Pedro Moreira, also known as the digital artist persona Ped.Moreira, is a queer multi-racial artist based between Porto, Portugal and London, United Kingdom. Their work explores the idea of reality through theology, identity and virtual theory. Using videogames, social media, and other virtual landscapes to create multi-disciplinary work, Pedro is interested in expressing the concept of ‘virtual-existentialism’, or the acknowledgement of one’s own existence in a virtual and imaginary environment.
February 2019, Porto, Portugal
Pedro Moreira (PM): I just got fed up. I got tired of being the vocal… I was very vocal at the time. I was very, like, very tired of having to explain myself. And having to play the race card or the immigrant card or like, the queer card in order to like, be listened to in discussions, because I was I would always get pointed out for using that card afterwards. I was just tired, I was tired of having to, to try and explain something that should be a given…
I felt like I was fetishized a lot of the times by the white men that I dated. And so really, it was all racially charged. Like the this whole thing about me living in the UK, moving to Mexico City, and then coming back was like… I don’t know my place in the world. I feel like everyone wants something out of me because of a background that I had no power over, or like once the judgment for that for that same reason. And it’s just hard for me to get my foot through the door anywhere, like it’s really hard for me. So I was like, you know what, I’m going to find out about my country, or like, where my parents grew up or like a win try and understand my place in the world by you know, moving back to Porto. So that’s what I did after like, a summer of being in London. I went back to Porto.
Kelly Lloyd (KL): How did it center you or de-center you, or like complicate your identity or answer questions that like you need an answer to?
PM: It definitely complicated my identity. The answers were more emotional answers. I love living, and I still do love living, in a city where my parents grew up, and just thinking about what they did in the places that I’m frequenting now, and just like imagining their life as young people, though, I feel like I didn’t really pick… Porto is was where I parents grew up, I was born in Lisbon. And I feel like I would probably have a nicer time when race is concerned, or when my identity is concerned, in Lisbon, because it’s a much more multicultural city, whereas Porto is very white still.
But it was kind of a battle that I felt that I feel like I can fight with more temperance, and with less outrage that I did here in the UK, because I feel like I have more people I can have conversations with about my issues. Whereas here [in London], I felt like it was me against the world. And that’s not a healthy mind-place to be in I don’t think. I don’t think I was accomplishing much other than like, creating a very hostile like identity around me. Because all I spoke about was the issues that perplexed me, and I think people just saw me as a buzzkill. Which is not fair because I feel like I’m a fun person to be around… [Laughter]
September 2020, London, United Kingdom
KL: What will the future look like?
PM: “This is a trick question” was the first thought that came to mind when I read what was being posed to me. Time seems to have been erased from my spectrum of perception over the past few months, I have a hard enough time constructing an immediate future in my mind let alone a distant one.
Last year I had a Monstera called Bichona in my room, I had bought it from IKEA that summer and by the winter it started dying, its leaves were turning brown and it’s stems dropped down over my metal shelf of books the plant pot sat on. My boyfriend at the time had taken a selfie in front of my mirror, which framed the plant in its background, after posting it on Twitter the response was a resounding, “someone please take care of that plant”. I’ll admit I’m not the best person at sticking to a routine but like all other plants in my house this one was being looked after. I attempted to separate it into 3 different pots as the original pot’s contents consisted of 3 separate roots and decided to keep the 3 pots in my marquise until I could figure out what I was going to do with them. Shortly after I had done this the beginning of the year started tumbling down as a series of catastrophic events took hold of my reality, saying everything had gone to shit would have been an understatement. It must have been the start mid March when I noticed 2 of my 3 little Monsteras started sprouting new leaves, and the third one was gone for good, may it rest in peace. This act of necromancy informed an ideology I’ve tried to adopt to keep myself sane in light of recent transformations that have taken place in this world. From the corpses of our past lives we can re-raise into something new, perhaps I developed a sense of hope that a mixture of trauma and hindsight would be the ideal recipe for the constructs that surround me to mutate into something more sound and considerate. Maybe, just maybe, that dream of a solar-punk-slash-fully- automated-luxury-communism I had been projecting in my vision board (I’m kidding about the vision board) can finally come to fruition.
