lunedì 31 dicembre 2007

TAFKAV: Work Explanation

An orchid is rigged up to a device that measures its electrical output

The psychogalvonometer, which takes the pulse, is in turn linked to Arduino, which translates the electric impulses into Max MSP, which in turn fishes out the sounds and notes through computer RAM that amplifies the sequences of the sounds and transmites them across acoustic speakers.

The (artistic) work does not end with the installation nor with the theoretical exposition: Being an “art of research” it is conceived as a genuine research work that postulates theories and hypotheses and explores them with a pragmatic “experimentum.” Given its research quality, the work seeks its own scientific basis and the paper follows the rules of scientific publications from both the formal and substantive points of view. The theoretical research thus cannot be split off from the work of artistic exploration.

In this perspective, the artist is equivalent to a researcher who exits from the framework of recognized aesthetics – understanding aesthetics in the general culture sense, replete with cultural norms – and places himself on the frontier of knowledge and the effort to re-sensualize man.

The relation between the apparatus and the machine is the same relation as holds between metaphysics and practice. The paper outlines its assumptions and the operating backdrop (metaphysics); but, as the hermeneutic relation set up by the communication of the plant transformed into music (pragmatic) is activated, one has to see the alterity (the plant) as an ethical subject. And do this one has to read the paper as it tells the story of a certain kind of ecology and arrives at a famous U.S. court verdict and paper 'Do the trees have standings'? that recognized the trees of a forest as damaged parties in a civil suit, thus recognizing they have a de facto a telos and ethos and hence identifying them as individual holders of rights.

The central theme of the work is the pragmatic practice of communication and the end of the humanistic paradigm, that is, the world understood in terms of human centrality in nature. In an era in which cybernation has given us moist technologies – hybrid chips in which “dry” silicon meets “wet” biology – we are beginning to understand that the forms of biological life have their own languages, cultures and feelings, and that our relation with them can only be mediated by a kind of cultural bargaining that goes beyond what are construed as the typical human confines.

Man will, in the end, necessarily have to overcome humanism with a new approach to nature and technologies.

sabato 10 novembre 2007


fig 12 Istanbul
fig 11 Istallation ready
fig 10 Istallation ready
fig 9 Istallation Ready
fig 8 Me and Vanda
fig 7 Vanda
fig 6 particolare Orchidea Vanda e arduino

fig 5 montaggio
Fig 4 Montaggio
fig 3 Montaggio e Simona
fig 2. Prove elettriche
Fig 1 Disimballaggio alla Tobacco Warehouse

venerdì 9 novembre 2007


L'istallazione technoetica TAFKAV - The Artist Formerly Known As Vanda - Experimentum 1.0 verrà esposta al festival A-M-B-E-R'07 Body Process Art Festival in Istanbul Turchia dal 9 to 17 novembre 2007 presso la Tobacco Warehouse, Tophane.

The technoetic istallation TAFKAV - The Artist Formerly Known As Vanda - Experimentum 1.0 will be showed at A-M-B-E-R'07 Body Process Art Festival in Istanbul Turkey from 9 to 17 november 2007 at the Tobacco Warehouse, Tophane.

First Conclusions from TAFKAV
1. Plants are living beings;
2. If plants are sensitive living things, then they are not molecular machines that can be patented like chemical formulas;
3. If plants are living things then they are sensitive and can a pragmatic communicative relationship with humans can be defined (this communication will be only man oriented);
4. Articulating this pragmatic approach ought to allow man to define a poetic "self" through the punctuation form created while communicating with plants. This poetic self should allow man to formulate an original interpretation of himself in an era of profound anthropological mutation.

Thanks for this version at Massimo Banzi (Interaction Design - Arduino), Steve Piccolo (Music and sounds), Emanuele Lomello (Max MSP);

venerdì 9 marzo 2007

An Heuristic Method

The text is part of the work.
That’s why this research work is based on a written part and on an installation.
The written part is in fact part of the installation and should not be considered less important.
It stems from the experience.

