Portuguese filmmaker and visual artist Pedro Maia collaborates with numerous musicians across the rock and electronic scenes. He is a part of a younger generation that builds upon the tradition of Expanded Cinema and expands the aesthetic and technological “heritage” of classic film procedures of working with 16mm and 8mm material. Pedro Maia will present a selection of his work in an individual presentation and will perform with British musician Vessel on their audio-visual event, which is thematically connected to the recording Punish, Honey (Tri Angle, 2014). Slovakian musician Jonatán Pastirčák praises Vessel’s music for its “delicate production and disharmony. Every sound has its specific space and character. Maybe that is what adds the inimitable atmosphere to his compositions; it feels as if he accidentally found himself at the warehouse party gig of a band of robotic skeletons playing instruments handmade from various metal scraps and wires found in an abandoned factory.” Vessel publishes at Tri Angle Records and Young Echo.
MM You worked on visuals for Vessel. Was there some theme or content that was discussed in advance with Vessel?
PM Everything started when I saw Vessel playing in Berlin before Punish, Honey was released where he was already playing that material. On the same night I wrote to his manager saying that I really would like to do something with him and after a few months we met in person when he returned to play at Berlin Atonal Festival. Since then we stayed in touch changing ideas and references. We decided what we both want to avoid and that the visual work need to be dark and sinister, but that it has to be clear that it is not overly serious or po-faced. Our idea was to explore a strong element of self-depreciation and also sex, but not in a “sexy” way. As humans, we experience sexual desires in strange, unpleasant, extreme ways that are entirely subjective. Then I was also talking with Harry Wright, who did the album art-work and Vessel’s video Red Sex, and all the idea/work come together. Our collaboration was to be only the live cinema (AV show) that was done with Super 8 shooting I did in Berlin for this live AV with extra footage shoot by Harry for Red Sex, but after premiering the show at Unsound 2014 we decided also to make the Drowned in Water and Light video and tour the show.
MM Your work is based a lot on classical film material. Is this choice because of the aesthetic aspects of the image, or is it more about apparat itself and processes of projection used during performance or installation?
PM I study cinema and since I was 16 I’ve worked at a film festival in Portugal where I got in contact with a wide variety of films. Since then, I have spent hours watching and discussing films. Luckily, that festival main focus is experimental and avant-garde film, so since the beginning, I was interested in that kind of filmmaking. I have gradually discovered great filmmakers/artists that use celluloid film as part of their work and not only as a medium. So the cinematic apparatus was always something important (and this before digital projection and good video cameras). Thenceforward, I was very fascinated by the special way of working with celluloid film, and the respect that comes with this work. As time passed by, I got more focused on the so called “Analogue” Cinema. It started to play a big role in my work. And the further exploration of the potentiality of the medium is something that I’m focusing on.
MM You work a lot with different musicians on visuals. Can we say about some contemporary live audiovisual sets, that started to be more about relation between film and soundtrack and this experience modify club scene into the cinema existence?
PM I think that nowadays there is almost a forced necessity that all the shows need to have a video component. I think the AV term is being overused. In most of the cases, the visual work is not necessary at all and can really ruin the show. I can just tell, from my experience of course, but I really don’t like to see when a visual work is not related to music, or when it does not add anything to the show. I have seen many good shows that became bad because of the visual work. I have already refused some collaborations myself, because I thought that the show was strong enough to work without visuals, and that what I would add nothing to it, and in the end, to use visual work as something like moving wallpaper, I think, is terrible. But I think that all of this came because of my background, which is more related to filmmaking, not to visual art. So when I do a collaboration I always need to think that my work could also work on a cinema room without the musician apparatus. And for me, in that case, when you add the image to the music it will be really strong and will always have something to add.
Pedro Maia interviewed by Martin Mazanec
5 Dec | 9 pm | TM Vessel (GB) & Pedro Maia (PT) AV performance | Animation beyond Animation
6 Dec | 3 pm | FA Pedro Maia (PT): Imperfect Film presentation | Animation beyond Animation
Part of the Festivals of Live Cinema project activities.