Sunday, July 28, 2013

Under The Influence Of A New Job

July, 5, a date as ordinary as any other date but with "meteorologically" high temperatures. I receive via cell phone a message from my wife. I felt the cell phone vibrating in my shirt's pocket, took it out and read the SMS: "Are you holdin'up the heat?" I looked around: I was in the main deck of an iron vessel still under construction inside a dry dock, which is the same to say that I was inside an oven. Nearby a worker was welding some sort of a fundamental metallic piece to the ceiling, releasing a small shower of incandescent drops and provoking lightnings that seemed to set the air on fire. Not very far another worker was operating an electirc grinder finishing an eventual work that was left behind and making any verbal/vocal communication with my fellow workers almost impossible. In fact, when I reached for my cell phone I've had just shouted with my mouth sticked to one of them's ear a work instruction. Behind me the fulminant light of a blowtorch cutting a metal plate would hurt the eyes of whom accidentally stared at that operation. As background noise there was still workers outside the ship that were correcting a warpage on the surface of the hull hammering a metalic section with a 5 Kg mallet in a cadenced rithm that ressounded throughout the whole vessel, making the tympans vibrate dangerously. I concentrated again in the message that I've just received. I pressed the virtual keys to answer it: " Yes, it's hot."

Monday, June 10, 2013

Life pH

Not long a go someone asked me: "If you are na electric engineer and you're taking up a master degree in contemporary art, haven't you ever thought about joined the two things in some way?" The answer has come in the form of "Life pH": a tree made of cardboard and paper, ornamented with LEDs which luminosity is controled by a Arduino board. The emsemble is powered by a hybrid system consisting on a set of AA batteries together with a electrochemical process based on approximately 80 Kg of lemons.
The LEDs emit a pulsating light that shifts to a continuous mode when the watering can is used to emulate a virtual irrigation of the artificial tree. All the system was planned to the lowest energy consumption possible (LEDs for light and a Arduino Mini, from wich the powering module was subtracted after the upload of the software) simultaneously with the biggest energetic efficiency (80 Kg of lemons equipped with copper and zinc electrodes in paralel with a set of AA batteries).

This work is based on the notion of perversion that is the modification of the priorities of our basic needs: it is the fruits that feed the tree and not the tree that produces the fruits; the tree itself is made out of paper and cardboard, subproducts of the wood and lumber industry, beeing therefore a artificial tree made of other [natural] trees.

This work was elaborate within the discipline of PIA (Project of Artistic Installation) of the Master Degree in Contemporary Artistic Creation of the DeCA (Department of Communication and Art of the University of Aveiro). The work was shown in the final exhibition of the semester called "Expo '12'13", in the Museum of Aveiro [Portugal].
I'd like to thank Prof. Pedro Beça by the help on the software and the energic support of Prof. Mário Vairinhos (link) (both teachers at DeCA) in the final stage that immediately preceded the aperture of the exhibition. I also would like to thank the expressions of astonishment that many of my coleagues gave when they noticed the quantity of lemons that I was working with: it gave me a strong indication that I was in the right path.
(Keep track on Facebook)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What's That For, Master?

My first "Arduíno" board. The "Arduíno" electronic board is an open-source electronic prototyping platform, based in flexible and easy-to-use hardware and software. It was designed for artists, designers, hobbyists and everyone who wants to develop interactive projects.

Master? It's not necessary to be an electronic or programming master to produce one or two interesting things with this board.

To know more:
Arduino Official Website:
Prof. Mário Vairinhos' blog, of the Univ. of Aveiro:

# 5

Untitled, march/april 2013, acrilic on canvas, 100 x 81 cm

# 4

"The Salterns of Aveiro", video, 4:23 min

Salterns are a method of salt making that uses somewhat larges amounts of land neighboring the sea (that is, almost swamp).

Nowadays it seems that there isn't a single place that can't be pointed at that hasn't suffered human intervention. Wherever we look everything seems to be framed by the standard of the human work. And within that standard the recent overpowers the ancient - and I note that I said recent, not innovative.
P.S. - The movie has no sound.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Right Question

It's not rare an artistic work of art being undermined by lay people (and sometimes by non lay people) being that questioning very often oriented in the direction of the comprehension that one make of it. And if one is a bit rusty - read formatted - of the grey mass, that questioning is very often (and mistakenly) confused with personal taste, producing unfundamented criticism.
The following video, together with the previous post, materializes an interesting and exemplar formulation.

