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Berru and The Art of Immersion

Words:

Edd Norval
January 15, 2018

The 10-piece collective from Porto consist of students of fine art, engineers, multi-media artists and almost every other discipline, so it’s easy to see why their work is as diverse as it is.

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The setting for their work at Festival Iminente is incredible. An estufa fria or ‘cold greenhouse’ is something like a jungle. The one at Oeiras even comes with eroding pillars rising from the ground and vines hanging from the thatched roof overhead. The coolness gives it a sense of calm and is a welcome break from the oppressive heat outside. It’s fitting then that in this cold corner of the festival they’re exploring one of the 'coldest' themes that feature in our lives – technology.

Attached to the vines are movement sensitive light-sticks that will illuminate the area around the person standing underneath. Space and light are two important components of their installations. The light is mainly aestethic, it’s beautiful and its essential, for life, happiness and nearly everything else, but their opinion on the space of the installation is a little more philosophical.

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It’s not so much the physicality of the space, but the way the space makes you feel. It’s consuming and immersive, it makes you feel a little smaller than when you walked in, it makes you adjust your perspective of self and how significant the space your occupy is.

As you walk through, it isn’t only the light that is jarring in such a natural environment, but the sounds. There are speakers strategically positioned throughout the walkway that is playing the beeps, boops and clicks of the inside of a computer. A complicated engineering feat to be produced in such an environment, but one that they are proud to say is something they done by themselves. They want to give people an experience and they want it to be straight from their own hands.

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The combination of light and sound makes it feel like you’re inside of the mind of something living and moving, like the mind of artificial intelligence that is smarter than you, that knows where you are and where you will be. The tittle is ‘Organismu’, the ‘u’ being taken from their name, the name of the exhibition being taken from what it makes them feel. The movement, the sounds, the overall life, despite artificial, is something that if not experienced first hand, is very hard to explain. It's funny then that the feeling of child-like awe and amazement you feel exploring the artificial place is one of the most truly human things to feel.

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