This relationship between the installation and the writing represents the relationship that exists between an experience and the fact of its being shared – its objectivization or communication. For me personally, the experience is associated with naturalness, immediacy and spontaneity. In my life it has always been relatively easy to have experiences and behavior (in fact it is not possible to not communicate, which is a form of behavior, cf. Watzlawick, Beavin and Jackon 1967). To react, to interact – it’s as if there were a background of “natural” sensations that we naturally enact, without thinking too much about them. The text, meanwhile, is related with the objective choice, the quest to understand, to codify communication.
Experience is an ontogenesis, born of itself and itself giving birth to being. When one arrives at what one has been searching for (when one can almost see the idea and one knows one is in the “right zone”), things change, and the mind that shares the experience finds terms with all the simplicity and ease of natural behaviour.
I mean that behavior which becomes communication because it is recognized and shared by the community.
I would like to highlight another difference between experience and text. In experience, usually, one is conditioned by circumstances, in the sense that the environment helps determine the experience.
With artists, one doesn’t have experiences of the same kind one has with scientists. With research associates one does not have the same kind of experience as one has with childhood friends. The tones, rhythm, accent, phraseing and even the contents change. Because the form changes the content.
That’s why the text of the installation is an artistic text but written according to the methods, rules and style of a scientific paper.
Goethe is an example here, a literary example. After having spent two years in Italy, he returned to Germany and shared his experiences in a text, Versuch die Metamorphose der Pfanzen zu erklaren (1790), in which he described - “the multiple specific phenomena in the splendid garden of the universe within the framework of a simple general principle.”
In his text, he wrote as if the method of nature were to - “generate ... in conformity with precise laws, a living structure that is the model for every artistic thing.”
His publisher rejected the manuscript, claiming that he was a poet and not a scientist.
When finally Goethe managed to publish the writing elsewhere, botanists, scientists and the public at large ignored it.
The public demands that everyone stay within their own field.
Nobody, anywhere, accepts with ease that science and poetry can merge.
The scientific community forgets that science was developed from the first form of technology, tekné, which is like poetry, and therefore has at least to consider that an axial rotation could bring them together a new in a way benefiting both and proving superior and of reciprocal interest.
Goethe made his poet friend Johan Christian Friedrich von Schiller write his text on the metamorphosis of plants and then personally explained him the theory, using drawings and symbols. Schiller told him- “This is not an experience,it’s an idea.”
Goethe emphasizes his marvel at having had an idea without knowing it and of making it visible, thus realizing that as a philosophicall concept, ideas don’t necessarily depend on time or space, while experience is restricted in both senses. “The simultaneous and the sequential are thus intimately linked in an idea, while in experience they are always separate” - he concluded.
When Goethe’s text came to light in France, almost 20 years after publication, readers were amazed that a poet could author such an important work on nature1.
According to Goethe the naturalist, the experience of nature reinforces poetry which generates shared meaning.
According to Goethe the poet, we are only able to write, and the best of us do that by writing a text on apper while others prefer to read.
The text becomes the product of the solitude of experience; It is not subject tot the various kinds of environmental conditioning other than those imposed by the intrinsic nature of being a text. For this reason, writing seizes the core of experience and renders it something to be shared.
I hope to have given insight into why TAKFAV is both an installation and a written text, and how both of them share the ontological status of work-text. The written text is formatted “like scientific texts” is the work itself, and the interactive installation TAFKAV is an artifice while at the same time being the work, too.
In fact, any human artifact is in reality a kind of word, a metaphor that modifies experience in one way or another. It doesn’t make much difference whether we consider intangible or tangible artifacts like sculpture, paintings, comics, computers, cameras, record players, interactive installations or exhibition spaces as objects or media. Likewise, it doesn’t make much difference how we, artistic styles in painting, poetry, theater or music, and the laws of science or scientific essays.
They are all artifacts, all created by man and all can be analyzed through words, as in the final instance the structure of reality and of our plausible descriptions of it partake of the same verbal structure.
There are interesting analogies with the associative logic of the Trivium and the Quadrivium.
That there is a trend towards the recovery of past methods of constructing meaning is due to the fact that if we observe the context of the advent of Trivium and Quadrivium, we will see how even then technology was the central problem – the poetic tekné and the question of how to describe the world that necessarily supposes some form of a negotiation with nature, which is wet, and the word, which is techological and dry.
Transmodal syncretism derives its own techniques form the abstract method used since the Renaissance. This entailed a science of contents and of messages, and allowed for the recovery of scientific creativity that complemented the too-rigid and limited old science of the time.
In 1620, Francis Bacon, in Aphorism XIX, suggested that there are two possible ways for research and the discovery of the truth: one that goes from the particular sense to the general axiom, and thereby judges the truth. The other draws its axioms from the particulars, then works back by degrees towards generalization.
For Bacon, the second was the correct path to the truth.
About a century later in Italy, Gambattista Vico wrote the Scienza Nuova, in which he declared - “in that dense night of darkness, which covers the earliest of our most remote antiquity, there was an eternal light, one that never went out, and pointed to this truth which can under no condition be doubted: this civil world has certainly been made by men, and that therefore we not only can but must find the principles for it inside our own human mind.”
Throughout human history there are at least two formal causes to which both logos and mimesis adapt: One has an oral structure, the other a visual one2.