It’s hard to think about the future without projecting a fantasy onto it because the future in always contingent on the present, and the present is never a fantasy. “What I would hope for the future” is a different thing to “what will the future look like”. In my practice and research up until this year my focus has been on the topic of “virtual existentialism” a term I fabricated as a means to identify the notion of how an identity can exist in a virtual space, and if identity or the self is contingent on being contrasted with the things that it is not within the space it inhabits, how do the rules change when comparing physical spaces
to virtual spaces. A few people I work with came to me during quarantine to feel out my ideas for work regarding the fact that, because of the pandemic, virtual spaces exponentially became our primary access into a “social life”. I read an underlined excitement pertaining to the way in which this new way of life would inform my work. However what I came to understand was that my excitement for this subject of “virtual existentialism” existed only in tandem with the fact that this mode of existence was optional, and not compulsory. Yes I saw this kind of transition from physical to virtual happening within my lifetime, but I never saw it as something that was to come so soon and in such a sudden manner.
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius, is what astrologers say, and it’s been dawning since it was sang by those people wearing glittery garments on a disc In the middle of space in 1969. We must be deep in it now. According to the astrologers I’ve asked about this, this age mainly signifies a shift in the way human beings exist, specifically highlighting that we are to travel through air more than through land, that our bodies will become aerial. I tend to conceptualize this as our consciousnesses traversing through airwaves rather than the more romantic levitating or somehow growing wings. I do believe in the possibility of adapting recent technological practices in a way which functions productively rather than something that exacerbates the possibility of human social toxicity but it’ll definitely be a painful learning curve.
The question still stands, what will he future look like? It’s obvious that in my mind there is a big onus on the learning that is involved in change. The pandemic wasn’t the only awakening society as a whole went through, there have been a plethora of highlighted instances of racial injustices brought to light and awarded attention through the situational aspect of increased social media consumption which ran inevitably in tandem with the fact that people just weren’t leaving their houses. I have mixed feelings about the reaction from white people to this movement, while I am sure a lot of their regurgitation of information is well meaning I can’t help but shake the feeling that there is a problematic sense of vanity involved with this somewhat performative allyship. I find this situation especially frustrating because this was far from the first iteration of the BLM movement, and what I find disappointing is the cyclical nature of these societal progressions and regressions. This idea of cycles can be applied to so much of our history, both recent and distant, and I’m afraid it’s also what my logical brain has me expecting from the future. A more positive approach to this “cycles” thing is that I feel like we’re coming out of a really bad one so if the rules apply, then a good one’s in order (you know cause of karmic destiny and all that).
PM: Okay, so this is the sound recording for Kelly, where I’m supposed to answer the question about… wait, let me just check the question again so I don’t paraphrase it. What will the future look like? So I want to spread this audio segment of my response to this as a series of scenarios in which the future can go into because although I think past and present or linear, like, present is a direct consequence of the past, and it happens as a kind of falling down of dominoes. The future is something that branches out, in my opinion, because it’s something that has unlimited possibilities. So I’m about to come up with a few. This is going to be a stream of consciousness thing. I’m not… I don’t have any of these pre written or planned out. So let’s start with Scenario number one.
So Scenario number one: Coronavirus has continued to spread. And people have gone back to quarantine globally. And we have not developed an immunity. In fact, some of the survivors are exhibiting some kind of weird symptoms, the virus prevails in the body, but it doesn’t really have the active effect of causing a flu anymore. It just infiltrates your consciousness in a way that you perceive things in a different way than people who haven’t been infected by the virus. Perhaps it’s something that’s psychosomatic, that has happened because of the care that was involved in the healing process of taking care of the virus. Perhaps it is a biological aspect of the virus that actually affects the brain. And people are starting to separate in kind of these virtual hubs of people who have been infected by the virus, and people who haven’t been infected by the virus. And the people who have been infected by the virus have also kind of been part of this microcosm, and state of mind of having been infected, kind of enforced by the group that they are talking to, in these virtual ecosystems that they have created. So they start to kind of think in very different ways, they find other things that relate to the way that their mind is wired that functions together. And they become this kind of different sect of humanity, basically, this different group of humanity. And it’s not a very high percentage, but it is like a, I would say, it grows, it’s a growing percentage. And they start developing this kind of like us in them kind of mentality. And it becomes very, like, very rooted in this kind of chaos situation. And eventually, they become kind of more resourceful because they’re, they’re a closed group connected by this one thing. That is a big talking topic. And they actually become more prolific than people who haven’t been infected by the virus, because if they’ve developed immunity, so in doing so, they kind of become the ruling class of humanity. And the people who haven’t been infected are the people who kind of still live in this like kind of isolation mindset, still live in this day to day taking care of hygiene to an extreme level. So they don’t get infected. And it just becomes this kind of weird battle between the two. And actually, contrary to what you might expect from this kind of, fantastical scenario, which might actually happen, we don’t know, the people who have stayed home, and who have kind of like looked after themselves, the people who isolated kind of become this kind of like, infected zombies, because they become less immune to other viruses, because they’re not in contact with the outside world. And this one virus that isn’t Coronavirus, it’s this zombie fantasy zombie virus infects them. And it also is fueled by their isolation mentality. And they just kind of start getting like cannibalistic and stuff like that. It’s very scary, a very possible feature that can happen. And that’s the end of scenario one.
