Emma Zanella - Visible signs of an invisible reality, 2008
I have no intention of entering into the complex debate, which is usually somewhat superficial and futile, about the reading, classification, and the definition of what is too generically referred to as video art. This is not at all due to a lack of interest in the theories, but rather because I believe that by now artists, in this case Bianco-Valente, venture beyond definitions in the practice of everyday living.
In fact, their works embrace as many of the visual systems created with electronic means, video installations, digital photos and designs, sound and interactive installations as are needed to guarantee ample freedom of thought in this intricate world.
Bianco-Valente succeed in giving them a complex aesthetic that is stratified and in no way resembles submission to the electronic media, but rather is capable of moulding it into a highly imaginative and poetic world that changes, deviates, and redefines itself as it enters into the twists and turns of man's mind and thoughts.
The works of Bianco-Valente are never cold. On the contrary, their research opens into an impelling yet thrilling confrontation between “rationality and humanization”(1). They set out independently and yet within their union of life and art on a path where “[…] they remain both spectators and protagonists, totally involved in a philosophical evolution that would seem more a line than a segment […] that train of thought that is an analysis of life, of the subtleties, of the reactions, of the relations, of the potential of study and knowledge”, as Del Vecchio points out in the text noted(2).
However, the works of Bianco-Valente do not settle for a light-hearted interpretation (or immersion). On the contrary.
Their poetic, “warm”, and persuasive coherence certainly evokes the allure of the Veele(3), enticing us into suggestive and fully absorbing environments where the traditional coordinates of space and time are lost and annulled in a magma of metamorphosis. Here there are no themes that impose and demonstrate the brutality and rawness of daily living.
On the contrary, the takes are often natural and all too familiar to us: clouds floating by (When the Sun Touches You, 2007), infinite skies, eyes are raised as if summoned by tree branches overhead (Tempo universale, 2007) or by the rhythmic oscillations of a swing (Fortify my Arms, 2005), human figures moving amidst nature (Spread, 2004; RSM, 2005), infinitely small or infinitely large landscapes, fragments of voyages, aeronautic maps, positioning systems used by ships in the open sea (Relational Domain, 2005; Reactive, 2006, 2007; Over the Noise Floor, 2007), parallel or overlapping universes, mental codes of orientation, fragments woven into a single, fluid, becoming.
However, an overwhelming unease unwinds, a sense of unrest is born of a single detail or the entirety, from the unnatural hues that transform figures and landscapes of elusive forms, electronic shadows that have no substance of their own, with reference points that shift with every breath. “Who is lurking behind these blurred blots? Robots, ghosts, aliens,” Bruno Di Marino(4) rightly asks, “[…] except for rare occasions, these beings in the photos and in the videos are faceless, mysterious entities that cross through natural and urban spaces, nocturnal ‘animals’ captured in flight […]”.
Bianco-Valente’s staging is for all intents and purposes a disorienting but impressively symbolic deconstruction of small and large fragments of life that surround us and substantiate the universe.
Their images are born of more than mere IT. In other words, they are not downloaded from a computer, but are almost always deeply rooted in reality, travelling in a universe that is both elusive and indefinable.
I believe it is precisely this grip on reality that is significant, because it roots their works in an intriguing and existent borderland between visibility and invisibility, between tangible and immaterial, between organic and inorganic, in a continual dualistic dialectic that is not due only to their working as a couple, but also the result of precise aesthetic choices, of a particular view of the world.
“We are fascinated by the duality of the body and the mind: an organic structure of flesh, defined and limited by space and time, that serves as a vehicle for the mind, a spontaneous phenomenon with no apparent confines, totally free and self-standing, “ declare the artists, “We explore the confines of this immaterial space that inhabits the convolutions of the cerebral cortex, to understand if and where it is possible to identify a contact point that inextricably links the two domains […]”(5).
Obviously, speaking of a grip on reality is not the same as speaking of realism: reality is not the fact or the entity that is represented, and all narrative elements are scrupulously excluded from their works.
Reality is the moulding of forms and fluid spaces that assume elusive, ever-changing appearances. To the point that Bianco-Valente, in order to accentuate the elusiveness of a vision, uses blurred images, out-of-focus, with low resolution, extremely volatile and with altered colours, so as to strip away any truthful portrayal and evoke a formless structure of the mechanism used to actuate complex cerebral dynamics. The low formal quality of the video image or the scratchy hissing of the old audio recordings assumes a precise emotional and expressive significance for Bianco-Valente. They are, for all practical purposes, a specific stylised code that distinguishes itself.
The result is organic liquid images and rarefied natural spaces: “as if each luminous particle […] were shaded by a pocket where the memory of the image itself dwells […], " writes Elena Volpato in the text published here, emphasising the grainy structure of Bianco-Valente’s electronic image, a tool for making visual and audio recordings of the world.