The structure
The structures have a fundamental role in the process through which we select, organize and order information springing from reality.
The structure of perceptions is based on a configuration structure ably and plausibly described by Gestalt theory. All situations are configured in an area of attention that we call Figure and a vast area of disattention that we call Ground3.
The two areas are configured because they interact with each other, reciprocally confusing and influencing each other across a shared border that defines each of them at the same time. Figures emerge from the Ground and return there as the Ground shapes itself around the Figures and generates them.
The Ground is configurational and comprises all possible available figures at the same time in a scheme that also entials each new Figure mixing from time to time with all the other figures in the Ground.
The Ground is the structure and the style of mental activity, the “way of perceiving” and the “terms” according to which one perceives a figure.
The oral and the visual structures define the ground as well as the structure and style of consciousness. But studying this ground is impossible because it is the environment and is subliminal. The only possible strategy is the creation of an “anti-environment” – and that is the activity of artistic research4.
Perception, then, is generated across fields that are grounds of configuration in which the magnetic attractors are the figures that emerge from the field before immediately returning there in a continuous dynamic flux of interaction. Figure and ground generate a dynamic force field in which reciprocal interactions are generated through the intervals that both separate and identify them.
These intervals are resonant, tactile and dynamic.
Resonance is the configuration of the acoustic space; tactility is the space of the line of significant separation, representing the pressure of the interval.
We can establish connections with things when we don’t define the borders between ourselves and the objects of nature. And we can establish interactions when, intead, we do define these borders.
We can use fields of meanings in which we are immersed in a dynamic way – infusing them with the influence of the things of nature. Likewise, we can use these fields of meanings by creating intervals in a way that allows us to identify them with defined structures that represent ourselves as beings and nature as ground.
In the first case, we and the object become, dynamically, one single thing, a process in which we are immersed in nature to generate a world-flux and to create a a plant and virtual reality.
In the second case, we create two “artifacts” – the subject and the environment – which become very useful to categorize the world and create a validated world-reality.
The foundations of this Transmodal Syncretism, then, don’t lie on any general theory but rather on a heuristic method in which responses have the utmost importance insofar as they determine the genre of this approach5.
The place of coficiation and “mastering” of the senses are the arts – and we can use aphorisms, artistic practices, juxtaposition and syncretic praxis as research techniques.
A concrete science cannot today be considered a fortunate science unless it manages to possess both its own “ground” and to be concrete at the same time.
In fact, a concrete science must keep its adherence to experience, although without limiting its scope only to empiricism, and must seek to give an ontological dimension to every empirical experience.
Science will never find the conviction to possess, with its concepts, the keys to nature, and it will never renounce those foundations and presuppositions that created it.
For that reason, syncretism is a valid strategy that also emerges in other historical and religious contexts in which the common enemy was military, religious or political. Today, we can argue that the current enemy is “habit” – the a-critical repetition of behaviours, opinions, perceptions and values – which leads only to the ageing of metaphors and already-wilted truths.