AURA Festival – 5ª edition
Light Atmospheres
Sintra, 2019

The 5th Edition of the Aura initiates a cycle of artistic programming dedicated to the connection between the Art of Light, the environment, and human societies, as well as how these dimensions relate in a multiplicity of interdependencies. 

The night scene of the Sintra cultural landscape, from Volta do Duche to Quinta da Regaleira, is transformed by the art of light through ten original artworks: multimedia projections, interactive audio-visual installations, light and biomimetic sculptures that will enable new encounters in public spaces and provoke intrigue and an appreciation for the town's heritage. All these interventions require the darkness of night in order to be seen and delighted in. Thus, for us, light is seen here as a language that provides an understanding of the world. 

The artists selected for this edition were asked to create artworks that not only dealt with the festival's theme but, at the same time, could take into consideration the site-specificity of each particular piece’s location. In order to allow this endeavour to be possible, we applied a cross-disciplinary approach while working closely with artists, scientists, architects and artisans, renewing links between creative technologies, experience, knowledge, emotions, ethics and aesthetics.

For the first time in Portugal, Luke Jerram's GAIA lands at the wonderful valley of the Rio do Porto. GAIA is a globe measuring 7 metres in diameter, 1.8 million times smaller than planet earth. Seen at a distance of 211 meters, it has exactly the same dimension viewed by the astronauts when they saw our planet for the first time from the lunar surface: a blue globe, suspended in black space.  

Around GAIA, the craftsman of light, Markus Jordan, takes ownership of a local piece of the earth's soil using artisanal techniques to create a topography of the landscape that, only in appearance, resembles a computer-generated image. 

Colmeia/Hive is an audio and video installation by DJ Johnny that will bring us authentic living legends of the national music and visual scene: DJ Tiago, VJ Luis Lazarus, DJ Skalator, VJ Miguel Osório, DJ Johnny, PTV, DJ Wize and VJ Uliarud Uliarud. Located in the Aura Lounge at Volta do Duche, this installation reinforces the importance of collaborative work in defending the biodiversity of our planet.

Torsten Muhlbach plants, literally, a Rainbow at the Jardim dos Castanheiros, tangible and contrasting with the dark night. Invoking a language adjacent to pop-art, “Rainbow” is an installation that plays with the natural light phenomenon of the rainbow. During rainfall and given the right conditions, we can sometimes observe a rainbow across the sky, a phenomenon caused by the interplay between water and sunlight. The natural light is split up into its colours and we can see them appearing as an arc in the sky.

The interactive video mapping is particularly highlighted in this issue. Oskar & Gaspar, GrandspasLab, Matthieu Tercieux, and Kosuta will occupy the facades and the walls that expose the rich heritage of the town: Jardim dos Castanheiros, Sintra National Palace, São Martinho church, and Wall of Pizões. Visitors will be able to discover life between the stones of a wall by sculpting them with a laser, see the virtual collapse of a historical monument to experience the feeling of emptiness and disorientation in the absence of memory, simulate a future in which the traces of marine life will be nothing more than plastic packaging, or participate in an interactive projection over water, in which each visitor sets the dynamics and the pace of this uterine environment through projected silhouettes. 

The large scale biomimetic sculpture of the artistic collective Error43 draws Aura's path to an end at Quinta da Regaleira. Nature works here as an inspiration to find solutions and hope for the future. 

Establishing a dialogue between art, science, and technology, the artistic practices underline the growing importance of reflecting upon the dimensions and consequences of the planetary changes caused by humans. If the ecological crisis is the consequence of global capitalism, and despite all the accumulated knowledge in recent decades, we now know the non-humans are not the only ones at risk but humanity itself, as an integral part of the global ecosystem, or world-systems.  Which synergies must now be developed for the future to be possible?

Patrícia Freire

Artistic Director

Sintra 2019