Monday, May 16, 2016

Oporto apresenta #42

Nada by Maurice Lemaître 
16mm print, b&w, silent, 3' 1978

There is a long tradition of black abstractions in  Western art. Outbursting at a regular rhythm, its presence is by no means arbitrary. The black work of art is a necessary intermission, an unreasonable void arising from an inner urge or from society's need for regeneration. Framed by writing, film, painting or drawing the monolithic autonomous black returns, as in Kubrick's 2001, to change the course of evolution. The 16 mm film Nada, made in 1978 by the living legend Maurice Lemaître, belongs to this long genealogy of works that can be traced back to Robert Fludd's black page in the hermetic treatise Utriusque Cosmi (1617), Paul Bilhaud's painting Combat de Nègres dans un Tunnel (1882), Malevich infamous Black Square (1915), Man Ray's black photograph Ma Dernière Photographie (1929) or Dick Higgins Black Mirror (1959). Claimed by the author as the first film with no sound or image, Nada will be screened at Oporto as a three minute experience with the black void and the concrete power of its nothingness.

Once you had the first luxuriant taste of Nothing, Nothing else will do.   æ

Friday,  May  20, 11 pm
Oporto new entrance: Calçada Salvador Correia de Sá 42 , 2F, Lisbon

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Oporto apresenta #41

You The Better by Ericka Beckman
16mm print, color, sound, 30', 1983

According to the futuristic film Rollerball (Norman Jewison, 1975), in two years the world will be transformed in a global corporate state. In this near future, wars will no longer exist as they will be replaced by a violent futuristic sport named rollerball, a fusion between vale tudo, basketball, skateboard, hockey and drag racing. The fully armed players, or rather gladiators, circle around an arena fighting for a metal ball, struggling to annihilate the others by all means. Rollerball teams are named after the cities in which they are based and represent global corporations. In the film one player fights for his personal freedom threatening the corporate control.
     In 1983, a group of American artists met in a sports court to play You the Better, a game invented by Ericka Beckman. The game was a distilled version of all-americana games, a mix between softball, basketball, bowling, arcade video games and casino gambling. In this Rollerball-like scenario, with colorful props and boyish work uniforms, a team led by the artist Ashley Bickerton struggles to win against an almighty oppressive "House", which stands to remind you of the futility of individual effort against the corporate world. In this "allegory of suburban conformity versus free will", the players are cheered by repetitive a cappella slogans that keep their spirits high, but as the game evolves they find themselves trapped in the surreal plot of a relentless game.
     On the evening of the 25th of April, Oporto celebrates the 1974 Portuguese revolution with the screening of You the Better. You are welcome to join us to watch the game and, who knows, help the players burn the House and its dices. At the end of the session, if odds are favourable, we'll present Maurice Lemaître's Montage (1976), setting our screen on fire.

Un coup d’état jamais n'abolira le hasard.

Monday,  April  25, 10.30 pm
Oporto new entrance: Calçada Salvador Correia de Sá 42 , 2F, Lisbon

Monday, April 4, 2016

Oporto apresenta #40

Complementary Cubes by Manfred Mohr 
16 mm computer generated film b/w, 5'12'', 1973-74

Who would imagine the string figures of the "cat's cradle" game to be the first steps of a lost and highly complex universal language. Across the globe different people, such as the Makushis from Guyana, the Yoruba from Nigeria, the Torres Strait islanders or the Navajo Indians from Southwest United States, used a loop of string stretched between digits as a mnemonic device for storytelling. String games could tell elaborate stories following complex algorithms that only few had the extensive knowledge to read and to calculate new variations. With the fall of oral tradition, string games disappeared loosing its function and meaning. Nowadays the game is studied by ethno-mathematicians as an example of a fundamental mathematical language that once reached a global level, what was perhaps a predecessor of today's digital language. "Complementary Cubes" programmed by Manfred Mohr in the early Seventies, is a prime example of a computer generated art. The piece can be described as Mohr's mathematical syllabus, the foundation of a digital universal language that the artist has been unveiling and expanding until today. In the film two geometric linear figures rotate in a code driven complimentary dance. As the animation evolves the two separate drawings are perceived as being complementary parts of a single stereoscopic figure.

