In April 2013 I was invited for a one month residency in Porto Portugal to develop a project in the frame of ‘The Technical Unconscious‘. More than a year later the project has now concluded with a major exhibition that includes a series of other artists’ works who were also involved in the project. In the words of the curator Inés Moreira:
Technical Unconscious is a cultural and multidisciplinary research project developed at the Fine Art School of the University of Porto, reactivating the post-industrial spaces of the Cooperativa dos Pedreiros do Porto in its Centenary. The curatorial project’s quest is to activate an immersive route along the technical and analogical production, as well as the embodied and unconscious knowledges that we transport to the resident artists and the visitors.
Beyond being a mere concept the project was carried out in a very real and specific context (the Stone Masons Cooperative of Porto as stated above). This involved residencies, workshops and talks by a number of selected artists. My own residency was fully carried out on the grounds of the Cooperativa (I stayed in the hotel adjacent to the factory premises that is owned by the Cooperativa) and made regular visits to the factory building which now hosts an international trade school. The majority of the material that went into ‘audiblehabitus : cooperativa’ came out of a 3 day sound workshop I made with students from the Fine Art Academy of Porto. The sound workshop was based on collective exercises and game play using a set of object made from different materials. We broke down aspects of sound making through gestures, actions and movements and remapped these elements into simple scores. The final output was a 30 minute semi-scored sound action on the upper terrace of the Cooperativa where the group was split into three parts, sound makers, movers and listeners. SomeÂ references used in the workshop came from Marcel Mauss’ seminal text on ‘Techniques of the Body”.*
Workshop photos by Inés Moreira.
Following the workshop I offered to the students the possibility toÂ participate in a series of filming/recording sessions based on the idea of scored actions using the techniques we developed in the workshop. Around 6 people participatedÂ and I spent 3 days filming/recording in the empty spaces of the Cooperativa. The first day concentrated on solo actions with one object and one surface. The second day was a duo session with Sara, one of the students and the third day was a full group session. The material was used for the “audiblehabitus : cooperativa” work presented in the Technical Unconscious exhibition. The work functions as a methodical study of how different techniques can be used to understand habitable space (or habitus*) as audible spaces, in terms of active sound making and passive listening. This can (and should) involve the objects that also inhabit the spaces we use and the material surfaces that make up the space itself. All of these elements inform and enrich our sense of space whether we are familiar with it or not.
We also had the good fortune to make a live sound performance at the Sintoma 2013 performance art festival. The performance incorporated all he elements of the workshop and filming sessions we had used so far. All the objects with a set amount of materials (pieces of granite) were brought to the Fine Art School (FBAUP) gallery for use. The result was a semi-scored acoustic performance with elements of improvisation.
photos by Pedro Tudela. Video documentation below:
*Marcel Mauss defined habitus as those aspects of culture that are anchored in the body or daily practices of individuals, groups, societies, and nations. It includes the totality of learned habits, bodily skills, styles, tastes, and other non-discursive knowledges that might be said to “go without saying” for a specific group (Bourdieu 1990:66-67) in that way it can be said to operate beneath the level of rational ideology. In his “Techniques of the Body” Mauss elaborates on highly developed body actions that embody aspects of a given culture. Techniques may also be divided by traits such as gender and class (for example in the manner of walking or eating).
Above is a preview for the piece presented in the Technical Unconscious exhibition (October 25th – November 22nd, 2014).
Special thanks to the project coordinator Gonçalo Leite Velho and the curator by Inés Moreira for all their support and assistance and to Pedro Tudela and his students at FBAUP for their participation.