Approaching Uruguayan culture through the lens of New Media Arts: summary of event held at the '

The implementation of digital technologies to traditional aspects of Uruguayan culture provides a fertile playground to hybridize the past and the future. In the event titled 'Approaching Uruguayan culture through the lens of new media arts', three artists from Uruguay (Luisa Pereira, Marco Guarino, and Martin Calvino) currently working in New York City talked about their efforts in applying cutting edge technology to explore sound art, candombe and tango. The event also counted with invited artist Lu Wang who performed an experimental music piece, and special guest artists Jusleine Daniel and Stratos Achlatis who danced a traditional tango piece. The event was curated by Martin Calvino and sponsored by the Consulate General of Uruguay in New York and took place on 420 Madison Avenue (6th Floor) on Thursday October 11 of 2018 (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Images displaying the promotional fliers for the event. Courtesy of Martin Calvino and Consulate General of Uruguay. Dancers featured in fliers are Jusleine Daniel and Hugo Visoso.

The schedule for the night was as follow:

Introductory Remarks (Federico Zanatta & Martin Calvino)

Talk_1 (Marco Guarino)

Talk_2 (Luisa Pereira)

Talk_3 (Martin Calvino)

Experimental Audiovisual Performance (Lu Wang & Martin Calvino)

Tango Dance Performance (Jusleine Daniel & Stratos Achlatis)

Talk_1 > Genealogy Of A Rhythm (Marco Guarino)

Marco's talk focused on describing his work on relating geography to musical rhythms that gave rise to candombe. He also presented a very interesting documentation of his efforts in digitizing several aspects of candombe and bringing this information to different media platforms such as 360-video and virtual reality. Marco also performed candombe by playing a self-made musical instrument (Figure 2).

Marco's biography_

Marco Fernando Guarino is an American musician and visual artist of Italo-Uruguayan ancestry. In 2016 he started ITP-NYU (Interactive Telecommunications Program) where he experimented with designing and building interfaces for musical instruments. During this time he learns about ethnomusicologist, Alan Lomax, whose work inspired Marco’s Master’s Thesis, Genealogy of a Rhythm (2018), which remains a work in progress. In Genealogy, Marco documents Candombe using modern tools such as 360 video, Motion Capturing, Virtual Reality, and Machine Learning to create a modern, anthropological data set. Currently, Marco curates and produces an interactive exhibit, 'Liminal Instruments', showcasing New Media pieces that challenge the status quo of Music Technology to ask the age old question, “What is a musical instrument?”

Figure 2. Pictures depicting Marco's talk. Photo courtesy of Federico Zanatta.

Talk_2 > Designing Interactive Interfaces (Luisa Pereira)

Luisa's talk focused on describing her extensive work on designing and building interactive interfaces for music. She presented very interesting instances in which she physically manifested architectural patterns and rules of music composition by printing 3D objects and creating light sculptures. Luisa also described her self-made musical boxes constructed as physical interfaces for musical composition based on algorithms and musical rules (Figure 3).

Luisa's biography_

Luisa Pereira is an Uruguayan artist, engineer and musician based in Brooklyn. She creates interactive music pieces, which have been exhibited internationally at venues like the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago de Chile, the Loop Summit in Berlin, and the New Museum’s art and technology incubator in New York City, where she was an inaugural member.

Figure 3. Pictures depicting Luisa's talk. Photo courtesy of Aarón Montoya-Moraga & Federico Zanatta.

Talk_3 > Combining art, technology and tango (Martin Calvino)

Martin's talk focused on describing his work on applying art and technology to tango; in particular music visualization and composition, motion capture of tango dancers, lyric generation using machine learning, and tango stories portrayed through short films and sound stories (Figure 4). Martin also presented a video-art piece that accompanied Lu Wang's experimental sound performance at the event (Figure 5).

