Marília Pasculli: Discovering Cultural Event Management in Brazil and Decrypting Strong Messages of Media Art
Lumen: To start the conversation, please, characterize the field you’re working within. What is the mission of independent curator / cultural producer?
Marília Pasculli: Quite often I have hard time defining my practice precisely. Possibly because I constantly act transitorily between cultural producer and digital art curator of platforms produced for my own events. Basically Verve Cultural promotes the exchange between Brazilian and international visual artists, experimenting with cultural practices that explore the particularities of urban interventions through multimedia resources. Most of our public (citizens, passers-by) have never been to a museum, they might have never heard of Digital Culture, but they are familiar with digital visual content, electronic devices and pretty much open to try interfaces. Underlying all exhibition themes and events the fundamental concern is how the digital artworks can contribute to the urban surroundings.
Lumen: How did you get interested in this business and start implementing various projects? Remember your first experience?
Marília Pasculli: I’ve always been interested in moving images and I could not imagine myself working without being passionate about my job. Back in 2007, I was in Barcelona studying ‘curating new media art and cultural practices’, actually, because I was unsure of what kind of career to choose. I dedicated my time to learning a “new” kind of art ― it seemed a clever strategy at that time. The same year I was fascinated about Rafael Lozanno-Hermer’s participative installations at Venice Biennale. This idea of the artwork as an “occurrence”, a state of experimentation, environment of image that couldn’t be collectible and only exists in three dimensions, completely blew my mind.
About 3 years I have worked for startups of software creation and Interactive audiovisuals for advertising, entertainment and art. I produced lots of corporative events using projection surfaces and semi-immersive spaces, spending long hours observing projection stages set up for VJs. Sometimes I’ve got the chance to collaborate with media art installations, the most remarkable one was ‘Life on Mars’ (2009) ― at The Creators Project in São Paulo. To work literately surrounded by David Bowie was a day dream at the office.
Lumen: Then in 2011 you’ve created the Verve Cultural together with João Frugiuele to implement personal projects and work with artists. How did the company change since its planning phase? Please, describe this evolution.
Marília Pasculli: Verve started with a monumental project. I might have a particular obsession for large scale projects ― I always joke that I use my projects to make up my 5 feet 2 inches tall. But actually there is a serious curatorial concern of amplifying people and everyday elements to an architectural scale.
The company’s first activity was the creation and cultural management of the SESI-SP Digital Art Gallery in 2012, for the first edition of SP_Urban Digital Festival. The Gallery is covered with 26.241 LED clusters a twenty-two-story Brutalist style high-rise concrete building in São Paulo, at the biggest Avenue and most populous area in Latin America. The building almost takes the shape of a pyramid, or a three-sided cone area of 3.7000 m2. It is very luminous and flexible façade in terms of types of content, but of very low resolution.
During the first two years we have produced and curated 9 exhibitions at the Digital Gallery: mixing video, VJ live performances, interactive and data visualization projects. At the beginning it was very challenging and exiting to try all this possibilities that alters the dynamics of public sphere athwart a new mode of urban performance. After a while we felt a lack of creativity and increasing desire to create temporally platforms to host our events in other areas of the city, but work with the Digital Gallery did not allowed us to plan it properly.
In 2013 Verve have become a partner of the Connecting Cities ― an international network focuses on urban media art, exploring the communicative potential of urban screens and media facades. Due to the CCN, we got the opportunity to collaborate with cultural producers, curators and media artists worldwide. Also we were invited to share our experience to many festivals, such as Ars Eletrocnica (Austria), MUTEK (Canada) and Transmediale (Germany).
In parallel we have produced interactive digital art installations in public areas of São Paulo city. The Brazilian economic crises in 2015 forced us to change our business model. Instead of producing several digital art shows per year, we decided to focus on our most representative project: SP_Urban Digital Festival, promoting our ‘brand’ and producing a variety of events of the festival in many locations in the city. As an example, last year we occupied the Auditorium Ibiapeura external stage façade to promote digital works of multimedia artists, audiovisual performance and concerts accompanied by synchronized visual performances. It was great to get together with best Brazilian VJs and visual artists. Brazilian modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer designed the iconic monumental auditorium; while he was alive (and a few years after his death) any interference on his work it was strictly forbidden. So besides the great location ― in the middle of the park and the dream surface for video mapping ― once again it was a pioneer accomplishment. It’s so important to have exciting projects that fill us with adrenaline, happiness and motivation.
