Opening of NATO Headquarters Media Art Exhibition

João Martinho Moura, 2019
Deputy Secretary-General, Rose Gottemoeller, inaugurating media art exhibition by João Martinho Moura. NATO Headquarters, 2019

Picture: Deputy Secretary-General Rose Gottemoeller, hosting and interacting with the artwork. The opening of NATO Headquarters Art Exhibition, by João Martinho Moura, 2019.
(video below). Image source.

March 6, 2019

I am honored to premiere the first media art exhibition at the new NATO headquarters, in Brussels. The inauguration took place last Wednesday at NATO’s new building’s ‘Central Agora’ hosted by Deputy Secretary-General, Rose Gottemoeller, with the presence of Portuguese Permanent Representative Ambassador, Luís de Almeida Sampaio, and Deputy Secretary-General for Executive Management, Wayne J. Bush. An event under the EU Arts and Science STARTS initiative.

For the inauguration ceremony, a memorable moment with Portuguese choreographer Né Barros and performer Sónia Cunha (Balleteatro, Porto), music by Martinho Moura/João Martinho Moura. Special thanks to Curator Luís Girão, Project Manager Maria L’Episcopo, and all the team involved, for their enormous efforts in the last weeks to make it happen. Video on the left by NATO’s Spokesperson Oana Lungescu.

On exhibition at NATO HQ for the next month, the artwork is always changing and acquiring countless different forms, based on the surrounding environment, responding to the movements and gestures of the viewers, and linking shapes and actions over the time, encouraging dialogue and cooperation – in-between meetings. Visitors and passersby, therefore, themselves become part of the work and define its appearance. The artwork induces observation, inclusion, reflection, and speculation, essential for our development and evolution as a society.

João Martinho Moura

NATO’s new Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
Image source.

Video of exhibition:

Video: The opening of NATO Headquarters Art Exhibition (by João Martinho Moura, 2019).
Deputy Secretary-General Rose Gottemoeller, hosting and interacting with the artwork.
Inauguration moment: Performance on 6/March/19. Choreography: Né Barros (Balleteatro); Performer: Sónia Cunha (Balleteatro);
Music: Martinho Moura/ João Martinho Moura.
6 March 2019
Video source.



Opening of NATO Headquarters Art Exhibition – João Martinho Moura, STARTS Residencies Artist
STARTS EU. March 6, 2019. Link

João Martinho Moura Exhibits Interactive Artwork at NATO Headquarters
Portuguese Delegation To The North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
March 7, 2019. 

João Martinho Moura Expõe Peça Interativa na Sede da NATO (in Portuguese)
Delegação Portuguesa Junto da Organização do Tratado do Atlântico Norte
Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros
March 7, 2019. Link

ICYMI The 1st digital interactive #art work was inaugurated at #NATO HQ this week
Oana Lungescu
March 6, 2019. 

interactive art installation by Portuguese 🇵🇹 digital artist Joao Martinho Moura @jmartinho
March 6, 2019. 

Pleased to open a new art exhibition at #NATO featuring an interactive piece by Portuguese artist @jmatinho 🇵🇹 Go check it out!
March 7, 2019. Link

Performer Sónia Cunha (Balleteatro). Inauguration moment. Image source.

Media gallery:

Pictures: The opening of NATO Headquarters Art Exhibition
by João Martinho Moura, 2019. Inauguration moment.

Picture sources: Source1 , Source2

Artwork: WIDE/SIDE (custom version for NATO, 2019)
Artist: João Martinho Moura
Year of creation: 2015
Previously related artworks: YMYI (2007), NUVE (2010), B/SIDE (2012)
Technical rider: computer code, visual algorithms, large display block, music, sound, sensors. Area of 30x30x10m

WIDE/SIDE is an interactive installation in which shapes, images, and moving visuals promote a dialog with the audience, becoming an integral part of the result. A visually engaging block, captivating in its almost monochromatic conception and minimalist lines. As a result, the installation is always changing and acquiring countless different forms, based on the surrounding environment, responding to the movements and gestures of the viewers. Visitors and passersby, therefore, themselves become part of the work and define its appearance. The body is represented digitally in abstract space and generatively changed in time. The artwork induces observation, inclusion, reflection, and speculation, essential for our development and evolution as a society.

Performance moment credits:
Performance moment, artwork inauguration (6/March/2019):
Media artist: João Martinho Moura
Choreography: Né Barros
Performer: Sónia Cunha
Music: Martinho Moura / João Martinho Moura

Interview, João Martinho Moura, by Curator Luis Girão (October 2018)

What is your personal history of becoming an artist using the digital medium? In particular, did you discover yourself as an artist through a prior interest in computer science, or did you, as an artist, discover this medium when studying computer science?

I started exploring the digital medium at 12, with an Amiga computer, and at that age had my first experiences coding visuals and sound. The simple act of making a few lines of code and seeing the visual result really captivated my interest. At the same time, I was also involved in the arts, especially music, I learned piano and clarinet for several years. At the age of 18 I started working in a school of arts in Porto (Universidade Católica), creating multimedia interactive prototypes, and realized that I should learn code and algorithms more seriously, so I opted to study mathematics, computer sciences and information systems in an engineering school (University of Minho), to have an in-depth knowledge in the field, with the goal to develop media artworks with computers. After those first studies, I continued my formation in digital arts, following my interest in moving images, visual algorithms, making graphics and sonorities through codes.

