking and putting on that hat again, exploring where we're at and how we engage audiences using the new techniques that are out there."

It's been a massive undertaking, but exploring the theme from so many perspectives is the point. Every life is a different angle, and every life comes at us from different angles as well. Zaldivar is addressing each angle individually, because in the end, there's a different angle for all of us.

"I think not all the parts are going to resonate with everybody, which is why I think I'm really interested in having this transmedia world," he says, "People can find the piece that resonates with them, because we're all very different and everybody thinks differently about themselves and about their world."

We'll be profiling those honorable mentions, and eventually the finalists, in the weeks to come. This year's three Mastermind Award winners will be announced February 26 at Artopia, our annual soiree celebrating Miami culture. For tickets and more information, visit

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Kat Bein is a freelance writer and has been described as this publication’s "senior millennial correspondent." She has an impressive, if unhealthy, knowledge of all things pop culture.