in the group exhibition ‘Field Theory: Artistic Research in Light, Air and Matter’
oMuseu, Porto (PT)

05 — 19.05.2023

(solo show)  
 FEUP Library, Porto  (PT)
01 — 10.03.2023 

Fragments of an investigation carried out at the end of the 21st century get intermixed with the invisibility of the object of study — indoor air.

From a speculative practice between the scientific process, the artistic process and the affective, political, social and cultural process that we create with the things of the world, the appearance of a new body is proposed. It is inside a fictionalised laboratory that we get to see this collective, symbiotic and ancestral organism; a multispecies entity that transcends the borders between terrestrial bodies (mineral, human, vegetal, animal, technological) and time and space.

HMV_II, 2023
Installation; various dimensions.

Metal shelves, volcanic rocks, jars, mirrors, indoor air
measuring device (working in real time), plants (Spathiphyllum
wallisii, Fatsia japonica 'Spider Web', Pachira aquatica,
Howea forsteriana, Dypsis lutenses, Monstera deliciosa
‘variegata’, Phalaenopsis 'Minimark' orchid and
Cymbidium orchid), books, seeds, and prints of
scientific data with indoor air profiles and graphs.

        HMV_II takes its name from Stanislaw Lem’s science fiction novel “His Master’s Voice” (1968), in which a team of scientists and experts are brought together to investigate and decipher a message sent from space, at times referred to as the “letter from the stars”. The code name for the project becomes “HMV” (His Master’s Voice) and as Peter Hogarth, the main character and the leader of the team, recounts the progress of the investigation we realise the team's frustration and uncertainty reflect the fundamental challenges of communication and the limits of human knowledge and experience.
        The effects of the isolation imposed on the scientists, the projection of human fears to the “letter” - which is believed to be sent by an alien civilisation -, the attempt to translate the message into an organic matter - which they managed - and the way they want to instrumentalize this matter for destruction and war, show us how limited we can be in our human understanding of other life forms.

View of the work at the group show Field Theory: Artistic Research in Light, Air and Matter, at oMuseu, Porto. (may, 2023)

        HMV_II show us a fictionalised laboratory where a scientist has dedicated their life to define the complexity of the air life form, compiling research made at the end of the 21st century - displaying the real research and data collected by the team from Environmental Sciences and Technologies research group at the Laboratory for Process Engineering, Environment, Biotechnology and Energy (FEUP, Porto), between 2018 and 2023 - and the affective relationship established with air.         The scientist looks back at our present time and our century, reflecting and critiquing the obstacles we face when we try to break free from our limited human understanding of life.

        Just like the “letter from the stars” in Stanislaw Lem’s novel is described as a series of mathematical symbols and equations, as well as diagrams and images that are difficult to interpret, scientific data created around air and indoor air pollution measurements are just a part of decoding what air might really be. The fragments being displayed blend different fields of knowledge and different bodies, allowing each of us to create our affectivity with it and complement one’s relationship with air. 

i2ADS, Sofia Vieira de Sousa and Pedro Branco from LEPABE [Laboratory for Process Engineering, Environment, Biotechnology and Energy], Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto.

           @ 2023 Catarina Braga