In other terms, if you no longer had access to a computer, how would you continue to practice your art?

I think I would explore the world and its beauty in other forms.

Interactive digital art is relatively recent in the history of artistic expression, but we could say that it is also now established as an accepted art form. What other innovations do you see developing through which the artist will interact with the spectator?

We are at a turning point, in the world in general, in scientific development and in artistic approaches to our environment. The relationship between the artist and the spectator has always been in constant evolution, presenting new ways to be explored. I think this relationship tends to be increasingly interactive, the audience is becoming an integral part of the final artwork, of the creation, even becoming co-creator.

Some people might find it odd, both for the artist and for the organization, to display artwork at NATO HQ, a military alliance located in a high-security venue with strictly limited public access. What is the significance, for you, of showing your art at NATO, as opposed, for example, to another public organization, or in a museum, or in a public square? What is the added value for you, as well as for NATO? How can both come away stronger and enriched?

NATO acts as an observer of the world, of its politics, of the relationships between people and nations, its stability, security, and freedom. Surveillance equipment is present in our daily life, from cameras installed throughout cities and buildings, to tracking devices used for several purposes, to the cameras on our smartphones. I work a lot with cameras and sensors in my artworks, since the last 15 years, using surveillance equipment and tracking devices in a different way, as a means to create, to achieve something that is appealing, that provokes a reaction, reflection, and awareness. The artifacts I create are systems with codes as agents, sometimes agglomerations of points, sometimes simple geometric lines that continually seek to find stability in an image that is formed in real time, triggered by the interactions of different participants. I have already exhibited in many countries, from America to Europe and Asia, I have seen varied reactions in various cultures and societies. Because of these differences and similarities, I constantly need to give the piece some stability, even an abstract one, in the audio-visual representations. My works usually act as observers, audience observers, and promote co-interactions over space and time, between participants. In a way, both our purposes have similarities, and it will be an interesting dialog for me as an artist and NATO as an organization.

Art has had a long and complex relationship with politics and the military: it has been used to commemorate battles and celebrate the martial tradition; it has been used to oppose war and political actions; invading armies have looted art for profit and destroyed art and cultural artifacts to demoralize a population; and the military has intervened to protect art and, by providing stability and freedom, has provided artists with a safe place to create. How can contemporary art, and digital, interactive art, in particular, help shape this relationship in a positive way?

Art is deeply related to some form of representation of the world, but it is also intrinsically connected with awareness, with the capacity one has of questioning the world, in any given form, and digital and interactive art can have a core role in inducing observation, inclusion, reflection, and speculation that are essential for our development and evolution as a society. With a more evolved society, social conflict and instability tend to decrease, which benefits the relationship mentioned.

Cross nation collaboration is very important, as an example, I was recently laureated at the EU STARTS initiative that promotes the inclusion of artists in innovation projects funded across many nations in Europe. STARTS promotes the arts as catalysts for efficient conversion of science and technology knowledge into products, services, and processes. Those practices should naturally lead to an original artwork based on the project technology featuring novel use-cases with a high potential for innovation.

Artistic expression is the very essence of free speech. Can you see a positive relationship between the artist’s need for freedom to express himself and the role of a military alliance such as NATO?

NATO, in its history, has defended artists and works of art from annihilation and censorship from dictatorships. NATO also tries to defend the citizens of the world rights of self-expression and free speech, so I think an artist need of freedom and expression is something that shares the same principles of NATO, an organization that aims to solve conflicts peacefully and that works to restore peace and ensure world security and freedom.

João Martinho Moura. Sci-fi Miners (2019)

About João Martinho Moura

Researcher and media artist born in Portugal. His interests lie in digital art, intelligent interfaces, digital music, and computational aesthetics. João Martinho Moura has a special interest in real-time visualization, art & science, computer music, and digital interactive artifacts. For the past decade, he has been adopting new ways to represent the body in digital media, creating interactive audiovisual artifacts, mostly represented by monochromatic visual abstractions and minimalist lines.

João Martinho Moura has presented his work and research in a variety of conferences related to the arts and technology. He has collaborated with the development of projects related to scientific data visualization for ESA (European Space Agency) space missions. From 2015 to 2017 he was an active member, as media artist consultant and contributor, for the application of the city of Braga to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network – Braga Media Arts. The title of ‘UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts’ was attributed to the city of Braga on the 31st of October 2017.

In 2013 João Martinho Moura received, in Lisbon, the National Multimedia Award – Art & Culture, from APMP Multimedia Association in Portugal, for his contributions in the field of art and technology in Portugal.

Studied computer sciences and obtained a master degree in digital arts, both at the University of Minho and is pursuing a Ph.D. in science and technology of the arts at the School of Arts of Universidade Católica Portuguesa.

Since 2015, invited lecturer at Escola Superior de Tecnologia at IPCA – Polytechnic Institute of Cavado and Ave. Between 2010-2013, was invited lecturer at the Master Program in Technology and Digital Arts, at the University of Minho, Portugal, teaching Media Art and Programming for Digital Arts.

His work has been presented in a variety of places in Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, México, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, UK, USA and was included in the curated collections “Selected Works ARS ELECTRONICA Animation Festival (Linz, 2012)” and the “Processing curated collection (USA, 2008).”


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List of works