Wednesday, December 12, 2007

last day

Pictures: graffitti at Vila Madelena, a dalek disguised as a very large christmas tree, bananas at the market, a fortune telling parrot in the Japanese Barrio
I am back now in freezing england.

on the last day Paulo took me to the Japanese barrio, where we wandered around shops and stalls and watched some Taiko/samba drumming. we found more graffitti.. We then went to meet Marcelo for lunch and talk about some future collaborations, ideas and work. Lots of things to think about on the plane. Then got driven to the airport in a bullet proof taxi, which was a wierd, I couldn't take photos as wasn't allowed to open the windows as I got to see more of endless Sao Paulo...

my sister in law met me at heathrow and her and my brother looked after me until I got over the tiredness, what a treat!

I am looking forward to going back soon and trying to keep some of the Sao Paulo summer in my mind...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A day off

Once i had recovered from my hangover yesterday, I walked to SESC and set up the final exhibition will stay here for a couple of weeks more. Paulo drove me to the centre of Sao Paulo where we were all meeting for lunch. Unfortunately the car broke down on the way, we dumped it in a car park and jumped in a taxi (there is a car park nearly every other building as there are so many cars on the road).

Went to a great restuarant in the centre of Sao Paulo, traditional food and live samba, everyone dancing around the tables, feishoja (i think it is called) beans, rice, deep fried banana, orange (meat for meat eaters) and this powdery stuff which was all delicious, my sides hurt from eating so much. Marina explained it comes from slave food and has all the key ingredients in it. I could eat it everyday.

Marina offered to take me to some different places in the afternoon and I had a fantastic time, she reminds me of my family and can talk as much as I can, so we spent the most lovely afternoon chatting about everything, exploring and shopping. She took me to the artist area that is covered with really cool graffiti that changes daily. Then nearby to a street market that has all kinds of hand made things, really beautiful stuff i bought hundreds of christmas presents.

Had a celebrity moment at the market I heard my name being called out, it was a woman who has seen my talk. She is a clothes designer and had a stall there, she makes amazing clothes and I was attempted to by this really cool tartan dress, but was determined to stay focused on the christmas shopping list. did buy myself a couple of things though (:

We then drove to Paulo and Marina's studio/house. It is stunning. It is on a small mews and was owned by Paulo's grandparents, the front garden is full of tropical flowers with a jasmine tree twisted around the door and my favourite red heart shaped flowers with the strange yellow sticky out bits.

We stopped for a drink and chatted about Ali G, Doctor Who and all kinds of things. Marina lived in England for many years. We then went to their favourite Italian restaurant (Marina comes from an Italian background) where we had the most amazing deep fried courgettes and aubergines with mint, the best olives i have had in years, i had proper spaghetti peas and mushrooms in white sauce, and then for dessert fresh fruit to die for.

Paulo then took me back to the artist area where a happening/event was going on. His friend is involved in it who is an artist activist, it was great to meet him. He has been doing interventions between artists, the favelas, occupying buildings and worked with wives of criminals in the favelas to stop them from being evicted. All as art interventions. He is sending my a DVD of his film to show people in the UK. The event was in the garden and out buildings of a house in this area that had a great feel, you could sense the community just from walking down the graffitti painted streets. We unfortunately had missed the performance art, although there were still some performers asleep on a balcony.

Today I woke up early having had a proper night's sleep finally and went to find a super market, I also found a fruit and food market with stalls and stalls of bananas!

Off to the Japanese area to lunch with Paulo and Marina and then my flight home... I hope that I have made great friends here with Paulo and Marina and hope to be able to get back here soon, and collaborate in the future. Back to blighty and the cold.

No pictures yet it is taking forever to upload from here for some reason, will add them on my return.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Day 5 - talking and dancing

me with our video, Marcelo, Martin and Paulo at Lov.e and the burlesque dancer

yesterday i woke up with a hangover as I have done today too. just recovering now!

remembered that it was the day of the talk and spent the morning preparing. I got to SESC about midday and Marcelo took me to the Japanese restaurant for lunch and I managed to be a little less of a pig this time.

The Art and Technology session that i was in was pretty amazing. All the artists were so exciting and such high quality work and great ideas. Then there was a video conference with ITP in New York and again some really cool presentations. Then we all sat on stage and had a discussion with the guys in New York, each other and the audience. It was great, talked about some fantastic things that I can't remember about now, too little sleep I think.

The audience was really interesting. There were alot of teachers and academics of course. After the discussion a woman (a teacher and speech therapist I think) came up to me and said I love you! How amazing. It feels like people here are crying out for exciting ideas. I also spoke to a teacher who works in the north with young kids and orphans, mainly from native brazilian backgrounds. She wants us to do a project with her! Wow. So I might have got us a gig in the Bahia.

