Linguagem e Experiência (Viseu)

2010.Sep

Obras da Colecção da Caixa Geral de Depósitos
curated by Pedro Lapa

September 18 – November 21, 2010

Museu Grão Vasco
Viseu, Portugal

exhibited works: SpaceJunk beta 1.0 (2001)
related links: Linguagem e Experiência (Viseu)@cgd.pt

Categories : exhibitions  group

Skyway ‘10

2010.Aug

Neptune
curated by: Mário Caeiro

Aug, 26 – 28, 2010

Dawny posterunek policji / Former police station (ul. Bydgoska/Kujota)
Toruń, Poland

exhibited works:
SpaceJunk beta 1.0
Place in Time
wabane
Window

related links: skyway.art.pl

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Categories : exhibitions   exhibitions  solo
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Cabinet d’Amateur

2010.Jul

Cabinet d’Amateur
Sala do Veado 1990-2010

July 22 – Oct 03, 2010

Sala do Veado
Museu Nacional de História Natural
Lisbon, Portugal

exhibited work: Liine 2007 (1 image)

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Ikonoklash

2010.Jun

curated by Dinis Guarda

Jun 05 – Aug 01, 2010

Centro Cultural de Lagos
Lagos, Portugal

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related links: Ikonoklash

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exhibited works: Window

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Museu s. m.

2010.May

curated by Catarina Portelinha

May 9 – June 20, 2010

Museu Nacional Machado de Castro
Coimbra, Portugal

exhibited works: Jumping Nauman

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Linguagem e Experiência (Oeiras)

2010.Apr

Obras da Colecção da Caixa Geral de Depósitos
curated by Pedro Lapa

April 17 – June 20, 2010

Centro Cultural Palácio do Egipto
Oeiras, Portugal

exhibited works: Archibunk3r Associates

related links: Linguagem e Experiência at Culturgest.pt

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FIAT LUX – Creación e Iluminación

2010.Apr

curated by Paulo Reis

April 15 – July 4, 2010

MACUF – Museu de Arte Contemporáneo Union Fenosa
A Coruña, Spain

exhibited works: leon night

related links: Fiat Lux at MACUF.com

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Video Dada

2010.Jan

curated by Martha Gever

Opening Reception Thursday, January 7, 6-9 pm | UAG
January 7- February 6, 2010

The University Art Gallery
University of California
Irvine, USA

exhibited works:
- H2O
- untitled (Playing with Gould Playing Bach)

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Velocidad de Luz Variable, Biblioteca Histórica de la Universidad Complutense, Madrid

2009.May

Velocidad de Luz Variable, Madrid
Visual 09 – Festival Audiovisual de Majadahonda
curated by Alexandre Estrela

May 23 > 29, 2009
Biblioteca Histórica de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Madrid, Spain

exhibited works:
vlanta
wabane
bogless
lakeloop
mp rlan

related links:  Velocidad de Luz Variable at visual-ma.com

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(…) O último autor deste alinhamento, Miguel Soares, é um artista que desde sempre acompanho e com o qual divido atelier/ Oporto. Para além destes dados pessoais que tornam a minha escolha claramente facciosa, Miguel Soares é um pioneiro na criação meticulosa de universos digitais.
Este demiurgo digital, cria mundos utópicos distintos (dependentes do programa que usa) controlando desde as leis gerais aos mais ínfimos pormenores. Tudo gravita em torno de narrativas insólitas e performances cujo o absurdo revela um profundo sentido existencial e poético.
Cada um dos trabalhos concebidos por estes artistas é, parafraseando Melo e Castro, um ponto luminoso, criado com precisão laboratorial para mundos suspensos auto‑suficientes.
Juntá‑los transversalmente neste novo contexto, apesar de um acto profano, ajudou‑me a formar uma constelação subjectiva do que poderá ser uma sensibilidade e uma prática experimental em Portugal.
Alexandre Estrela— Lisboa 2009. from the catalogue (excerpt)

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Geolux, Centro de Artes Visuais, Coimbra

2009.Apr

solo show
curated by:  Albano da Silva Pereira

April > June 2009
Centro de Artes Visuais
Coimbra, portugal

list of works:

video

prints

other

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A exposição ”Geolux” de Miguel Soares surge no contexto do programa que o Centro de Artes Visuais – Encontros de Coimbra tem fomentado de divulgação da obra de artistas portugueses a meio de carreira com projectos pensados especificamente para esta instituição.

Com um percurso iniciado no princípio dos anos 90, Miguel Soares (Lisboa, 1970)  tem vindo a desenvolver um trabalho que se centra em preocupações relacionadas com a tecnologia e a criação humana (onde a ficção científica tem particular relevo), a relação entre arquitectura e design, assim como a ecologia e a geografia. Existe paralelamente uma constante pesquisa em torno das questões de percepção e dos processos de criação de uma imagem.

Utilizando uma miríade de referências que vão da arte conceptual à música erudita, da ficção científica à tecnologia mais avançada, na presente exposição Miguel Soares apresenta um universo visual que gira em torno da Geografia, da Geologia e da Luz. ”Geolux” reúne obras com diferentes preocupações e temáticas datadas entre 2006 e o presente e apresentará dois vídeos inéditos que propõem, com base em composições musicais criadas pelo artista, uma animação 3D que foca a reacção de objectos abstractos ao som.

Se aparentemente as suas obras propõem sistemas paralelos, quer sejam artificiais quer sejam fictícios, na verdade, a sua intenção é a de propor uma nova forma de conceber a realidade e de alterar a percepção desta. Neste sentido, as suas obras sugerem um novo modo de pensar e de ver o mundo.

A obra de Miguel Soares tem um lugar singular na criação contemporânea portuguesa. Diversa e profundamente criativa, é capaz de simultaneamente apresentar situações de uma enorme simplicidade, como aquela em que mostra os locais onde o artista conceptual Bruce Nauman expôs no ano de 2007 (Jumping Nauman, 2007), ou lâmpadas de jardim transformadas em planetas através do simples manipular da abertura do diafragma (Planets, 2008) até à morosa e complexa desconstrução do Concerto de Brandeburgo e a criação de uma nova música que comprova o autismo do seu interprete mais famoso Glen Gould (untitled (Playing with Gould playing Bach), 2007).

Miguel Soares foi o vencedor do Prémio BesPhoto 2007 e o seu trabalho de vídeo foi alvo de uma exposição antológica na Culturgest nesse mesmo ano.

Albano Silva Pereira

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Categories : exhibitions  solo   texts
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Estética Solidária

2009.Feb

curated by: Paulo Reis

Feb 19 -28, 2009
Palácio do Marquês,
Lisbon, Portugal

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Turn Me On, Pavilhão 28 do Hospital Júlio de Matos, Lisbon

2008.Dec

Turn Me On, Número-Interface(s)
curated by: Bruno Marques, Israel Guarda, Ivo Braz, José Oliveira

December 13 > 30, 2008
Pavilhão 28 do Hospital Júlio de Matos
Lisbon, Portugal

exhibited works: Your Mission is a Failure (Dark Forces and  Duke Nukem clips)

related links: Número-Interface(s) homepage

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O Presente: Uma Dimensão Infinita, Museu Colecção Berardo, Lisbon

2008.Nov

O Presente: Uma Dimensão Infinita
BESart – Colecção do Banco Espírito Santo
curated by: Maria de Corral and Lorena Martinez de Corral

November 24, 2008 > January 25, 2009
Museu Colecção Berardo
Centro Cultural de Belém
Lisbon, Portugal

exhibited works:

  • SpaceJunk  S436cel (2001), 127×151 cm from the SpaceJunk series 2
  • Keyboard 02 (2004) 127×154 cm, from the H2O series

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Miguel Soares, 3D Animations and Video Works 1999-2005, Culturgest, Lisbon

2008.Oct

Miguel Soares
3D Animations and Video Works
1999-2005
Curated by: Miguel Wandschneider

opening October 17th, 2008, 10PM
11.30PM: Tra$h Converters DJ set
October 18, 2008 > January 4, 2009
Culturgest, Lisbon

list of works:

Miguel Soares (Lisbon, 1970) has been producing work since the early 1990s that reveals a fascination with futuristic utopias, technological innovations and the iconographic universe of science fiction. Initially, this fascination took the form of appropriating and manipulating pre-existing photographic images, as well as using references and conventions from the field of equipment design, firstly taken as a referent at the level of the photographic image and then transposed to the formal conception of the works. In the second half of that same decade, much of the artist’s activity resulted in the production of highly interactive sculptures and installations, which represented characters, environments, situations and objects belonging to hypothetical science fiction worlds. It was during this phase that the artist began to use video as a medium for projecting animated images, working at first with pictures drawn from computer games and then with other images created in 3D from graphic elements available on the Internet. In the first few years of his career, his work met a positive critical reception, but it was with his 3D animations that it reached full maturity. It is precisely this facet of his work that this exhibition now seeks to illuminate.
Miguel Wandschneider

