I recommend Ommandala

“Ommandala”, a recent installation piece by Pedro Alves da Veiga, is currently on display at the Cerveira Biennale in Portugal. And it is certainly one of my personal highlights. Besides its evident aesthetic sophistication, it is exquisitely rich in semantic and philosophical propositions – no small feat when it comes to digital media largely reliant on random participant vocal input.

Half of the installation is made of a layer of objects the author gathered around his own private spaces, each enclosed in its own glass: a circle shrouded in semi-obscurity, a potent metaphor for the individual desire to confer a transcendence to our daily existence. We are what we own, we become what we make, we elevate ourselves through offering… the magic circle of glass is fragile and only half-visible, as an invitation to either catch a fleeting glimpse of someone else’s intimacy, or otherwise scrutinise it in proximity, faith in what we may guess among the shadows and reflections.

The other half, a projection, is equally engaging on a sensorial level, but this time the elements are a lot more readily readable; it offers an ever-mutating kaleidoscope of patterns made up of objects one might guess would correspond to the ones physically present. As the material object subsides in the shade, so its digital mimesis flourishes exuberant…

The kaleidoscope shifts randomly in accordance to the vocal input of visitors. And here lies Veiga’s fine touch: what could easily become a succession of endless, senseless patterns is provided with meaning through the figuration present – and in how our own vocal stimuli (words uttered, questions asked, whispers and roars) transform into a personal oracle.

I asked Ommandala what my future would bring. The projected objects reassembled and, through the very human ability to provide meaning out of semantic association, they spoke to me as metaphor, both open ended and surprisingly tangible. A bit like a cross between astrology and psychoanalysis. It felt right.

Images and info here

Photo by Pedro Alves da Veiga, 2018

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