Como se fosse ontem

Rever a amiga de longa data Eglantina Monteiro ontem à tarde foi uma alegria além das palavras! Tanto por contar e saber, como se o tempo não tivesse passado por nós nem pelo mundo.
E a não perder a exposição por si comissariada a partir dos arquivosEphemera, patente no MIRA FORUM!


Encrypt this

Two surreal UX experiences today:

– I marked a dinner this coming week on my google calendar… only to find google automatically added a cute google-generic illustration of a set table as background of the event. Someone somewhere somehow believes this to be clever, maybe even necessary.

– I found out skype now has a list of emojis for you to use in your… video calls. You can flash them on screen for the other person to understand how you’re feeling… i.e. if you’re in tears about something, surely it would be enough for the person on the other side to see -you- crying in order to “get it”? Apparently not, according to skype: you’ll have to validade your feeling with a freakin’ yellow blurb. And needless to say, the nuances of human emotion are reduced to a handful of icons to choose from – the usual: happy, sad, angry, love… and the freakin’ thumbs up, believe it or not. You are invited to press the “thumbs up” icon rather than giving an actual thumbs up on camera. Let’s call it the encryption of body language.

In order to sell us this silly stuff, these companies often resort to variations of the “express yourself” slogan. To which I reply: “my body will resist emoji reduction, particularly when there is video available”. And as far as the dinner calendar experience goes: maybe it’s time to start spelling wrong on purpose. Since they’ve unraveled language anyway with AO90, might as well put the chaos to good use. At least while our coming “citizen ratings” are not penalised for “insufficient writing skills” or something.

Rate the rating

This obsession with rating “experiences” is becoming a bit too much. Stay at a hotel, rate the experience. Get on a flight, rate the experience. Buy a coffee, rate the experience (and you may even win an ipad). This rating often consists of selecting “sad emoji”, “meh emoji” or “happy emoji”.
Recently I’ve even been invited to rate my airport bathroom “experience” by pressing an emoji on a digital screen by the exit. Yes, “experiencing” an empty bladder is usually a good thing, thank you very much.
I believe my first contact with emoji rating was at the China border passport control in 2014. I was meant to rate the experience of having my passport checked. No doubt it was meant to impact on the poor officer’s rating.
Now, can we start rating the “rating experience” itself?


On a journey cross-country towards unknown duties I pass the metropolis
Rush hour roars on autopilot, choreographing engines
Skies of lead now cobalt cosmos, crystal-soaked
A futuristic smogscope of promised melancholia
Faint and womb-like

I shift gears and horse onwards, and wonder of the loved ones
All towering abandonment, I wonder
and slogans and screens and bridges
Themselves weeping or orgasming, who knows

We crossed incognito, surgically, and somehow lost ourselves along the way
Now all pseudo-hopes and shiny protocol

A Winter sadness now floods, molasses, unredeemed
Neons and mega-brands and a worthless GPS
The magnum bridge funnels, now darker, you a glimmer
we drive, we know
We drift apart


My father Francisco Alvelos left us 25 years ago today… time passes unforgivingly, but his memory remains.
I owe so much of who I am and try to be to his wisdom and kindness.

Grace and Bitterness

After my eurovision rant yesterday, someone called my attention to this song, already left behind – probably too dark/edgy for mass consumption. Not bad at all, actually really, really good – yep, it definitely transcends the Salvador-cloning syndrome, incorporating quietude as a meta-narrative…
… and there are actual historical echoes of Portuguese protest balladry and Jobim/Buarque… tribute rather than lazy appropriation.
This may actually be the best Portuguese protest song in a long, long time: the lyrics are an existential hall of mirrors of bitter resignation in face of contemporary overabundance and over-stimulation, in face of the impossibility of emancipation. It’s just too sophisticated to become an anthem… but I vouch for its longevity. Bravo.


A mimetização da lucidez

Sobre a Eurovisão e o favorito deste ano. Interessei-me pelo fenómeno Salvador, como expliquei o ano passado; porque havia ali uma ruptura declarada com a fórmula da euforia e as expectativas de alucinação – ruptura simultaneamente lúcida para com o que podia ser um regresso a um léxico musical mais sóbrio, mais autoral.
Samplei portanto no youtube o Diogo, favorito de 2018…
… entristeceu-me verificar como a herança do fenómeno eurovisivo Salvador parece ser a sua simples mimetização, sem nenhuma da sua acutilância. Música pobre, banda sonora de supermercado vendida como erudição. Simulacro instantâneo da singularidade, a picar o ponto neste negócio da neo-melancolia mui portuguesa (vende bem para turistas)…
Suspeito que os nossos parceiros irão trazer baladas requentadas a rodos, todos a tentar a sorte nas sobras pós-Sobral. Deixem lá o plágio, estas coisas já nascem mansas, genéricas, estafadas; o Salvador foi só uma irregularidade de lucidez.

I’m honoured and humbled to be designing and curating Tuxedomoon’s archive page. I was trusted with Peter Principle’s hard drive last December, and will be slowly and steadily selecting recordings for monthly release. A big thank you to Blaine, Steven, Luc, Isabelle, Ann, Saskia… and in memory of dearest Peter, Bruce and Bernadette.



Rafael and the guitar, 1985

Here’s a lil story about my friend Rafael Toral and how we first met. It was the Summer of 1985 and I’d just finished my first year as a Design undergraduate at U.Porto. Some friends organised a post-punk festival in Aveiro, “Agitarte”: nothing short of a miracle, given the inexperience of all involved… the idea was to bring all the up and coming music from Lisbon, Porto and Galicia into a relatively small town by the seaside – and hold parallel exhibitions, talks, performances by a broader set of young artists, yours truly included.

Days one and two went relatively smoothly… but all hell broke loose on day 3 as heavy rain came in and forced the organisers to move everything into an indoor pavilion. The program got heavily delayed, something like five hours… but hey, all of us, artists and audience, were patient and persistent, that’s how it went back then… We all just drank some more beer and tried to help in any way possible. The indoor acoustics were terrible, but we were just grateful to be experiencing “the avant-garde”.

A band called Pop dell’Arte came on stage it must have been 3AM, and right from the beginning, the mood changed dramatically. Most prior bands were either of the urban-depressive kind, or their set was structured enough not to alienate; Pop dell’Arte was different: total freakin improv, some members with no prior knowledge of their instruments, other musicians joining on the spot… a demented crescendo of dadaist-cabaret-post-everything we knew in our pre-European narrative, really. And the musicians were having such FUN. I remember punks in the audience getting really hostile towards João Peste, the singer, as he was dressed and danced in an extravagant fashion rather than look dark and anguished. Peste just kneeled down and took it all in with a big smile, as some sort of redemption ritual.

I watched in wonder as some epiphany was triggered in my brain, somehow a lesson in contemporary art and post-modernity more poignant than any class held at uni. Amongst the mayhem there was a kid banging away on a drum, and then he proceeded to grab a guitar. By 4AM (or whatever), the musicians started to fade out one by one… except for the kid with the guitar. He just went on this long, mind-blowing solo and showed no signs of abating. Security had to step in and literally grab the guitar from him, to rioting shouts from the audience.

That kid was Rafael. I spotted him afterwards by the bar and raised my glass to his band and his solo. I mentioned this episode to him in passing years later… I don’t think he remembered. But truth is, that night irreversibly changed my outlook on the creative act.

I have some photos of Agitarte somewhere: will dig them out at some point. Meanwhile, here’s the cover I designed for Rafael’s CD on Touch years later.