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images above: courtesy of xana.

images below: courtesy of miss dove.
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Exhibition catalogue by Atelier Carvalho Bernau

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Some Remarks on the Work of Miguel Soares

Miguel Wandschneider

Both Miguel Soares’ work and his artistic career, since he first burst onto the artistic scene at the beginning of the 1990s, can be contextualised in generational terms and, more specifically, he can be seen as part of a constellation of artists from the same generation who mostly studied at the Lisbon School of Fine Art. As frequently happens with each generation, in those first crucial years when people’s aesthetic and ideological stances are defined, and at a time when their careers have not yet become individualised, these artists shared a series of values, attitudes and concerns that established a territory of affinities and provided them with concerted strategies of action. Deeply imprinted on the practices of this constellation of artists, and clearly evident in Miguel Soares’ work, were the rejection of the traditional disciplines (and painting in particular), a fondness for references originating from a globalised contemporary cultural landscape, namely both the mass culture and the youth cultures with which they identified, and, with varying degrees of political intentionality, an interest in questions and themes related with the contemporary world. At stake was not only their openly declared reaction to their experience (traumatic for many of them) as students at a stiff and somewhat stuffy art school, where they were closed off from artistic contemporaneity[1], but also their total lack of identification and their clear demarcation from the modes of production that had shaped the artistic scenes in the course of the 1980s. It is perfectly obvious today that, in keeping with the dynamics to be noted in the international context, the generation that emerged in the first half of the 1990s played a fundamental role in accelerating and consolidating an artistic paradigm shift that had been in progress since the 1960s and which we can briefly classify on the basis of two factors: on the one hand, the loss of hegemony (which does not mean a loss of relevance or legitimacy) of the traditional disciplines as a framework that can be used to integrate artistic practices; on the other hand, the opening up and externalisation of artistic practices in relation to the most diverse systems of cultural and symbolic production and fields of reality, definitively surpassing the modernist canons and their conception of art as an autonomous activity with its own reference system.

Miguel Soares’ oeuvre, built up over the last twelve years, identifies him as one of the most idiosyncratic Portuguese artists, with one of the most singular and obsessive universes of the last two decades. From a very early date, his work began to reflect his fascination not only with the imagery and iconography of science fiction, but also with the artificial atmospheres in which life unfolds in the technologically advanced societies and with the vertiginous pace of modern-day technological development, which plays such a decisive role in mediating and transforming our experience of reality. Such fascination has inevitably laid down the limits of what, at least so far, may be identified as the thematic hard core of his work, albeit with very diverse variations and without this being allowed, as has so frequently and rather hastily been supposed, to exhaust the questions and subjects explored by the artist. In 1992, when Miguel Soares held his second solo exhibition, this fascination of his was already perfectly recognisable. One might, for example, remember the series of eight photographic diptychs presented at that exhibition, juxtaposing reproductions of sepia images, dating from the 1950s and 1960s, of vehicles (car, propeller, plane, flying saucer), with colour images of domestic interiors in the 1960s, equipped and furnished according to the aesthetic patterns that have since endured as a memory of the interior design of that time. In this way, the artist drew our attention to the fact that the growing enhancement and generalisation, throughout the 20th century, of the house as the locus of social and, in particular, family life was accompanied by the euphoric desire for, and increasing possibilities of, mobility within the territory and the conquest of space. One could also refer, in passing, to the set of furniture-sculptures that he presented at his next solo exhibition, two years later: each of these pieces (bookshelves, sideboards, filing cabinet, bed, television stand and screen) incorporated a light box with a manipulated photograph of a terrestrial landscape over which UFOs can be seen flying. Appearing simultaneously as both furniture and sculpture, both utilitarian objects and works of art (vaguely evoking the tradition of minimalist sculpture and, in particular, certain sculptures by Donald Judd), these pieces reflected, in an ironic and undramatic fashion, the already mentioned loss of autonomy of the art that the modernist paradigm had advocated, as well as the closely related phenomenon of the aestheticisation of everyday life, which is omnipresent in contemporary societies.

In those years, Miguel Soares’ work was still heavily marked by the circumstances of his artistic education – between 1989 and 1991, he studied photography and attended, at that same time, a course in equipment design, chosen less as a vocation than as an escape from the teaching of painting or sculpture, which he saw as a dead end. From 1995 onwards, the use of photography as a medium lost its central importance, although it did not disappear from his work, even reaching the point of its recently earning him the distinction of winning the BES Photo Prize. Design also lost importance as a field of references for him, even if his earlier questioning of its status and of works of art that simultaneously exist as functional objects reappears, with renewed effectiveness, in Celulight (1999), a set of lamps made from the recycling of the brightly-coloured plastic packages produced at that time by the Portuguese mobile phone companies and thrown away each day in large numbers.

What is more interesting for the purposes of this text than simply noting that, in his early years, photography represented the principal medium of his work, is to emphasise the fact that the use that he made of it was systematically linked to the re-use and manipulation (digital after 1994) of pre-existing images. In fact, Miguel Soares was one of several artists from his generation who adopted different strategies of appropriation in the creative process with absolute naturalness. It was not long before his own acts of appropriation began to include mass-produced consumer objects, images and sounds from computer games, graphic features and images taken from the internet and musical themes (used on the soundtrack of many of his videos and 3D animations). Like so many artists of his generation, Miguel Soares was aware of the legal impediments to re-using, for artistic purposes, materials that had been produced and distributed within the field of the cultural industries, a question that became an urgent one in the 1990s with the dissemination of the video as an artistic medium and the consequent proliferation of works that took film and music as their sources for appropriation. It was precisely this question that, in 1994, he touched on in his first video, Copyright Law. Consisting of a cascade of hundreds of images spliced together from television and video cassettes, and having as its soundtrack (and exempted from copyright) the work Crosley Bendix discusses the Copyright Act (1992), by Negativland, the video was conceived as a visual illustration of that passionate manifesto issued in defence of the free access for artistic purposes to images and sounds that are circulated through the mass media, subject to severe restrictions imposed by the cultural industries under the protection of purely economic interests. The images were edited using two VHS recorders, employing cut and paste procedures that were analogous to the composition technique recurrently used by the group – the sticking together of fragments of magnetic tape that had been cut with a razor blade.

In the second half of that decade, Miguel Soares’ activity was to increasingly take place outside the clearly demarcated and stable disciplinary parameters. A significant part of his work, in that period, took the form of sculptures and installations, made with mass produced materials and simple technological devices, which represented characters, objects, atmospheres and situations belonging to hypothetical worlds from science fiction. For example, in Vr Trooper (1996), we come across what we suppose to be a futuristic station used for observation or surveillance: a robot with a military appearance, seen through a surface of red plexiglas and under strobe lighting, makes rotating movements inside a metal cylindrical capsule, itself standing on turf. Immediately afterwards, in Heaven’s Gate (1997), the artist sought to recreate the collective suicide of the members of a religious sect (whose name was given to the title of the piece) at a ranch in San Diego, in California, when a comet passed through the sky in March 1997. The installation simulates several bodies, either asleep or dead, that can be found lying on shelves, covered by purple satin sheets and wearing trainers of the same brand. The sheets gained greater volume under the effect of the air blown into them by electric fans connected to movement detectors, after which they returned to their former state of rest. In this way, the moment was suggested when the members of the sect, in accordance with the belief that led them to commit suicide, were teletransported by a space ship to another planet. In turn, Beep (1998) constructs the image of a flying saucer emitting a red light in a circular movement, as if it were reconnoitring the surrounding space – the sculpture reacts with light effects both to the sounds that it picks up and to the sound that it produces, static noise interrupted every minute by a beep. This piece attained its greatest expressive force in the space of a former water tank in Madrid, where it was presented for the first and only time.

During this period, Miguel Soares used a rudimentary video card (the Creative TV Coder of Windows 95) to record sequences of images and sounds created from the manipulation of computer games. The two works of this nature that he produced, Your Mission is a Failure (1996-97) and Barney Online (1996-98), different versions of which were presented in those years, open up the imagery of science fiction, already perfectly recognisable at that time, to the iconographic universe and aesthetic codes of computer games and futuristic cartoons, foreshadowing the 3D animations to which he so intensely devoted himself from the end of that decade onwards. Your Mission is a Failure records a series of performances by the artist in the virtual environment of some computer war games (including MechWarrior 2, Dark Forces, Doom, Descent 2 and Duke Nukem 3D). Recorded in real time, these performances relate various specific actions dissociated from the logic of these games, such as, for example, continuously dying (hence the title of the work, which corresponds to the message of the computer game Command and Conquer when the player fails in his mission), becoming immortal, exploring and going beyond the frontiers of the scenic space of the games, or making music with the respective sounds. The fragmentation and pasting together of images and sounds that have been decontextualised from the narrative plot inherent in the games, as well as the playful exploration of the possibilities and limits of the games outside the protocol and objectives that they propose, arouse in the spectator a feeling of strangeness that is exacerbated by moving from the virtual environment of the computer to the wall of the exhibition space, where the videos are projected in large formats. In a second and shorter version of this video, the crucial importance of the sound in creating this feeling of strangeness was reinforced by positioning in the centre of the projection a psychedelic light box (reused from a solo exhibition in 1996), which reacted to the sound through a sensor.

