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Museum of electricity / casa da luz / Funchal - 10 august to 1 september 2001 

The Empresa de Electricidade da Madeira (Madeira's Electricity Company) is usually associated with our recent collective history. Whether we want to or not, we are inextricably connected to it via the uninterrupted "electric current" through which industry, science, technology, economic development and culture have revealed themselves as exponential conductors (as in wire) connecting us to new configurations of reality, induced by light speed. The fast come about of a unifying electric field that, according to McLuhan, has eliminated ancestral time and space concepts of human association - of which Internet is a recent example - has conditioned our biological dependence to a new artificial environment, where an occasional prolonged black out can mean a catastrophe. Although we can willingly choose between on or off as a state, this current has already outdone our individual desires and "electrified" the most insignificant gestures of our daily lives. It has indeed restructured almost the whole of our devices and standardized them at a planetary scale, installing a measuring unit for it’s consumption: the watt.

Although technically defined as a unit for electric power, equivalent to the power of an ampere, under the difference of potential of a volt, watt fundamentally translates the economic representation of a socially rooted consumption that we can no longer do without. It even takes us to behave like real junkies, as we are insatiably increasing its consumption. It has caught us. More than water, it has psychically created a state of continuous organic semi-dependence. Its deprivation in an urban context plunges us in a complex existential hang over. And to many artists, like us, its abstinence could mean abandoning the work.

Electro-junkies, from the slightest electrical discharge of a volt, to the maze-like virtual voyages in cyberspace, we proposed feed-backing into the old thermal power station known in Madeira as Casa da Luz (House of Light) our myriad of artistic practices, such as computer art, electrography, etc.… If in any way our project calls for the mythical and ubiquitous energy stolen from Zeus, it's in Casa da Luz, by it's history and by it’s present museological trend, with an area dedicated to temporary exhibitions, and for what it represents in our imaginary that we found the generating poles of this enterprise.

This physical affection to a place assumes, however, it's own dematerialization, since, at it's limit, electrical light is instantaneous, diffuse and radically decentred, until the utopian consumption of geographical deprivation and "organic" of the website. The construction of a website in the World Wide Web, in permanent construction and open to artists who want to interact with this project, is therefore an intrinsic issue that we want to start up soon. It will conceptually place the project in another stand, far beyond this exhibition's time and space, ephemeral and geographically placed, it integrates it into the net, whose support is in the redemptive and liberating electrical current that, euphemistically speaking, seams to want to separate our spirit from matter. And it's with this spirit that we search, as artists conscious of the fact that technological means recreate man. Making this exhibition a foundation of new projects that will, in due time, come out under the common denominator that originated it: What is Watt?


Thanks to: Galeria porta 33; Secção Autónoma de Arte e Design da Universidade da Madeira; Direcção Regional dos Assuntos Culturais







2007 a

2007 b