Rugas da Historia Fendas na Paisagem

Introduction

Memories and narratives are built by the winners of history. How do these narratives shape our identities? How historical legacy shapes who we are? How our context and heritage leave a mark in our communities?

Rugas da História Fendas na Paisagem is an interactive visual installation that creates a skin image, with its wrinkles and some rifts. It explores the colors and textures we are made of. Merges our past and our present; our heritage, surroundings, nature, culture and visitors contribution. A skin image always changing, always new, that reflects our complexities and diversity.

Context in Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

Attending an artistic residency in Laboratorio d’Actividades Creativas in Lagos, Portugal, within the Contested Desires european project, offered the possibility to live in a city in the south west of Portugal, Algarve region, which is sharply influenced by its participation in portuguese colonialism discoveries and slaved persons trade.

Living for a month in the Algarve region offered the opportunity to do several exploratory visits to small villages as Sagres, Loulé, Silves or Monchique. The visits, from the mountains countryside to sea coast, offered the opportunity to observe different natural spots, traditions and ways of life.

Algarve is the south west region in Europe. The end of the known world of it’s times. The light, the colors, the sea, the rocks, the coast and landscape is hit by wind and sun. Staring at the sea, especially at Cape St Vincent, makes you believe that earth ends where it ends the horizon.

Rugas da História Fendas na Paisagem

Rugas da História Fendas na Paisagem creates an animated skin image in continuous change. A visual system generates wrinkles and rifts that grow and add to previous ones. They are always different, always unique, creating a cumulative visual image.

The piece is formed by 3 parts: an interactive panel, the visual output and a small thermal printer.

Colors from the context: the “fendas na paisagem” (cracks in the landscape)

To colorize the generated wrinkles and rifts the project borrows colors from photographs taken in Algarve. They are close up images that capture details and textures of the culture, traditions, food, way of living, nature and history. Thus the skin image resulting in Rugas da História Fendas na Paisagem mixes colors from the context and heritage. Visitors can choose (by pressing the panel buttons) the tone that will tint the skin, mix them and explore the context contribution.

Complex forms in nature, cities and skin: the “rugas da história” (history wrinkles)

There are some visual similarities in the way that cities grow, when seen from above [4][7]; how plant leaves create their venation [5][6]; how time creates craquelure in objects [2][3]; or how wrinkles appear in skin [1]. Several new media artists have explored this visual complex systems.

Elements with slight similar growing behaviors create these intricate structures. A specific growing algorithm has been developed to generate these kinds of patterns.

Contribution/interaction

Visitors can choose which color tone they want to tint the resulting skin image. That image will vanish and new colors and wrinkles will be created and superimposed.

They can also contribute to the piece capturing with a microscope they own skin. They can take a photo of their skin texture and details. The photo is immediately used to tint the generated visuals. The photographs increase an archive that makes the project grow on diversity.

From physical to digital. And then to physical again

Rugas da História Fendas na Paisagem starts borrowing the colors from the photographs taken in Algarve, Portugal. Using those colors it generates a digital skin pattern in constant change. When the skin image finishes to grow and gets to the right side of the screen the small thermal printer starts printing. It prints the last row of pixels of the generated wrinkles. Little by little a roll of dots come out. All the generated skins end up drawing another common skin. The paper roll falls down and physically mixes it again in another common shared and blended skin.

Acknowledgments

First I would like to thank La Bonne and all the Contested Desires project partners to give me the opportunity to participate in this incredible project. I would like to thank all the participants I met in Lagos for the interesting discussions and the time we spent together. And finally thanks to Stelios, Akelahh, Jorge, Daniel, Sonia and Nuno for their help and an incredible month in Lagos.

References

[1] A Simple Method for Modeling Wrinkles on Human Skin. Article

[2] Circ Crig by Marius Watz

[3] Fractures by Anderss Hoff

[4] Generative city by Marcus Volz

[5] Leave venation by Nervous System

[6] Modeling and visualization of leaf venation patterns. Article

[7] Substrate by Jared Tarbell

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