Scenario two: so in scenario two, this one has more of a political focus and a socio-economic focus. So everyone’s in isolation at the moment, or we’ll be back in isolation in some places, or has come back to isolation in some places, or is actually free to roam in some countries. For example, here I am, we aren’t back in lockdown, but I know a few places in the UK are back in lockdown. So, this progresses into this, like hyper, Plato’s cave scenario. So we already live in a Plato’s cave, situation where I mean, just naturally, as as human beings, but our boxes of information like our phones, and our computers, and our TV screens, become these kind of like echo chambers of information that we can’t verify, we cannot verify information anymore. And so political powers try to shape the minds of the people who become isolated to the point where they can just say anything, and it becomes real, they can say anything, and it becomes part of everyone’s reality, because everyone’s reality is very confined to, you know, the walls that they live up in, basically. And yeah, the world slowly drives itself into a economic apocalypse where big corporations have so much power, so much power, they can do whatever they want with the world, and we’re not even outside to to notice that it’s happening, let alone do something about it. So that’s the ending of scenario number two.
Scenario number three: so Scenario number three, I think it’s going to be more of a love story, just to kind of like, just to kind of like, lighten the mood a little bit. So Scenario number three, also born from isolation and virtual means of communication, people start adapting to these different video games like Second Life, like I am Vu, other RPGs, maybe like World of Warcraft, and what others… big MMO RPGs. And that’s just how people start to live. So you can’t really show up at your work when you’re living at home. So you have to take your avatar to a place of work in the game. And companies all have these offices in Second Life or whatever, and people have to go to go to work that way. The economy stay stabilized, because because it’s driven through. It’s driven through virtual microtransactions instead of physical stuff. So people just start kind of living off like the… like the minimum requirement of life. So food, eat food, eating, basically, food, eating, drinking water to stay hydrated, going to sleep at reasonable hours, waking up, maybe staring outside the window for a bit, and then going into this game to work. And when they’re finished, they go to other games, more fun games, not work games. And they kind of meet online and they kind of start assimilating social, like face-to-face interactions, with online interactions to the point that don’t even miss them anymore. And people start falling in love online. They have strong relationships online and everything just becomes more real. They start going to sleep with each other on Skype with Skype on, they start building these physical avatars for the people that they’re with as kind of these like pillowy bodies or like these mannequins or something that they have around their house, by their table or whatever. They have a sitting mannequin, right. So they’re sitting at the dinner table, there’s there’s a mannequin. And on top of the mannequin, there’s like a stand for you to put your laptop on. And you can see the face of the person, your virtual boyfriend, or girlfriend, who you’re having dinner or lunch with. And you have dinner dates and stuff like that, in that way. So human beings just start adapting to the fact that you don’t actually need to be physical with someone in order to enjoy someone’s presence. So they just build these like, maybe a bit eerie infrastructures, in their living environments, where they kind of have substitutes, they emulate human experience that way. So that’s Scenario number three. I hope that all made sense for Scenario number three.