"A square dance for a  stereo cube"
Alexandre Estrela

Friday  April  8, 10.30 pm
Oporto new entrance: Calçada Salvador Correia de Sá 42 , 2F, Lisbon

Monday, February 8, 2016

Oporto apresenta # 39

Roda Lume Fogo by E. M. de Melo e Castro
U-matic video transferred to dvd, b/w, sound 2'43'', 1986

In 1962, The Times Literary Supplement published a text by the experimental poet and textile engineer Ernesto de Melo e Castro. The article focused on the most innovative word experiments that were being made on the other side of the Atlantic. For poets such as Dom Sylvester Houédard and Ian Hamilton Finlay this was the first contact with the Brazilian avant-garde and its concrete poetry movement, but above all it provided much needed motivation for the formation of a germane branch in the UK.
Seven years later our textile engineer and renown experimental poet took a second radical step towards the dissemination of concrete poetry in Europe. When invited onto a poetry show on Portuguese national television, Melo e Castro used the occasion to release what is considered the first video-poem. Roda Lume, which loosely translates as "Wheel of Fire", “Circle of Light” or “Spin Flame”, was a short animation, depicting a synchronised succession of geometric lines, words and improvised vocalisations towards a new "liberated syntax".  
In 1969, two million monitors hosted Roda Lume as a stage for an embryonic language in continuous mutation. The broadcast poem appeared as a UFO, invisible to the fascist censorship radars that allowed its transmission unaware that it contained a transversal radicalness; the video acted as a wheel of fire against social and artistic conformism, and in this context as a call for a later revolution. Unfortunately Roda Lume was lost or might even have been destroyed by that same national TV station. In 1986, Melo e Castro attempted to reconstruct the poem based on photograms and a precise score. The version presented at Oporto is Roda Lume Fogo, in which the poet added the word "Fire" to the title to distinguish it from the original.
"Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas"  anonymous roman poet
Saturday  February  13, 10.30 pm
Oporto new entrance: Calçada Salvador Correia de Sá 42 , 2F, Lisbon

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Oporto apresenta #38

Black Video 1 Projections 
by Aldo Tambellini
Video 1/2'' transferred to DVD, b&w, sound, 18', 1966

To date, few artists have used film as an effective political weapon. For over four decades, Aldo Tambellini's Black Films stood as a flag against segregation and injustice. In the sixties, while his films such as Black Plus X or Black TV were traded as ammunition between leftist groups, he began manipulating the  cathode ray tubes of TVs in a most unorthodox fashion.
It is with caution that Oporto takes up the task of projecting one of these video works. We will present it big and loud, so powerfully that no brain will be indifferent to the energy bursting from it. This Black projection will transform our beamer-machine into that much needed weapon which kills fascists. 

"A continuous flame purifying the metal of social vision."
Askia Touré

Friday October 9, 10.30pm

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Oporto apresenta #37

Calculated Movements  
by Larry Cuba

16mm film, b&w, sound, 6', 1985. 

Back in the sixties when computers were about to make their colossal breakthrough in the territory of art, Henry Flynt coined the term concept art for a new art-form based in mathematics. For digital pioneers such as Stan Vanderbeek, John Whitney or Larry Cuba, the computer was "the supreme mathematical instrument", a new media meant to trigger aesthetic intuitions. Tonight we will present what could be considered a pure form of conceptual work (by Henry Flynt's standards). We are screening the 80's digital masterpiece Calculated Movements, a vectorial animation created by Larry Cuba while programming the wireframe structure for the infamous Star Wars' Death Star.

"A nursery for emergent concepts."
Alexandre Estrela

Friday March 6, 10.30pm

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tempo perdido no porto #2

Tempo perdido no porto #2
Pedro Henriques

Friday, Feb 13, 10.00 pm

In 1933  the prominent union leader M. A. Santos, takes refuge in a merchant sailor's union, currently Oporto, to escape the fascist police. In return for the generosity of his companions, who sheltered him for an extended time, Santos covered the hall with murals depicting mythological figures, boats anchored in the harbour and shipwrecks in the Tagus delta.
After a one year residency at Oporto, it is now time for Pedro Henriques to generously share with us the work he conceived here. On friday February 13, Henriques will present a sculpture exhibition that mirrors the time lost in this space.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Oporto apresenta #36

Minimalize: Video-Dance Nr1  
by Walter Verdin
Video b/w, stereo sound, 11'27'', 1981

