In an essay published in 1925 in the third issue of “The Surrealist Revolution”, official organ of said movement, Louis Aragon, in exploring photography and cinema, claimed that those techniques, which were modern at the time, were also the best for expressing contemporary sensibility. We can agree that while today’s new technologies have transformed our way of life as well as our way of seeing and communicating, artistic creations have transformed the deluge of images and information to reconstruct perceptible universes in our era.
In 1925 Aragon wrote: «Reality is the apparent absence of contradiction, the marvelous is the eruption of contradiction within the real... the imaginary, the afterworld, dreams, survival, heaven, hell, poetry, are other words that represent the concrete world». This «daily sense of wonderful» is now given to us by artists who’ve taken hold of technologies in order transform the real into wonderful, in order to create an imaginary world that oscillates between dreams and nightmares or rather reveals the abstract world of shapes working in the universe. Digital Life 2 is part of a journey that Fondazione Romaeuropa Arte e Cultura began to undertake a few years ago with the performing arts. Thus, various artists like Robert Lepage, La Fura dels Baus, Santasangre, Saburo Teshigawara, and Masbedo with Glíma, were able to create imaginary worlds by usingimages to shape new environments. Romeo Castellucci’s use of memory in his Tragedia Endogonidia films, Jan Fabre’s living installations, or William Forsythe’s works, create an unusual interaction between the audience and the world of performing arts. Vastly different pursuits connected nonetheless by their exploration of the limits which new technologies have allowed us to envision. The universe of digital music, with artists like Alva Noto, Martux_M, Ryoji Ikeda, Jamie Lidell, Christian Fennesz, -an essential part of the Romaeuropa festival from 2002 till this day- represents a deviation from the traditional way of staging concerts. As we observed, even the creative process itself changed: months before their 2005 concert in Rome, Sakamoto in Tokyo and Alva Noto in Berlin collaborated on their performance via Internet, thus experimenting with a revolutionary compositional process in symbiosis with the globalization of their exchange. The presence of images interacting with sounds flourished rather quickly, making it difficult to schematically categorize these works as musical, scenic, and so on. Thanks to the heterogeneity of techniques, disciplines, and artists, Digital Life 2 underscores the transgressive and subversive power of images. This event aims to accentuate the passage from “real” to “wonderful” to “imaginary”, as previously stated. Through the process of deconstruction, Quayola manipulates classical works, much like Derrida in his texts, so that digital art dialogues with classical art. On the other hand, Quayola’s work could be paired with a Felix Thorn installation, a bizarre sculpture of sonorous objects created by the artist out of scraps of musical instruments and everyday discarded objects, which together work like a seamless orchestra directed by the computer Felix Thorn used to program the score. For many artists, a “real” image or occurrence is the trigger for many different elaborative and creative processes. La Spada and Kurokawa wrestle with contradiction, bringing it into reality in order to highlight it and then abstract it from “natural images”, which are the roots of their inspiration. While on stage, Masbedo give us the key to understand the transformation of images, the installation created for the event overturns a real landscape in a story with open narrative meanings which can’t be reduced to an univocal discourse. Marina Abramović presents us with a photo mural of one of her most memorable performances; while Christian Marclay presents us with the day-to-day story of a couple by means of sounds that can be overheard through a closed door. Carsten Nicolai’s installation, with its radical and abstract core, takes a totally different approach: a paradigm of art in which science is implemented much like Man Ray’s “Mathematical Object”. Daniele Spanò’s installation, Safety Distance, offers a distance/nearness musing with serious social implications. Devis Venturelli, winner of the 2011 Romaeuropa Webfactory, will be present with two works entitled Lezione di Tiro and Superfici fonetiche. The passage from the scene to museums, from the risk of ephemerality to the ensnarement of a stable crossing, is an emancipation that artists have always attempted. The transversality of techniques, the obviousness of false announced cultural revolutions is not a new idea nor does it entail fewer risks. Some are able to pull it off, in particular Jan Fabre, who has an extraordinary career as a choreographer, director, and visual artist. As part of Digital Life 2, Saburo Teshigawara will fulfill his dream of proximity between dancer and viewer, knocking down the barrier between the stage and the audience. Interactivity is part of the participatory performing arts we’ve experimented with (for example with Living Theater), and it introduces an element of unexpectedness into the artistic activity: the Santasangre collective + The Pool Factory will present a poem with three-dimensional images that will be created by the movements of the viewers. Extracting everyday imaginary images from the ordinary, from the quotidian, is the opposite of improvisation and dilettantism. Behind the creation lies the creativity of engineers, researchers, field professionals who not only produce machines but also algorithms and formulas- the basis of all softwares- in order to transform our relationships, confuse reality and imagination, and set an aleatory loop in motion. A few creative laboratories that joined the Digital Life2 journey: BCAA and Cattid. Paraphrasing André Breton in reference to Max Ernst’s collages, we could say that we tried to “couple two apparently uncoupleable realities on a plane apparently unsuitable to them”. Digital Life 2 wants to reflect «a period of transition where reality blends with the unreal every step of the way»*.
Monique Veaute, Fabrizio Grifasi
*Mac Orlan Dans la photographie et le fantastique social, November 1928
GIUSEPPE LA SPADA AFLEUR