It is my opinion that there are no easy or elementary answers in art, one must consciencialize. It is also mandatory to keep an open mind and be able to discuss with that predisposition when posing a question. Last, but definetely not least, the right - or maybe the most important - question when before an artistic work of art will be, in fact: is it interesting?

Monday, March 4, 2013

An Afternoon in a Dog Day

Upon the Nixon reelection ceremony in 1972 teh attentions of the great public were paradoxically diverted by the media to the occurrence of a paralel happening. That happening, despite being bank robbery, wouldn't have anything special about it if it wasn' for the robbers mobile: John Wojtowicz and Salvatore Naturile rob the Brooklyn branch of  Chase Manhattan bank to pay for the sex change operation of Ernest Aron, alias, Elizabeth Debbie Eden, girlfriend of Wojtowicz. Nevertheless, thanks to the unexpected rapidity of the police response, what was predicted to be a 10 min heist escalated to a 14 hour duration kidnapping situation, being the bank workers at the time of the heist held hostage. On his side, Richard Nixou didn't like, to say the least, to see his protagonism being robbed by that happening and personnaly sends FBI agents to murder those two bank robbers. The policial protection on site managed to avoid John Wojtowicz death but not Salvatore Naturile's.
The events on that day were adapted to cinema by Sydney Lumet in 1975 with the title Dog day Afternoon, with Al Pacino in the leading role. Curiosly, john Wojtowicz conceived the plan for the robbery after watching the movie The Godfather in the cinema, where Al apcino also stars in one of the main roles...
In 2000 Pierre Huyghes does a video called The Third Memory in which, through a bi-channel display, it's shown a mix of scens from the movie with Al Pacino, TV news records of the time and reenactements of the events of that day by John Wojtowicz himself. (In the following link that video can be seen).

Pierre Huyghes, "The Third Memory"

This is what I consider to be one of the finest examples of contemporary art. It's a well defined, coherent and powerful work.
The video refers to the "first memory", corresponding to the memory of John Wojtowicz himself that begins in his own perception, free from influences, of the events in which he was intervener and of what all that came afterwards; the "secind memory" it's the colective memory - or the public memory if you prefer - of the happening still associated to the remembering of the movie Dog Day Afternoon; the "third memory" it's the "remastered" version that Pierre Huyghes show us of John Wojtowicz's memory by now influenced by the media and more particularly by the language of Dog Day Afternoon. This is the concept with the most direct aprehension in this work: the memory. Nevertheless, if we scrape a little deeper, perhaps we may find that still underlaying to the concept of memory is the notion that that a culture with no memory has no identity, may this being the ultimate concept of the work.

To know more:

The Renaissance Society

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

And Yet Another Question of Aesthetics: Is It Art?

"Brillo Boxes", Andy Warhol, wood and silkscrenn, 1964

In 1964 Andy Warhol exhibited at the Stable Gallery, NY, a work of art titled Brillo Boxes (see picture). The design was not in fact his but of another commercial designer called James Harvey. the question is almost immediate: is it art? And being art: how can one tell between two resemblant objects which of them is a work of art and which is not?
The question in all resembles to another question raised by Descartes: when in dreaming the experience that one lives in the dream is not discernible from the experience that one lives when awake, whereby there is no intern criteria to the lived experience that makes the distinction between dream and reality. In the same way the differences to look in order to respond such aesthetic question can be (should be) sought in the exterior of the work of art. Before anything it's maybe convenient to accept that, like Marcel Duchamp said, "aesthetic delectation is the danger to be avoided"[1] (see "A Question of Aesthetics"). Then, it will be necessary to accept that any work of art it's a representation: what is the work of art about? (typical question).[1] Next, and non lesser important, the structure of a work of art is different from the structure of the objects with which the work of art looks like.[1] Let's see, with an analogy: a handwritten word apparentely it's no more than a set of marks and traces; but the word  put together with those marks and traces is endowed with a language, a meaning. Well understood, the construction of the word accordingly with that language is caused by the need of communication. But the way that those marks and traces phisically construct the word it's different from the causes of communication: the shape of the marks and traces are fruit of, e.g., the personality of whom writes the letters that build the word. The word has therefore two distinct structures: the linguistic structure - of communication - and the formal structure - the word graphics. Similarly the work of art will have a different structure from that of the object that it looks like: the work of art will have a structure that it's more attached to representability and the author's intentionality ("what is the work of art about?") while the object with which it resembles will have a structure that is attached to its functionality. Warhol's Brillo Boxes - and even because its formal structure it's different from the soap boxes: Warhol's Brillo Boxes are made of wood while the others are of cardboard - embodies a content and a meaning: they manifest a statement and they are a metaphor of some kind.
Most definetely, they are not just soap boxes...

