NEMO_Beta, HD movie, 39′ 36”, 2009-10.
NEMO is the Italian development project of KM3NeT, an European research infrastructure aimed to build a gigantic Cherenkov telescope, basically a giant underwater antenna, to detect high-energy astrophysical neutrinos. The movie documents the experimental installation of a twelve arms tower at 3500 meters depth. Below the sea level dozens of this module will form a grid of 1 square km about 700 meters high.
The KM3NeT will be the only submarine telescope to operate in the northern hemisphere and will be complementary to the American telescope installed under the ice of Antarctica. If implemented, it would become a centre of world-class research in the field of basic research as well as the largest station for monitoring the marine environment. The depths chosen by the Italian project for this telescope installation are part of a large area of the Ionian Sea located approximately 80 km from Portopalo, very close to the area where occurred the 1996 Christmas Eve wreck (see Portopalo).
Silver Bars (in Brimstone), documentary movie, 16:9 SD 64’, 2007-08.
BdA, photographic series, Durst Lambda prints on metal paper on Dibond panels with aluminium frames and museum glass, each dimension cm. 115×76,5, 2008.
Building a Science Museum in a disused sulphur refinery in the old industrial area of Catania may be an opportunity for a journey into the modern history of eastern Sicily. Indeed, the sulphur mines exploitation, which started in the early nineteenth century, immediately linked Sicily to the industrialization process that was spreading from England in Europe and America.
BdA (Barre d’Argento – Silver Bars) is an acronym chosen to indicate two different works, which were intended to complete the exhibition contents of the Science Museum of Catania, and which purpose was to illustrate the recent history of the development in Sicily. The title was inspired by a work of the American artist Lawrence Weiner, which was realized in Catania at the gianluca collica gallery, the statement Silver Bars Bathed in Brimstone.
The documentary movie Silver Bars (in Brimstone) and the photographic installation BdA7793… are far-reaching journeys telling a story that goes from the sulphur years to those of oil and developers, up until the technological district and the numerous scientific research programmes that have developed around the Department of Physics of Catania. A journey from the bowels of the world to the top of volcano. It’s a laborious ascension to the vastness of the sea and the sky, from Inferno to Paradise. Furthermore, the two BdA works both represent an attempt to reconcile the experimental fury of the art in 1900 with a – often unevenly – communicator function of the work of art.
The narration of Silver Bars (in Brimstone) links the protagonists’ testimonies (from miners, owners of the deposits, scientists) and the historians’ interviews, with extracts of Sicilian literature (Luigi Pirandello, Giovanni Verga, Enzo Di Bernardo, Melissa Panarello). Locations views from the Floristella mine to the Priolo petrochemical centre, from the commercial centre (designed by the Italian archistar Massimiliano Fucksas) to the nuclear accelerator at the university campus, alternate with film excerpts of Italian documentary masterpieces such as Surfarara by Vittorio De Seta, Col cuore fermo Sicilia by Gianfranco Mingozzi, Gela antica e nuova by Giuseppe Ferrara, or with archival footage of scientific experiments.
Eight (plus two) panels make the photographic installation; each one is the combination of two photographs. This combination of two creates a reciprocal relationship. On one hand, we have a dialectic regarding the subject contents of the photos. On the other, there are two portions of space that confront each other for the purely formal aspect of the composition. In each panel each photo, or portion of space, communicates with the other but also with those making the remaining seven panels. Each area represents also a place or a matter: cave, sea, sky or earth, air, water, fire, or sea, mountain/volcano, sun.
Landscape, thus, works as a narrative of a (hi)story. The structure of the photo installation, then, aims to replace specific formal, thus ideological, references of modernism.
[Federico Baronello, a written report to Helmut Friedel after the work’s acquisition by the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, München, Oct. 2009]
Tokyozilla, documentary movie, SD 38’, 2002-03.
Will humanoid robots be yet another new technology designed to change our lives? Metropolitan train rides take us to encounters with numerous robots, from the top star Asimo and the – once – best selling Aibo to the more R&D projects, demonstrating their extraordinary abilities. The meetings and interviews with researchers and engineers at the Honda and Sony headquarters, specialists research centres, science museum and robotic shop, are the stopping points of an original journey in Tokyo.
We do not know whenever humanoid will be products ready for mass consumption. In any case, the testimony of a (failed, it seems) moment of passage, from the manufacture of prototypes to commercial production of robotics, together with its operating environment, could at least suggest a conciliatory solution to the dispute on the origins of the world.
*Mondo Arata, documentary movie, SD 12′, 2002.
The Akiyoshidai International Art Village (AIAV) centre for music, dance and visual arts, a costly complex of buildings with a kind of uncanny resemblance to German ’30s aesthetic, may be the most controversial work made by the world famous architect Arata Isozaki. The movie camera leads us through dichotomies: the architectural space and intervention of Myke Bode and Takuji Kogo, the interview excerpts by the architect Isozaki and the art critic Staffan Schmidt, transforming on the way the reportage into a thriller with a second hidden finale.
The documentary, produced for the AIAV exhibition and residence programme TRANS_2002-2003, may be a criticism on certain architecture that is the protagonist of urban development affecting much of the Asian continent in recent years.
Together with the galleria gianluca collica, ETHICAL Bros produced a (short) series of video-interviews with international established artists.
The “pilot episode” of the series being People From Their Own Time – Lawrence Weiner in Sicilia, documentary movie, SD 37’, 2001. In the movie, one of the fathers of conceptual art is the updated version of the enlightened traveller undertaking the Grand Tour in Sicily.