In the videos made from computer games, Miguel Soares found a way to bring to his work what at that time was one of his favourite recreational activities, having reached the point of spending several hours a day playing and interacting in front of the computer. Even more flagrantly than in the previous video, Barney Online provides an eloquent testimony to the crossover between artistic practice and a certain playful activity that is accompanied by an aesthetic investment. In the case of this latter video, that activity also involved participation in a reference group with repercussions on the construction of the artist’s personal and social identity, in the context of a youth subculture with specific codes, values and rules. This video subjects the spectator to a cascade of violent images and sounds that we recognise as having been taken from one of these computer games in which, in order to survive, the character/player has to annihilate the enemies that keep appearing in his path as he moves along a labyrinthine bunker. The video joins together excerpts from the virtual performances of a character (Barney), embodied by the artist, over roughly two years in the Internet game Quake TeamFortress, as a member of the largest and oldest clan (he got to be one of its leaders) who in Portugal, as in many other countries around the world (most of them numbering between 10 and 40 members), dedicated themselves daily to playing this game, establishing their own rules for the admission of members, as well as for the organisation and functioning of the clan. The brief messages that run along the upper strip of the images provide additional clues about the nature of the events and situations that are documented, but these remain obscure for most people, who are not familiar with the codes that are only accessible to those who have been initiated into the game. The decontextualisation of the images and sounds is, in this case, also largely dependent on the fact that the performances took place, not during the playing of the actual game, but in situations of convivial interaction with members of his own and/or other clans. What is imposed on the spectator is the hypnotic flow of a display of colossal violence. This video confronts the spectator with a cascade of violent images and sounds that we recognise as having been taken from one of these computer games in which, in order to survive, the character/player has to annihilate the enemies that keep appearing in his path as he moves along a labyrinthine bunker. The video joins together excerpts from the virtual performances of a character (Barney), embodied by the artist, over roughly two years in the Internet game Quake TeamFortress, as a member of the largest and oldest clan (he got to be one of its leaders), who in Portugal, as in many other countries around the world (most of them numbering between 10 and 40 members), dedicated themselves daily to playing this game, establishing their own rules for the admission of members, as well as for the organisation and functioning of the clan. The brief messages that run along the upper strip of the images provide additional clues about the nature of the events and situations that are documented, but these remain obscure for most people, who are not familiar with the codes that are only accessible to those who have been initiated into the game. The decontextualisation of the images and sounds is, in this case, also largely dependent on the fact that the performances took place, not during the playing of the actual game, but in situations of convivial interaction with members of his own and/or other clans. What is imposed on the spectator is the hypnotic flow of a display of colossal violence.

From the mid-1990s onwards, and with even greater emphasis towards the end of the decade, when a completely new generation began to emerge, a growing number of young Portuguese artists adopted video as a medium. In fact, video offered an extremely attractive alternative to the traditional media, proving itself to be particularly effective for artists who were interested in broaching and commenting upon aspects of contemporary reality, constructing fictional narratives, exploring performative situations, examining the influence of time as a mediating factor of perception, or incorporating references from an expanded cultural landscape, with particular emphasis being given to film and music. In an initial phase, videos were made using cameras that filmed in the Video 8 or Hi8 format and two VHS or S-VHS reproducers , this being the equipment that was available at that time and which very soon became obsolete as a consequence of the breakneck speed with which technological changes were being introduced, accompanied by their immediate democratisation. The introduction onto the market of increasingly sophisticated digital cameras and computers at accessible prices, as well as software that was easy to use for the editing and post-production of images and sounds, created extremely favourable conditions for the use of video in artistic production, exponentially increasing the creative possibilities and the quality parameters that were now within reach of artists, without the need for them to rent equipment or to seek the help of professionals.

Considering the great fondness that he felt, from the very outset, for technological devices that were characteristic of the period and accessible to non-professionals, it is not surprising that Miguel Soares was one of the first Portuguese artists of his generation to work with video. However, while many of his peers centred their artistic practice on that medium, he made a quite different and atypical choice, preferring to use 3D animations as the quintessential arena for his work from the end of the 1990s onwards.[2] The genesis of these works dates back to a project that he developed between 1996 and 1998, in parallel with the videos and installations I mentioned earlier: using what today is an obsolete computer (the Pentium 166mmx) and a very basic 3D modelling programme based on the use of simple geometrical forms (Corel Dream 3D), the artist built and made small animations of a virtual city (X-City) whose size and complexity he intended to progressively expand as he transferred the file with the model of the city onto increasingly faster personal computers that would greatly speed up the whole process. As it did not take him long to realise, the tools that he had chosen to perform these first experiments with animation were manifestly not up to the task – the animation had to be done manually, frame by frame, before passing through an extremely slow process of rendering (converting the 3D model into final images). In 1999, before he definitively abandoned the project, and at a time when the rendering of each frame was taking him as long as 13 hours, Miguel Soares recovered the model of the city in order to make Y2K, his first work of 3D animation to be presented publicly.

Remaining faithful to his persistent do-it-yourself attitude, Miguel Soares began to use not only computers with an ever greater processing capacity, but also non-professional 3D modelling and animation software, which, despite its being very basic, offered him much greater possibilities for figurative composition. More precisely, he was able to make progressively more complex versions, with new functions and greater quality, of a programme designed for the construction of landscapes and environments (Bryce) – with which it was also possible to incorporate models of objects imported from the Internet – and of another programme that enabled him to model and animate human figures (Poser). In this way, the artist found himself engaged in an extremely laborious and painstaking process – he spent between six months and a year working intensely on making each of the animations that came after Y2K. All of this required him to undertake a programme of constant learning and self-teaching, experimenting constantly with the creative possibilities of these tools.

The 3D animations to which Miguel Soares so stubbornly devoted himself from 1999 to 2005 comprise an undeniably singular oeuvre displaying a remarkable range of formal solutions. Condensed within these fictional narratives is a painstaking work of figurative composition and the careful film-based construction of points of view, camera movements and sequences, calling for a remarkable control of cinematic time. No less crucial in determining the involvement of the spectator is the organic relationship that is established between image and sound. Making the most of his very particular musical erudition, his profound knowledge of the sounds of his generation and his familiarity with a very eclectic repertoire of references in this field, Miguel Soares constructed the soundtrack of his animations from music played  in many different styles (Tuxedomoon, Combustible Edison, Funki Porcini, Sack & Blumm, Roberto Musci & Giovanni Venosta, Negativland), but also, from 2002 onwards, from themes that he himself composed, based on his manipulation and sequencing of samples taken from the Internet, television, films or music (in this period, firstly in 2002, and then later in 2006, he published two CDs of his own music).

In many of these works, Miguel Soares pursues his interest in themes from the contemporary world, whether or not these are filtered through an imaginary projection into a more or less distant, but entirely plausible, future: the spectre of militarisation and totalitarianism (Time for Space, 2000), the anonymity and atomisation of life in the large cities, as well as the loss of our direct relationship with nature (Archibunk3r Associates, 2000), the increasing pollution of the skies and seas (SpaceJunk, 2001, and H2O, 2004, respectively), the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union (TimeZones, 2003), or the survival of the human species and its capacity for adaptation, dating from remote times and continuing into a distant post-apocalyptic future, faced with natural catastrophes or the mass destruction caused by large-scale wars (Place in Time, 2005). Running through all these works is both a sombre perspective and a feeling of melancholy that, nonetheless, manage to avoid creating a denunciatory rhetoric with moralistic overtones.

With these 3D animations, Miguel Soares’ work reached full maturity and established for him a prominent position in the Portuguese art world. The exhibition at Culturgest with which this publication is associated has, as its central core, a retrospective look at this facet of his work. As we makes our way through the exhibition, this central core, composed of six works, is preceded by the presentation of two videos [Untitled (Two), 1999, and Expecting to Fly, 1999-2001] in which the artist films in a “voyeuristic” fashion, and  poetically transforms, real violent situations that were to dramatically interrupt the nights that he spent in front of the computer. Besides this “realistic” counterpoint to his 3D animations, the exhibition also includes a kind of flashback at the end, with excerpts from the first video that he made based on computer games, Your Mission is a Failure. Since this is Miguel Soares’ first solo exhibition on the institutional circuit, it corresponds to the recognition of the singularity and relevance of his work, but also to a gesture of encouragement to an artist who has persevered under difficult conditions and of whom we believe that we can safely say that his best work is yet to come.


