Sound is one of the most experimental mediums within contemporary art, one that has been following us since ever, and it promises to unfurl a limitless array of substantializing possibilities.
João Onofre, alongside Miguel Bernat, introduces us to Untitled (orchestral), 2017, a site-specific that inhabits Sala das Caldeiras of Central Tejo at EDP’s Campus. The artistic object, as the name foretells, approaches the sound as a key medium, reshaping and embodying it within a spatial reading outside the building, which forces to dive into an inner atmospheric orchestra, which is the analogous correspondent of the Central’s iconic industrial field.
The space is contextualised and we are made aware of a not-that-distant past – we are right in the middle of what once was the power engine of Lisbon’s electrical grid. And this fact is not, at all, unrelated to the purpose of its function: Untitled (orchestral) lectures us on the irony of having a power station turned into a plateau for art, for memory, forecasting the performativity of a sound reading, powered by the energy coming from the solar panels located outside, which support the 16 robotic arms that produce sound when confronted with the different elements of the room’s industrial body, uttering, in different ways and rhythms, the object in place, reaching a zenith where an orchestra fills the whole surrounding space.
In a space endowed with this sort of opulence, from the building to its machinery, Onofre develops a music score that fits this same magnificence. None of the parts is eclipsed, quite the opposite indeed, as they both are main characters, the plateau’s embodiment, something that allows the work to breath, using tracts that transcend the sound’s conceptualization.
The orchestral metamorphosis is surrounded by several meteorological factors, allowing the artistic practice to engage in a certain quality of life, in a musical being that transforms itself throughout the day, one that communicates and participates in the space, evoking a space of memory that is immersed in the soundscape that surrounds the metaphorical concept of operation.
It is, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the orgasmic notion of contemporary art. It is the feeling of the opulence of the artistic object, which feeds on a sublime discourse, then finishing with the epiphany that a work of art lives at a time different from ours.
Curated by Benjamin Weil. Until September 18th