Scenario number four: so in Scenario number four, okay, let’s say there’s a vaccine, okay? Which there is apparently, or according to the news, I haven’t really been paying attention to the news lately, because it’s a bit depressing. But let’s say scenario, number four, there’s a vaccine and everyone gets cured, and everything goes back to normal. And we don’t learn from anything that happened. We don’t learn from the, from the power that the capitalist infrastructure has on society, we don’t learn from the problematic ecosystems that brought about this disease in the first place. We don’t learn from from the problematic mentality of human excess that has kind of taken over for the past few years. consumerism just ramps up again, because people are just like, yes, we can go outside, we can do everything, let’s go all out. And, and everyone just kind of like overdoses, everyone just overdoses on reality, because they haven’t had any of it for a year, for maybe a year and a half, let’s say this feature is two years, actually, from the, from the start of quarantine. And people just they go crazy, they go all out, they do everything and more, than they want to do. And they just, after that, they just kind of like… it’s kind of like they’re having like a… like a relapse, and everything is crap. Everything is crap. Again, everything is like, wasted. Let’s say that there’s a year of that a year of like, access, and like, there’s just trash everywhere. We don’t learn anything from what happened. And and yeah, things just progress in the same way. We don’t really get any, like, any lessons learned, basically, and that things don’t just go in the same way, they kind of get worse because it’s like, it’s kind of like when you… when a kid moans about not getting his or her way and they, they act like they’re going to be nice until they get their way. And then when that when they get their way, they go back to being like a brat or something like that, if that makes sense. Because that’s kind of I feel like a lot of primal human experience is kind of dictated by those kinds of, like childish urges that we have because I mean, we don’t really develop a lot of that mentality I don’t think. We we try to, we try to hold it back, but it’s always still there. So, yeah, I mean, it’s humanity is like a very big and hard thing to control. In a way that is, you know, productive, not in a way that is kind of like, detrimental, like let’s say, let’s say, consumerism, for example. It’s a very easy way to control people, but it’s also detrimental But when it comes to mindfulness, it’s very hard to insert into, into society. So everything just gets lost everything, like all this positive information that we’ve gathered from the this time just gets lost. And because it just becomes this boom, it’s like this, this boom of like, everything is going good now. Everyone’s cured, there’s no problem, we can just go back to doing whatever you want. And we just go like the extra mile, which I don’t know, some good things might come from that scenario. I don’t think that scenario is exactly like, bad. I just think it will have like a huge fall. Let’s see if I can think of scenario number five…
Scenario number five: let me think…so…people learn from isolation. People learn from this time that they’re that they’ve been in, and the process of leaving it as very gradual. And… and we start to work on renewable energy, we start to work on things that pollute our environment, that shouldn’t be happening anymore, because we have the means to kind of get past them. And somehow, when I’m talking about this, this all just seems like it’s the most fantasy, the most fatasy future out of all of the five that I’ve said so far. Because it’s just not how things are going, I don’t think, but let’s continue and then I’ll explain why I don’t think that’s a, that’s possible. And that’s like, I would say that has like a one percentile chance of actually happening. So things progress slowly. And people slowly get back to, to the way they are, but but they to the way that they they used to be I mean, but they kind of give more value to things that they didn’t have access to when they were when they were in quarantine, but in a in a respectful way. They are kind of, I guess they’re kind of they’re kind of bruised by the situation. And they’re healing from it slowly, and they’re doing all these things again, but they’re being mindful of the way that they consume, they’re being mindful of the pollution that they create, they’re being mindful of… the way things are supposed to be. But the thing is, I don’t think it’s that unlikely that people will have that that attitude like and I when I say people, I say like communities/society in general. I don’t think people have an issue having that mentality, it’s more for me, what I find unlikely about this scenario, it’s more the concept that the corporations that do have control over the way that society flows have gotten richer out of this situation. And they’ll just find new ways to exploit this way. So though this, like newfound way of living, so it will… they’ll try to push onto Scenario number five, number four, I mean, they’ll try to push back into Scenario number four. But in Scenario number five, if it’s a good scenario, okay, I would imagine for just people to not boycott, not necessarily boycott these corporations, but actually see the value in denying that aspect of living. See the value in dismantling that kind of, that kind of grip/ grasp that those that those powers have over people. People will kind of like, drift away from the consumerist mindset, and just pay value to what it is to… like how good it is to have like natural habitats around us how good it is to have important social connections, how good it is to have, you know, strong ties to people and to feel like you’re part of something that involves more people in a corporal sense. That it’s not really about the money that you’re making in the process, it’s about making everything work well communally. So, valuing the effort and the input that those around you are giving and giving the same. See, I don’t think this will happen because of the amount of unemployment that there is, and the onus is falling on the working people in the situation. And this is why I don’t think the scenario is likely. I think it will lead people to desperation, you know, the, the, the big names are getting bigger, and they have more power because people are more desperate. That’s why I feel like that scenario is the most fantastical one out of all the out of all of them. It’s the most fairy tale-y one. And I think I would be a bit um, I would be a bit naive to accept it as, like, what will happen, but I have hope for that kind of scenario to happen. Yeah, so that’s the end of scenario number five. And I think that’s a good amount of scenarios for for futures. I mean, we covered everything. I think, well, everything that came to mind during this time. So that’s it.