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EMPAC Video Archive

When the clouds were waves: Ana Navas in conversation with Vic Brooks

Venezuelan-Ecuadorian artist Ana Navas in conversation with curator Vic Brooks to introduce Navas’ work and the historical, artistic, and architectural backdrop to her forthcoming performance and moving image work Cuando las nubes eran las olas / When the clouds were waves. Featuring a new score by composer Mirtru Escalona-Mijares, Navas’ artwork is currently in its early stages of development.

Cuando las nubes eran las olas responds to Alexander Calder’s Acoustic Ceiling (1953), which was conceived for architect Carlos Raúl Villenueva’s iconic auditorium, the Aula Magna, at the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas and produced in consultation with the American acoustic engineering team Bolt Beranek & Newman. Locally known as Calder’s “Nubes” (clouds) or “Platillos voladores” (flying saucers), the Acoustic Ceiling was the first instance of acoustic panels suspended across the ceiling of a hall of this scale. The artwork’s production history and integration into the architecture is key to tracing complex cultural exchanges unique to this period of Venezuelan modernism under military dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez, who commissioned the Aula Magna in order to host the 10th Inter-American Conference in 1954.

Similar in approach to the acoustic innovation of the construction of the Aula Magna six decades before it, the architects and acousticians of EMPAC’s building also designed a concert hall that combines outstanding acoustics and refined materials, but with the flexibility and technology of the twenty-first century. In particular, the EMPAC Concert Hall’s ground-breaking fabric ceiling—under which Ana Navas and Escalona-Mijares will be working in residence next year—resonates across time and space with the aesthetic and acoustical concept of the Aula Magna’s clouds.

This introductory talk marks the first in a series of interdisciplinary online conversations with experts from acoustics, art, architecture, and music that will explore the historic and contemporary resonances of the iconic Venezuelan hall.

Talk: November 20, 2020

Curator: Vic Brooks

empac.rpi.edu/events/2020/when-clouds-were-waves

This video is also available with closed captions at: youtu.be/S1zeLkm2brg