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Rodrigo Carvalho unveils the Porto’s pulse

On 20 November, Porto Innovation Hub held another edition of City Café, an initiative that has become a space for sharing and reflecting on innovation in the city. This time, the guest was Rodrigo Carvalho, a multimedia designer and new media artist, known for exploring visuals and interactive devices to create performances, installations and immersive spaces using data. His vast experience includes presentations at renowned events such as Sonar Festival, MutekEs, Echo, Stereolux, among others.

The focus of the session was the “Porto Digital Beat” (PDB) project, an artistic installation that uses data from the city of Porto as a creative element, coordinated by Porto Digital (which also runs the Porto Innovation Hub initiative). The guest shared his perspective on data visualisation, highlighting the creative process and the development of PDB.

During the presentation, he summarised his position as follows: “I see data as a creative element that brings the artistic project to life”. This approach immediately brought a less conventional perspective on data and its analysis, transforming seemingly cold numbers into works of art that not only expand understanding of the data and the reality it represents, but also awaken emotions and sensitivity to the subject.

The speaker’s background revealed a professional who doesn’t fit the stereotype of an engineer or data analyst. In fact, Rodrigo Carvalho specialises in digital arts, immersive installations, creative coding and interactive installations. He shared examples of his work with the audience, including real-time audiovisual performances and interactive dances with moving image generation, revealing his passion for using moving data.

During the presentation, Rodrigo Carvalho mentioned several notable references and projects, such as “Paint with your feet” (YesYesNo, 2011) and “Winds of Boston Data Painting” (Refik Anadol, 2017), which show the diversity of artistic applications of data.

The highlight of the presentation was the exploration of the speaker’s own projects, in which she used data as an artistic element. Highlights included “Floating Satellites” (2014), which transforms the location of satellites into a symphony, and “Flowing Data” (2022), which visualises image flows between different locations, revealing interesting variations.

The central project of the presentation, “Porto Digital Beat”, was presented, detailing its 2019, 2022 and 2023 iterations. Rodrigo Carvalho explained how he took on the challenge of transforming city data, provided by Porto Digital, into something visual and artistic. The use of an LED screen as the display medium was a strategic choice, allowing it to adapt to the variation in natural light, since the festivals start in the afternoon and go on into the night.

In 2023, Rodrigo Carvalho unveiled an innovative approach, presenting three images on the same theme, each with different elements. Data such as air quality, e-scooter journeys and traffic were explored, demonstrating the constant search for new forms of expression.

In this City Café session with Rodrigo Carvalho, we were treated to an inspiring vision of the intersection between art and data. In his work, the guest challenges conventional perceptions of the world of data, transforming numbers into visual narratives that capture the pulsating essence of the city.

You can follow Rodrigo Carvalho’s creations closely via @visiophone on Instagram.

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