Went back to the hotel for a quick rest and then out again, found a lebanese restuarant with Gabe and Martin, luckily I only had starters (which seemed to really confuse the overly attentive waiter, who insisted on dishing out portions). Then we went off to Lov.e for the "party". We went into the pre-club bar which was completly mad. A burlesque suicide girls bar. All the waiters had tatoos and there was a semi naked burlesque dancer. Rich Paulistas at play! Sat drinking Caiprinhas and Caiprirushkas (with vodka), the alcohol measures here are frightening. Had a vodka and coke that was in a long glass and was 3/4 vodka. It was a sponsored free bar in the bar and club ALL NIGHT. mmmm.

We then went to the club next door, which was pretty good. A dj/vj from the festival was playing some good techno and had good visuals, we danced until 6am. Which explains how I feel now after 4 hours sleep. Off for lunch in a minute. Don't want to miss anything.

Days 4 - At the festival

Pictures: The British Consulate, Carla and Alberto, Adriana and Gabe, Paulo and Marina
I have been all caught up the festival and having fun.

Before the pizza place on Wednesday we started talking to guys showing an interactive video. When Bush came to Brazil and Argentina they made banners and posters and did some interventions, the imagery was beautiful. Their studio was in the area cornered off by the police but as they worked there they were able to do some really protests as Bush drove past.

Mobilefest is a very good festival. It has managed to bring together some really good themes, it is also so well organised, the exhibition has been supported by some really good people and technically it has worked really smoothly. Details like simultanous translation, although slightly confusing really helps. I have been having good fun with the exibition team, they have helped explaining everything to the public and with the demos, they have also had a bit of a battle of their hearts, with playing the game. I have to say I have never experienced such totally enthusiastic reaction.

So much to write! Thursday I was mainly demonstrating. At lunch time I had a little adventure to the British Consulate to meet with the UK trade and investment officer for "creative industries". Simone and Jaquelina took me to lunch in a beautiful restuarant that had a mini jungle in the middle (no snakes luckily). The food here is amazing. The big restuarants seem to mainly do buffets, a whole area of salads of all kind, potato, rice, green, Japanese style, italian, buffola mozzarella, I ate a plate of this and then they took me back for hot food. A moussaka style thing, traditional Brazilian beans (like baked beans but really tasty) veg. Then back for dessert. Proper choice that I couldn't decide, a syrupy pumpkin fruit salad. wow that was good. A dulce de leche cake AND a doughnut type thing made of bread and dulce de leche. I only had a small portion of each, but what a pig! I couldn't finish it mind you - total sugar overload.

The meeting was interesting, they are trying to change perceptions of Sao Paulo in the UK, as a good place for people to come and work make partnerships and of course invest. It is very trade orientated (well I suppose it is the DTI) but was interesting to talk about this in terms of what we do, what Mobilefest is about and the possible types of partnerships. The big interesting thing for Sao Paulo, unique from most cities in the world is because advertising hoardings and large shop signs are banned there is a whole gap for innovative marketing, which means companies (like the mobile phone companies) have to get their brand out in interesting ways. Russ and Leanna (two of the artist/designers from Rio) have done amazing stuff in the public arena but commercially to promote companies, really hi tech but accessible and beautiful work, because companies need to get their names across in different kind of ways and not rely on the obvious. The kind of work we dream of in the UK. Maybe we are looking in the wrong places but it just doesn't seem the same, although our ideas, methods and experiences are all very similar.

Russ and Leanna, like all the artists I met have been so lovely. They invited me to spend my last night in Rio and show me round. What a temptation, but unfortunately when I looked at the flights (only an hour from SP) they were all wrong times and too risky (but also so tempting) to miss my flight home!

Back at the gallery I demonstrated the game to a curator of an art gallery in SP who seemed quite interested in trying to get us out to do some work. Also met a really interesting guy, a film maker who is now working for the Brazilian government to decide on policy on how to invest in mobile technology and interactive media. I talked about the UK, and gave him Simone's details, could be an interesting link up.

In the evening, Paulo and Marcelo the organisers took us to Japanese restuarants, like the ones we went to in Japan. Huge platters of Sushi, Carla the producer of the festival ordered me a special vegetarian dish, a plate of noodles arrived, then a plate of rice and vegetables, and then a plate of tofu. all for me. after the lunch I had already eaten. needless to say I struggled to get half way through the noodles, what a waste. I will be dreaming of this when I get back home. It was great to talk properly with Paulo and Marcelo and also meet Paulo's wife Marina who was so sweet and lovely to talk to.

