The first edition of the environmental art exhibition Genius Loci, curated by Federica Forti, was inaugurated on July 31 st at Palmaria island, in front of the town of Portovenere (Spoleto). And in this exhibition you could find the special section, entitled cRack! Live electronics, that I curated. I invited Motus, otolab, Giacomo Verde and Badsector.
The exhibition thought of art as a special landscape including the observer, a sort of reflective and perceptive path, which means a strong involvement. The live electronic art in cRack! was like an “ecosystem” made of symbiosis and connections between languages and codes, trying to involve the audience in an environment that stirs the perceptions of everybody. Special electronic devices through which the visual/sound narration was showed at the same time on four laptops, technological performances, environmental installations with really amazing theatrical performances: this was the landscape brought by cRack! . From experimental electronics to techno, from dub and noise to industrial sounds in order to mix the electronic organism and the natural environment.
However, nowadays what is the real rebellious art? Giacomo Verde wrote these lines about cRack! : “The most interesting art of the last century was based on the violation of codes, conventions and styles that belonged to specific genres and trends. In the past it was definitely a useful kind of art because it answered the need to give importance to the unexpected versus the normalization subjected to mass consumption laws. But today normalization means striking actions; the mass consumption is split and personalized. The rebelliousness has become the norm. What in the past was the outrageous cRack! has become the confusing croak of hundreds of frogs in a pond. Living beyond codes, in this constant frog croaking, is what “people” have to feel: in this way they can be manipulated into useless desires and goals. At present, what is needed is a kind of art that can create new codes, work together with people, break conventions, stand out from the chorus of frogs, in order to produce new experiences that go beyond social and aesthetic critics”.
So, cRack now means socialization of technological knowledge, creation of a community through the Web, birth of a new kind of art that gathers and mixes old technologies (analogue) with new ones (digital). In this way, some groups of artists think of themselves as the “creators” of a new language influenced by the Web, the open source and graphic art.
Motus, otolab and Giacomo Verde are trying to put together the aesthetic experience with technological art, through different kinds of media (live set, video art and theatre). Giacomo Verde was the video art pioneer and one of the first to experiment net and interactive art. In Palmaria he performed A mettere mano through sound and video live by the electro-noise musician Bad Sector: it was a group performance because the audience break televisions and transform it into authentic art objects. Its purpose is to reflect on the creative and collective recovery of the media. During this collective action, Verde filmed live what was happening to create an amazing abstract set made of circuits, copper wires and plaster.
Giacomo Verdesaid: “Sight is one of the most misleading senses. When you don’t understand what’s in front of you, you have to act and in that moment illusion gradually disappears. In a period like this in which what is really important is the materiality of images, we need tactile and dialogue experiences trying to get rid of the borders between art and non-art, sight and touch, saying and doing”.
Television is an untouchable object that hypnotizes who’s watching it. TV recovers if it’s debunked through breaking and assembling. We have to get rid of what is superfluous and add the audience’s creativity, and the result will be a powerful mixture of five senses. Free creativity versus the immobility of TV. It becomes a performing situation.
Otolab from Milan performed in Palmaria its Circo Ipnotico, a live audio-visual improvisation through the use of synthesizers and laptops while the artists deconstruct MPEGs and modify video images. Otolab’s cRack! uses the low tech concept to produce hypnotic effects. Bertand Niessen wrote about cRack! : “Attacking what is inside the boxes, machines, hardware and software. But, most of all, attacking the imagination, the first and most social technology. Attacking perceptions, breaking the time and space conventions. Hypnotizing”.
Daniela Nicolò and Enrico Casagrande (known as Motus), are members of the most important Italian experimental theatre company. In Palmaria they performed their recent film based on the theatre project Ics Racconti Crudeli della Giovinezza. It’s about two boys living in a situation of existential and urban degradation: they are the symbol of a restless generation. The authors said that the film was produced without any script through the editing of several travel videos filmed in Italian and European suburbs, French banlieues and the abandoned colonies in Emilia Romagna (Italian region).
The fascination of urban borders and the personal experience of those who lived in those areas made the film very important. It is like a manifesto of Motus art, whose purpose is to highlight the contradictions of the present society: our ambitions have always to face this feeling of loss and dejection.
It is a mature work influenced by American independent cinema, and it is a tribute to Gus Van Sant and his way of telling stories about the lost youth that tries to find its own spiritual path. In Palmaria, Motus presented the video-installation RUN ; the main character was Silvia Calderoni who skates through abandoned buildings, degraded areas, leaving behind her the ruins.