[1] In this respect, it is interesting to quote the artist himself: “During my years at the Lisbon School of Fine Art, the teaching methods were completely cut off from the contemporary reality that was taking place outside the school. It was as if I and my friends – Pedro Cabral Santo and Alexandre Estrela, amongst many others – were forced to lead double lives, working at the school during the day and, the rest of the time, making plans for exhibitions and discussing art, sometimes well into the night.” This is how the artist begins a commentary on his work Night Art School, from 1995, conceived as a model of an art school engaged in constant, uninterrupted activity. Made from yellow formica and red plexiglas, and placed on a grass-covered base, the sculpture had 24 white lights inside, connected to psychedelic sensors that reacted to the sound of people moving around inside the exhibition space. The light patterns thus formed alternated with excerpts of electronic music (especially Kraftwerk and Negativland). According to the artist, this piece “reminded [him] of Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory. As if it were a scale model of a new experimental art school.” Significantly, the piece was produced for the Wallmate exhibition, organised by Miguel Soares and Alexandre Estrela, which took place in 1995 in the Cistern of the Lisbon School of Fine Art, and brought together a group of artists from their circle of friends and acquaintances, who, like them, were final-year students. According to the artist, the exhibition was conceived “as a reaction to the academic concepts that prevailed inside the school”. All these statements have been taken from the artist’s website at (http://migso.net/artwork/1995/miguel_soares_night_art_school.htm).

[2] In 2002, when he was asked the reason for his interest in 3D animations, Miguel Soares replied: “[I’m interested in] working with the technologies that are available to ordinary people and which give them the opportunity to do what previously could only be done with the use of specialised equipment and lots of money. I’m also interested in the fact that, today, a person with a computer that costs about a thousand euros can make music, edit videos and make 3D films, something that [previously] was only possible using computers the size of a truck, which cost thousands of euros per minute in electricity just to run them. Or, in other words, over the last two or three years, in doing my work I have been exploring what an average person can do with an average computer.” cf. “Criar coisas que não existem”, an interview with Sandra Vieira Jürgens, in Arq./A – Revista de Arquitectura e Arte, No. 12, March-April 2002, p. 82.

Video A, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut

2008.Aug

Video A
curated by Richard Klein

August 10 > December 7, 2008
Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Ridgefield
Connecticut, USA

exhibited works: Jumping Nauman

related links: Video A at AldrichArt.org

aldrich_inv

Categories : exhibitions  group
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PhotoEspana 2008 – BES Photo, Centro Cultural Conde Duque, Madrid

2008.Jun

PhotoEspana 2008 – BES Photo 2007 prize

June 04, July 27, 2008
Centro Cultural Conde Duque
Madrid, Spain

exhibited works:

  • Liine, 7 Durst Lambda prints on aluminium,100×100cm each, 2008.
  • Liine HD video, 5′00”, no audio. on plasma screen. 2008
  • retarC, 1 Durst Lambda prints on aluminium,100×132cm each, 2008
  • Planets, 8 Durst Lambda prints on aluminium, 100×133cm each, crop projectors. 2008.

besphoto_madrid01

besphoto_madrid03

Bang Festival, Faculdade de Belas Artes, Lisbon

2008.Apr

Bang Festival de Artes Digitais
curated by Margarida Mendes

April 4 > 24, 2008
Cisterna, Faculdade de Belas Artes
Lisbon, Portugal

exhibited work: Place in Time

related links: BangFestival.net

bang festival - place-in-time

Categories : exhibitions  group
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Ponto de Vista – Colecção PLMJ, Museu da Cidade, Lisbon

2008.Mar

Ponto de Vista – Colecção PLMJ
curated by Miguel Amado

March 18 > May 18, 2008
Pavilhão Branco
Museu da Cidade
Lisbon, Portugal

Categories : exhibitions  group
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Parangolé, Museo Patio Herreriano, Valladolid

2008.Mar

Parangolé. Fragmentos desde los noventa em España, Portugal e Brasil
David Barro and Paulo Reis

March 14 > June 22, 2008
Museo Patio Herreriano de Arte Contemporáneo Español de Valladolid
Valladolid, Spain

exhibited works:

Categories : exhibitions  group
Tags: ,

BES Photo

2008.Mar

BES Photo 2007 prize exhibition (winner)
March>June 2008
Museu Colecção Berardo, Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon, Portugal

exhibited works:

  • Liine, 7 Durst Lambda prints on aluminium,100×100cm each, 2008.
  • Liine HD video, 5′00”, no audio. on plasma screen. 2008
  • retarC, 4 Durst Lambda prints on aluminium,100×132cm each, 2008
  • Planets, 8 Durst Lambda prints on aluminium, 100×133cm each, crop projectors. 2008.

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Liine_HD2
Liine

miguel_soares_retarC204
retarC

miguel_soares_Planets04
Planets


Interview from the exhibition catalogue.

(scroll down for portuguese version)

A Suspension of Disbelief

A dialogue about the boundaries between representation, fiction, reality and originality.
Miguel Soares and Filipa Ramos

Filipa Ramos: I would like to know more about your training…
Miguel Soares: My contact with photography begins around 1985 at the Photography Club of the D. Pedro V high school in Lisbon. The club was oriented by professor Emilio Felício, who also taught chemistry, and it focused on the laboratory part in black-and-white, in other words, on the chemical side of photography.
In 1988 I enrolled in the Course of Photographic Studies at the Ar.Co.. During the first year I had Lúcia Vasconcelos as a teacher, which gave me a lot of enthusiasm, and the following year I had José Soudo, a great reference for all those who had him as a teacher. During that same year, which was an interim before entering the school of Fine Arts, I enrolled in a workshop of free drawing at the Monumental Gallery with the painter Manuel San Payo. At that time it was one of the most interesting and active galleries in Lisbon. It was when the photographer Álvaro Rosendo invited me to do an individual show. I was twenty years old and it was the beginning of an eleven-year relationship with that gallery.
In 1989 I entered the University of Fine Arts in Lisbon, were I got a degree in Equipment Design, on one hand to learn about different materials, and on the other because I didn’t want to spend five years painting and drawing, for I have been doing that since I was very young. What was important during this period was the creation of a group of friends, or it would have been an arduous experience. Among the members of that group were Miguel Mendonça (no longer with us), Tiago Batista, Alexandre Estrela, Nuno Silva, Pedro Cabral Santo, Rui Serra, Rui Toscano and Paulo Mendes. We soon began organizing collective shows in and outside the University. Exhibits like 1990, Faltam nove para 2000 or Wallmate (1995) in the University, Independent Worm Saloon at the Sociedade Nacional de Belas Artes (1994), or O Império Contra-Ataca at the ZDB (1998); and Jamba (1997), Biovid (1998) and Espaço 1999, at the Sala do Veado, among others.

FR: Are there any coordinates that modelled your present work? I could identify certain elements, like a reflection on what is real, a link between music and images, and an analysis of the mechanisms that regulate and determine perception, but I would like to hear it from you …
MS: There are interests which are constant from the beginning, because I am almost always centred on investigation and experimentation, but I think my concerns have varied quite a lot over time. The sort of things I did in 1992 were already very different from what I’ve done the previous year, and I believe that it has always been a bit like that. Howevere, sometimes I like to recapitulate and to tackle questions that I can rethink or improve, either for technological reasons, due to time, or to other motives. It is extremely difficult for me to identify the connecting threads that have prevailed during all this time. As an example I do know that music only starts appearing directly in my work around 1994. In terms of photography, between 1990 and 1994, I was a lot more interested in iconology and symbolism than I am nowadays. I think that my interest in design and architecture, as man-made creations, together with science, have been the most constant elements in my work over the years.

FR: In fact, it is easy to recognize an interest for design and architecture, especially in the second half of the 1990’s, when you created objects like Racing (1994) or Beep (1998). In the same way, science seems to be a constant. I remember once Pedro Cabrita Reis said that he imagined you as one of those kids that were always playing with robots and carrying out chemistry experiments!
Sometimes your work seems to be made in order to underline its basic and curious elements. This can be seen thorough the repetition of certain aspects (like in Untitled (Playing with Gould Playing Bach), 2007). It also happens when you another element, like in Expecting to Fly (1999-2001), in which the music of Buffalo Springfield gives a certain poetic/ironic touch to the situation, absurd and surreal in itself, of an automobile accident on a road with no movement. In what way are you interested in revealing tiny details in daily practices, using a photographic frame?

MS: I’m not sure I worry about that, except in the sense of the punctum that Roland Barthes mentions, the discovery of some element in an image that makes it special.
But we can analyse that individually. The repetition of Glenn Gould’s video deals with the fact that I have read about him being autistic. I had already used some Gould piano samples in my music, and I started thinking that if I had an image to accompany it, his autism – which wasn’t at all clear to me – would become obvious, and that’s what I tried to do in this video. I decided to compose four themes of about two or three minutes each, based only on segments of six to ten seconds of the Brandenburg Concert No. 5, filmed in 1962. In total, I used more or less half a minute to produce ten minutes. I mounted the sound by doing hundreds of tiny little cuts, without paying attention to the image, that came by association, just as if I was mounting music using the “cut and paste” method in an audio programme.
Expecting to Fly was quite a different process. That scene was filmed in 1999 and I spent two years trying to figure out what to do with it. I knew I had to find the right music to follow up the other video that I had filmed on my balcony (Untitled (two), 1999), but I only made up my mind in 2001.

