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Rodrigo Gomes – finalist of the Sonae Media Art award

“Media art doesn’t confine itself to technological means, a profound insight must support it”

It’s still seen by many as a rather unconventional field and, in Portugal, it’s still trying to blaze his own trail, but “if we take a look at the historical contexts, the interest in Media Art, an artistic exercise related with a cross-disciplinary approach, already exists since the 19th century”. Let’s remember the composer Richard Wegner, who established a relationship with other artistic fields such as dancing, painting, architecture and poetry. Rodrigos Gomes is the one who gives us this example, one of the five finalists of the Sonae Media Art award, someone who is currently in the first year of his master’s degree in Multimedia Arts and already has a vast range of works displayed in a field that he explores on a daily basis and one to which we will keep devoting his efforts.

The sound and its juncture with images or even sculptures is something that is thoroughly present in his work and, during his college’s second year, he explored this mishmash for the very first time “building a sound sculpture which created vibrations over two images.” After this work, he discovered video mapping which, likes he explains to Umbigo, “allow one the opportunity to create tridimensional images on the sculpture itself”.

Pedreira dos Sons was the spot where he created his first videographic project, properly synchronized with the orchestra’s instruments, which covered a large patch of the quarry. Nowadays, he defines his work as being “the sculpture’s photosynthesis”, given that his sculptures have been progressively molding themselves to match the projection of images backed up by sounds, where “the majority of the pieces only works when there are video and sound projections”. An outcome that is able to spawn curiosity among the audience, which confronts itself with several questions, such as “if the sculpture is actually a screen or the way the video ended up there. Others appear stunned with the continuous and monotonous sounds which follow the works”, Rodrigo reveals, emphasizing as well the misread fascination that one can feel emanating from the audience: “Since media art relies heavily on tech means, it’s easy to attract people using technology’s fascinating trait, which then activates the artwork itself. However media art is not only that, there has to be a profound insight supporting it.”

Besides this piece, which will have its presentation in May, being displayed at MNAC (Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado) by the end of the year, and assessed by the jury in order to choose the overall winner of the Sonae Media Art prize, Rodrigo Gomes is currently “conceiving lenses as a means of expansion, enlargement and extension of image projection”. An idea that actually followed the painting Soap Bubbles, created by the French Jean-Siméon Chardin. “That painting shows us a boy creating soap bubbles by blowing a straw, a liquid-filled glass and a child watching the whole phenomenon with curiosity. That Chardin’s painting is an empty space denial, the bubble is like a reflection and knowledge lens which allows one to understand the world’s tactility that we witness”. This thought worked as an introduction to his most recent project, it proves the complexity of the artist’s work, which approaches formal and conceptual issues that have sound sculptures as their final outcome. The work that he is going to display at MNAC will, somehow, approach this vision, since it will be “a reflection on the schizophrenic reality that we see in the world: the one made by the dissemination of images, governed by its own consumption”, represented by a sort of “dense forest”, which will be a prolongation of some of his other works and then more.

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