EDITION: (Catalogue) Centro Cultural Vila Flor     DATE: April 2014 

John Cage’s composition, “4'33''“ (1952) - which has been erroneously described as “four and a half minutes of
silence” - inaugurated a new strategic concept of musical intervention and opened up new horizons of artistic
creation. Although the work was performed on the piano at the time of its first public presentation, it was
actually composed for any instrument or any set of instruments, and is paradoxically structured in three
movements. The score - that doesn’t use classical notation as a reference, and instead is rather like an
instructions manual - indicates the procedure to be observed by the performers - who should remain still, without
playing a single note. Although silence has always formed an integral part of music, it had never been explored in
its absolute dimension until then. “4'33''” caused a major impact on the cultural milieu at the time, and its
hypothetical message originated numerous explanations and comments. While some argued that Cage’s
intention was to be able to hear the room’s background silence - without any interference or overlapping sound
from the instruments, others hinted that the composer’s intention was to provoke a violent shock, through the
absence of sound. However, both sides admitted that the work subverted the traditional process of music-
making. The sense of strangeness that emanated from the work, consisted in the disturbance caused by the
absence of music in a concert, a strategy that had been anticipated by John Cage in his statement that use of
noise in order to make music will continue and increase “until we reach a music produced through the use of
electrical instruments which will make available for musical purposes any and all sounds that can be heard”.
This vision paved the way towards contemporary art and provided directions regarding future artistic thinking.

The approach to the instrument - in accordance with unconventional execution techniques - stripping it of its
original sound, opens up new areas of sound and visual construction, through the appearance of an unexpected
field of artistic expression. Similarly, displacement of the signs or symbols of classical musical notation, creates a
meta-linguistic field that lies outside traditional notation. The new code - graphical notation - is cryptic, has
undefined use, and is liberated from practical knowledge and existing stipulated norms, thus giving rise to a new
semiotics of sound, expressed through the power of the images of graphs, diagrams, blueprints, drawings,
sketches, complex geometric constructions, ... In this context, sounds also develop without being inserted within
traditional writing,  thus exhibiting different imagistic/sound attributes. Without these new marginal solutions
to the dominant conventions of classical music, the instruments’ natural sound would have been maintained and
therefore there wouldn’t have been any originality. The same applies to musical notation, that continues to
possess the same legible and recognizable image. In a culture pervaded by technology, the creation of relational
spaces between sound and image would be reflected in the development, optimization and invention of multiple
electro-acoustic mechanisms of diffusion. There was progression from a mechanical system of sound propagation
to a more unstable and irregular field of sound electrification. Subsequently, as the result of the discovery of
electronic devices, sophisticated equipment emerged, without the standard features of acoustic instruments. The
digital age has infinitely broadened the field of intervention, developing complex, juxtaposed, interactive and
multifaceted spectra of infinite sounds, via combinations thereof. Emancipated from the primitive acoustic
model, new sonorous configurations have emerged, conceived by means of mathematisation (use of the
algorithm) and sound design - that began to be developed as a raw material in the construction of an audible
whole. The adoption of cybernetic structures and processing interfaces has enabled the creation of multi-
differential sound design spaces, emphasizing the artist’s role as the sound “designer”.

Pedro Tudela realized that the material liberation of sound and the development of a new musical vocabulary
could be used to build a fascinating oeuvre, that incorporates objects that have been selected from his personal
experience. He has conceived a sound universe constituted by smooth, simplified and stripped tonalities -
creating atmospheres that are sometimes violent, and at other times harmonious, produced by ordinary objects
that emit sounds. These works draw close to the biological concept of the body as the carrier of a specific voice. In
an almost clinical obsession to perfect sound or noise, he uses elements of different materials, combining them in
an artisanal manner that, by means of their distribution, configuration and cleanliness, seems to push
exploration of the laws of acoustics to the limit. The organization of the work’s individual parts manifests a
ritualistic meaning, evoking a unifying sound labyrinth, that may be understood via the psychoacoustic
phenomenon of hearing. Transformed into a small habitation / space , the installation appears as a sphere that
encompasses silence, music / noise and the symbology of images. By emitting or whispering sounds, the object
acquires a voice, and radiates tension, reflected in its corporal dimension. In a fragmented digital age, in which
sounds are not necessarily made at the time when they are executed, the sense of disorder created by this process
of distancing conjures up the utopia of a return to the primitivism of nature - as a distant and sensorial
reminiscence of the act of listening.

