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Miguel Carvalhais | Interview

Miguel Carvalhais | Interview
 Why did you choose the installation as an expressive medium?

I’ve been collaborating with Pedro Tudela in the @c project since 2000 and during that time, most of our work was not done in installation form. We focused mostly in live performance and in studio work (both recorded music and audiovisual compositions). We created soundtracks for theater and did a few other things, but over time our practice led us to sound installations and audiovisual installations.

When we perform live, be it with or without images, we try to create particular listening conditions for the audience, taking into account the acoustic particularities of the venue, of the sound system, etc. Very often we try to displace ourselves (as musicians / composers) from the center of the audience’s experience, either stepping out of the stage, or by reducing the lights and bringing the venue to total darkness, or by performing behind the audience. Performing mostly with laptops we often find that there are no significant musical gestures to be presented and therefore we try to remove ourselves from view and to perform acousmatically. Sound installations are a very good medium for presenting acousmatic music, to focus the listener in the relations with the space, in the compositional structures, etc.

But installations are also wonderful to develop open-ended compositions, structures that are not only meant to last a given duration but that may sometimes span days, weeks or months. This was another thing that drew us to work in this medium. “M.M.M.M.” (2014) ,for example, is a work that was presented during a period of five months and that made use of algorithmic composition to create variation and dynamism during that period.


MMMM by Miguel Carvalhais and Pedro Tudela, 2014, Puppet Museum of Porto, photo from

Another interesting aspect of installations is how they allow the audience to explore the piece (giving it more or less time and attention) or to actually discover the complexities of the space and the infrastructure of the installation by moving around it, etc. (it may be argued that in these cases sound installations turn the room into part of the system of the work, or use it as an instrument of sorts). Three interesting cases are “30×1″ (2005) , that was developed across several rooms in the venue, with multiple sound and image sources scattered in the space, with different scales, resolutions, etc.; in “Respiro” (2014)  the two sound sources are separated in the space, forcing the visitor to move between them to balance the sounds; in “Noventa e Três” (2012) the sounds emitted by the installation were designed to blend with the ambient sounds of the gallery, becoming at times so faint that they could only be perceived when the audience stood very close to the sources.


30×1 by Miguel Carvalhais and Pedro Tudela, 2005, photo from


Where do you get the inspiration for the creation of your installations?

We usually start from a mechanical or conceptual idea but also from the spaces where we will present the work and the technical resources that we will have access to. We usually have a somewhat constructive and experimental process, simultaneously developing the piece technically and conceptually, and iterating quite a bit as we prepare it in the studio but also when setting it up.

Is there an artist who has inspired you ?

Several actually. We could mention e.g. Brandon LaBelle, Florian Hecker, Eliane Radigue, Francisco López, Rolf Julius, Olafur Eliasson, Mark Rothko, Marc Behrens, Casey Reas, Lia, but any list as this will always lack many fundamental names.


What is your favorite art work ?

Who is your favorite artist?


To be honest, I think it’s quite impossible to answer these questions. There are many many artists and artworks that have influenced our work and that continuously make us question our practice, so it’s very difficult to pinpoint a single artist or artwork. I think we live in a continuous flux of references, where the significance of an artwork or artist is not static, but rather framed by each particular context of access, reference, etc.

Respiro by Pedro Tudela and Miguel Carvalhais, oMuseu, FBAUP, Porto, March 12 to 27, 2015, photo from

Respiro by  Miguel Carvalhais and Pedro Tudela, oMuseu, FBAUP, Porto, March 12 to 27, 2015, photo from


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