FR: Still talking about the use of apparently banal and daily elements, from which one can make new interpretations of what surround us, I would like to know a bit more about your new series Planets, (2008). In this case you used conventional photography to create a series of illusions that are unveiled as we pass through the images …
MS: My uncle illuminates his backyard with a series of round lights made in something that resembles Plexiglass. The lamp posts are about a meter high and the spheres are approximately twenty five centimetres. They are very old and you can notice it: some have moss, others have holes and cigarette burns, others have mud stains or insect debris, and some have yellowed. The type of light bulb used also varies, some are white or bluish and others are more yellow. What I did was to considerably close the diaphragm of the camera and photograph all the spheres from above, so that one couldn’t see the posts. They look like planets. Only at the end do I open slightly the diaphragm to reveal the mystery of a solar system that lies sleeping in my uncle’s yard.

FR: The craters and palindromes portray an almost puerile curiosity to test the reality of things, their possibility of existing in slightly altered conditions. Where is this interest or desire to investigate a subtly distorted reality coming from?
MS: I am quite interested in it. It is almost like a scientific process: the hypothesis is formulated and then a series of tests are carried out to prove it. That is what happens in the series with the limousines (Liine, 2007). Or, for example, in the series retarC (2007), in which I thought that if I turned a crater upside-down it would look like a plateau. This idea came to me when I saw pictures of underground explosions that created slight elevations on the surface. I experimented, and it worked with some of the craters. I realized that the light was crucial for creating this effect, and sometimes I inverted the image so that the light would come always from the left, making the illusion bigger.

FR: Sometimes you seem to take hold of the original images and alter them, recovering, let’s say, a certain primeval state of the elements represented. This is visible both in some of your earlier pieces, and recently in the series where you “remove” a part which had actually been an addition, giving back a more conventional look to the automobile (Liine). How do you characterize this interest in manipulating reality through photography?
MS: The case of the limousines had been in my head for over ten years because they look like normal cars that have been artificially stretched in a Photoshop, (the first ones I saw where on television and in magazines). I did this series mainly to satisfy my curiosity – how would the backgrounds look? Would the car seem like a normal car? Of course, there are second meanings: a shortening of distances, an appeal to slow down, environmental issues, an anti nouveau riche feeling, the effect of teleportation created by the transition of before and after the cut (visible in the Liine video, 2007). But all these interpretations depend on who is seeing it.

FR: I find a similar attitude in Untitled (playing with Gould playing Bach) in which the chosen frames gained a certain suspension, between a movement and a static side, which characterizes all the representations of passed, and unrepeatable, elements. You appear to take photographs through the annulation the image’s movement in time. In what way can a picture result from video?
MS: As I explained previously, I fragemented small portions of the concert into hundreds of slices, sometimes in one, two or three frames, and with them I tried to compose music. The fact that each second of film consisted of twenty four photographs (photograms), or twenty five in the case of television or PAL video, enabled each photograph to be accompanied by a moment of sound with a certain duration – in cinema, 41,66 thousandths of a second of sound. This amount of time is more than enough to work with and, even eventually to stretch it in audio editing programes. If the sound is at 48KHz, it can still be divided into two thousand smaller slices. This arouses my curiosity about the sound of a specific photograms that were filmed.

FR: In this same video there is a characteristic, which is very present in your work – the relation between image and music. How do you articulate these two elements and how do they coexist?
MS: The combination of sound and image is, normally, one of those cases in which the whole is more than the sum of its parts. I think I have used it in a very different way in each work.
Sometimes the audio is used to increase the power of immersion of a given video, even to increase the realism. It can carry a more important message than the image, or it can simply be used to create an atmosphere. It can also be used to change the meaning of the image. There is also music that I edit on CD and for which I create series of images or videos. There were cases in which I felt the necessity to illustrate a certain music, either mine or someone else’s, with images.
I think I use music and audio in different ways and with different functions.

FR: Many of your pieces use elements that touch on the copyright issue and raise questions about the crisis of the current concept of intellectual property. What is your feeling about these problems?
MS: It is a very complex issue of our times, in which we are surrounded by images, sounds, and words that belong to companies, while art continues needing the world around itself as raw material. Originally copyright served to stimulate literary creativity, and had a short period of duration, after which the creation entered public domain and became much more affordable. Up to the middle of the last century, classical music, blues, and a lot of other music only existed thanks to the recycling of musical heritage. A lot of modern music would never exist if it were necessary to ask all the authors for authorization for samples (sometimes hundreds of them).
I believe that each case need to be individually analyzed. I think that the question should be raised only when profits that belong to the original author are being misappropriated. Not when we use a small part to comment, critique or pay homage, as a form of art. That is, when Richard Prince used the images of the Marlboro Man in the 1970’s, he was in no way competing with Marlboro to sell cigarettes! By the same token, if I use a phrase of Michael Jackson for a musical composition, I’m not selling it as if it was his creation. Therefore, no one will stop buying his records because of mine.

FR: You often use digitally constructed images, such as the series of inverted craters, RetarC, or the two videos Place in Time (2005), Sparky (2002) or H2O (2004). In what way are you interested in photography as a means to construct possible inexistent realities?
MS: For me, photojournalism is an example of how photography can construct reality. The pictures that appear in the newspapers and illustrate our recent history, are, to a greater or lesser degree, premeditated. Even if I find this aspect interesting, I believe that in most cases I belong to the opposite field, using images to construct fiction.

FR: More than using 3D to explore a new media, (and such was the case of digital format when you started using it in the 1990’s), you seem to use it to create photographic situations that you don’t have access to. By this train of thought, these images become digital photographs, also dependent on the photographer’s choice of an exact, unique moment, in which they are captured and crystallised. Do you see your images as photographs or are they closer to traditional pictorial representation, like painting or drawing?
MS: Quite true. I undoubtedly see digital images as photography. In the case of 3D animation, which is closer to the concept of cinematic photography, all the concerns that we must have with these, (and many more), are the same ones we have in 3D: the choice of a lens, the angle, the lighting, etc.. If the scene is static, the moment is no longer crucial and we find ourselves in a photograph in which the moment is everywhere. In 3D, a universe (or theatre) is created for each scene, and that would be impossible in the real world. And I depend on absolutely no one to do it, which is a relief. I can have an enormous city on top of a slice of pizza, and go in through a window of one of the buildings, go to the kitchen and find another slice of pizza on top of the table with another city on top.
I am also interested in this fractional side because it is very close to the tools provided by nature, which makes 3D for me, something that is natural and not artificial. I would dare to say that it seems less artificial than painting on a canvas.
FR: A phrase of Roland Barthes in Câmara Lucida, in which he refers that cinema is never a hallucination but just an illusion; his vision is oneiric and not ecmenesic, made me think of your work. Do you share this point of view in regard to your relationship between what you create and the elements you use as a starting point?
MS: I think that in cinema ecmenesia occurs when we see a film and establish our keyframes. The remains are not the sequence but certain scenes and key points that vary from person to person. But our will to accept illusion, even in unlikely and technically imperfect cases, like the cinema of Ed Wood, the so called Suspension of Disbelief theory, interests me very much. There are things that when we watched twenty years ago seemed highly credible and realistic and that nowadays are simply obsolete. In other cases this doesn’t occur. The theory of the Suspension of Disbelief lead us to both immerse in a film of Ed Wood as it allow us to believe in the exemption of the documentaries of Frederick Wiseman. It is an elastic force, which is also transformed according to our prejudices about what we see. If we want to believe, we do.
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Portuguese version

A Suspension of Disbelief

Um diálogo sobre as fronteiras entre representação, ficção, realidade e originalidade.
Miguel Soares e Filipa Ramos

Filipa Ramos: Eu gostava de saber mais sobre a tua formação.
Miguel Soares: A minha ligação à fotografia começa por volta de 1985 no Núcleo de Fotografia do Liceu D. Pedro V em Lisboa. O núcleo era coordenado pelo professor Emílio Felício, também professor de química e era centrado na parte de laboratório a preto e branco, ou seja, na parte química da fotografia.
Em 1988 inscrevi-me no Plano de Estudos de Fotografia do Ar.Co. No primeiro ano tive como professora a Lúcia Vasconcelos, que me deu bastante entusiasmo, e no segundo ano tive o José Soudo, uma referência para todos os que por ele passaram. Durante esse mesmo ano, que foi um compasso de espera para entrar nas Belas Artes, inscrevi-me também num Atelier Livre de Desenho na Galeria Monumental com o pintor Manuel San Payo. Nessa altura, era uma das galerias mais interessantes e activas de Lisboa. Foi quando o fotógrafo Álvaro Rosendo me convidou para fazer uma exposição individual. Eu tinha vinte anos e foi o início de uma relação de onze anos com a Monumental.
Em 1989 entrei para a Faculdade de Belas Artes de Lisboa, onde fiz a licenciatura em Design de Equipamento. Por um lado para aprender sobre os materiais e, por outro, porque não estava com vontade de passar cinco anos a pintar e a desenhar, coisa que já fazia desde pequeno. Aífoi importantíssimo ter-se criado um grupo de amigos, de outro modo teria sido uma experiência penosa. Desse grupo faziam parte o Miguel Mendonça (já desaparecido), Tiago Batista, Alexandre Estrela, Nuno Silva, Pedro Cabral Santo, Rui Serra, Rui Toscano e Paulo Mendes. Rapidamente começámos a organizar exposições colectivas dentro e fora da faculdade. Exposições como 1990, Faltam nove para 2000 ou Wallmate (1995) dentro da Faculdade, Independent Worm Saloon na Sociedade Nacional de Belas Artes (1994), ou O Império Contra-Ataca na ZDB (1998); e Jamba (1997), Biovoid (1998) e Espaço 1999, na Sala do Veado, entre outras.