Went on to another bar with Alborto (from Spain/Italy), Carla, Gabe (a really cool artist from Canada) and Adriana, in a interesting part of town, Vila Madalena. The bar was so good for people watching. We drunk alot of beer, before you knew it another one appeared in front of you! it was 4am when Carla drove us home.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


1. a billboard with the advertising screen removed
2. one of the posters in the gallery
3. beautiful christmas decorations
3 the tall building is SESC where the gallery is

Day 3 - Mobilefest

Pictures: The exhibition at SESC, one of the posters, Alborto, Martin and some of the guys from Bijari at the pizza place

Yesterday the festival began. It is a really great festival and I am falling in love with sao paulo. I still haven't seen that much, but everyone here is totally charming and beautiful (as brazilians seem to say alot in english) and i am liking the area we are in, although it is very posh and safe, so I have not really seen sao paulo yet. It feels though that everyone is very nice to each other and look out for each other. There is someone to do everything for you, open the door, park your car. The contrast to what I know about much of brasil, the city of god, the instructions about safety... is unbelievable, but then this is the posh area. At the end of the day though everyone seems so much smilier and polite than in england.

The conference is very interesting too. yesterday was about education and the environment, some fascinating talks about $100 laptops that are being distributed to schools around the world and some specific projects using them in Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre. A TV presenter that uses television as a learning tool in brazil and then takes projects from this programme into schools in small villages in the north of brazil, Acre, where the attendance in schools have increased dramatically. A ngo that works in the amazon and also has a programme to collect mobile phone batteries. Martin is very much from the world where I work and knows alot of the same people. The audience seems to be teachers, game designers and artists from all over Brasil which is really interesting, it is so refreshing to not be in arts context but with wider discussions.

I got asked to do a 15 minute talk as part of the education theme, at the last meeting. It was a bit unplanned but people seemed really interested in our work. The woman who works with the $100 laptops said she loved the idea of what we were doing and thought it was all totally "Crazy" and great for children.

The exhibition has really good work. These great posters by designers showing all views of mobile technology, pro and cons. Spent yesterday evening drinking and eating with some of the other participants including an artist collective that do activist art and have similar approach to us and have also been going the same length of time. They cross art/commercial work in the same way we do (but with more emphasis on the commercial as there is less government money here) it is great to go across the world and meet people trying to do the same thing. Paulo and Marcelo are lovely, Marcelo took me to lunch to a Japanese restuarant that had an amazing buffet. The evening was spent in a pizza restuarant in the most glamerous part of town, drinking beer and caiprinhas.

Have come across a new technical hitch. There are major power problems in the gallery and 2 computer blew yesterday that were meant to be showing our dvd. This is causing some delays, again this morning all the power had been switched off. For once it is not the complicated technology but the simplest thing!

This morning I woke up and had a swim in the pool on the 14th floor of the hotel overlooking the view of sao paulo. What heaven! I feel very spoilt and love it here.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Day 2 - Mobilefest set up

Yesterday after breakfast (beautiful orange juicy papaya), avoided the choice of Japanese pickles as stomach not so strong in the mornings. i love south american breakfasts, tropical fruit, cake and cheese! I feel like Marie Antoinette.

I then worked all morning, setting up the kit. Though there seems to be anti GPS windows in the hotel and I wasn't too keen on loitering outside in the street.

We meet Paulo in the lobby and Gabe, a Canadian artist and Adriana who was volunteering. Gabe is showing a project called Murmur where he collects stories from people about their memories/feelings of locations in a place and then puts posters up in that location with a phone number that you can ring to hear the story. He does it quite guerrilla style, apart from in the UK where he had to get permission... which caused a huge comparitive discussion about the world of health and safety.

We got driven to a restaurant not far away but experienced a Sao Paulo traffic jam first hand. The drive was meant to be 20 minutes but took much much longer. The streets are mixed with warehouses, large houses, tall tall gated flats, dress shops. There are lots of father christmas decorations, the favourite being santa with a sack, on a ladder breaking in a window. They don't have chimneys (too hot for fires). Santa looks pretty stupid with a woolly red hat with a white bobble in 32 degress. sweaty santa.

Had a lovely meal in a trendy restaurant. Palm hearts are a speciality and they are great.mmm. had them and haloumi type cheese grilled and salad and gauva. again pink, juicy. doesn't taste like soap like gauvas do once they go through whatever process needed to fly to the UK.

Went on to the venue. SESC is a cultural institution, a large high storey building. The exhibition is in the gallery area next to the foyer and looks like it is going to be good. Got GPS in the foyer, phew. We checked out the route, which goes out the door, into a secure rose garden next door which is a little city oasis, round the block which has a security guard on everydoor of every building. I think it should be safe enough to wander with kit and it is a varied walk, with steep bits, calm bits, loud busy bits.

