Alexandre Estrela

Flat Bells

Nov 4, 2023–Jan 7, 2024

MoMA

Alexandre Estrela. Dianying (detail). 2023. computer-generated video and shadow projection. Courtesy the artist and Travesía Cuatro, Madrid
  • MoMA, Floor 4, Studio The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Studio

With his first New York exhibition, Flat Bells, Portuguese artist Alexandre Estrela brings shimmering video animations and an immersive soundscape to the Kravis Studio, dictated by the ever-changing rhythm of an algorithmic system designed by the artist.

To create Flat Bells, Estrela took inspiration from a set of 1980s-era printing plates with geometric patterns that he found in an abandoned press near his former Lisbon studio. Once used to create graphic logos for now-forgotten companies, the pocket-sized metal objects struck the artist both as accidental works of geometric abstraction and traces of technical obsolescence from the early digital age. In the Studio, Estrela developed a room-sized environment based on these patterns, consisting of four engraved hanging screens and a large-scale centerpiece projection. The screens emit a series of sounds which the artist created by “playing” each plate as if it were a gong or a bell. The screens’ dual function—as both projection surface and acoustic tool—builds on the artist’s longstanding experimentation with materials and perception.

Flat Bells is algorithmically generated, but Estrela remains interested in how its actions can echo animal behavior. Components respond to each other, creating an ever-changing rhythmic dialogue experienced as shifts in tempo, color, and timbre in the room. Drawing on a long history of self-generating artworks, from automated computer graphics to kinetic sculpture, Estrela’s moving image environment proposes a new model to consider forms of artificial life.

Sound conception:
Alexandre Estrela, Borja Caro

Sound design and programming:
Borja Caro

Sound capture:
Oswaldo Terrones

Image post-production:
Black Box Atelier

3D Modeling:
Marco Bene, Pedro Paula Santos

Video engineering:
Jørgen Noodt Skjærvold

Research:
Marco Bene

Design:
Ana Baliza

The artist gratefully acknowledges Marta Moita, Julia Moita, Manel Costa, Luiza Teixeira de Freitas, João Frazão, João Miguel Serralha (Arara), Gonçalo Gato, Marco Franco, Gabriel Ferrandini, Fala Mariam, Sei Miguel, Rodrigo Constanzo, David Pinto, Alex Harker, The FluCoMa Project, Alfonso Renart, Joe Paton, Hugo Amorim, António Rijo de Carvalho, Pedro Paula Santos, Gabriel Abrantes, Gonçalo Pena, Giovanbattista Tusa, Natxo Checa, ZDB gallery, Matthew Post (Post Brothers), João Maria Gusmão, Daniel Blaufuks, Gérard Faggionato, Inés López-Quesada, Silvia Ortiz, Travesía Cuatro team, Igor Jesus, Gonçalo Barreiros, Ferdinand Bene, Filipa da Rocha Nunes, Luz Fernandes, Cristina Caetano, Joaquim Ramos, Ricardo Vitoria, Sandra Pires, Francisco António Duarte Lopes, Francisco Guimarães and Ellie Ga.

Organized by Sophie Cavoulacos, Associate Curator, Department of Film, with May Makki, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance.

The exhibition is presented as part of The Hyundai Card Performance Series.

Leadership funding is provided by the Jill and Peter Kraus Endowed Fund for Contemporary Exhibitions.

Major support is provided by the Sarah Arison Endowment Fund for Performance and by the Wallis Annenberg Director's Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art.

Artist

Installation images

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