Lumen: São Paulo seems to be very friendly and open city, especially for artists and curators. Can you give us some exclusive insider’s information about the peculiarities of local cultural development?
Marília Pasculli: I define São Paulo as a challenging city. There is no efficient public programs to promote culture development. In consequence, 90% of all cultural practices in the city are financed by companies due tax incentive laws. The irony is that the city council system imposes limitations to brand visibility in public space. And cultural producers need these companies to support their projects.
In 2007 the ‘Clean City Law’ outlawed all outdoor advertisement. It included a ban of outsized billboards and screens; the only advertisement permitted today is a 1m2 sized on city clocks OOH. This law was motivated by an aim to “combat visual pollution”. 10 years since ‘Clean City Law’ was effective, the Graffiti is the new urban pollution. Since January the Graffiti in the city is been erased by a gray paint and is officially a crime in São Paulo. Within this context I believe that video mapping and alternative urban media are potential tools for social and artistic expressions. By the way, after Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian video mapping is living its good moment. Video mapping was the protagonist of the Opening Ceremony. It reinforced the quality and international acknowledgement of Brazilian VJing and visual artists’ scene. Besides it sparks the desire of creative audiovisual solutions that communicates to a grand number of people, at a long distance.
Lumen: Wow, all in all, everything can be regarded as “visual pollutions”. The nest question is for your cultural heirs. What are the crucial elements of cultural event management? Is there any success recipe?
Marília Pasculli: A successful event is related with the engagement of the public. It’s about connecting with your audience. The crucial element is to evoke the human aspect, to explore a diversity of sensations.
Andreas Broeckmann says that software art is “ about transgressing boundaries, making strange familiar experience, dramatizing what pretends to be innocent and exploring technological and human relationships”. My advice for cultural producers and artists is to succeed in this universe. Technology is such an important support for digital creation. Consider the human dimension before the technical. Technology is a language, that is used to communicate, to express ourselves and translate our human capacities. The quest of the artistic material is essentially related to questioning, investigating and challenging our being in the world.
It sounds absolutely cliché, but work with love and serenity is crucial too. During the production of a cultural event, especially with technology evolved, there are so many last minute drastic problems to solve. Even with “what could go wrong’ solutions prepared in advance, surprises are inevitable, unfortunately. Live events are all about solving all kind of problems quickly, finding the most creative solutions, managing at the same time the stress of the team, the reaction of the public and ‘artist ego’ outburst.
Lumen: Can you predict the future of VJing culture? Maybe new crazy software, ultra progressive equipment or completely new approaches to performing…
Marília Pasculli: I often say that the digital art future is an afterimage of today’s practice in artistic ideas, aesthetic challenges and technological curiosity. Definitely, the VJing culture had expanded from the clubs and it’s taking all kind of platforms for artistic expressions. These creative approaches in technology are re-shaping the way we perceive the space. And this is not a new phenomenon. Architects, artists, designers, VJs know that they create space for experience, reflection and contemplation. What’s been changing is our environment and how technologies are affecting our behavior in it.
It is not hard to imagine new prototypes of immersive spaces with so many interesting, audiovisual kinect and laser installations, domes and 3D LED sculptures in the market. Maybe in a close future VJs will be creating content for the most crazy multi-dimension pixel map mixing unprecedented types of digital production. The content will flow in a completely unpredictable rhythm in response to the society’s speed and behavior. The current direction is to re-establishment space as a dimension, where analog and digital are together, physically and conceptually.
Lumen: In your opinion, how young VJs and contemporary media artists can succeed today? Give some non-obvious tips, hacks or secrets.
Marília Pasculli: To survive as VJ and media artist nowadays you need to be flexible. Not just flexible about the artwork support possibilities and how to make adaptations that won’t interfere at the artwork proposal. Flexibility as a part of the creative production and being able to migrate from many supports and formats.
A concept became an image, and this image can become a strong message, that can be placed in a product. Attending various festivals, sometimes I see live visual performances with participants in a workshop model, where it’s possible to print a strong image/visual concept that has just been created in a printed bag or transform it in other kind of product.
Lumen: Please, share some of your creative plans and ideas.
Marília Pasculli: There is one idea of a project that has been crossing my mind for a while. I want to create the floating LED sculpture. Its reflection on the water will create an organic luminous effect. The sculpture can be a platform for interactive digital art projects. Also it can be used as VJ platform for parties on the shore.