Lines and pixels that create digital representations of the world are the basis upon which Angela Detanico and Rafael Lain build their shapes and forms. In this performance, the duo makes live music and shows figurative images that are close to the concrete experience of reality, although in a pixelized, black-and-white form that enhances their character as digital representations. “My goal is to understand how representation builds the images of the world, and actually builds the world itself,” Angela Detanico explains.
Sound Waves for Selected Landscapes
The lines and pixels that comprise digital representations of the world are the basis for the new and unpredictable forms created by Angela Detanico (Caxias do Sul, 1974) and Rafael Lain (Caxias do Sul, 1973) in such works as “Flatland” – for which they won the prestigious Nam June Paik Award in 2004. In a view of the Mekong River transformed into a succession of horizontal lines, the work subtracts figurative representations from the image in order to heighten the senses of the viewer. In the performance to be presented at the Festival, the artists use images from a correlated series entitled “Sound Waves for Selected Landscapes”. A piece of video and photography, which nonetheless alludes to painting, these images transport the viewer onto an altogether different landscape: the interior. “We chose figurative images that were close to a concrete experience of the world; however, by presenting them in pixels, in black and white, we emphasized the digital representation in them”, explains Angela Detanico. “The interest here is to understand how the representation constructs images of the world and, ultimately, the world itself.”
The images are part of the same series of landscapes that the duo took as their basis in 2003 in creating the visual identity of the 14th Videobrasil, in 2003. They are also related to the set of world maps they exhibited at the Bienal de São Paulo in 2004, “(O Mundo) Justificado, Alinhado à Esquerda, Centralizado, Alinhado à Direita”. Now projected and under the effects of animation, they suggest at once immobility and movement: as in a fixed land- scape that is manipulated, points emerge and lines circulate, while the sound, effected in distinct modulations, suggests the same. “What interests us is lived time, which isn’t linear, which really can be paradoxical, which is capable of smoothing vast extensions into short memories or extending the impact of instants into key moments in a life”, says Angela. “In ‘Sound Waves for Selected Landscapes’, the paradox between the frozen moment and the looping movement creates a kind of eternal instant, a time that resolves itself in itself, a moment of suspension.”
The reality dictated from within – regardless of the compass, clock, map or calendar officially in use – is what matters to the artists. Living between Paris and São Paulo, she a linguist and semiologist and he, a typographer. What interests the two is the structure of the digital image, the procedures of manipulation, the nature of representation and the spasm of time. In an article published in the Canadian contemporary art magazine “Parachute”, the curator Lisette Lagnado underscores the complexity and the hybridism of the procedures they use – which “could just as well make use of a rudimentary skill as a state-of-the-art technology”.
Conception: Detanico Lain.
ASSOCIAÇÃO CULTURAL VIDEOBRASIL, "15º Festival Internacional de Arte Eletrônica Videobrasil": de 06 a 25 de setembro de 2005, p. 116-117, São Paulo, SP, 2005.
Centered on the body, the performance, as ephemeral and unpredictable as it is, is not a form of entertainment, but an artistic genre that involves confrontation and risk. Political by necessity, it subverts the relationship between the work and the public, who is not invited to suspend disbelief before a fiction, but to pay witness to an occurrence. Transiting amongst disciplines every bit as much as it evades them, the performance becomes the expression of an art form in which the boundaries between genres cease to make sense. Perhaps that is why it is singled out as the contemporary artistic manifestation par excellence.
It was the observation of this phenomenon, especially in the evident manner in which it reverberates through electronic art – now increasingly more politicized and linked to the presence of the artist –, that motivated the gathering of such an expressive group of performers at this Festival. Brazilian, North American, Asian, African, they represent various takes on a genre of infinite hybridism, intent on dissolving the limits between artistic expressions one moment, and pointing to social issues and sharing universal scars the next.
One of the most striking of these approaches, the performance openly constituted as a political gesture, is rep- resented, among others, by the Cuban-born New Yorker, Coco Fusco. She commands an urban intervention which stages a ritual of subjection common in North American military prisons, though seen here as a kind of compulsory performance in which the body is violently used against man himself. The observation of the way situations reflex themselves in the media and in the society is also the source of the recordings brought together in “Futebol”, a work by Frente 3 de Fevereiro that echoes an act of racism; and the distressing sensa- tion of imminent tragedy the feitoamãos/F.A.Q. group takes as its subject matter.
No less political in their essence, the works of Kenyan artist Ingrid Mwangi and the Indonesian Melati Suryodarmo are the fruit of a performance conception in which the body is the field of projection for disturb- ances born within the sphere of strictly personal experience. Mwangi, who created “My Possession” for the
Festival, uses voice and movement to speak of an existence in displacement. In “Exergie – Butter Dance”, Melati, who studied performance with Marina Abramovic, draws upon the imminence of the accident – and not uncommonly, the accident itself – to produce a concentrated level of intensity without the use of any narrative structure whatsoever.
In different ways, Marco Paulo Rolla and Detanico Lain represent the performance that is born of the fine arts. Rather than abandoning the white cube, the paradigm for the contemporary exposition space, Marco Paulo appropriates its formal rigor in performances that speak of the disconcerting bursting through of chance into a world of placidity and balance. Artists Angela Detanico and Rafael Lain environmentalise their pixel landscapes and enter the scene themselves to manipulate them live so as to accentuate their character of digital representation – and, ultimately, understand how the representation constructs images of the world.
Plastic, music and video are the founding elements of a performance genre that is particularly vigorous in Brazil. The previously unseen works of the Chelpa Ferro group and the artist Eder Santos to be shown at the Festival are some good examples. In Chelpa Ferro, Barrão, Luiz Zerbini and Sergio Mekler broaden their spectrum of action by producing music and noisy objects, which they position on the stage as parts of an installation. “Engrenagem”, which reunites Eder Santos with musicians Stephen Vitiello and Paulo Santos and with performer Ana Gastelois, is a re-reading that validates the artist’s talent in the use of video to multiply the visual effects of performing acts of dance, music, drama and poetry.
Both Eder Santos and Chelpa Ferro have passed through the Festival before, as the presence of their work in the Antologia Videobrasil de Performances attests. Eder created an historic series of performatic works for the Videobrasil Festival, while Zerbini, Barrão and Mekler featured under the name Chelpa Ferro for the first time at the 12th Festival, in 1998. It is therefore symbolic that their new work has been chosen to close the 15th Videobrasil. Within the ample panorama of this most contemporary of genres, they represent a line in performance that was the pioneer on the Brazilian scene and which the Festival is proud to have nurtured since its inception.
ASSOCIAÇÃO CULTURAL VIDEOBRASIL. "15º Festival Internacional de Arte Eletrônica Videobrasil - 'Performance.'": de 6 a 25 de setembro de 2005, p.98-99, São Paulo-SP, 2005.