Marc Vilanova in collaboration with Rodrigo Waihiwe

Marc Vilanova (1991) is a sound and visual artist working at the intersection of art, science, and technology. Vilanova’s artistic production has always been led by a spirit of innovation fueled by an interest in new media. His practice combines sound/light installations, performance, and sculpture. He has received numerous grants, awards, and residencies and his pieces have been presented in Japan, the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Iran, Taiwan, South Korea, Russia, and many countries in Europe. 

Architect and Urban Planner by training, Rodrigo Waihiwe works in the creative area through digital and parametric platforms of three-dimensional modelling oriented to digital fabrication in various scales. He also operates with authorial works, helping other artists and professionals in the fields of Fine Art, Architecture, Urbanism, and jewellery with his brand ZZYYXX.


In Dialogue: Artist Talk with gnration, Braga

gnration: The work you're developing here, in gnration, involves waterfalls. How did you think of this idea of cascades of light?

Marc Vilanova: In my last pieces I've been working a lot with frequencies we cannot perceive, as humans. I worked with infrasound, in a previous work, and here I wanted to work with infrasound we find in nature. The cascades are the only source of infra-sounding frequencies that is continuous in nature. Other sources like volcanoes or earthquakes happen in a short time, but cascades are something continuous. They produce this massive, really deep, extremely low frequencies which can travel for hundreds of kilometres from the source, and we cannot perceive them, we cannot hear them, but other species can. Some studies see how some birds can hear, perceive and sense those frequencies. The birds use them to navigate when they make big migrations, when they travel from North America to South America, they remember where the waterfalls are, they sense them and they know the way, among other senses of course such as atmospheric pressure or the magnetic north. But listing to infrasonic vibration is one sense used for their navigation. So, I got inspired by that and I started doing a residency in Canada to record waterfalls, and to see what's happening. I found a lot of infra-sounding material there and, in the piece, I use it in small speakers. I have a curtain of small speakers which are not able to reproduce infrasound, but they vibrate. They attempt to play the infrasound; they make the mechanical action to reproduce them and these mechanics are translated into a fibre optic that is hanging from those speakers. It's a luminescent fibre optic, a really thin and flexible cable illuminated whole the way, and the vibration of the speaker resonates on the cable. You can see it vibrating on those sounds that are imperceptible to us. So, it's a curtain where you can see it, you can hear the vibration and you can also go through and feel with your skin the vibrations on the cables, in your body.

gnration: How did you come across the idea of using the fibre optic cables? Was it a material you wanted to work with?

Marc Vilanova: I think materials, ideas, and concepts surround us and sometimes they come together into a piece. I did a scenography for a friend of mine in Barcelona where we used fibre optics, but normal ones. It was the first time I experienced that material. Then I had an idea for a piece, a completely different piece than this one, where’d use fibre optics that I never made it, it’s still there as an idea. With waterfalls, I found this really nice material, it’s a fibre optic that's surrounded by phosphor, and normally fibre optics you put light in one end, and it goes out on the other end. But this one has a permanent light throughout the whole cable. It's not that I have an idea and look for the material; it's not that I have the material and I go look for an idea. Many materials surround you in a research mood and many ideas too, and sometimes they collapse and produce something.

gnration: Previously you worked a lot with saxophones, and sound, first performances and then installations using saxophones. I'd like to ask what's your relationship with the instrument and how was the transition between performing with a saxophone to exhibit.

Marc Vilanova: I'm music trained. I did the conservatory and studied music and my instrument was the saxophone since I was six or seven years old. I started exploring a lot with the saxophone, I explored extended techniques, explored having electronics inside it, microphones, water, lights, whatever you could imagine with a saxophone; finding all the sounds, trying different sounds with the mouth. And I did a lot of performances, I was playing a lot of improvisation, on projects, on music, and so on. But at some point, it was also just this object all the time, it was limiting to having just that tube. At some point, I didn't know what else to find, so that’s when I opened the door to installation work, where there was an open page. It was something new for me, I could learn a lot from every project. The first piece was a transition piece, I had an installation with saxophones, and it went from there. I still play, but the focus now is installations. It's a different approach. I miss sometimes being on stage and having this physical interaction and feeling the energy with the people and responding to it. In installations, the installation is running, and you are there in a corner and you don't have that feeling. But I like it, I learn more, and it allows me to grow in a better way.