The roof garden at SESC is amazing. A view of Sao Paulo which is totally futuristic. Tall high rise buildings with these huge aerials pointing at the sky that look like they are receiving not transmitting. No adverts or screens. The opposite of Tokyo. The hoardings are bare, no visual pollution. The mayor has banned advertising (although there is some small adverts above shops still) supposedly people really support this. It is eerie, a visual quietness. To put a large screen in Sao Paulo as part of a project (like Love City) would now have the most amazing impact, it would mean something. The city itself is at the forefront.

Had a bit of a crap meal for dinner. Searched for restaurants and ended up in a bad food court, and again couldn't make it clear that I wanted food without meat, so had to fish bacon bits (what is is with the bacon bits?) out of a bland stuffed ricotta in cheese sauce dish. I need to find out how to say "I am a vegetarian, please no meat or fish, and definately no bacon bits". On the way back found about 10 great looking restaurants that we had passed by somehow. Had a drink with Martin in a lanchonette that smelt of mens armpits and looked like a woman hadn't entered it since 1970.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Day 1 - Sao Paulo

I am in Brazil!
The flight felt very long, thought I was going to miss my connection in Amsterdam when I discovered it was on the other side of the airport. About 8 hours into the flight I discovered Martin Owens, also going to the festival, was sitting across the aisle from me, and it was great to break up films and the world of JPOD (Douglas Coupland's view of life as a games developer) with chatting about the world of pervasive media. We both settled down to a language course on the inflight entertainment screen and attempted to learn portuguese. me falo pequeno portuguese. It is a lie because that is about all I can say and I am not even sure if it is right, but I am sure I will improve as the week goes on. Armed with some knowledge of Spanish and French seems to be helping.

Lorenco met us at the airport and helped us with the first moments of aclimitazing. Wierd travelling in a day, somehow it doesn't feel like you have gone anywhere because there was no night time in between, and Sao Paulo only 2 hours behind the UK so no jet lag, but I was very tired having got up at 3am. Kept on thinking about Victorian travel and how long it used to take and probably should considering the carbon I am personally guzzling through all this travel.

We were taken to the hotel which is very cool, will add a picture if I can get the bluetooth to work on my laptop. Strangely it is a Japanese hotel (Sao Paulo has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, although I am sure San Francisco lay claim to this too). I am travelling the world and keep ending back in Japan, which is fine by me.

We decided to be adventurous and have a wander to find a restaurant, we went around a couple of blocks, the hotel is off Ave Paulista the main modern street, with the SESC gallery a few blocks down. There were Lanchonete on nearly every street corner filled with kids smoking and drinking, they are a bar, tabac (like french bars) and canteen in one. We found one that looked cleanish and busy and sat down for beers, rice and chips, beans and I had an omeleto, which came first with bacon bits - nao comer carne didn't seem to work... maybe it means I love bacon bits? but the waiter was happy and understanding enough to exchange it for a cheese omelette when I finally managed to articulate myself.

Was a nice evening with Martin, good to have someone to chat to, I was dreading the loneliness of arriving in a strange place, eating in the hotel restuarant on my own and spending the evening watching crazy brazilian Tv until I could sleep. So much more relaxing to venture out and see where I am. Missing Matt though, we have travelled together so much the last couple of years with Dragons that it feels unbalanced and not so fair that I pulled the long straw (not that I am complaining). Hope all ok back in blighty Matt!

Despite all the warnings and pessimism it doesn't feel dangerous or intimidating in the area around the hotel, not that this will make me less cautious, mind you. And it is hot. It is nearly mid summer and so nice to feel warm again, after windy, rainy London this weekend.
Better get ready for breakfast. Hope i don't get faced with wierd Japanese gluey poached eggs that still makes me nauseas thinking about it. Meeting Paulo and some of the other people who are staying at the hotel too at 1pm. They have organised a vegetarian restaurant to sponsor the festival, which is great, and it looks like there is going to be a party in the Lov.e club which i read was where quite alot of Brazil's underground drum and bass and techno scene goes on. mind you that was in the rough guide so maybe not so underground...

Have to pay for internet in the hotel, though not that much, but will check my mail and stuff morning and evening.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

AI Does Brazil

I am off to Sao Paulo on Monday morning for Mobilefest I am off on my own to present Heartlands, Love City and our new project Them and Us at the symposium and do some demonstrations and show a video at the exhibition in a gallery on Ave Paulista. Quite excited and nervous about going on my own.
Matt and Robin are unfortunately staying in our cold studio to keep things going in the run up to Christmas. The good news at home is that we have received confirmation of funding for Them and Us and so will be working in residence at MRL (University of Nottingham) from January - April creating a new performance/game/event/workshop... more to come on this.