Designing a web app for a pioneer in sound
As a part of the production team of the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT), Pedro's main project was designing and prototyping a web app that formed the basis for the upcoming exhibition’s communication strategy. The museum is Portugal’s new investment as a major international art institution, and it will be presenting a new commissioned work by the American artist Bill Fontana. Fontana (born USA 1947) is an artist and composer who developed an international reputation for his pioneering experiments in sound. Since the early 70s, Fontana has used sound as a sculptural medium to interact with and transform our perceptions of visual and architectural spaces. He has realized sound sculptures and radio projects for museums and broadcast organizations around the world, and has exhibited in places such as SFMoMA, Whitney Museum and Tate Modern. His latest work will take place in October 2017 at MAAT, and will be an acoustic network linking live sounds of the 25 de Abril Bridge, one of Lisbon’s landmarks, to the main exhibition room at the museum.
Gaining a higher sensibility
My work during the first month of my stay was to provide production support to this exhibition and the senior production team, by setting up production timelines, writing presentation statements and documents, sketching design solutions for the install and assisting the artist while he was doing some preliminary tests.
The second month’s work shifted in focus, and I was responsible for developing the webapp. The app is a simulation of the artist’s compositional strategy, with a set of sound samples recorded by him on the bridge on a interface that is simplified enough so that it allows the general public to devise their own compositions. This way, they are granted a new understanding of the artist’s project, technically and aesthetically. The artist has stated his compositional philosophy by saying: "I began my career as a composer. What really began to interest me was not so much the music that I could write but the states of mind I would experience when I felt musical enough to compose. In those moments, when I became musical, all the sounds around me also became musical.” Through the app, visitors become participants as they explore this mental state themselves, and gain a higher sensibility to the artist’s work by experiencing his process. During the internship I was able to combine multiple interests that I have in art history, theory and production, and hands-on design and programming. I had full responsibility and autonomy to decide how this app should look and work, and with it, had to learn by myself how to operate tools I had not worked with in order to achieve the best possible result.
Immersion into a rich culture
Being in Lisbon allowed me to explore Portugal’s vivid culture and history, through its many museums and institutions but also through its citizens and cultural producers. The city is in truly on the rise as one of Western Europe’s main culture capitals and you can feel it while you’re there. And it’s great to feel you’re part of it somehow.