FR: Existem coordenadas que foram dando forma ao que é o teu trabalho actual? Poderia identificar certos elementos, como uma reflexão sobre o real, uma ligação estreita entre a música e as imagens e uma análise dos mecanismos que regulam e determinam a percepção, mas gostava de saber por ti…
MS: Existem pesquisas constantes desde o início, porque o meu interesse está quase sempre centrado nos actos de pesquisar e experimentar, mas julgo que as minhas preocupações foram variando bastante ao longo dos tempos. O tipo de coisas que fazia em 1992 já era muito diferente do que tinha feito no ano anterior e julgo que tem sido sempre um pouco assim, embora às vezes goste de voltar atrás e voltar a pegar em questões que posso repensar ou melhorar, seja por questões tecnológicas, por questões de tempo ou por outros motivos.
É para mim extremamente difícil identificar fios condutores que se tenham mantido ao longo do tempo. Sei, por exemplo, que a música só começa a aparecer directamente no meu trabalho por volta de 1994. No que diz respeito à fotografia, entre 1990 e 1994 estava bastante mais interessado em iconologia e simbolismo do que hoje em dia. Penso que o meu interesse pelo design e pela arquitectura, como criações do homem, juntamente com a ciência, tenham sido as principais constantes no meu trabalho ao longo destes anos.

FR: De facto é fácil de identificar um interesse pelo design e pela arquitectura, sobretudo na segunda metade dos anos 90, quando realizaste objectos como Racing (1994) ou Beep (1998). Do mesmo modo, a ciência parece ser uma constante. Lembro-me de uma vez o Pedro Cabrita Reis ter dito que te imaginava como uma daquelas crianças que estavam sempre a brincar com robôs e a fazer experiências de química!
Por vezes as tuas obras parecem ser criadas de modo a pôr em evidência os seus elementos mais básicos ou curiosos, seja através da repetição exaustiva de certos aspectos (como em Untitled (Playing with Gould Playing Bach), 2007); seja através da adição de outro elemento, como em Expecting to Fly (1999-2001), em que a música dos Buffalo Springfield confere um certo toque poético/irónico à situação, já por si absurda e surreal, de um despiste de um automóvel numa estrada sem movimento. De que modo é que te interessa revelar o particular dentro do corriqueiro, usando um suporte fotográfico?

MS: Não sei se sinto isso como preocupação a não ser no sentido do punctum que Roland Barthes refere, ou seja descobrir algo na imagem que a torna especial.
Mas podemos ver caso a caso. A repetição do vídeo do Glenn Gould, tem a ver com eu ter lido sobre ele ser autista. Já tinha usado samples de piano do Gould nas minhas músicas, e fiquei a pensar que se tivesse a imagem a acompanhar, o seu autismo – que para mim não era nada evidente – se tornaria óbvio, e foi isso que tentei fazer neste vídeo. Resolvi compor quatro temas de cerca de dois, três minutos cada, apenas com base em segmentos de seis a dez segundos do Concerto de Brandenburgo n.º 5, filmado em 1962. No total usei cerca de meio minuto para fazer dez minutos. Através de centenas cortes minúsculos, montei o som sem prestar atenção à parte da imagem que vinha por arrasto, tal qual estivesse a montar música pelo método de “corta e cola” num programa de áudio.
Em relação ao Expecting to Fly foi bem diferente. A cena foi filmada em 1999 e andei dois anos a tentar descobrir o que fazer com ela. Sabia que devia procurar a musica certa para vir no seguimento de outro vídeo que tinha filmado da minha varanda (Untitled (two), 1999), mas só em 2001 é que me decidi.

FR: Ainda dentro desde uso de elementos aparentemente banais e quotidianos, para a partir deles gerar novas leituras daquilo que nos rodeia, gostaria de saber um pouco mais sobre a tua nova série Planets, (2008). Neste caso recorreste à fotografia convencional para gerar uma série de ilusões que vão sendo desvendadas à medida que vamos percorrendo as imagens…
MS: Um tio meu tem a iluminar o quintal das traseiras da sua casa uma série de candeeiros esféricos num material tipo Plexiglas. Os pés têm cerca de um metro de altura e as esferas terão um diâmetro de cerca de 25 cm. São já muito velhos e as esferas têm uma variedade de marcas do tempo: umas têm musgo, outras estão furadas ou queimadas por cigarros, outras têm manchas de lama ou dejectos de insectos, algumas estão amarelecidas. O tipo de lâmpada usada também varia, apresentando-se umas mais brancas ou azuladas e outras mais amareladas. O que fiz foi fechar bastante o diafragma da câmara e fotografar todas as esferas de cima para baixo para que não se visse o pé. Parecem planetas. Só no final abro um pouco o diafragma para revelar o mistério de um sistema solar que repousava adormecido no quintal do meu tio.

FR: Nas crateras e nos palindromos emerge uma curiosidade quase pueril de testar a realidade das coisas, a sua possibilidade de existência em condições ligeiramente alteradas. Em que reside este interesse ou esta pesquisa por esta realidade subtilmente distorcida?
MS: Interessa-me bastante. Quase como método científico: há a formulação de uma hipótese e depois o efectuar de uma série de testes para a comprovar. Assim se passa na série das limusinas (Liine, 2007). Ou, por exemplo, na série retarC (2007), em que pensei que se virasse a imagem de uma cratera ao contrário ela iria parecer um planalto. Esta ideia surgiu-me ao ver imagens de explosões subterrâneas, que criavam pequenos altos à superfície. Fiz a experiência e resultou com algumas das crateras. Vi que a luz era determinante para a criação deste efeito e, por vezes, inverti a imagem para a luz vir sempre da esquerda e a ilusão ser maior.

FR: Por vezes pareces pegar nas imagens originais para depois as alterares, recuperando, digamos, um certo estado primordial da condição dos elementos representados. Isto é não só visível em algumas obras mais antigas, como também, recentemente, na série em que lhes “retiras” um pedaço, que já por si era um acrescento, voltando a dar ao automóvel o seu aspecto mais convencional (Liine). Como caracterizas este interesse pela manipulação da realidade através da fotografia?
MS: O caso das limusinas andava na minha cabeça há mais de dez anos, pelo facto de parecerem carros normais que foram artificialmente esticados no Photoshop (isto porque as primeiras limusinas que vi foi na TV ou em revistas). Fiz a série sobretudo para satisfazer a minha curiosidade – Como ficariam os fundos? O carro iria parecer um carro normal? Claro que há segundas leituras: o encurtar as distâncias, um apelo ao abrandamento, questões ecológicas, anti novo-riquismo, o efeito de teletransporte criado pela transição entre o antes e o depois do corte (visível no vídeo Liine, 2007). Mas estas leituras já dependem de quem vê.

FR: Encontro uma atitude semelhante em Untitled (playing with Gould playing Bach) em que fizeste com que os frames escolhidos ganhassem uma certa suspensão entre um movimento e um lado estático, que caracteriza todas as representações de elementos passados e, logo, irrepetíveis. Pareces fotografar através da anulação do tempo da imagem em movimento. De que modo é que a fotografia pode decorrer do vídeo?
MS: Como expliquei anteriormente, pequenas porções do concerto foram fragmentadas em centenas de fatias por vezes de um, dois ou três frames, e com eles tentei compor música. O facto de cada segundo de filme ser composto por vinte e quatro fotografias (fotogramas), ou vinte e cinco no caso da televisão e do vídeo PAL, faz com que cada fotografia seja acompanhada de um momento de som com uma duração certa, em cinema são 41,66 milésimos de segundo de som. É tempo mais que suficiente para trabalhar e, eventualmente, esticar em programas de edição de áudio. Se o som estiver a 48KHz ele ainda poderá ser dividido em duas mil fatias mais finas. Isto desperta a minha curiosidade pelo som de fotogramas específicos de momentos filmados.

