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jan 19, 2018
Creative Industries

Brazilian art is changing urban landscapes

More than 80 percent of Brazilians live in cities, far higher than the global average. This means that, in addition to having some of the world’s most incredible nature, Brazil also has one of the most urbanized populations and some of the biggest traffic jams on the planet. But with art initiative ‘Hacked City’, taking place in São Paulo, Brazilians are calling attention to the influence that every single resident can have over their urban environments.

One such project comes from Guto Requena. An architect by training, Requena has created a piece that can reflect the soundscape back to the Rebouças Avenue to its commuters in LED-light form. Aided by microphones, a weather station and 200 LED bulbs, Requena’s ‘Creature of Light’, splayed across the front of the WZ Hotel Jardins, changes color based on what it hears around it.

The ‘Creature’ begins to appear from dusk, as daylight trails away from the cityscape. Able to react and vibrate from audio stimuli like car horns, sirens, and exhausts, ‘Creature of Light’ displays a rainbow-toned depiction of the traffic levels and air quality.

Requena’s intentions behind the piece were to show people how their actions could directly impact the environment around them, with lights reacting in real time. The noisier and more polluted the space around it, the uglier the ‘Creature’ becomes – serving as a daily reminder for the city’s residents of how their behaviour can shape the city. Kind and considerate actions, he believes, are possible in large urban centers, using art as a tool for communication and interaction.

Requena’s other work, too, explores related themes. He has another piece projected onto São Paulo’s cityscape: ‘I am’ projects the faces of its spectators onto the front of a building along Paulista Avenue.

Requena is part of a movement among a newer generation of Brazilian artists, taking true advantage of technology’s capacity. One such contemporary of the architect would be artistic duo Gisele Motta and Leandro Lima, known simply as Motta e Lima. The pair use light in a mission to change moods and states of being with art, working with everything from tubular bulbs and sculptures to holographic projections.

For one recent work, ‘Remote Control’, the pair made 30 bird houses, using a sketch of a heavily populated residential neighbourhood. Each house in their piece has a device that emulates the visual and sound stimulus of a television set, reflecting the reality that can be seen from above. The pair hope that their creations can bring inspiration and reflection on themes like well-being, electrical energy use, destruction and creation.

But Brazilian artists are also making strides abroad. International museums like Tate Modern, MoMA, Guggenheim, and the Fondation Cartier have all recently brought exhibitions of Brazilian artworks. There’s no shortage of demand for Brazilian art.

Vice Brasil is promoting a series, made in collaboration with the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil), to bring the best of Brazil’s newest artists direct to viewers and readers. You can read more about how these Brazilian artists are using technology to push art’s boundaries in the piece on Vice, with more details on works by Requena, Motta and Lima and more.