Arthur Danto quite well systematizes this problematics of identifying the works of art with the enunciation of two somewhat elementary conditions:
a) the work of art must have a meaning
b) the work of art must embody that meaning

These are the two essential conditions to distinguish a work of art from artifact. Arthur Danto based his reasoning on a Ludwig Wittgenstein approach: what remains over when you subtract from the fact that you raised your arm the fact that your arm went up? There are several examples to ilustrate this question: the socialist movement, the fascist salute, the Black Power movement, etc., are gestures that aren't merely reduced to a raisen arm. In the same way, what remains over when you subtract from the fact that something is a work of art the fact that it is an object?[2]

Another art theorist, Monroe Beardsley, would somehow resume: a work of art is something produced with the intention of giving it the capability of satisfying the aesthetic interest.

[1] Arthur C. Danto, "Art, Philosophy and the Philosophy of Art", 1983
[2] Arthur C. Danto, "Ontology, Criticism, and the Riddle of Art Versus Non-Art in The Transfiguration of the Commonplace", 2008

To know more:
Arthur Danto: Wikipedia
Arthur C. Danto, "Art, Philosophy and the Philosophy of Art", 1983
Arthur C. Danto, "Ontology, Criticism, and the Riddle of Art Versus Non-Art in The Transfiguration of the Commonplace", 2008
Andy Warhol: Wikipedia
                        Andy Warhol Museum
                        Andy Warhol Foudation

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Hint of Spiritual


At certain point of his career Robert Hughes called the attention to the fact that museums (especially contemporary art museums) are getting bigger tha churches. The way people enjoy the works of art there exhibited has all the resemblance with the spiritual experience when one takes part in a religious rite. In the videos we can see people from the public lying down on the ground enjoying the work before their eyes. Others take part on the work of art itself, becoming part of it. In these new cathedrals people feel that, for some reason, they are before something bigger than themselves, even though it was fabricated by one of his fellow individuals...
"Standing Waves, Moving Ears (Lazy Afternoons), Antonio Della Marina and Alessandra Zucchi, 2012 (Sound and Rural Architecture festival) - via Binaural

Maybe because religions - especially the catholic - are going through a crisis? Maybe because religions are beginning to find some obstacles in fulfilling the spiritual gaps that us individuals feel or have? Or maybe because art has always been inside us (God knows in what way) since the dawn of human kind...

"The Weather Project", Olafur Eliasson, 2003
To know more:

Another Question of Aesthetics

"September", Gerhard Richter, 2005, oil on canvas, 52 cm x 72 cm

The questions of aesthetics can be aproached under what one could call a environmental perspective which can be understood as the fact that one can find the occurrence of an  aesthetic undercurrent - in the sense of aesthesis (see "A Question of Aesthetics") - even though it may not be predominant[1]. A work of art,  and in particular a good work of art, can be identified and understood in one of such occasions when we recognize the work within three criteria: proportion, balance and complexity of the occurrence of the aesthetic current[1]. One example that can illustrate this reasoning could be the painting "September" of Gerhard Richter. When the 9/11 attempt took place in New York, Gerhard Richter would have probably noticed the beauty of the flames' colors when one of the planes hit the building. It is obvious that to declare such thing can be seen as something horrible. But we are in presence of one of those occasions within which undoubtedly occurs an aesthetic undercurrent. By painting  "September" Gerhard Richter took to the work those three aesthetic criteria - proportion, balance and complexity - transposing a terrible occasion into a work of art.
By opposition to the Gerhard Richter painting we have the images of that event that bombed our mind in a constant manner - and which are an icon of today, moreover - by the mass media where every characteristics of formalization of a work of art could be present if it wasn't for those three criteria dictate something else: at least when it comes to balance and proportion of the occurrence of the aesthetic undercurrent of that occasion we can find that we are not in the before a work of art but just being informed. This "imagetic bombardment" from the mass media take us to another base-concept of the aesthetic experience: the concept of perceptual commons[1]. A perceptual common is, so to speak, a right which can't be claimed juridically, of direct access, and any restriction to that access is considered a deviation from that condition. For illustration sake: I have the right, although I can't claim it juridically, of walking down the street without being bothered by the bad smell carried by the wind from a remote sewer. Another example: I have the right of being at a cafe and not being bombarded with horrible images of a catastrophe, all the time, by the TV news. The concept of perceptual commons take us to another field of the aesthetic experience. The field that doesn't merely concern the critic and analysis of art but moves us from there in the direction of a wider sense of the aesthetic experience (always whereas aesthesis): the way of being in the world by the man and his human condition[1]. Art can "only" be one of the ways man is in the world and one of the ways that the human condition can assume.
[1]Arnold Berleant, "Sensibility and Sense",2010 