The Power Of Love, documentary movie SD 14’, Digital Video from VHS footage (The Matrix by Andy and Larry Wachowski, USA 1999, Dark City by Alex Proyas, USA 1998), 2000.
The cut up of images taken from two box office blockbusters seek to demonstrate that love is a revolutionary force capable of coping with and overcoming the worst state of things. This strength is also the basis for critical reflection on the reasons for making art as the new century approaches, when we can see that The End of History hasn’t happened, at least yet.
The documentary’s discourse is a result of the relation of two levels of writing: one is inherent in the editing of various film excerpts (taken from The Matrix and Dark City) and the collection of texts extracted from several sources; the second is that between the two different writing contexts, film and literature, that play on each other.
Investigations is an installation composed of two elements: One is The Recapitulation Machine, a New Age title (from Carlos Castaneda) dedicated to a sound machine whose purpose is to set the viewer inside an environment made of sound frequencies, which are the basis both for rock and electronic music. The other, Feed The Dragon, is a double video projection of film sequences from Xich lo (Cyclo) by Tran Anh Hung (FRA 1995). The images on the left projection describe the spread of goods and luxury in the urban landscape of Saigon / Ho Chi Min City, while the others on the right are made of a sequence of cruel violence, which is needed to accomplish the new status quo.
The theory that the sole application of economic laws may be sufficient for the regulation of a complex process of integration of the global markets shows its limits, in spite of the vigorous acceleration that the process itself experiments in the last century. The two works on display are an attempt at decoding two of the maximum languages (pop music and film images), which are in use to build the cultural framework inherent in the process of globalisation.
*CANDY FACTORY PROJECTS is a Japanese based platform for international collaborative multimedia based art projects, a mobile art institution, organizing curatorial projects, exhibitions, web projects and publications based on long term collaborations.
Takuji Kogo, *CFP founder, has worked and developed projects with artists such as Thomas Bayrle, Federico Baronello, Mike Bode, Young Hae Chang Heavy Industries, Charles Lim Yi Yong, Keiichi Miyagawa, John Miller, Ola Pehrson and Sean Snyder. They transform standardized everyday life and the distorted landscape of the global economy into digital kaleidoscopes presented as pavilion sculpture using multi computer projections.
Federico Baronello has been a member of the Candy Factory Projects since 1999 and produced:
Ethical Bros is a multimedia art project, which took place in the period between 1996 and 2002. With the pivotal partnership between Federico Baronello and Maurizio Leonardi, the project developed further collaborations such as that with Massimiliano Sapienza (aka massimo).
Ethical Bros are interested in manipulation of the medium and supports, working on redundancy and reiteration of images, with a markedly “installational” emphasis to what they do. The work of the ethical brothers Federico Baronello and Maurizio Leonardi rests on the awareness of belonging to a total, homologating system, pushing their artistic analysis and intervention to the point where the practice of representation itself is considered the only object worthy of being represented. The choice of easily reproducible supports (digital video, graphic files, hypertext, videotapes, offset silkscreen matrices, etc…) is in line with the artists’ aim of forcing the outer limit, that’s to say the “frame”, of the work, constraining themselves, the medium in use, the audience involved, to declare, each time, their limits, collocation and real intentions.
Felicita Platania, text for the exhibition catalogue of ‘Unframed’, Palazzo della Triennale, Milano 1999.
100% (video remix), digital video 6’, 1997. A collection of images from the crime pages on the Sicilian newspapers. Criminal mug shots and dead victims, one after another through morphing transitions. The purpose of the work is to focus on the potential of visibility of signals, conveyed by the Media, which can provide an identity (in this case Sicily = Mafia but could also be Islam = Terrorism), while waiting for the evolution of the same surrogate identity into a dignified form.
©onciliation!, digital video (20’30”) + mixed media, 2000. ©onciliation! is the setting of a television studio, in which is displayed a talk-show, inside an art gallery. This setting reproduces the elements of a bar reduced to the essential: the bar and the table. Guests who have an institutional role in the Sicilian public life sit at the table. They are opposed to those at the bar, which in the pilot episode Sicilian Hospitality is occupied by foreigners who for years have been living and working in Sicily. Two TV monitors, projecting the talk-show demo reel, obstruct the entry on the set whose elements refer to the language of contemporary art (Pistoletto, Naumann, Tracey Emin, Maurizio Cattelan…). On the other site there’s a working table on which are displayed research materials, a mural painting with the ETHICAL Bros logo and the casting photos hang on the walls. ©onciliation! seeks to highlight, through the televised debate, contradictions, which are economical, cultural or arising from the relationship between local and global, in the Sicilian society, showing them as they are. In this way, as a paradox, ETHICAL Bros aspires to follow the narrative path traced by the masters of the Italian Neorealism.
Sicily: Tourism, Culture and Enhancement (in the works of J.W. Goethe and W. von Gloeden), documentary movie, SD 11’30”, 2000. In his Italian Journey, Goethe searches for the archetype of all plants, while immersed in the Botanic Gardens of Palermo, and for the archetype of the Western thought, considering the Odyssey epic while travelling around Sicily. Wilhelm von Gloeden, a German photographer living in Taormina in the early ‘900, is famous for having depicted the local youth, mostly with nude and equivocal poses, within neo-classical landscapes and settings. Under the Mediterranean sky both travellers free themselves from their own moral constraints through the exploitation of an idealised Sicily of classic origins. They act according to those industrial societies that, also through the exploitation and trade of resources from their colonies, were developing economies once only aimed at the production of goods for mere subsistence.