Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Jornadas Lúcidas #4

Jornadas Lúcidas  #4 - Soltec

Sunstone  by Ed Emswhiller 
video, colour sound  3'55'', 1979 

Sun Flowers by Rose Lowder
16mm film, colour, silent , 3'00'', 1982

Salt Garden by Rose Lowder
16mm film, colour, sound, 16'11'' 2010

Patents  by Father Himalaya, Hellmuth Costard and Pedro Bandeira and reconstruction of Hellmuth Costard's structure for Sunmachine #1


There is no record of men taller than 170 cm in Portugal before the year 1911. At the point, the only man to stand closer to the Sun was Manuel António Gomes, a Portuguese Jesuit, also known as Father Himalaya. We don’t know if it was his colossal height of 200 cm that shaped his shadeless mind, but, since his formative years, he dedicated himself to shedding light over most eclectic subjects: astronomy, agriculture, chemistrybiology and military theory with a recurrent interest for the study of the Sun as an endless source of clean energy. His research led to the manufacturing of solar machines that could follow the movement of the Sun with clock-precision while channeling its power. 

His pioneer studies in alternative energies guided the construction of the Pirelióforo: a 1300 cm tall metal structure carrying an 80 m2 parabolic surface covered in tiny mirrors, able to concentrate solar rays into a single beam with the unprecedented temperature of 3800°C, basically a giant solar oven that could melt any terrestrial material. With this invention, Himalaya wanted to diffuse an inexpensive tool for the production of nitrates, a key element to the later manufacturing of fertilisers, as well as of explosives. In 1904, the device was exhibited at the Louisiana World Fair in Saint Louis, awarded with the Grand Prize and a diploma signed by Theodore Roosevelt himself. It was perhaps the military potential of the invention that made the U.S.government invite Himalaya to tour the country presenting his work in several scientific institutes. An opportunity that Himalaya seized to develop further studies into the Amerindian cultures and naturopathy. On his return to Louisiana, he saw his invention vandalised by children who, lured by the flaring engine, stole and scattered its 6117 small mirrors. Realising he couldn’t find financial partners for such a avant la lettre project, he left the country abandoning the remaining metal structure on site.   

In the late 1960s, Helmuth Costard, the tallest enfant terrible of the New German Cinema, was expelled from the Oberhausen Film Festival for his film depicting a talking penis. Disappointed with the festival board prudishness, Costard devoted the following years to another passion: the invention and building of precision devices for film cameras. In 1970, he developed a system that could synchronise several cameras in order to shoot Football as Never Before, a solipsistic movie that tracked the movement of English soccer star George Best during the complete course of a 90’ minutes match. This synchronised multi-camera system led Costard to do more studies on precision engines, such as solar machines that could chase the Sun and, a decade later, to build affordable solar panels out of recycled objects like beer cans. These Sun-tracking projects were prototyped and tested in the desert landscape of Almería, in southern Spain, where their remains remain until today. 

In 2011, Pedro Bandeira, a 170 cm tall architect known for his utopian projects, joined forces with his engineer brother, Filipe Bandeira, to design a rotating house. Their idea was to have the house move according to the trajectory of the Sun in the spirit of Father Himalaya. After some practical testing, they decided to add to the automatic rotation a manual control that could be accessed through a microwave button installed in the living room. The house could rotate for thermic reasons as for other purposes like having more light to read, cook, think... Eight years after the first bureaucratic battles, the building rotates on the top of a hill in the village of Banhos Secos, in Coimbra's district, as an architectural landmark of energetic efficiency, nominated for the 2019 Mies Van der Rohe prize.

On our 4th Lucid Journey, Oporto will dedicate the session to the Sun, its energy and technology. We will exhibit the Sun-tracking projects conceived by Father Himalaya, Pedro Bandeira and Hellmuth Costard under the radiant light of two films by Peruvian artist Rose Lowder and a video by American 3D pioneer Ed Emshwiller. The session will be held under the presence of a hexagonal solar panel made with 2037 bright Heineken tin cans, built according to the plans of Hellmuth Costard. 


Friday, July 26, 10.30 pm  


This session was made possible thanks to the support of DGartes , the Estate of Ed Emswhiller and  Central de Cervejas 













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