Arts & Culture

Visual artist connects technology and art

Contributing Writer
Friday, October 19, 2012

The scene is not the typical image of artists at work – a group of people working together to display images from a computer onto a large screen – yet the artists are some of the most prominent artists and designers in the world. The user interface is their method of engaging the audience, and the technology is their art.
This is the work that Paolo Rosa, acclaimed visual artist and Fitt Artist-in-Residence at Brown from Oct. 15-26, is doing at Studio Azzurro in Milan, Italy. Rosa is holding workshops and making presentations at Brown about the history of Studio Azzurro, which he helped found. He is accompanied by Luigi Di Corato, general director of the Siena Museums Foundation, a group that takes an innovative approach to redesigning museums.
Rosa has been merging art and technology for more than 30 years. Studio Azzuro has made huge strides in artistic innovation, exploring natural user interfaces and the involvement of spectators, said Massimo Riva, professor of Italian studies.
In his opening presentation Oct. 15, Rosa presented various past exhibits from Studio Azzurro. The talk, entitled “Living Images,” also included a discussion of Rosa’s artistic philosophy.
Rosa’s idea of art is at the core of his work, he told The Herald. “It is not the search for the spectacle, but it is the spectacle of the search,” he said.
One featured exhibit from 1984 called “The Swimmer Goes to Heidelberg too Often” consisted of a display of several televisions in a row. Each television showed a different part of a swimming pool, and the exhibit alternated between a coherent view of a swimmer taking lengths in the pool and a disjointed one.
Studio Azzurro has taken an experimental approach to technology with a broad range of areas including neuroscience, quantum physics, bioengineering and computer science, Rosa said during the talk. This has contributed in part to the collaboration between artists, he said.
Rosa and Corato are holding several workshops over the next two weeks. Corato has been involved in creating “museums of narration,” Riva said. Corato said he hopes students will get to know what most Italian museums are like.
“Our model is very different and much more sustainable – socially, culturally and economically,” he said. Corato is the director of a foundation that oversees 43 different institutions in Southern Tuscany, according to the Creative Arts Council website.
The Department of Italian Studies spearheaded the effort to bring Rosa to Brown in collaboration with the CAC and the John Nicholas Brown Center for the Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage.
Riva met Rosa in a workshop about digital creativity in Siena, Italy, which sparked Riva’s interest in inviting Rosa to Brown. “We realized we had much in common – he as an artist, and I as a scholar,” Riva said.
Rosa’s visit is part of a series of events in Italian art and culture, Riva said. These events, including a music symposium in early October and an upcoming film director visit are “a taste of what we are going to do,” he said.
“We are bringing a little bit of Italy, and we try to bring the best,” Riva said.

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