Pierluigi Casolari - Interview with Bianco-Valente, 2003

Pierluigi Casolari: Your work stands out from that of many other artists that use new technology, because it refuses absolutely the glamour and the glossy aspect of the digital image. It stresses instead the undefined and low resolution aspect of this kind of image. Is it true what G. Romano says about your sensibility more humanistic than technological?

: Our work focuses the mind-body duality, that is to say a flesh organic structure finite and chained to time and space carrying about the mind, a spontaneous phenomenon without visible boundaries, totally free and self-referential.
We like exploring the boundaries of this immaterial space living into the cerebral convolutions, trying to understand if and where we can trace a point of contact linking the two domains, the material and the immaterial.

PC: Then technology serves man and man operates it. Is this the meaning of some of your installations where computers or other devices lying on the floor seem inert metal machineries?

: We use technology for our work all the time, but not with the intention to establish an advantage of the machine over human capabilities. We like emphasizing the machine's limitations or underlining the paradoxes resulting from its employment. This is the reason why for some installations, computers or other technological devices are always shown in their own essentiality, they lie “naked” on the floor.
What we are interested in is pointing out the connection between the natural and the artificial, that is to say how artificial entities are able to generate phenomenons we perceive as it were natural: for example, for the installation “Volatile” some birds in flight, for the installation “Machine is dreaming” the sound of the waves breaking on the seashore.

PC: The indefinite and out of focus images you produce make think to an artistic representation of perception and cognitive phenomenons typical of human being, such as memory, hallucinations, altered state of reality. Apart from this kind of research, are you also interested in the emotional sphere?

: Not directly. In our work the recurring imaginary world is built up of “mindscapes”, distorted visions of nature with altered colours, just with the intention to fix on the canvas a sort of mind image. On the one hand the human figure with indefinite features, out of focus, is intended to represent the immaterial sphere, on the other hand, just as a counterpoint (mind-body duality), we represent cells images shot by microscope concerning the organic sphere.
More than the emotional sphere we are interested in the adaptive behaviour, that is to say the dynamics each living being, included man, develops to perceive reality around him, interacting and adjusting himself to the environment.
The more and more frequent scientists announcements of new “intelligent machines” coming out in the next future make things interesting and induce us to work about connections between the natural and the artificial. In their opinion these machines would develop themselves a sort of mental state able to let them interact with the environment around them.
If these statements were true, the body-mind duality wouldn't be confined to the organic sphere anymore, but also to the artificial one, made of pure metal, silicon, plastic and electrical states.

PC: In your works there are often representations that seem to be taken from microscope analyses, from medical diagnosis or new applications in biotechnology.Anyway, I don't think you mean to glorify science. In some of your works (for example Mindscape, Deep Blue Ocean of Emptiness) I detect the presence of an obscure, anguishing and irrational sensation, something referred to our deeper unconscious and as such uncatchable and undefinable. Do you agree with this kind of interpretation?

: We think we don't know much ourselves, mind is like a huge ocean we sail through just marginally, and always in the same usual and reassuring corners.
If we went down deeper or to the open sea, we would find the most archaic part of us in the evolutionary process, the instincts, the ancestral fears, the monsters that pursue us in our incubuses, down to the point in which mind is in some way linked to body, to brain.
It's a metaphoric travel we like imagining.

PC: Some settings in your videos evoke urban spaces unused and abandoned, together with lonely and outcast characters. In your opinion is there a link between some hallucinatory and obsessive states and the misery or the social marginalization?

BV: We are not really interested in the social dynamics, they intervene in an indirect and mediate way in our works, just like other elements connected to the everyday life.

PC: Which of the artists of the last few decades have mainly influenced your work and which of the Italian contemporary artists do you feel close to?

: We don't think any artists could have influenced our work. We began as artists late, we came from other experiences. Giovanna has a degree in History of Cinema, Pino studied Geology and has never brought studies to an end.
We knew each others and it was a sudden passion. We began to work together, the first feedbacks were encouraging and so here we are.
We like painting, perhaps it's the most direct way to represent something that exists only in your own mind. In particular we love Francis Bacon's painting.
Tom Friedman's work is intriguing, we find it funny and also we like Gary Hill's work some way or other.

PC: Are there films or books that have influenced your artistic sensibility?

: Richard Dawkins in his book “The selfish gene” expresses a very interesting theory. He states that human beings are unaware machines dependent on genes that constitute our genetic code. At the beginning of the evolutionary process the genes discovered that if they joined in order to generate a more complex system, they could provide food more easily and live enough to “project” their own code to future generations. They have found through the exact replication of their own code a kind of immortality.
But human beings are a bit too elaborate for them and it may be possible, with the present-day genetic manipulation, things begin to change…
“2001 A Space Odyssey” by Stanley Kubrick is a masterpiece, it fascinates us every time we see it. We like the way he deals with the complex relationship between man and an intelligent machine. Some way or other, the journey to Europe (the Jupiter's satellite which the spaceship drives to) is only metaphoric, the real journey is all towards the inner mental state of the protagonist.

PC: What is the function of the sound in your installation?

BV: In the ambient installations the sound is an essential element, because enables the work of art to “expand” all around. It creates, together with the visual element, an aura not immediately perceivable by senses, a magic ingredient that, if well structured, is able to give a huge depth to the work of art.
For our videos we often collaborate with musicians. We begin in 1988 with 24 Grana, then we had collaborations with Tu m' and Mou, lips! At the moment we are realizing an audiovisual project that will be performed at the Auditorium in Rome for RomaEuropa Festival together with Mass, a sound designer whose music has become a sort of soundtrack in this period of our existence.

PC: Do you have some projects for the next future?

: In 2004 we should install at last our work about the artificial life at the De Ferrari Metro Station in Genova. It is a simulation of artificial life projected to go on to infinity and all the regular passengers of the metro station will be able to see it evolving day by day, just like a mirror of their own personal evolution.
We have also designed two installations about the interaction between artificial intelligent entities communicating each others through words.
The projects are very elaborate and it will take us a lot of time and several collaborations to bring them to an end.

July 2003

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