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Contract With The Skin

by Paulo Henrique


A Collaborative, multimedia based movement project where the concept developed from the cell nucleus. Approached in allegorical and symbolic terms, allowing distinct readings, thus transforming the notions that are stereotypically understood to be society's unwritten "contract with the skin". The piece encompasses the theme of how the "Skin" relates to: shelter, home, identity, gender, geography. It envelopes the multiple textures of the body, the voice, sugesting many separate and unique interpretations.

In this project technology was used to sample and zoom in on different textures and surfaces that were used as a morphing background to the stage. The computer images were triggered in a random way by the performers map space. Two TV monitors were used with a surveillance camera that would be intercepted with pre-recorded textures of the performance space or external textures. Simultaneously another computer would project words to the left wing of the stage with live writing.

A scanner is also used, scanning the skin of a male performer and this is projected on the back of the stage on a full length screen. This overlaps visually with the female performer's movement dynamics. The movement ideas were developed from the cell structure, nucleus, cytoplasm membrane, the skin as an envelope; it's fluid architecture and flexibility, a constantly regenerating cover, serving as genesis of the creative tissue. The lighting design was computerized in sharp sequences - having the cell membrane as the main structural idea, as well using segmentation and localization applied to the performance space / performance bodies. In terms of sound, several corridors of sound were created (synthetic sounds, organic sounds, various samples of: instruments, the performer's voices and political speachs) and they would be mixed in real time according to the path of the day's performance. There was a basic specific structure/sound map that could be intersected by new sounds but always respecting the established environment.

There is still the possibility to foster this multimedia set-up on a next stage by working with sensors (temperature and proximity) and having room for audience to trigger changes to the imagery that envelope trough the use of mobile phones (vibration sensors).

"Partial Disclosures" (a series of wall mounted photo installations) by Robert Flynt was shown alongside "Contract with the skin", creating a continuous symbiotic relationship. The respective examinations of corporeality and its discontents provided a rich, provocative source for a wide-ranging audience.

The interactive website "Contract with The Skin" by Manuel Granja, was included in the 'Excellent Artists' list in the Art On the Net 2001 competition by the Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts, Tokyo.::


Performers/dancers - Maria Joao Neves, Susana Mendes, Joana Trindade, Vania Rovisco, Paulo Henrique, Dramaturgy - Ezequiel Santos, Sound - Rui Leitao, Set Design /Costumes - Andre Guedes & Catarina Campino, Multimedia - Manuel Granja / Helder Luis, Photography - Robert Flynt
Assistance: Ana Mira / Margarida Pinto Coelho

Executive Production - Ana Isidro, Production - Rumo do Fumo.

Venue: Belem Cultural Center, Grande Auditorium, Lisbon

Date: Premiered in Lisbon on the 1st of November 2000 at Belem Cultural Center

Technology: Digital projection, Macintosh, Digital video camera, Sony MiniDisc, Digital AV mixer WJ-AVE70, Sony scanner XV-T600,