Presentation of the residency Sci-fi Miners by João Martinho Moura

- Can you introduce yourself? 

I’m João Martinho Moura, an artist-researcher born in Portugal. My interests lie in media art, art & science, digital music, and computational aesthetics, with special focus in visualization and in the development of new interfaces of artistic expression.  

- Can you present your project SCI-FI MINERS?

Sci-fi miners is an audio-visual exploration of the possibilities generated by the nano technological advances in the research of the replacement of critical materials, very rare on planet earth, by improved nanoparticle control. Those materials, critical metals, especially rare platinum group metals (PMGs), are essential and used for heterogeneous and electrochemical catalysis. At the Critcat project, researchers are exploring new ways to substitute those rare materials, in order to achieve optimal catalytic performance with earth-abundant materials. I’m naming those researchers the sci-fi miners, once the extraction of those rare materials is currently made by the mining industry, in deep caves located in a small number of regions in the world, in very low concentrations, especially in South Africa. Currently, many countries are deeply or even totally dependent on the mining industry to obtain these materials, relevant for fuel cells, storage of renewable energy, and for autocatalyst emissions control. For some strategic metals, the European Union in totally dependent on import. Nowadays we can obtain a few grams of platinum per ton of rock, and the extraction process is very expensive and long. Urgency is the word I find for this research. In the course of my STARTS residency I’m working mainly at INL (International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory) and with other Critcat project partners, exploring the projects’ data generated nanoparticle parameters such as size, shape, surface structure, and computational simulations, to create audio-visual experiences, in virtual environments, intending to let the public know how significant this research is for human kind and for the sustainability of our planet.

- What do you expect from this residency? 

I’m expecting to learn, to find new worlds and new knowledge that will allow me to grow as an artist and as a researcher, to collaborate and provide my contribute to this research.