Martin's biography_

Martin Calvino is an Uruguayan media artist and creative technologist focusing on the integration of art with science, new media art and tango, and the artistic applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence. He was a Senior Research Assistant at the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong; and previously attended the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. He holds degrees in Plant Molecular Genetics from Rutgers University (PhD) and Tsukuba University (MS), and in Molecular Biology from the University of the Republic of Uruguay (BS). He conducted studies and worked under the sponsorship of prestigious fellowships such as Fulbright (USA) and Monbukagakusho (Japan); and in 2012 received the ‘Eileen Brennan Graduate Research Award’ from the department of Plant Biology & Pathology at Rutgers in recognition for his scientific output. Martin’s art at the intersection with plant genomics has been featured on -CLOT Magazine-, whereas his work on new media art and tango has been featured on -ART UNCOVERED-.

Figure 4. Pictures depicting Martin's talk. Photo courtesy of Aarón Montoya-Moraga & Federico Zanatta.

Experimental Audiovisual Performance (Lu Wang & Martin Calvino)

Lu's experimental audio performance focused on re-mixing a traditional tango song (Milonga del Novecientos) with a diverse array of sounds she had collected from different sources (street sounds for instance). She performed the re-mixing in real time by interacting with a physical interface (MIDI controller) that modulated parameters of a computer algorithm handling audio files (Figure 5).

Martin's video-art piece accompanying Lu's performance focused on the moving bodies of a tango couple (Jusleine Daniel & Hugo Visoso) as windows that revealed fond memories of candombe from the streets of Montevideo (Figure 5).

Lu's biography_

Lu Wang (dk) is a talented and accomplished composer, performer, audio-visual artist, and photographer. Lu was born in Inner Mongolia, China and currently resides in New York. Lu's musical versatility and sensibilities are displayed in her work on over 30 films, installations, video games, and live performance. Her recent works include the recording project at London AIR Studios, Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in Spain, film music recording projects with Budapest Art orchestra, electronic music performance and music installations in 3LD Art & Technology Center, Babycastle, Littlefield in New York, AR Short Films in IAC center in New York City. Lu holds a masters degree from the Berklee College of Music in Scoring for Film, Television and Video Games and master degree from NYU Tisch School of the Arts in Interactive telecommunications.

Figure 5. Pictures depicting Lu's audio performance accompanied by video-art piece form Martin. Photo courtesy of Aarón Montoya-Moraga & Federico Zanatta.

Tango Dance Performance (Jusleine Daniel & Stratos Achlatis)

Jusleine & Stratos dance performance focused on the interpretation of 'Tu Corazon' from the orchestra of Donato Racciatti (Uruguay) with female voice of Nina Miranda (Uruguay). Their performance infused the audience with a feeling for traditional and corporeal expression of culture and gave the event a nice (and intended) contrast to the previous talk and performance that were technologically oriented (Figure 6).

Jusleine's biography_

Jusleine Daniel is an Argentinean-American tango dancer and licensed psycotherapist. She fuses tango dance with psychotherapy sessions to enhance human wellbeing. She has a life-long history of engaging in cultural activities, for instance she co-founded MateAmargo Tango and the Rutgers University tango club to share the culture of tango dance and music throughout New Jersey.

Stratos's biography_

Stratos studied vocal performance at the Institute of Vocal Arts and Research under the supervision of the renowned baritone Spyros Sakkas. In 2008 he moves to Munich to study Art Song and Oratorium with German Bass Hartmut Elbert and since 2010 with the American Bass-Baritone Peter Ludwig. He has performed for the Contemporary Opera of Athens (2007-2008), for the Theater and in numerous concerts in Europe and the US. Stratos was the founder of the children’s theatrical company “Paigniodos” and has recorded various songbooks for kids. In 2010 he moved to New York where he founded his tango band 'Tango Meditarraneo' and lately 'Los Peores' del Tango and has collaborated with various artists across the city.

Figure 6. Pictures depicting Jusleine & Stratos dance performance. Photo courtesy of Federico Zanatta.

Concluding Remarks_

The event provided a unique instance to explore the role of media technologies in traditional aspects of Uruguayan culture. The event was well received and the audience participated actively in asking questions and in interacting with artists during the socializing segment of the event.


I would like to thank Consul General Pauline Davies and her team for their encouraging support in the realization of the event. I also would like to thank the participating artists and the audience who attended.


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