FR: Neste mesmo vídeo está presente uma característica muito presente no teu trabalho, a relação entre a imagem e a música. De que modo é que estes dois elementos se articulam e convivem?
MS: O conjunto som e imagem é, normalmente, um daqueles casos em que o todo é mais do que a soma das partes. Julgo que o tenho usado de formas muito diversas de trabalho para trabalho.
Por vezes o áudio é usado para aumentar o poder de imersão de determinado vídeo, até mesmo para aumentar o realismo. Pode conter uma mensagem mais importante do que a imagem, ou pode apenas servir para criar um ambiente. Pode também ser usado para mudar o significado da imagem. Depois há as músicas que edito em CD e para as quais faço séries de imagens ou vídeos. Houve casos em que senti a necessidade de ilustrar determinada música, seja minha ou de outros, com imagens.
Portanto julgo que uso a música e o áudio de diversas formas e com diversas funções.

FR: Muitas das tuas obras utilizam elementos que tocam a questão do copyright e que abordam questões que realçam a crise do modelo actual da propriedade intelectual. Qual é a tua relação com estes problemas?
MS: É uma questão muito complexa decorrente de hoje em dia estarmos rodeados de imagens, sons e palavras que pertencem a empresas e da necessidade da arte continuar a precisar do mundo à sua volta como matéria prima. O copyright na sua origem servia para estimular a criação literária e tinha um período de duração curto, a partir do qual as criações entravam em domínio público e tornavam-se muito mais baratas. A música clássica, os Blues e muita da música até meados do século passado só existiu graças à reutilização de heranças musicais. Muitas das músicas feitas actualmente nunca existiriam se se tivesse de pedir autorização a todos os autores pelos samples (por vezes centenas).
Julgo que é preciso analisar caso a caso. Penso que só se deveria levantar a questão quando se estão mesmo a desviar lucros que pertencem ao autor original. Não quando se usa uma pequena porção para comentar, criticar ou homenagear, sob a forma de arte. Ou seja, quando nos anos 70 o Richard Prince utilizou as imagens do Marlboro Man, não estava de modo nenhum a concorrer com a Marlboro na venda de cigarros! Da mesma forma que se usar uma frase do Michael Jackson numa música, não estou a vender a musica como se fosse da autoria dele, logo ninguém vai deixar de lhe comprar os discos por causa do meu.

FR: Recorres frequentemente ao uso de imagens construídas digitalmente, como é o caso da série das crateras invertidas, RetarC, ou dos vídeos Place in Time (2005), Sparky ou H2O (2004). De que modo é que a fotografia te interessa como um mecanismo de construção de possíveis realidades inexistentes?
MS: Para mim, um exemplo de fotografia como construção da realidade é o fotojornalismo. Ou seja, as imagens que aparecem nos jornais e que acabam por ilustrar a nossa história recente de uma forma, umas vezes mais, outras vezes menos, premeditada. Embora também isso me interesse muito, julgo que na maioria dos casos me encontro no campo oposto, usando a imagem para construir ficções.

FR: Mais do que utilizar o 3D para explorar um suporte novo, como era o formato digital quando começaste a usá-lo nos anos 90, parece que o usas para criares fotograficamente situações que não tens à tua disposição. Estas imagens tornam-se dentro desta lógica, fotografias digitais também elas dependentes da escolha do fotógrafo de um momento exacto, único, em que foram capturadas e cristalizadas. Vês as tuas imagens como fotografias ou mais próximas da representação pictórica tradicional, como a pintura e o desenho?
MS: É bem verdade. Vejo as imagens digitais como fotografia sem dúvida. E, no caso das animações 3D, mais próximas do conceito de fotografia de cinema, pois todas as preocupações desta (e muitas mais) estão presentes no 3D: a escolha da lente, a tomada de um ponto de vista, a iluminação, etc. Se a cena for estática o momento deixa de ser crucial, e passamos a estar dentro de uma fotografia, em que o momento está por todo o lado. No 3D para cada cena cria-se um universo (ou um teatro) que seria impossível no mundo real. E não estou dependente de absolutamente ninguém para o fazer. Isso deixa-me descansado.
Posso ter uma cidade enorme em cima de uma fatia de pizza e entrar numa janela de um dos prédios, ir à cozinha e encontrar outra fatia de pizza em cima da mesa com outra cidade em cima. Há este lado fractal que também me interessa porque está muito próximo das ferramentas que a natureza tem à disposição, o que faz com que para mim o 3D não me pareça uma coisa de todo artificial, mas sim natural. Quase diria que me parece menos artificial do que pintar numa tela.

FR: Uma frase de Roland Barthes, no Câmara Clara, em que ele refere que o cinema nunca é uma alucinação, mas apenas uma ilusão; a sua visão é onirica e não ecmenésica, fez-me pensar no teu trabalho. Partilhas deste ponto de vista no que respeita à tua relação entre o que crias e os elementos que tomas como ponto de partida?

MS: No cinema julgo que a ecmenésia se dá quando vemos o filme e estabelecemos os nossos keyframes. O que fica não é a sequência, mas sim algumas cenas e pontos-chave que variam de pessoa para pessoa. Mas a nossa vontade de aceitar a ilusão, mesmo em casos inverosímeis e tecnicamente imperfeitos como no cinema de Ed Wood, a chamada teoria da Suspension of Disbelief interessa-me imenso. Há coisas que víamos há vinte anos atrás e pareciam altamente verosímeis e realistas e que hoje em dia parecem muito mal feitas. Noutros casos, isso não acontece. A teoria da Suspension of Disbelief tanto nos leva a imergir num filme do Ed Wood, como a acreditar na isenção dos documentários de Frederick Wiseman. É uma força elástica que também se transforma de acordo com os nossos preconceitos sobre aquilo que vemos. Se queremos acreditar, acreditamos.

