The collective endeavour Mutant Geographies was the result of the first phase of the Portuguese contribution to the international project, Streaming Egos – Digital Identities. Using the theme proposed by the project’s curatorship, that of reflecting upon the world of digital identities, we wanted to focus on issues related to Portugal and Europe’s identity and how they are represented during a time strongly characterised by transnational and relational culture.
We invited the artists André Alves, Claudia Fischer, Paulo Mendes and Pedro Portugal to devise digital projects that, in some way, reflected their perspectives on the theme and characteristics of their art. Although these artists do not usually work with digital forms, the resulting online artistic projects were fascinating. The premise was not to turn physical projects into digital ones, but rather to create possibilities, so that new types of artistic intervention specifically produced for that environment could be developed. These could then take visual, written, sound, cinematographic or other forms, specifically produced for the online platform. And, indeed, as this project has demonstrated, for many creative professionals working primarily with physical materials and spaces, this is a medium that offers a multitude of opportunities for research and intervention.
Paulo Mendes and Pedro Portugal essentially employed the notion of digital archive for creative and documentary-like work on the issue of Portuguese and European (self)-representation in the world, which covered past and present moments in a chronological sequence. In Europa Augen, Pedro Portugal created an archival and retrospective record of promotional video clips from each country for the Eurovision Song Content from 1970 to 2015. With his work, Policy of the People, proposals for atemporal tourism in Portugal, Paulo Mendes essentially focussed on the question of how we project ourselves and the construction of images of Portuguese identity, harking back to the dictatorial Estado Novo period to highlight the changes and continuities of that image building to the present day.
In the much vaster context of Closer to Home, Claudia Fischer appropriated photographs taken at observatories in different cities around the world. In Identities, André Alves dealt with mistrust regarding the assumption of national identity in times of digital culture and focussed primarily on the contemporary individual, their condition and relational experience in/with the digital world.
Although each individual project represents different, unique perspectives, all used resources and tools provided by the web. This involved the appropriation of images and video from an unlimited data bank, with a clear tendency for editing images and text fragments in contemporary artistic endeavour, such as the construction of narratives through the selection, treatment and creative organisation of material based on the proliferation and dissemination of images that distinguish the digital media scenario.
The work of the four artists will be presented on the raum: online artistic residencies platform, which hosts artistic residencies and changes the original meaning of fixed and temporary residency spaces; extending it into the virtual world, trialling new forms of artistic reflection and intervention, with various types of research associated with digital arts.
The work of the v-a Studio (Lisbon – Portugal) was key to the final result. This communication design studio helped produce the artists’ projects and was responsible for the consistency and coherence of the visual identity, graphic and web design of these Mutant Geographies.