Partituras & Objetos – Pedro Tudela at Escola das Artes

Partituras & Objetos[1], the most recent exhibition at Escola das Artes of Universidade Católica do Porto, curated by João Silvério, underlines the importance of space, time and sound in Pedro Tudela’s art.

In the darkness that almost completely fills the Exhibition Room, and which makes it difficult to fully perceive the space, our senses become more awake. Our body is immersed in a sensorial experience through a sound and visual installation.

Standing out, and occupying the entire width of one of the walls of the room, our attention is focused on a pentagram, on which several unusual objects are arranged. Conceived and thought out for this space, it is important to emphasise the artist’s option for a panoramic plane, which expands to the limits of the wall. The field and scale of the image recall cinema’s widescreen, while the extension of the five parallel lines evokes a music score, in a reference to musical writing. The visual and aesthetic impact of the image, with its long, open shot that immediately draws us in, is reinforced by the tense interplay between darkness and luminosity. The light establishes itself as a drawing, a cut-out of the image field in a black room.

Along the extensive pentagram, various objects, whose arrangement symbolically refers to musical notes in a score, arouse the spectator’s curiosity. As if they were objects discovered on an archaeological expedition, we find pieces with different origins, whose function is, in some cases, immediately identifiable and associated to traditional, manual use: a saw blade, pruning shears, a brush, among others. In an increasingly technological era, the option made by Pedro Tudela, whose artistic practice also explores multimedia art, not to present a single object associated with electronics and the digital field is not innocent, having chosen tools from past trades and where we can identify the marks left by time. The artist’s interest in objects and in what they can offer us, in the stories they transmit, in the narratives and readings that result from their recontextualisation, are typical characteristics of Pedro Tudela’s work and are found in this installation. On the wall, the artist displays the objects he collects and uses just as they are, objects he finds and integrates into the working process, the objet trouvé, assimilating what already exists and what may be new when it is constructed and related. For Pedro Tudela, objects and languages support his preconceptions, his requirements. But when oriented, they affirm themselves, without denying what they already carry. Regarding the objects of this installation, Pedro Tudela states that:

“[…] they have on their skin – these objects that were chosen and those that were punctually intervened – something that altered them. It may be in a way that is beyond my control, objects that are found on the beach and that roll in the sand suffer a formal alteration and acquire a patina, a new skin, that is recognisable and enjoyed. Whether it’s that or time itself: the pruning shears that have a patina on their surface, fruit of use and time, the worn-out brush, the new brush […] All this is added to the idea of the object itself […] it is important that this time exists, which implies an idea of body, of handling, of use, of precision that lies in the memory of these objects”.[2]

Pedro Tudela confronts us with recognisable objects that, without losing their identity, free themselves from their spaces and times. This creates narratives and symphonies, whose interpretation may have different readings depending on the viewer. The changes to which the objects are subjected are stabilised, from a plastic point of view, when they are integrated into the pentagram drawn in white chalk on the black wall, which refers to the notion of reading, writing and memory.

Apparently static and mute, these objects dialogue with each other and with us, not only through their presence, but also through the sounds they produce, as they become instruments that interpret musical scores. The sound environment that accompanies us and runs through the venue is an echo of the objects’ manipulation through sixteen audio channels arranged in the centre of the room in a perfect circle. Together with the plasticity of the pentagram, they make up a single installation.

Developed from several moments and integrating different layers, the exhibition-piece Partituras & Objetos presents two simultaneous operations in its genesis: the collection of found objects and the research and selection of scores, both of which were intervened upon by the artist. Resulting from a collaborative action with the students of the Master’s Degree in Sound and Image – Sound Design and of the PhD in Science and Technology of Arts, besides the artist’s will to include them in the project, the collection and selection of scores from different periods and with different types of writing was made, including classical and contemporary compositions, written musical language that is later converted into sound. The composition of new scores is the result of an Oulipian exercise of cutting and fragmenting the initial scores, recomposing and assembling them occasionally, as if it were a game, establishing new connections, “in a procedure close to the plastic and visual universe that could be repeated endlessly.”[3]

After the process of recomposing the written and fragmented musical material, the interpretation of the new scores is made, which also had the collaboration of the students and a work of recomposition through a generative method. All the sessions independently recorded, object by object, culminated in a programme that received all the information and, with a generative reading, creates unexpected moments, sounds in constant transformation, in a degree of improbability that comes from the construction of the programme itself. Not being sequential and closed, the sound event develops in different ways, expanding infinitely, which enables an extension of the idea of space and time.

The spatialisation of sound and its use as a medium and as plastic matter, the exhibition of objects and the creation through their manipulation of sound-musical ambiences are part of the scenario of the exhibition Partituras & Objetos. The successive conversions of objects, scores, actions, from writing to sound, are presented in several layers and characterise the installation, conceived as an expanded sensorial experience, visual, sound and somatic, which brings together various media and languages in an experimental practice that establishes a direct dialogue between digital and manual media.

Finally, it is curious the correspondence that we can establish between the beginning of the creation process of the sound sculpture, with the participation of Escola das Artes’ students, and the collaborative action that the installation demands as an immersive device in a dynamic and transitory space, without a fixed point of listening, in an involvement that presupposes the other.


[1] Exhibition project that emerged from a collaborative work, during 2020, between Pedro Tudela and the students of Escola das Artes, in the creation of a sound installation. Due to the pandemic, the inauguration of the exhibition, on 25 February 2021, took place online on the social media platforms of Escola das Artes. While the sound installation cannot be visited in person, on the Escola das Artes’s website it is possible to take a virtual tour and get a 360º perspective of the exhibition, as well as a conversation between the artist and the curator. See it here.

[2] Quotes from Pedro Tudela’s speech during the Conversa entre o artista e o curador, at the Exhibition Room of Escola das Artes, on February 25, 2021. Video available here. Verified on February 28, 2021.

[3] SILVÉRIO, João. (2021). “(Re)Pensar: sobre a memória do tempo e do espaço” in Partituras & Objetos – Pedro Tudela. [Exhibition text]. See it here.

Mafalda Teixeira, Master’s Degree in History of Art, Heritage and Visual Culture from the Faculty of Letters of the University of Porto. She has an internship and worked in the Temporary Exhibitions department of the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona. During the master’s degree, she did a curricular internship in production at the Municipal Gallery of Oporto. Currently, she is devoted to research in the History of Modern and Contemporary Art, and publishes scientific articles.

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