The people of Porto

An endearing project has recently ended here in Porto: for an entire year, between November 2014 and November 2015, a small team consisting of photojournalist Manuel Roberto and journalist Mariana Correia Pinto interviewed and photographed citizens and visitors of Porto. The short stories and captivating black and white portraits were as much about people and their lives as they were about the city, about the spirit of Porto – a kind of “human cartography”, as one of the authors defined it.

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The project’s name was Porto olhos nos olhos (“Porto eye to eye”), and the people portrayed did look straight into the reader’s eye, inviting them warmly to reveal the story behind them. Almost every Portan has already captured it on social networks (there is a Facebook page dedicated to it) or in the news. The idea came from Manuel Roberto, motivated by two decisive and coinciding moments of his personal life, the birth of his son and his approaching 50th birthday. Soon, Mariana Correia Pinto joined.

Every city has its unique “human cartography”, but Porto olhos nos olhos and many similar initiatives around the world actually have a precedent, done on a very large scale: the Humans of New York, created by photographer Brandon Stanton in late 2010. Stanton’s initial idea was to portray 10 000 inhabitants of New York and localize them on a city map, in order to create a extensive catalogue of Newyorkers. Soon, the photographer started including quotes and stories based on the conversations he had with the portrayed citizens and the project evolved. The idea spread rapidly through social networks. In October 2013, the very successful book based on the blog was published.

For me, Porto olhos nos olhos reflects the idea of importance of people for any cultural landscape (a theme I am currently interested in), it is an homage to that city and its everyday life, as well as a great source to learn about the sense of Porto, through the lived experiences of its citizens. Currently, the materials are all available through the Facebook page, but the idea of publishing a book has been seriously considered. Looking forward to it soon!

Image: Porto olhos nos olhos

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Phonambient

phonambient poster braga

Some months ago, I wrote about a project named “PortoSonoro” here on the blog. That great idea, mapping contemporary acoustic urban heritage and making the data available to researchers and to general public, has now expanded: the “Phonambient” has been born.

I found out more about it some time ago in Casa da Música in Porto, during an eventful week in February dedicated to the project presentation. The musicians and researchers behind “Phonambient” are linked to the cultural association “Sonoscopia”. They value intuition, creativity and research equally: the project contains a combination of scientific and artistic components, and offers a fresh view onto the city life of today.

Besides the presentation, a talk I had with Gustavo Costa, one of the main people behind “Sonoscopia” and a PhD researcher, was valuable to understand the project relevance and its current scope. “Phonambient” is, briefly, and extension of sound mapping ideas of “PortoSonoro” to other cities in Portugal and abroad, as well as exploration of possible (artistic) uses of the sound archives created.

The “Phonambient” people are experts in recording sounds, and it is crucial even nowadays when sound recording devices are inexpensive and widely available. They are interested in various forms of artistic transformations of the acoustic archive they created, and that is what the Casa da Música event was partly about (imagine, one could find out what plants from around the city have to “say”!). However, the point of the project is also to make the urban sound archive available to other researchers and artists, to be used freely. This can be of great value for anyone who explores contemporary city: linguists, for example, among many others, as the archive contains a section devoted to local expressions and slang. And once in the future, thanks to this archive, it will be possible to reflect on the soundscapes of today.

“Phonambient” is an open, collaborative platform: the “Sonoscopia” teams work with local teams in each of the cities where the project has expanded (besides Porto, for now those are Braga, Tondela, Castelo Branco, Guarda and Fundão, plus one international partner city – Abu Dhabi). So, there is a possibility for the idea to grow and transform, independently of its initiators.

Right now, the project is expanding in geographical terms, as well in terms of abundance of data acquired. And that abundance is a big challenge: the huge amounts of data need to be filtered and organized, and it takes time and effort in terms of their categorization.

In a word, the value of “Phonambient” is that, being open to collaboration, these artists/scientists simultaneously keep creating and envisioning future research territories.

