Stefano Chiodi - Bianco-Valente, 2000

Obfuscation, persistence, rhythm, volatility. There is something like a double footstep or a counterpoint, both visual and conceptual, that goes through and animates Bianco-Valente's production, placing it in a very particular zone of the artistic research of this last decade of the century. Video, their favourite media, most often in the form of video installation, is chosen from the beginning not for its qualities, paradoxically, but for its limits: the instability, the low resolution, the weakness of the electronic images. All these characteristics appear an appropriate correlative of those mental images, projections, visions or ghosts that are, in the end, the real field in which the research of the two Neapolitan artists is moving.

At this point, of course, it is necessary to clear up any possible misunderstanding: the images they produce are not based on recognizability, or even on an enigmatic structure that leads to profundities of the Romantic inconscient or to surrealism's obsessions. On the contrary, they are the unshaped product of that dynamic generating something in the brain that produces images. It's that pre-visual entity not yet declined in space-time structure - whatever can be seen with eyes closed. This is a theme continually explored by Giovanna Bianco and Pino Valente: the emersion of a space in which the necessity of recognizability is constantly contradicted, stretched by some different streams, by acoustic or visual signs that irremediably postpone the last synthetic moment, amplifying echoes, spurious, false clues.

It is not happenstance that in their videos, as opposed to the usual modus operandi, shots are not altered by digital elaboration during the editing. On the contrary, its during the shooting that the image is deprived of its standard character and already undefined, burnt, and subsequently modified in its chromatic balance (a characteristic is the predilection for saturated and spectral tones like blue, yellow, green). It's what happens in the videos Deep in my mind (1997) and Mind landscape (1996), in which occur, and not only metaphorically, the appropriation and the exploration of a real space whose consistence is definitively mental and memorial.

The intellectual basis of Bianco-Valente's research is not aesthetic or psychological, but biological; what interests the two artists is not the mind itself, but the neuronal activity, the propagation of biochemical impulses and the dynamic patterns that represent them, more than the analysis of the unconscious. They are interested in memory as dynamism of the mind more than as psychological event.

This approach must be considered from a double point of view: culturally, it denotes the will to establish a not occasional point of contact between scientific vision, with its instruments, and the sphere of art, in the sense of an anti-aesthetic reconstruction of art. Expressively, the patterns and procedures of biological investigation become a constant reference in the work of the two artists.

It's not, of course, an ingenuous assumption of images; the fundamental theme which Bianco-Valente deal with is the relation between body and mind, not in the sense of the insertion - as they write in one of their texts - of technological prosthesis, useful to extend or amplify perceptive capabilities, or in the sense of the edulcorated product of the most advanced research, but in the sense of a global redefinition of that primary moment in which thought, image, sensation, memory and emotion appear all together still indivisibly joined.

All that is evident in an atypical work titled Emotions have no density (1998), in which a 3D holographic image of a childhood toy - a tricycle - appears. It is made by mixing concrete dust (plasticity irreversibly hardened) with tears (manifestation of the obscure connection between body and psyche), linked together in an union of the opposites as a result of a extremely dense metaphoric knot.

What essentially interests Bianco-Valente is the consideration of the fleeting and contradictory nature of the experience, that from its origin appear through the prism of multiplicity of choice and abrupt jumps and sudden accelerations where borders between reality and appearance weaken to the point of disappearing. All these themes recur constantly in the recent production of the two artists, both in videos and in video installations. In Welcome X (1998), for example, a video created with the collaboration of the Neapolitan rock band 24 Grana, some liquid and organic images, evoking pulsating blood, are alternated and opposed to a rarefied evasion in a flowers field, chromatically altered and almost unrecognizable. The same happens in video installations where the involvement of the spectator's space is always a determining factor, as in Untitled (1998), a very little LCD screen boxed into the wall, in which an undefined human figure appears in its slow walking, while a sonorous stratification of simple electronic tones spread out. This also happens in another video installation titled The whole nothing I am (1998), set in the ancient hypogea of Naples, where on a little toy balloon suspended in the darkness projects sequences of starry depths in a very slow motion, generating an ironic disproportion put already in evidence by the title.

It also occurs in the installation planned for the Palazzo delle Papesse (the Centre of Contemporary Art in Siena), a kind of descent to hell through the "bottini", a net of caves extending throughout the subsoil of Siena.

Taken from: Espresso, arte oggi in Italia, AA.VV., ed. Electa, Milano, 2000

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