Even sound plays a fundamental role in the composition because it contributes to triggering the fluidity and the space-time amorphousness of their works. They are phoney, fragmented, dusty sounds that move through the universe, radio waves taken from recordings meant to absorb the fluidity from our surroundings. They are sounds of the world. In Over the Noise Floor (2007) the sounds that accompany the vision are recordings of short-wave signals used by positioning systems installed in aircraft and ships. Incredible sounds - tangible in their existence, yet at the same time intangible in the immateriality and indecipherability of their entirety and flow.
The continuous linearity of their work-thought constitutes the Bianco-Valente’s impalpable trait-d’union between life and art: in art, the work entitled Unità minima di senso (biro on paper, 2002) is a real strip of paper that gets longer and longer with the writings of each artist in a dialogue with no beginning and no end (how can what is art be distinguished from what is daily actions?). Similarly, the RSM(6) project, which been so widely discussed and written about, born of a deliberate choice of daily lifestyle, has profoundly influenced their work.
From 2001, the awareness of acting, living, and working in a relational domain, in a sort of network that connects one point to another, even through the fluidity of free choice, has profoundly influenced their work as artists, their spatial-temporal perspective. To the point that their videos are today preferred as installations, environments that are totally and completely engrossing. This is also reflected by the fact that their latest work produced especially for the GAM(7), The Effort to Recompose my Complexity (2008), is still being elaborated although it is now exhibited in its first phase at the Galleria Contemporaneo di Mestre(8), they succeed in locking in all the stylistic features described up to this point even more effectively: video images, digital designs, lines of connection, mapping, as if the poetics of Bianco-Valente were truly condensed into a single, important and ambitious work.
Ambitious because it is not the map of a physical or geographic place, but rather a metaphor of the interior complexity of the artist, of the unity and of the entity of Bianco-Valente(9), which examines its own indefinable complexity, thoughts, feelings, emotions, relations, memories, fears, hopes, and destinies.
In a recent interview(10) dedicated specifically to the new work, Bianco-Valente actually referred to their collaboration as a true ENTITY gifted with a precise artistic autonomy and thought that goes beyond the individuality of the components of this artistic couple.
“[…] when, as in this case, we use the first person-singular for the titles of our works, they always refer to the entity of Bianco-Valente…in the end, Bianco-Valente is a single entity that produces a single work and a single thought…la summation of our drive generates the work and the creations… in Unità minima di senso (2002) for example, the work was done by both of us separately…but in the end everything was mixed together, entangled, and therefore made indissoluble(11).
The digital designs, the continuous ramifications and deviations that chase each other (for the first time) on the wall are the graphic representation of such a complexity, in which Bianco-Valente, and all of us, move continually.
The cards hanging in a random, unordered path, are united by long and short straightaways that trace infinite itineraries and potential relations, graphically representing the connection that has always existed between all things. This, by the way, is at the base of the RSM voyage project, guided by an awareness of the presence of more or less visible lines that substantiate every phase of human behaviour.
The video projects, currently undergoing editing, will be the binding of the individual interventions, manifestations of the passing of time and the immersion into a fleeting and ungraspable thought.
This work, which enters, as we already said, as part of the permanent collection of the GAM, contributes to reinforcing the role of the museum as not only as a simple preordained and pre-packaged receiver or exhibitioner, but rather has a place of research and support for artists, the public, and naturally, the technical staff.
Zone Artistiche Temporanee (2004)(12) marked the starting point, when artists were invited to design, produce, and realise thirteen works of public art, of which eleven are today part of the museum collection, that now stand among the most important of the last generation of internationally known Italian artists.
The road mapped by Z.A.T. is followed in 2007 by the work Europa (2007, dynamic mural design) designed and produced for the GAM by Marcel.lí Antúnez Roca for the show entitled Interattività Furiosa. Pre-interattività e sistematurgia (March 8 – April 29, 07); in 2007-2008 with site specific works designed and realised by Enrica Borghi, Alice Cattaneo, and Name Diffusion for Le trame di Penelope (November 10, 07 – February 10, 08) in its conclusive phase and today with visibile invisibile by Bianco-Valente.
With this and other initiatives, the GAM puts itself into a position to operate a true cultural and patrimonial investment for the entire city, with a conviction, rarely found in Italy, that for a contemporary art museum, shows are an invaluable occasion to consolidate the permanent collection, the museum's mission, and its identity.
Finally, Visibile invisibile appears as an important opportunity for study and research in contemporary arts, working its way into the forefront of the longstanding arts - philosophy debate that characterises the now eagerly awaited event of the Filosofarti Festival, organised by the Gallarate Theatre of Arts and by the 1860 Gallarate City Cultural Foundation, with which we have always collaborated. The show intends to offer a specific and significant contribution aimed at underlining the museum's interest in the values and aesthetic standards that new generations apply to life and cultural experiences that cannot be compared to those of previous generations and, more specifically, interests in media technology that redefine traditional aesthetic parameters by creating new means of expressions.
The current issue that we chose as the theme for the opening of the show as well as the conference is Eternità presente. Senso ed esperienze del tempo nella società digitale by Alessandro Ludovico, Tommaso Tozzi, and Francesca Marianna Consonni, head of our didactic department, which also developed our latest publication, the Wok City Map, on the theme of travelling.