Sonoluminescent Performance

The performance is a sonic and luminous chess game, in which the movement of the pieces activate sound and light compositions. Thus, instead of a closed and repeatable experience, the result lives at the mercy of uncertainty, openness, imagination, and the unknown.

Jonas Runa challenged José Pacheco Pereira to participate in the performance Reunion XXI. Jonas Runa vs. Pacheco Pereira, which uses two new sonoluminescent works by Runa: Reunion XXI and Ouroboros*. Both works are interconnected and are reactive to the movement of the chess pieces on the board.

The event celebrates 50th anniversary of Reunion, a collaborative performance conceived by John Cage, which featured Marcel Duchamp and Teeny Duchamp; with electronic music by David Behrman, Gordon Mumma, David Tudor and Lowell Cross; held on March 5, 1968 at the Ryerson Theater in Toronto, Canada.

* Ouroboros - emblematic serpent of ancient Egypt and Greece, represented with the tail in the mouth, continuously devouring itself and being reborn. A gnostic and alchemical symbol, Ouroboros expresses the unity of all things, material and spiritual, which never disappear, but perpetually change form in an eternal cycle of recreation.



Reunion XXI, 2018
Board and chess pieces, wood, wire El, light sensors, speakers, amplifiers, sound card, Arduinos Mega, El Escudo Dos, Raspberry Pi.
25 x 50 x 50 cm

'Ouroboros , 2018
NeoPixel stripes, Arduino Mega.
Variable dimensions



According to an ancient tale, the inventor of chess asked the King, as a reward, for a rice berry in the first house, two on the second, four on the third, and so on, until the chessboard was filled. The ruler laughed, until he realized that the total amount was greater than the rice production of the entire planet for a thousand years.

In fact, according to Shannon's number, the number of possible chess games is unimaginably higher than the number of atoms in the observable universe. How can this infinite possibilities be explored artistically?

The performance by Jonas Runa and Pacheco Pereira uses a game of sonoluminescent chess in which the plays activate sound and light compositions. Thus, instead of a closed and repeatable experience, the result lives at the mercy of uncertainty, open form, imagination and the unknown.

Chess is a paradigmatic example in computer science and artificial intelligence. However, it also symbolizes the enormous improbability of life. And as Roger Penrose proposes, chess suggests the hypothesis that consciousness might be non-computable.

The human being is not only homo sapiens (rationality), but also homo demens (madness) and homo ludens (play). The concept of game comprises Darwin and the whole evolution of life, because, as stated by J. Huizinga: games are older than culture, because culture (...) presupposes the existence of a human society and animals did not wait for mankind to be taught how to play.

In this way, as in Lewis Carroll's book Alice on the other side of the mirror, the structure of the work of art is based on the moves of a chess game.

Jonas Runa


José Pacheco Pereira (b. Porto, 1949)

Historian. He participated in the student struggles and the clandestine political action against the dictatorial regime. He has been a member of PSD - Partido Social Democrático (Social Democratic Party) since 1988. He has been a member of the PSD for three terms. Elected to the European Parliament in 1999, he was Vice-President of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2004. In 2004 he was appointed ambassador of Portugal at UNESCO. He actively participates in conferences, debates, colloquia and seminars in Portugal and abroad, at schools, universities, scientific institutions, foundations and associations. He is a regular contributor to written press and television. In the radio and later in the television he participates since its foundation in the program Quadratura do Círculo (former Flashback), the oldest program of political debate in Portugal. In the blogosphere, he created the blogs Abrupto, Estudo Sobre o Comunismo (Study on Communism) and Ephemera. He is the author of books and articles addressing issues of political and social history in Portugal and in the contemporary world. He was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Liberty by President Jorge Sampaio. He is President of the Ephemera Cultural Association and has dedicated himself to saving everything he can from our collective memory.

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