To know more:
Arnold Berleant, "The Aesthetic Field", 1971
Arnold Berleant, "The Aesthetics of the Environment", 1992
Arnold Berleant, "Sensibility and Sense",2010

"Gerhard Richter in the Studio", an interview with G. Richter in Youtube (click here).

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Question of Aesthetics

It's not rare that a lesser instructed person questions an artist about the aesthetics of his work. And lesser rare it is to question it on the grounds of his (or hers) own taste, misleading the two concepts (aesthetics and taste). There is a lot of artistic work scattered around in museums and exhibitions which I also definetely don't like but that I see myself forced to agree that, damn', they are art! And moreover, evolved art!
But what do we speak of when we speak about aesthetics?
In any dictionary we can find a first definition for aesthetics as it being the branch of philosophy that studies the beautiful; or the science whose object is the judgement of values refering the distinction between the beautiful and the ugly. The etymology of the word however tell us a more embrancing thing: [from the greek] aesthesis, the perception by the senses. This is a definition transversal to several cultures and whose object - the beautiful - it's the quality that causes an emotion, i.e., the attribute that qualifies the objects and the works tha are offered to (our) perception. In the artistic domain those objects or works don't require understanding until subjectivity (i.e., the interpretation, the personal sentence) is requested by the appraiser of those works or objects. For example: a coffee machine and a painting from Cy Twombly (so it can be very abstract, so to speak) are offered to the perception of an individual. The coffee machine does not request any subjectivity (at least not immediately) of the individual because it's of common sense what the coffee machine looks like and what it does. The Cy Twombly painting however, and because it's abstract, immediately requests the subjectivity of the observer: he will have his very own interpretation of what his eyes see and most probably it will be very different from other observers interpretations of that same work. And it's after that subjectivity has been requested - and therefore, the request of an emotion - that the work of understanding a work of art begins.
In art the beautiful proposes works that always aim to please the appraiser even though many of those times they are unpleasant. It is what I often call The Pug* Principle: they are so ugly, so ugly that they become beautiful. Therefore it's assumed that there is an intention from the creator of the work of art in providing an aesthetic experience even though sometimes is is not of our liking. I may not like a Dalí painting but the way such work embodies its aesthesis lead me to admit that it is art.

* Pug: breed of dogs originary from China (they can been seen here)

To know more:
[From a dictionnary of philosophy from which i've had access through photocopies but that unfortunately wasn't given me to know the original edition]

Monday, January 7, 2013

Lubitel 2

It's an original Lubitel 2 and it was thrown inside a chest along with other analogic photography items. It's been a few years now  I have it and it's been a while since I wanted to try it. But it was not until recently that I gave it more importance, when my eyes stroke here and here. I already knew the concept of Lomography but I had never explored it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


"Angeline, Vitoria and Nicole"
Watercolour on paper
21 x 29,7 cm


"Dogmatic Cumulation"
China ink, watercolor and acrilyc on paper
21 x 29,7 cm

Moving Forward

I imagine that the sentences most read in the blogosphere are something like "I'm sorry by not posting something on this blog for a while now" or "It's been a while since I don't give proper attention to this blog in a while" or yet "I've been so busy that bla, bla, bla" Well, one thing I can almost asure: you won't read anything like that in here!...


HAPPY 2013!