Find out more:

Porto in the Geotaggers’ World Atlas

Eric Fischer geotaggers map of Porto

This map of Porto is one of a hundred city maps created by Eric Fischer, an American software developer and data artist. I have found it in his 2010 Flickr collection named “The Geotaggers’ World Atlas”. In that project, he used geographical metadata associated to the photos. The data from Flickr and Picasa helped him reveal the locations where people most frequently took photos in various cities around the world.

So, this is tourism in Porto visualized! Besides the historical center inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List, tourists flow most intensely along both shores of Douro and the Atlantic coast within the city limits, all the way to Matosinhos. The remaining three bright nodes outside the historical city center are the Crystal Palace gardens, Casa da Música and the Serralves museum. Everything we already knew, now confirmed and represented in this elegant plot!

I enclose a map of another Portuguese city – Lisbon, of course, but the interpretation will be postponed until my next visit to the country’s capital.

Eric Fischer geotaggers map of Lisbon

I found some other Fischer’s projects and hobbies also interesting to look at (“See something or say something”, “Locals and tourists”, his old map collection on Flickr…). And I wouldn’t know about him without the Álvaro Domingues’ lecture on the city and its icons I attended in Porto on December 18th, 2014.

World heritage sites in Portugal

Portugal has 15 properties inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The map shows the ones in continental Portugal (ordered from north to south):

UNESCO properties in continental Portugal

  • Historic Centre of Guimaraes (2001)
  • Historic Centre of Porto (1996)
  • Alto Douro Wine Region (2001)
  • Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Coa Valley and Siega Verde (1998)
  • University of Coimbra – Alta and Sofia (2013)
  • Monastery of Batalha (1983)
  • Convent of Christ in Tomar (1983)
  • Monastery of Alcobaca (1989)
  • Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications (2012)
  • Cultural Landscape of Sintra (1995)
  • Monastery of Hieronymites and Tower of Belem in Lisbon (1983)
  • Historic Centre of Evora (1986)

There are also 11 properties submitted on the country’s Tentative list.

Source: http://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/PT/

Papa Quilometros

It’s not merely a cookbook, it’s a “journey through Portuguese gastronomy”, as the author, chef Ljubomir Stanišić presents it. It was first published in 2011, following his success in MasterChef Portugal and in running a fancy restaurant in Lisbon. There is also a TV show based on the book; I have seen some episodes on the Travel Channel, but it’s the book I prefer. eb5773952eca4796ff0fccc2e2e2ba34

How does a foreigner who loves and knows Portuguese culture and lifestyle see and interpret them in his domain? How does he link senses, heritage and geography of Portugal? Something to be investigated in my further work! The important thing is that we’re coming from the same cultural context …

Papa Quilometros was a present from a dear person, a serendipity that started an avalanche of ideas and actions bringing me … where? To be found out within some weeks.

Portugal dos Pequenitos, Coimbra

portugal-portugal-dos-pequeninos

A  thematic park for didactic purposes, containing replicas of national monuments, typical houses from diverse regions of Portugal, as well as representations from former Portuguese overseas provinces. Founded in 1940, it was iniciated by the doctor Bissaya Barreto and designed by the architect Cassiano Branco. It was developped between 1937 and 1962, in the political context of the Portuguese Estado Novo. It is still functional today, almost unchanged, displaying what is considered representations of the most precious among built heritage of Portugal.

Source: http://rememberingletters.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/portugal-dos-pequeninos/

José Saramago. Viagem pelo Portugal (1981)

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José Saramago. Viagem pelo Portugal (1981).

The cover of the recently translated Serbian edition, published by Laguna (Belgrade) within the collection of Saramago’s works.
The book documents months of Saramago’s travels through Portugal of 1979, often off the beaten paths. Along with the refined experience of his homeland, the travelogue marks the writer’s personal, spiritual journey. It was written after the Salazar dictatorship ended and should also understood as a way of rethinking Portuguese identity in the new socio-political context. Source: personal library, book acquired in 2012.