ERC Grant awarded to a researcher from the FCSH
A grant from the ERC (European Research Council) in the amount of EUR 1.4 million was awarded to Carla Fernandes, a researcher at the Linguistics Centre of the Universidade NOVA de Lisboa (CLUNL / FCSH) for her project "BlackBox - A collaborative platform to document performance composition: from conceptual structures in the backstage to customizable visualizations in the front-end". It’s the first time that this type of grant is awarded in Portugal in the area of Cognitive Linguistics in intersection with the Performing Arts and the Digital Media.
The "BlackBox" project was motivated by Carla Fernandes’ interest in investigating the involvement of mental processes and decision-making during the composition of artistic performances. It all started with a seemingly simple question: do artists working systematically with human bodies moving in space, in conjunction with verbal language, actually possess different mental schemes of mathematicians, for example?
Issues, such as the endless creativity of human beings and science in general, the preservation of the more intangible cultural heritage and intrinsic relationships established between people who work for a common artistic purpose, were the catalyst for this project, which the researcher hopes to provide a contribution to the advancement of the research in a domain which still little is known about.
With a team of seven postgraduate researchers, the starting point of this Art & Science project is the analysis of complex processes of "translation" of conceptual and linguistic structures underlying the work of several contemporary choreographers during their rehearsals (i.e. backstage, behind the curtains of the composition of a piece) to bodies and / or moving objects. These metaphorical translation processes, usually "invisible" to the audience, will be decoded through new forms of multimedia viewing on personal screens (i.e. on the front-end) of end-users. For this, a collaborative digital platform will be built from scratch for all artists and researchers involved which will allow public access to knowledge and materials compiled over the five years’ end of research project, by making use of the potentialities of web-design, 3D technology and real-time video annotation.
"The entire performing artists community right now has a strong interest in digital tools to support their creative processes of composition," says Carla Fernandes. At the same time, "researchers in computational and cognitive sciences are increasingly interested in developing supporting technologies to documentation and transmission of more intangible cultural heritage, as is the case of contemporary performing arts," says the researcher at CLUNL.
ERC grants are awarded by the European Research Council and have five years of validity. Their purpose is to support the most promising European scientists so that they can become leaders of new research teams in areas of recognized scientific value.
Carla Fernandes had been responsible for the TKB project, which culminated in the 1st International Conference on "Multimodal Communication: Language, Performing Arts and New Media Digital" and had the aim of reflection on the practices of performing arts documentation (with special focus on contemporary dance), intersecting with linguistics, cognitive science and new technologies.