“For net art, being on the web has always been the consequence of a choice of freedom, not an imposed condition.” Interview on Generazione critica

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In this recent interview I had for the online magazine Generazione Critica I discuss about the internet as a space of freedom vs confinement, net based galleries and shows, the success and failures of net based art. Available both in English and Italian.

“Like many other realities, in this time of lock-in and fear of human contact, the world of art has been forced to migrate online. Some have been content with putting things on their social media or live streaming on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube, or to further utilise their mailing list as a communication tool; the more adventurous organized online exhibitions, fairs and virtual viewing rooms. All of a sudden, the network has changed, from a place of communication and support to physical space, to the only possible space for the manifestation of art. Given the current circumstances, it was predictable that the artistic practices that had long ago chosen the network as their primary space of existence would find renewed interest. There is nothing wrong with that, a reinterpretation of the net art tradition might prove to be one of the positive aspects of this unfortunate period, and teach to the “non-native” arts something about this space. But describing net art as perfect for this moment of forced imprisonment on the screen and on the net is very dangerous, because it risks falsifying completely its nature and jeopardizing its understanding. For net art, being on the web has always been the consequence of a choice of freedom, not an imposed condition. We choose to make art on the net to explore new conditions, to be part of a community, to establish a direct dialogue with the spectator and with the public space of which we are part. That’s how it was in the Nineties, and continues to be today, but with differences. Think about Land art: it was, and in some ways still is, a refusal of the white cube and its implications, the search for huge spaces, the desire to leave a formal mark on the natural world and to create new spaces for relationships. But if, due to some cataclysm, the whole world of art was forced to leave the museums and galleries, and retreat to the Nevada desert, would they continue in the same way? Would we all become Land artists?”

Go on reading…

Sopravvivenza programmata

Book, Texts
Valentino Catricalà e Domenico Quaranta (a cura di), SOPRAVVIVENZA PROGRAMMATA. Etiche e pratiche di conservazione, dall’arte cinetica alla Net Art, Edizioni Kappabit, Roma 2020. Brossura cucita, 350 pagine, ISBN 9788894361803

SOPRAVVIVENZA PROGRAMMATA. Etiche e pratiche di conservazione, dall’arte cinetica alla Net Art è un volume che ho curato con Valentino Catricalà, raccogliendo contributi di Laura Barreca, Laura Calvi, Valentino Catricalà, Alice Devecchi, Roberto Dipasquale, Ben Fino-Radin, Marialaura Ghidini, Oliver Grau, Jon Ippolito, Laura Leuzzi, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Alessandro Ludovico, Dorcas Müller, Stephen Partridge, Domenico Quaranta, Iolanda Ratti, Cosetta G. Saba, Domenico Scudero, Azalea Seratoni, Elaine Shemilt, Gaby Wijers. Già disponibile sul sito dell’editore, lo potrete trovare presto nelle migliori e peggiori librerie.

Sopravvivenza programmata è il tentativo, unico nella sua completezza nell’editoria italiana, di affrontare il nodo cruciale del rapporto “arte e tecnologia” dal punto di vista della conservazione, nella complessità delle sue articolazioni e nel suo sviluppo diacronico. Attraverso contributi ormai classici o redatti per l’occasione, il volume articola le teorie, le etiche e le pratiche della conservazione delle opere d’arte quando applicata a media effimeri, time-based, vincolati a tecnologie soggette a obsolescenza programmata e a infrastrutture dal ritmo evolutivo incessante.

Dall’arte cinetica al video, dall’installazione interattiva alla Net Art, dalle collezioni agli archivi, si sollevano quesiti quali: cosa significa conservare? Chi ne è responsabile? Quali sfide devono affrontare i musei di arte contemporanea? Come si può programmare la durata?

Between Hype Cycles and the Present Shock

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Alterazioni Video, The New Circus Event, 2019. Venezia, VAC Foundation. Image courtesy Valentina Campari

The full version of my long essay (or short book) “Between Hype Cycles and the Present Shock” is now available on NERO, in a beautifully designed webpage. You can read it online or download it as a 40 pages, ready to print pdf. Enjoy!

Abstract:

This text is an attempt to understand if, and how, art can exist in the present time. We know we are living an age that is profoundly different from that in which contemporary art was born: an age of acceleration, present shock, distracted gaze and end of the future. And yet, when it comes to art, we still confront it as if nothing had actually changed: as if it were the sacred result of moments of deep focus and concentration; as if it could still be experienced without distraction; as if it were the expression of a constant fight against the old, and of an endless rush towards the new; as if it could speak a universal language, and last forever. But it doesn’t.

Rather than providing answers, this text raises questions such as: is it still possible to make art under these conditions, and to experience art as it should? What’s the price we have to pay for engaging today’s media and the crucial issues of our time, in terms of duration and long term appreciation?

Although these considerations apply to all contemporary art, I use contemporary media art as the main area of reference, as I think most of the problems I’m outlining are more visible there, and more radically affecting the art that uses the tools and addresses the key issues of the post digital age. The essay addresses sub-topics such as primary and mediated experience, the end of the future, Futurism vs Presentism, art’s relation with art market dynamics and technological hypes, art’s incorporation in the art system and in mainstream culture, obsolescence and media art preservation, the difficult relationship between artistic practices and media hypes (with a focus on Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence).

Media, New Media, Postmedia disponibile anche come ebook

Book, Texts

A dieci anni esatti dalla sua prima edizione, Media, New Media, Postmedia, la versione italiana di Beyond New Media Art, è ora disponibile anche come ebook alla metà del prezzo della versione cartacea. Il libro italiano, pubblicato nel 2010 da Postmedia Books, è stato oggetto di una riedizione nel 2018. Ora potete leggerlo anche in digitale, in formato Kindle e epub.

“Nel corso degli ultimi decenni, un complesso corpo di lavori è andato sviluppandosi all’intersezione tra arte, scienza e tecnologia. Negli anni Novanta, con la crescente accessibilità delle nuove tecnologie e lo sviluppo della cultura digitale, questa ricerca è esplosa, conquistando una massa critica di artisti e dando vita a festival, centri d’arte specializzati e a un’intensa attività editoriale e pubblicistica. Nasce la New Media Art. Ma nonostante questa espansione, la New Media Art non è stata in grado di conquistare il mondo dell’arte contemporanea. A che cosa si deve tale scollamento di tradizioni? Perché la critica d’arte ufficiale stenta a integrare la New Media Art nella sua lettura del contemporaneo? Perché il mercato dell’arte fatica ad accogliere software, computer e rete come mezzi artistici? Perché molti artisti rifuggono l’etichetta di New Media Art mentre altri vi si rifugiano, esaltando la sua distanza dall’arte contemporanea? Media, New Media, Postmedia è il primo saggio che tenta di dare, a queste domande, una risposta organica: ripercorrendo le ragioni storiche dell’isolamento della New Media Art, e spiegando perché oggi, in un’era ormai pienamente postdigitale e postmediale, questo isolamento non abbia più senso di esistere.”

La commedia delle immagini: Maurizio Cattelan

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Flash Art Italia commissioned me a piece about Maurizio Cattelan’s Comedian. The article is now available on the printed magazine (Issue 348, March – April 2020) and on the web magazine. On this occasion, the website revived an older piece I wrote in 2012 about Cattelan’s work, titled “When an Image Becomes a Work. Premesse a un’iconografia di Cattelan” and focused on his relationship with vernacular images, internet memes and popular re-use of his own imagery. Both pieces are in Italian, but the older one is still available in English on Poool.info. Enjoy!