When I meet Anaisa Franco at her studio, which is situated near the cemetery of the Consolação neighbourhood, it is almost empty. I arrive two days before she is leaving São Paulo for a residency at the art and technology lab Mediaestruch in Sabadell, a city 20 km north-west of Barcelona. There, she will have the opportunity to further develop her projects linking art and technology. Due to the large amounts of time, research and multiple expertise needed for these artworks, Anaisa is used to collaborating. She explains that she usually conceptualises a piece and creates a prototype in her studio, which she then sends to a media lab for finalisation: programming, animations, sound, music etc. This way of working is quite common in the field of the so-called new media arts, since they depend on the media labs‘ and centres‘ equipment, resources and know-how. Thus, Anaisa has already won scholarships and residency opportunities to develop her work before going to L‘Estruch, for example in Taipei, Taiwan in 2008 or at the renowned MECAD/ESDi school in Barcelona in 2007.
Whereas she studied Visual Arts at the FAAP programme in São Paulo, Anaisa would soon discover that she was more interested in media and technologies than pursuing a fine art path. This led her to studying a Master in Digital Art and Technology in Plymouth, England. With this background, she links poetic language and imagery to technology and digital media in her works, an apparent contrast she bridges extremely well. In her work “Controlled Dream Machine“ (2007), Anaisa shows the connection of the conscious with the unconscious, the body as outside of the human with the mind as hidden and obscure inside. She explains that she wanted to build a machine that can feel and think like humans. In the piece, two robot legs hang from a ceiling and their dreams are expressed by an animation on a screen that is part of the installation. The legs move according to the motor activities of a human person sleeping, with small light bulbs inside of them representing neural activity. The legs thus refer to the conscious or physical part of a human, however, they are only fragments of the body as a whole. Whereas dreaming is the processing of stimuli and impressions of the day in our unconsciousness at nighttime, the legs seem to be in search for the body‘s identity. They react with the animation, thus visualising the tension between the conscious and the unconscious, body and mind. The work has been shown at several institutions and festivals, such as Media Lab Madrid in 2007 and the CologneOFF Festival in Germany in the same year.
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