Filipa Ramos: I would like to know more about your training…
Miguel Soares: My contact with photography begins around 1985 at the Photography Club of the D. Pedro V high school in Lisbon. The club was oriented by professor Emilio Felício, who also taught chemistry, and it focused on the laboratory part in black-and-white, in other words, on the chemical side of photography.
In 1988 I enrolled in the Course of Photographic Studies at the Ar.Co.. During the first year I had Lúcia Vasconcelos as a teacher, which gave me a lot of enthusiasm, and the following year I had José Soudo, a great reference for all those who had him as a teacher. During that same year, which was an interim before entering the school of Fine Arts, I enrolled in a workshop of free drawing at the Monumental Gallery with the painter Manuel San Payo. At that time it was one of the most interesting and active galleries in Lisbon. It was when the photographer Álvaro Rosendo invited me to do an individual show. I was twenty years old and it was the beginning of an eleven-year relationship with that gallery.
In 1989 I entered the University of Fine Arts in Lisbon, were I got a degree in Equipment Design, on one hand to learn about different materials, and on the other because I didn’t want to spend five years painting and drawing, for I have been doing that since I was very young. What was important during this period was the creation of a group of friends, or it would have been an arduous experience. Among the members of that group were Miguel Mendonça (no longer with us), Tiago Batista, Alexandre Estrela, Nuno Silva, Pedro Cabral Santo, Rui Serra, Rui Toscano and Paulo Mendes. We soon began organizing collective shows in and outside the University. Exhibits like 1990, Faltam nove para 2000 or Wallmate (1995) in the University, Independent Worm Saloon at the Sociedade Nacional de Belas Artes (1994), or O Império Contra-Ataca at the ZDB (1998); and Jamba (1997), Biovid (1998) and Espaço 1999, at the Sala do Veado, among others.
FR: Are there any coordinates that modelled your present work? I could identify certain elements, like a reflection on what is real, a link between music and images, and an analysis of the mechanisms that regulate and determine perception, but I would like to hear it from you …
MS: There are interests which are constant from the beginning, because I am almost always centred on investigation and experimentation, but I think my concerns have varied quite a lot over time. The sort of things I did in 1992 were already very different from what I’ve done the previous year, and I believe that it has always been a bit like that. Howevere, sometimes I like to recapitulate and to tackle questions that I can rethink or improve, either for technological reasons, due to time, or to other motives. It is extremely difficult for me to identify the connecting threads that have prevailed during all this time. As an example I do know that music only starts appearing directly in my work around 1994. In terms of photography, between 1990 and 1994, I was a lot more interested in iconology and symbolism than I am nowadays. I think that my interest in design and architecture, as man-made creations, together with science, have been the most constant elements in my work over the years.
FR: In fact, it is easy to recognize an interest for design and architecture, especially in the second half of the 1990’s, when you created objects like Racing (1994) or Beep (1998). In the same way, science seems to be a constant. I remember once Pedro Cabrita Reis said that he imagined you as one of those kids that were always playing with robots and carrying out chemistry experiments!
Sometimes your work seems to be made in order to underline its basic and curious elements. This can be seen thorough the repetition of certain aspects (like in Untitled (Playing with Gould Playing Bach), 2007). It also happens when you another element, like in Expecting to Fly (1999-2001), in which the music of Buffalo Springfield gives a certain poetic/ironic touch to the situation, absurd and surreal in itself, of an automobile accident on a road with no movement. In what way are you interested in revealing tiny details in daily practices, using a photographic frame?
MS: I’m not sure I worry about that, except in the sense of the punctum that Roland Barthes mentions, the discovery of some element in an image that makes it special.
But we can analyse that individually. The repetition of Glenn Gould’s video deals with the fact that I have read about him being autistic. I had already used some Gould piano samples in my music, and I started thinking that if I had an image to accompany it, his autism – which wasn’t at all clear to me – would become obvious, and that’s what I tried to do in this video. I decided to compose four themes of about two or three minutes each, based only on segments of six to ten seconds of the Brandenburg Concert No. 5, filmed in 1962. In total, I used more or less half a minute to produce ten minutes. I mounted the sound by doing hundreds of tiny little cuts, without paying attention to the image, that came by association, just as if I was mounting music using the “cut and paste” method in an audio programme.
Expecting to Fly was quite a different process. That scene was filmed in 1999 and I spent two years trying to figure out what to do with it. I knew I had to find the right music to follow up the other video that I had filmed on my balcony (Untitled (two), 1999), but I only made up my mind in 2001.
FR: Still talking about the use of apparently banal and daily elements, from which one can make new interpretations of what surround us, I would like to know a bit more about your new series Planets, (2008). In this case you used conventional photography to create a series of illusions that are unveiled as we pass through the images …
MS: My uncle illuminates his backyard with a series of round lights made in something that resembles Plexiglass. The lamp posts are about a meter high and the spheres are approximately twenty five centimetres. They are very old and you can notice it: some have moss, others have holes and cigarette burns, others have mud stains or insect debris, and some have yellowed. The type of light bulb used also varies, some are white or bluish and others are more yellow. What I did was to considerably close the diaphragm of the camera and photograph all the spheres from above, so that one couldn’t see the posts. They look like planets. Only at the end do I open slightly the diaphragm to reveal the mystery of a solar system that lies sleeping in my uncle’s yard.
FR: The craters and palindromes portray an almost puerile curiosity to test the reality of things, their possibility of existing in slightly altered conditions. Where is this interest or desire to investigate a subtly distorted reality coming from?
MS: I am quite interested in it. It is almost like a scientific process: the hypothesis is formulated and then a series of tests are carried out to prove it. That is what happens in the series with the limousines (Liine, 2007). Or, for example, in the series retarC (2007), in which I thought that if I turned a crater upside-down it would look like a plateau. This idea came to me when I saw pictures of underground explosions that created slight elevations on the surface. I experimented, and it worked with some of the craters. I realized that the light was crucial for creating this effect, and sometimes I inverted the image so that the light would come always from the left, making the illusion bigger.
FR: Sometimes you seem to take hold of the original images and alter them, recovering, let’s say, a certain primeval state of the elements represented. This is visible both in some of your earlier pieces, and recently in the series where you “remove” a part which had actually been an addition, giving back a more conventional look to the automobile (Liine). How do you characterize this interest in manipulating reality through photography?
MS: The case of the limousines had been in my head for over ten years because they look like normal cars that have been artificially stretched in a Photoshop, (the first ones I saw where on television and in magazines). I did this series mainly to satisfy my curiosity – how would the backgrounds look? Would the car seem like a normal car? Of course, there are second meanings: a shortening of distances, an appeal to slow down, environmental issues, an anti nouveau riche feeling, the effect of teleportation created by the transition of before and after the cut (visible in the Liine video, 2007). But all these interpretations depend on who is seeing it.
FR: I find a similar attitude in Untitled (playing with Gould playing Bach) in which the chosen frames gained a certain suspension, between a movement and a static side, which characterizes all the representations of passed, and unrepeatable, elements. You appear to take photographs through the annulation the image’s movement in time. In what way can a picture result from video?
MS: As I explained previously, I fragemented small portions of the concert into hundreds of slices, sometimes in one, two or three frames, and with them I tried to compose music. The fact that each second of film consisted of twenty four photographs (photograms), or twenty five in the case of television or PAL video, enabled each photograph to be accompanied by a moment of sound with a certain duration – in cinema, 41,66 thousandths of a second of sound. This amount of time is more than enough to work with and, even eventually to stretch it in audio editing programes. If the sound is at 48KHz, it can still be divided into two thousand smaller slices. This arouses my curiosity about the sound of a specific photograms that were filmed.
FR: In this same video there is a characteristic, which is very present in your work – the relation between image and music. How do you articulate these two elements and how do they coexist?
MS: The combination of sound and image is, normally, one of those cases in which the whole is more than the sum of its parts. I think I have used it in a very different way in each work.
Sometimes the audio is used to increase the power of immersion of a given video, even to increase the realism. It can carry a more important message than the image, or it can simply be used to create an atmosphere. It can also be used to change the meaning of the image. There is also music that I edit on CD and for which I create series of images or videos. There were cases in which I felt the necessity to illustrate a certain music, either mine or someone else’s, with images.
I think I use music and audio in different ways and with different functions.
FR: Many of your pieces use elements that touch on the copyright issue and raise questions about the crisis of the current concept of intellectual property. What is your feeling about these problems?
MS: It is a very complex issue of our times, in which we are surrounded by images, sounds, and words that belong to companies, while art continues needing the world around itself as raw material. Originally copyright served to stimulate literary creativity, and had a short period of duration, after which the creation entered public domain and became much more affordable. Up to the middle of the last century, classical music, blues, and a lot of other music only existed thanks to the recycling of musical heritage. A lot of modern music would never exist if it were necessary to ask all the authors for authorization for samples (sometimes hundreds of them).
I believe that each case need to be individually analyzed. I think that the question should be raised only when profits that belong to the original author are being misappropriated. Not when we use a small part to comment, critique or pay homage, as a form of art. That is, when Richard Prince used the images of the Marlboro Man in the 1970’s, he was in no way competing with Marlboro to sell cigarettes! By the same token, if I use a phrase of Michael Jackson for a musical composition, I’m not selling it as if it was his creation. Therefore, no one will stop buying his records because of mine.
FR: You often use digitally constructed images, such as the series of inverted craters, RetarC, or the two videos Place in Time (2005), Sparky (2002) or H2O (2004). In what way are you interested in photography as a means to construct possible inexistent realities?
MS: For me, photojournalism is an example of how photography can construct reality. The pictures that appear in the newspapers and illustrate our recent history, are, to a greater or lesser degree, premeditated. Even if I find this aspect interesting, I believe that in most cases I belong to the opposite field, using images to construct fiction.
FR: More than using 3D to explore a new media, (and such was the case of digital format when you started using it in the 1990’s), you seem to use it to create photographic situations that you don’t have access to. By this train of thought, these images become digital photographs, also dependent on the photographer’s choice of an exact, unique moment, in which they are captured and crystallised. Do you see your images as photographs or are they closer to traditional pictorial representation, like painting or drawing?
MS: Quite true. I undoubtedly see digital images as photography. In the case of 3D animation, which is closer to the concept of cinematic photography, all the concerns that we must have with these, (and many more), are the same ones we have in 3D: the choice of a lens, the angle, the lighting, etc.. If the scene is static, the moment is no longer crucial and we find ourselves in a photograph in which the moment is everywhere. In 3D, a universe (or theatre) is created for each scene, and that would be impossible in the real world. And I depend on absolutely no one to do it, which is a relief. I can have an enormous city on top of a slice of pizza, and go in through a window of one of the buildings, go to the kitchen and find another slice of pizza on top of the table with another city on top.
I am also interested in this fractional side because it is very close to the tools provided by nature, which makes 3D for me, something that is natural and not artificial. I would dare to say that it seems less artificial than painting on a canvas.
FR: A phrase of Roland Barthes in Câmara Lucida, in which he refers that cinema is never a hallucination but just an illusion; his vision is oneiric and not ecmenesic, made me think of your work. Do you share this point of view in regard to your relationship between what you create and the elements you use as a starting point?
MS: I think that in cinema ecmenesia occurs when we see a film and establish our keyframes. The remains are not the sequence but certain scenes and key points that vary from person to person. But our will to accept illusion, even in unlikely and technically imperfect cases, like the cinema of Ed Wood, the so called Suspension of Disbelief theory, interests me very much. There are things that when we watched twenty years ago seemed highly credible and realistic and that nowadays are simply obsolete. In other cases this doesn’t occur. The theory of the Suspension of Disbelief lead us to both immerse in a film of Ed Wood as it allow us to believe in the exemption of the documentaries of Frederick Wiseman. It is an elastic force, which
is also transformed according to our prejudices about what we see. If we want to believe, we do.

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