BlackBox – Arts & Cognition


BlackBox is an interdisciplinary ERC-funded project hosted by Universidad Nova de Lisboa (FCSH-UNL) since September 2014, under the direction of Prof. Carla Fernandes as its Principal Investigator.

With a wide-breadth duration of 5 years, the BlackBox project aims at developing a cutting-edge model for a web-based collaborative platform, dedicated to the documentation of compositional processes by contemporary performing artists with a focus on dance and theatre. The platform will enable a robust representation of the implicit knowledge in performing practices while applying novel visualization technologies to support it.

As an Arts&Cognition project, BlackBox aims at the analysis of the invited artists’ unique conceptual structures, by crossing the empirical insights of contemporary creators with research theories from Multimodal Communication (Human Interaction, Gesture Studies, Cognitive Science) and Computer Vision.

black box

General objectives:

  • Perform theoretical and innovative interdisciplinary research on the intersection of multimodal communication and cognition, performance studies and digital media.
  • Document, transmit and preserve the unexplored knowledge contained in performance composition processes.
  • Assist artists with creative tools to facilitate their choreographic/dramaturgic practices on a collaborative basis.

The ERC Starting-Grant which supports this project has allowed the recruitment of 3 Post-Docs and 2 PhD students in the research domains of Cognitive Linguistics, Digital Media applied to the Performing Arts and Computer Science. The project also hosts several freelance collaborators and external service providers in the areas of graphic and web design, video, photography and software development, as well as international consultants in Digital Archiving and Intangible Cultural Heritage.

It has additional collaborators from: Interactive Multimedia Group at FCT-UNL; the Neuroscience Programme at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown; C-DaRE at Coventry University, UK; The Linguistics Centre of Universidade do Porto; and the Motion Bank Institute, Frankfurt.

Black Box website:

Download an article about BlackBox produced by Science Impact, a series of high-quality, open access and free to access science reports designed to enable the dissemination of research impact to key stakeholders. The publication features content from the world’s leading research agencies, policy groups, universities and research projects. To read the full edition of Impact containing this article please visit:


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