before light/ antes da luz

BEFORE LIGHT is a performance of lights in six rooms of a farmhouse. 6 people go to a room each in the house, where each switch the room’s light on and off, in time to a metronome and guided by a key that is a sequence of synchronised prompts (like perfurated cards). Simultaneously, the group’s actions happens over a period of 60 seconds whilst the scene is filmed from a distance of about 100m. The sum of the lights in the house, recorded on video, refer to a set of CO data collected on the same farm at a particular date and time (18/09/12). Binary numbers were calculated to represent the data set, divided by 22 parts per million with the help of a very knowledgable computer scientist Jesse Blum, also one of the performers and researchers. These inconceivable numbers to the human brain are played against the language of computers. Resulting in a performance of mis-timings which the documentation suggests. The image is accompanied by sound composed by transposing the binary numbers onto octaves on a piano keyboard, composed and played in by sound artist Rebecca Lee. Before light points to our presence, before light. And was possible with the presence and actions of Jesse, Rachel, Rebecca, Matt, Robin and Mark. The work took placed within a arts residency designed to accommodate an interdisciplinary research group, in a farm in Miguel Pereira, in the municipality of Rio de Janeiro where this rural immersion took place and aesthetic experiments were developed within the context of the research project Relate: Art, Science and Technology in the area of energy resources and climate change. From the moment the group was picked up from the airport in Rio de Janeiro, all the way to the farm, the journey was carefully planned in order for us to consider as much as possible our travel, our equipment, food supplies and disposition to get there. We arrived by foot. The following week in the city of Rio, the work was extended to other artists in the Barracão studio who considered the environmental data collected  at the farm and how it could dialogue with their own practice. Hugo and Natali, Bruno and Isabela took part and the experiments which were exhibited to the public in the studio’s gallery along with the research group’s experiements.

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THE RELATE RESEARCH PROJECT explores the relationship between energy and climate change, which took place in 2012 and 2013 led by Active Ingredient in collaboration with RCUK’s Horizon Digital Economy Research Hub, University of Nottingham, Dr Carlo Buontempo with a senior climate scientist at the MET Office UK and Silvia Leal

“As a result of the research project the team developed a website to enable communities in the UK and Brazil to exchange their ideas, information and visualizations of data. The Timestreams platform enables artists, communities, hackers and developers to stream data on a timeline, merging multiple data streams to create artistic interpretations of energy related and climate change data.” (

The Active Ingredient team are: Rachel Jacobs, Matt Watkins, Robin Shackford, Rebecca Lee and Mark Selby