It's hard to explain how a successful pop artist, embraced by stardom, suddenly devotes his life to unglamorous work. In the early 80's, Walter Verdin was hit by success, as a member of one of the most interesting bands to ever compete in the Eurovision Song Contest. Shortly after having represented Belgium with "Pas de Deux", Verdin became a video practitioner adopting video as his sound instrument. For many years he devoted himself to a new field called Video-Dance, creating a pioneering body of work that revealed an acute and unstoppable sense of rhythm.
Oporto is delighted to present an early example of video-dance. "Minimalize" is a danceable manifest, a witty recipe on how to optimize your life, your family, your work, your art.

an eternal scroll for optimum life
Alexandre Estrela

Friday, Oct 10, 10.30 pm

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Box Theory, 19/07/2014

Oporto apresenta #34 and #35

The Box Theory by Owen Land
Video transferred to DVD, sound, 15'36'', 1984 

In the text, Land O' Lakes, Land O' Snakes, Mike Kelley confesses his early sexual arousal by the kneeling Indian girl figured on the Land O' Lakes butter box. The children's game of folding the printed image on the butter box, revealing what looks like the girl's breasts, triggers a latent eroticism, making the candid Native American into an almighty evil priestess. 

In The Box Theory, Owen Land, the uncanny American structuralist, king of the absurd and a religious addict, recreates the image of the Indian girl, holding the butter box with the image of herself, to produce an ad-eternal video zoom. This operation generates a vertiginous and hypnotic mise-en-abyme centered on the female body. This moving mantra raises the figure of the girl to the status of medieval icon – Our Lady of the O – a fertility goddess from the prodigious and polysemic land Of Land.

"An infant hymn for fertility's hum."
Alexandre Estrela

Saturday july 19, 10.30pm

Spacy, 19/07/2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Oporto apresenta #34 and #35

Spacy by Takashi Ito
16mm film, sound, 10', 1980-1981

Takashi Ito is the ultimate film virtuoso, one of the last filmmakers whose obsession for sequential photographs and motion controlled camera movements matches the accuracy of a computer.

Spacy is the quintessential spacial film. The action takes place in a multipurpose gym where a camera moves along the boundaries of various court lines. On its way it  encounters images that trigger infinite regressions. The movement of the film accelerates into an insane geometric maelstrom revealing an infinite fractal structure that exhausts not only the space, but above all, the viewer's act of perception. 

"That blank arena wherein converge the hundred spaces."

Hollis Frampton

Saturday, 19 July 10.30pm

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Oporto apresenta #33

"Land"by Maarten Ploeg 
Commodore Amiga file transferred to video.Colour, stereo sound, loop, 1992
In an old edition of Enciclopédia Luso-Brasileira, the entry word computer (then called ordenador) is illustrated  with a vector-based drawing of a face. It shows the first computer-generated drawing, depicting the kind face of a samurai. That funny looking picture can be seen as the computer's first attempt at a self-portrait, a clear demonstration of its highly complex level of self-determination.
Maarten Ploeg was a multi-talented genius born in the flat lands of Holland. Trained as a visual artist, he was part of the punk music scene in the late seventies (Soviet Sex, Blue Murder and Astral Bodies), as well as a pioneer in computer art and in the art of TV piracy. He was co-founder of PKP TV, a channel that hacked regular broadcasting and of Park 4DTV (, a still operational art platform.
For years he produced bright and colorful abstract paintings, halfway between geometric landscapes and bi-dimensional portraits of computer beings, a personal research into digital foolishness as a way to humanize computers.  But it was with the help of a friendly Amiga computer (the Commodore Amiga 4000) that he finally found a medium that matched his multiple skills. Ploeg's computer videos are kinetic paintings embedded in mesmerizing sound, windows to a deeply immersive universe, an "O.K. World", where computers fulfill their destiny as emotional and melancholic entities.
"Towards the emotional digit."  Alexandre Estrela
This session would not be possible without the precious help of Ryu Tajiri, Peter Mertens, Rogier Van Der Ploeg and a large team of friends who share his memories and work.
 Friday, June 6, 10.30 pm  