The key facets of Pedro Tudela’s oeuvre may be grouped within the following topics:

- Care taken in exploring the psycho-physiological aspects of hearing, treating the human body as an interactive
unit, somewhere between reason and emotion;
- Understanding of the act of listening, associated with vision and touch, as a cognitive synthesis of sensory and
extrasensory factors, whose unexpected sarcastic and phantasmal fusion, underpins the sound design;
- Exploration of “musical noise”, linked to contemporary artistic practices;
- Construction of sounds, based on musical processes of workshop-based conception, regarding objects and
images that mutually contaminate, disseminate and infiltrate each other;
- The creation of a unique sonic universe that endows installations with a porous and inclusive atmosphere,
rather than an opaque and exclusionary atmosphere;
- The presence, even if inaudible, of sound that propagates itself via successive waves of contact with bodies and
objects (its physical “nature”), thereby radiating new vibrations;
- The type of decisions inscribed in each work, some of a musical nature, others lying solely within the symbolic
domain of images;
- Commitment to multiple life experiences, through control of the characteristics of the sound phenomenon: the
height (number of vibrations per unit of time), duration, intensity, timbre and space;
- The sublimated workshop-based confectionary spirit in the installations - sculptural constructions, in which
sound is added via artisanally-designed electro-acoustic devices;
- The originality of the debited sound and the form of the sound diffusion equipment and accessories that blur
the boundaries between art, design, decorative and industrial objects;

In a programmatic demand of a personal nature, Pedro Tudela executes his work in stages and sedimentations of
an eternity of sound, in constant transformation, stressing the relativity of the process of cataloguing, the
implosion of classifications and the disappearance of stable points of reference between music, noise and the
sonic object. In his relationship with the word, image and symbol, sound participates in an architecture of
“spatialisation”, defining a sensible field of exploration both inside and outside language, which allows the artist
to denounce the arbitrariness of the distinction between the “musical” and “non-musical”, between sound and
noise. Intervening in a disruptive and non-relational manner in relation to this conceptual mystification, Pedro
Tudela liberates the sound world from a confining alphabet, because, through questioning the continuity of the
discourse and the linearity of the sound fields of intervention, he defends the diversity of treatment and
combination of sound, thus suggesting a deepening of its micro-structures. The process of montage and mixing
that he explores, redefines the function of the voice as a sound object - somewhere between the scream, the
spoken word and the song. 

““Sound is everything I hear; whereas to call something ‘musical’ is already a value judgement. An object is a
sound object prior to being a musical object; it represents a fragment of perception. But if I make a selection of
objects, isolating some of them, I may gain access to the musical. The musical object will be the musical quality
retrieved at its source, in the function of objects that merit this qualification, ie in an almost zero degree of
musicality “. The constitution of catalogues of noises, musical objects, therefore doesn’t simply constitute a
preliminary work. It may be considered, first and foremost, as the establishment of a music theory class, an act of
composition, even if not necessarily tied to an objective of integration within a musical structure.”

