Primary Optics is a series that dives into the ideas and technology behind some of the world’s most innovative audiovisual shows and artists.

Pedro Maia is a Portuguese filmmaker based in Berlin who primarily works with 16mm and 8mm film. Using a combination of traditional analogue processing techniques and digital technology, Maia’s work in what he calls “live cinema” has led to collaborations with musicians such as Shapednoise, Vessel and SHXCXCHCXSH.

Earlier this year, FACT travelled to Berlin to capture Maia at work at Andec Filmtechnik, an analogue film lab opened in 1984 that is one of the last in Europe. Here, Maia works as a freelancer part time on film processing and digitisation, and also uses the lab’s equipment to form the raw material he needs to create his arresting visuals live on stage.

“I like the idea of visual music,” he says. “When I come to a project, my idea is ‘how can I make this a live show, a live film, and a performance?” A musician playing in front of a screen, for me, is is not enough. That’s why I do everything live, because I like to be affected by all of these elements. I can also influence the music somehow during the shows.”

In this episode, we also explore some of Maia’s key shows and works, including the video for Vessel’s ‘Paplu (Love That Moves The Sun)’, and performances from Shapednoise and Shackleton recorded at Berlin Atonal 2019.


Filmed, directed, edited and produced by Pedro Küster

Excerpts from:
Vessel – “Paplu (Love That Moves The Sun)”, (2018, Tri Angle)
Shapednoise – ‘Blaze’ feat. Justin K Broadrick (2019, Numbers)
Tropic of Cancer – ‘Plant Lilies At My Head’, (2013, Blackest Ever Black)
Vessel – ‘Drowned in Water and Light’, (2015, Tri Angle)

HSXCHCXCXHS – ‘AOO’, (2019, Rösten)
Vessel – ‘Paplu (Love That Moves The Sun)’, (2018, Tri Angle)
HSXCHCXCXHS – ‘HEM’, (2019, Rösten)
Jacaszek – ‘Dare-gale’, (2012, Ghostly International)
HSXCHCXCXHS – ‘UEA’, (2019, Rösten)
Vessel – ‘Drowned in Water and Light’, (2014, Punish, Honey)

Film excerpts and music videos courtesy of artist, musicians and labels

Extra live footage courtesy of:
Clara Jo, Hiroo Tanaka, Masaya Kato, Kensuke Kurasawa

Thanks to:
Korn Manufaktur Berlin, Andec Filmtechnik Berlin, Berlin Atonal, Outer Agency, Drumming, Joana Gama, Luis Fernandes, Robert Lippok, Sebastian Gainsborough , Montanhas Azuis, SHXCXCHCXSH, Tri Angle, Numbers, Ghostly International, Blackest Ever Black

Watch next: How Robert Henke used five 1980s computers to create his CBM 8032 AV show



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