Community-driven Flash Mob by Manuela São Simão and Joana Mateus with real-time sound processing by Pedro Lopes (text below too).

Transhumance[a] is a multidisciplinary work – a synergy between visual and sound artists, focusing performance and relational/social studies – that was presented as a fifteen minute flash-mob /public performance in the historical heart of Porto, at Praça dos Leões.

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The project is a living structure, designed to convey a social message around the metaphors of “flock of sheep”[b] and the “transhumance” itself, as movement or interaction between communities – “Art then becomes communication. Intercommunication”[1].

The project started early, with two parallel work platforms: an open call, for the general audience, and the sound-design. For the latest, sessions of field recording were conducted by musician and sound artist, Luís Antero. Collecting sounds of sheep in various contexts (inside the corral, with the flock, individually) that would ultimately, give us enough audio material to create an audio piece, solely with sheep-related sounds.

On the theatrical layer, our “performing sheep” would play a decisive role in the presentation at the Future Places festival. The individuals that responded to the open call, formed a small community which worked closely with the mentors of Transhumance, explo ing and creating a script for the public act. The group worked around the given metaphors, using the body as a mean to express their own social and political voice, ideals and thoughts – personal means political, was a motto of the group sessions.

Society, often, makes us follow trends or mobs[b]. Superimposing a global attitude on the sole individual. Therefore, we explored the possibilities offered by digital-processing of sheep sounds with noisy effects (reducing quality, forcing distortion and feedbacks), metaphorically liberating the human-communities of these social pressures[c]. The audio piece was improvised live, being projected from a hidden balcony of the University of Porto’s rectorate building, driven by a thousand watt power and micro-FM transmission. Distributing the “sound” in an FM way, acts as an open-democratic way of enabling the audience to hear the sound-mutated-sheep. Hundreds of small FM receivers, were handed freely to the audience that gathered around the fountain of Praça dos Leões, as soon as the sheep sound spread through the air.

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The flash mob was organized in three main stages, each itself a metaphor for the aforementioned concepts, being:

zero: radio broadcasting of sheep calling.

one: slow-motion actions of the performers, towards the fountain – sound thickens.

two: the selected actions begin to increase in both speed and intensity, so does the sound, gradually processed with more complex layers of real-time manipulation.

three: “The Sheep Mob”, individual actions are no longer distinguishable from the group actions. Likewise, the pure sound of sheep is no longer distinguishable from the over saturated noise. Performers from the accompanying group are no longer distinguishable from the people that gathered around and entered the performance by their own means.

Transhumance strongly refers to relational and community, it was fundamental that, the access to this work was extended as further as possible to the surrounding physical communities (Porto inhabitants) and digital communities (such as the World Wide Web). Therefore, Radio Futura4 broadcast the entire performance to the city of Porto, as captured in real-time by a microphone in the action place. Furthermore, on a worldwide scale, a web stream was hosted at Rádio Zero, to ensure that anyone could openly connect to this happening.The project was conducted by visual artists Manuela São Simão and Joana Mateus, in collaboration with musicians Luís Antero (field recordings) and Pedro Lopes (sound manipulation), choreographer Daniel Pinheiro and the community of Porto, whom we kindly thank.


To Future Places organization and staff, to Rádio Futura / Rádio Zero, João Pádua for the copyrighted photographs and to all the participants.


[a] Transhumance is the seasonal movement of people with their livestock over relatively short distances, typically to higher pastures in summer and to lower valleys in winter.

[b] In the English language, a group of sheep is called a flock, herd or mob – thus extending our decision to create a “flash mob” around these concepts..

[c] Here we draw inspiration from Attali’s concept of “mass production” of music, the “silence of the masses” in [2] and from Heidegger’s rationale: “Hearing to …is Daisen’s existential way of Being-open as being-with for Others” in [3].

[d] Radio Futura is a project by Portuguese Radio Zero that hosted a 3-day nonstop radio station, dedicated to radio-art, during the Future Places 2009.


[1] Barreto J. L. , Jazz-off, Paisagem, Porto, 1973

[2] Attali, J. Noise: The Political Economy of Music, University of Minnesota Press, 1985 [3] Heidegger, M., Being and Time, Oxford: Blackwell, 1962

[3] Heidegger, M., Being and Time, Oxford: Blackwell, 1962

flash-mob by Manuela São Simão and Joana Mateus, music by Pedro Lopes. Performed at Future Places.