Dominique Bosseur, Jean-Yves Bosseur, “Revoluções Musicais, Música Contemporânea depois de 1945” (Musical
Revolutions, Contemporary Music since 1945), Editorial Caminho, Lisboa, August 1990, p. 35

Pedro Tudela’s oeuvre seeks the observer's reaction when he comes into direct contact with the sound and image,
thereby suggesting a strategy of organized creation in a system that is open to critical questioning. His random
method of construction is based upon a process of trial, error and deviation. His works contain several recurrent
guidelines: the questioning of construction of barriers of separation between multiple sound or musical
languages; the combination of recent sound fields with ancient musical heritage, inviting people to experience
unrecognizable and unconventional fields of intervention; the desire to attain an equatable limit for the notion of
silence, as a definitive amalgamation of all sounds or noises; the proposal of “sound” as an abstract and
fundamental element, around which multiple gazes and understandings may converge; the confection of sound-
based objects that arise in an evident, obvious and inescapable manner, suggesting an identifiable sound body;
presentation of a visual and sound poetic approach - which disseminates symbologies and meanings,
contaminating space and the objects contained therein; exploration of different degrees of communication,
between the layers of imagery and sound material: the production of propagating devices that can radiate simple
performance-based effects, and may also reaffirm the rejection of a single method of construction; registration of
a reflection or broader critical review of “sound”, perceived as porous, meaningful material; denunciation of the
surplus, uniform and saturated nature of messages and communication that tends to soundproof verbalizations
which have been removed from the rhetoric of power that dominates our warped, audiovisually-saturated
society; the choice of experimentalism as an essential medium underpinning freedom of expression, the sole
assumption of effectiveness in order to accomplish genuine appreciation of the creative act; subversion of the
processing circuit of sending and receiving messages, breaking meanings and intervening via sonic
deconstruction that is materialized in the form of objects; alteration of the parameters of sound propagation,
used as a medium of representation and abstraction; restitution of the image in the indeterminate space of
“sound”, in an attempt to find a link between hearing and vision; exploration of the impact of noises / musical
elements in contact with other materials of artistic expression, seeking new topics in order to question the
openness and democratization of musical composition.

Operating in a multifaceted space, in which everything is reversible, since every starting point may also be an
arrival point, Pedro Tudela approaches sound as a plastic material -as a medium of expression. Exposing objects
to multiple sound-musical ambiences that penetrate and alter their comprehension, encourages displacement of
the centre of visual gravity to more abstract and variable zones of understanding. He stresses the rupture, the
epistemological break, caused by contact between the sound element and the morphology of the object, avoiding
stereotypes, fixation of a work in an absolute and definitive form. He uses strategies of disruption regarding the
linearity and continuity of the relationship between the image and the word in visual space, inserting a new code
of interpretation within the visual space. He organizes coexisting audio and visual forms, content or functional
elements that lie beyond the realms of human reason, whose truth and need for ordering may have a rational
origin. He explores disjunction as a tactic to invert the process of understanding, emphasizing the visibility and
meaning of the interactive whole of the sound / image / word. Juxtaposing languages liberates random feelings
and intuitive perceptions that contradict the core link between the object and its form, or to a specific function
due to the value of its use. Acting dialectically in relation to the connection between form and content, he
encourages new recreations on the basis of reminiscences of processed materials, which endows authenticity to
the work, because it disembodies it from utilitarian values that are traditionally engendered by an art system that
is managed by the same logic based on market forces.

This exhibition doesn’t aim to provide a historical reading or offer an abbreviated timetable of a long journey of
exploration into the multiple connections between the sound, visual and verbal fields - i.e. the core topics that
have been developed by the artist. It doesn’t even aim to present an exemplary selection of his past or current
approaches within his multidisciplinary craft. It merely seeks - within a distant, saturated, fleeting and transient
reality, that has almost become soundproofed due to the excessive number of discourses, images and sounds - to
open up small gaps of intelligibility, within a vast and unique artistic production, centered on the meaning of
hearing. It also aims to achieve a broad process of critical action, provoking reactions and disagreements
concerning a reality that produces too many objects of consumption, with the promise of providing pleasure and
satisfaction, while it actually reproduces an absence thereof.

(1) Pierre Schaeffer, «La sévère mission de la musique», Revue d’esthétique, Musiques nouvelles, Ed. Klincksieck, Paris,1968, p.