Portugal has always fascinated us, maybe because it is a borderland, a contact point with the world beyond the ocean, a nation that has always acted as a link, as a connection towards those Countries that are on the other side, beyond the sea. Somehow we decided to pay homage to its nature and consolidate this cultural milieu through the installation of “Urbanbrain”, our wi-fi brains, in loco. The idea behind our installations in Lisbon is that of a path that leads us from tradition, from roots to contemporaneity. The first Portuguese explorers used ships and a lot of courage to “connect” themselves with what lied beyond. Luckily the contemporary world has tools that allow us to communicate in an easier way.
What is so fascinating for us is to think about how much determination and willingness those who, in a far past, went into the unknown, into the ocean, must have, and how now, on the other hand, social networks make interactions something we experience almost unintentionally. “Urbanbrains” represent this, an awareness of hyper-connection, a digital telepathy that involves us and of which we are not yet completely aware of.
The new forms of interaction that have emerged with the advent of technologies make use of “social” means characterized by a new type of communication, where the “physical” part of language is suddenly missing, leaving us orphans of a fundamental expressive component. We are always connected, always potentially in receptivity of other’s state of mind. Even when we don’t pay attention, the world of social networks listens to us, knows us, records our emotions, replacing our beloved ones, our families and friends in everyday activities. The virtual world invades the space that has always been the prerogative of the real one.
Lisbon, with its historical significance, represents the European city that best highlights this paradox, surprising us with an artistic scene of international importance and a great opening toward street and contemporary art.
We normally usually choose peripheral areas as spots for our installations, because, generally they are the places where street art is housed and better welcomed. In Lisbon, instead, we have also found space for our installations in more central and touristic areas, where street art can be experienced by those passing by too.
Among the various sites, we installed the “Urbanbrains” close to the castle of São Jorge, just outside the Patio de Dom Fradique. The possibility to place our artworks in the historic district has made the connection attempt between past and present even more significant.
The Caracol da Graça staircase allowed us to create a real exhibition itinerary, with five connected brains that welcome the passer-by, right at the entrance to the stair case, and another eight installed progressively lower. Originally we didn’t have a precise scheme for the installations, but we oriented ourselves by reading what each chosen location had to tell us, listening to the city itself.
Lisbon is a welcoming city that we thought to be relegated to the borders of Europe and instead we learnt, surprisingly, how lively and international it is. With our artwork we have made, if possible, Lisbon even more central and connected.