Grimoire Magnétique, 31/01/2014

Monday, January 27, 2014

Oporto apresenta #32

"Grimoire Magnétique"
A musical video-poem by Joëlle de La Casinière

Video U-matic transferred to digital, color, sound, 26', 1982

There was a time when humans still believed in video as a valid poetic medium and television as a means  for the outreach of art . Back then, poets happily abandoned their pens and notebooks, painters abandoned brush and canvas for the promised horizons of the video fields. 
But then came the dark ages and art was expelled from the broadcast schedule. However, some artists maintained their faith in a poetic video core and in its democratic assumptions. Joëlle de La Casinière is a writer that belongs to a community of such believers,who still see the medium as prime poetic substance.
It is hard to find a work as committed and joyful as La Casinière's. Her videos are a  collage of vibrating moving images, from all sorts of backgrounds (found, pop, kitsch, home and computer…) woven together to create a new language embedded in pulsating energy. 
Grimoire Magnétique, in La Casinière's words, is not a film, a show or a book. It is neither a video-game or an opera. Rather, it's a multilayered magnetic tapestry, of  colorful sound and image, the illuminated story of the life and death of the Persian mystic and revolutionary Sufi, Hallâj al-Mansûr.

"A triumph of the electronic image over universal gravity"
Words taken from Nam June Paik

Friday, January 31, 10.30pm 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Basis of Make-Up, 16/11/2013

Oporto apresenta #31

"The Basis of Make-Up I-III"
by Heinz Emigholz
16 mm film transfered to video, color, sound, 90', 1983-2005

The Basis of Make-Up I-III is the  primal soup that stands behind Heinz Emigholz abundant body of work. This  life-size film compilation, depicts  two decades of notebooks in an unstoppable flickery  flow. A blend of collages,  workaday writing  and  filming  is intersected by elaborate drawings halfway between medical and technical illustrations which somehow encapsulate the author's highly personal time and vision.

"An image vortex where Ideas fall"
Alexandre Estrela after Ezra Pound

Saturday, November 16, 10.30pm 

From the Age of Recklessness, 23/03/2013

Monday, March 18, 2013

Oporto apresenta #30

"From the Age of Recklessness"
by Klaus Wyborny
16 mm film transfered to video, color, sound, 70', 1994

Oporto is finally presenting the  seventy-minute-long autobiographical film by Klaus Wyborny. In this film the film-maker, a former quantum physicist, talks about memory and traveling along with history and geometry, all seen from his adventurous past relationships. The film is an eternal flow of memories presented alongside a cocktail of extremely dry humor and melancholia. Wyborny approaches film as a scientific experiment in fiction and truth, and his goal is to capture (with a special camera device) the untenable flux of life in order to trigger the untenable flow of memories.

"Instructions on death avoidance and the eternal energy flow"
Alexandre Estrela

Saturday, March 23, 10.30pm 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Oporto apresenta #29

 Analog video, color, sound, 53', 1993

Voyage to the Centre of the Phone Lines borrows its title from Jules Verne’s science-fiction novel Voyage au centre de la terre from 1864, in which a German professor explores volcanic tubes that lead him to the earth’s core and to an 1860s understanding of our planet’s geological development. ‘Voyage’ usually denotes faraway travel by sea, and Auder uses ‘holiday’ images of beaches, sunsets and verandas, already stamped with that vintage VHS look, to illustrate a sound track entirely consisting of excerpts from cordless and wireless telephone conversations between unnamed, unknown people. We all know eavesdropping is supposed to be bad, but even if we put up some resistance at first we cannot help being sucked into this maelstrom (another word that Jules Verne liked) of religious and financial speculation, parental despair, gleeful psychobabble and frank erotic revelation. Auder is usually right about what captures our attention and what constitutes unadulterated human interest.

"floating words in echo world"    
Alexandre Estrela

Thursday, October 4, 10.30pm 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Oporto apresenta #28

"A Fire in My Belly"
by David Wojnarowicz
Film In progress, 1986-87. Super 8mm film transferred to video (black and white and color, silent) 

It’s quite common to see in experimental filmographies, footage migrating from project to project. David Wojnarowicz’s body of work is also haunted by footage that he constantly recycled from film to film, unveiling in each new montage a raw malaise."A Fire in my Belly" is an unfinished project, based on Mexican indigestible footage. The film is a violent stream of oppressive images, that Wojnarowicz exorcises, unleashing its dark energy. This silent film, presumably edited to the sound of Diamanda Galás, has been blasting the most sensitive and reactionary ears, leaving at its passage/screening a necessary open wound. 
David Wojnarowicz (1954.1992) was an activist, writer, an accomplished painter, performer, a transgressive filmmaker and above all a post-modern martyr.

Shadows from a flaming tongue."
Alexandre Estrela
Saturday, April 28, 2012, 10 pm

Courtesy of The Estate of David Wojnarowicz and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York and The Fales Library,Special Collections/ New York University