uqbar. media art culture

Interview to Caterina Davinio (aka Daviniz Zabaleta)

Ho intervistato l'artista Caterina Davinio per i lettori di uqbar.media art culture, invitandola a raccontarci la sua esperienza artistica a tutto campo che , passando anche per Second Life, l'ha portata ditta dritta alla 53^ Biennale di Venezia.

VIRTUAL MERCURY POETRY SHUTTLE ATTERRA SU SL - Prima installazione di poesia su SL
Indirizzo: SL http://slurl.com/secondlife/Face%20North/163/50/22 Eventi video e in connessione live, Isola di S. Servolo, Venezia (VE) – P.zza Baden Powell
e-mail: davinio.art.electronics@gmail.com
Link: Link: http://xoomer.virgilio.it/cprezi/installazione-sl-join.htm
SINTESI: Nel Centenario del Futurismo, nel quarantennale dello sbarco sulla luna, Caterina Davinio ha realizzato la prima astronave/installazione italiana di poesia su Second Life, mondo virtuale in 3D dove si può incontrare, costruire, abitare, vivere una seconda vita e anche leggere, installare, “performare” poesie con un avatar 3D. Evento realizzatoin collaborazione con poeti e artisti da tutto il mondo.
Nell’ambito della 53ma Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte La Biennale di Venezia – Eventi Collaterali 2009. Evento: MHO_Save The Poetry a cura di Marco Nereo Rotelli / Fondazione Mare Nostrum.

Così scrive la Davinio nel sito dedicato al progetto "VIRTUAL POETRY SHUTTLE LANDING ON SL":

Maybe poets are like aliens on Earth, but they are welcome on board on my shuttle. Maybe poetry is like watching from an extreme point of view, other perspective, something to preserve in our globalized and homologated, standardized world. Maybe our world is a place from which to escape... But certainly we are going to come back, for affirming the point of view of poetry against power, violence, destruction of cultures and identities. Happy of this new collaboration with the artist, curator, and friend, Marco Nereo Rotelli in the Venice Biennial, I invite you all to come with me on board: let’s save poetry, let's save the differences, memory, identity, ourselves. Virtual Mercury House is dedicated to my friend visual and performance poet Eugenio Miccini. (Caterina Davinio)

Interview to Caterina Davinio (aka Daviniz Zabaleta) by Rosanna Galvani (aka Roxelo Babenco) for uqbar.media art culture

1)Caterina Davinio, vuoi presentare te e il tuo lavoro a tutti coloro
che assiduamente seguono il nostro network?
2) Tu hai partecipato alla 1^ edizione di Arena con un video molto
interessante, ci puoi segnalare altri video da te realizzati, se li
hai realizzati?
3) Il rapporto tra SL e RL riguardo al tuo lavoro di artista: come
vedi Second Life e come la usi, cioè come laboratorio, come spazio
immersivo o anche come luogo di socializzazione?
4) Quale l'impatto sul pubblico reale dei lavori realizzati in Second
5) Vuoi parlare ai nostri lettori della tua partecipazione alla
Biennale di Venezia?

1. Caterina Davinio, could you present yourself and your work to everybody who assiduously frequents our network?

First of all, thank-you to UQBAR network for the interest in my work and to everybody reading here; I apologize for my imperfect English.
My work embraces currently visual art and literature. Video, net-art, photography, digital art - in a variety of forms - are integrated also with traditional media, such as printing on various materials, serigraphy, installation, graphic sign and also painting, etc.. I have constantly put a great interest in the connections between image and writing. I wrote several novels, I published one of them: Còlor Còlor, in 1998. I published also an essay on new media poetry: Techno-Poetry and Virtual Realities, 2002, poems in anthologies and reviews; at the moment I am working contemporaneously on various books.
In the 80s, in Rome, I did also painting with very much determination. But I lived in those years a deep contradiction regarding art and poetry: I admit, I didn’t find convincing visual art in general, after Marcel Duchamp. For what concerns linear poetry, confined in a written page, this was not enough after the experience of the avant-garde: I was interested in developing an open character of poetry towards synesthesia and new media, but without closing it in a “digital” or “multimedia” page again.
I began in experimenting with my personal computer in 1990, and to exhibit some works of digital art and digital poetry in 1992. I was second classified at Art Gallery prize 1992, a national competition organized in Rome by the magazine MC Microcomputer, then my computer art started to circulate nationally and I began also an intense curatorial activity, which involved alternative and institutional exhibition spaces.
The basic concept of my work was digital art as linguitistic art, originating from continuous transit and translation from computer machine-language - information pack contained in files - into a visual, sound, text language, which the human beings could perceive as art, and vice versa. The computer-machine intervened also, in automatic way, in many processes, presenting to the artist several possibilities, in a sort of “dialogue”, in part depriving him of his role. The strategy I was interested in practicing, was rather not the one of the aesthetics of electronic image, but mainly to focalize on the processes, on the way how the image was produced. For me the visual work was the final trace of a proceeding, together creative and technological. And it was never possible to reach that final trace, being the work in continuous evolution. This was a characteristic of the digital images - which I incessantly elaborated again, and which I continue to modify and evolve, also after many years – and of the web works, constantly enriched and updated, with undefined limits, open by link towards the outside, and open to the involvement of other persons, artists and not.
In 1998 I began to operate in the Internet with the web site Karenina.it, a project of “review” in the middle between cultural information about experimental art, and art itself, based on telematic communication as new material at disposal of the artist for creating his works. In that context I realized some digital graphics in hypertexts, close to concrete and visual poetry, but the point was rather not to bring certain experiences in the web, but to give structure to a new form, which was alimented in the web and used a new grammar, done of elements which found their origin not in visual or multimedia forms, but in interactive, communicative and linguistic structures. I called together renown experimental poets and artists of the neo-avant-garde for sharing this experience, but I was aware that the term “review” was misleading and could cause an underlying misunderstanding. Then I developed this idea of collaborative and interactive art in progress, founded on communication, in several projects between real and virtual, which implicated real events coordinated and integrated with a virtual part on line, working together with other artists and poets. Among these net-art/poetry works: Global Poetry (2002), Paint from Nature (Copia dal vero, 2002), which focused on the theme of reality and its representation in the telematic era.
Some projects were realized in the Venice Biennale and collateral events, and involved numerous artists, poets, critics, theoreticians: Azione Parallela-Bunker (for Bunker Poetico, Harald Szeeman curator, Biennale 2001), Gates (in Blogwork, on line project by ASAC, Biennale 2003), Isola Virtuale (in Isola della Poesia, Marco N. Rotelli curator, collateral event of the Biennale 2005), Virtual Mercury Shuttle_Planetary & Interplanetary Events (2009, a project articulated in a constellation of virtual happenings, web sites, calls and communities on line, open and interactive, in the context of a large collateral event of the Biennale, called “MHO_Save the Poetry” (by Mare Nostrum Foundation), and others.
I began to explore Second Life since 2007, and in 2009 I realized The First Poetry Shuttle Landing on Second Life, a virtual installation in the context of the just mentioned event of the Venice Biennale 2009. The virtual shuttle is an open space where everybody is invited to express himself by reading poems or by doing a performance, using his avatar. To the realization of the shuttle collaborated Riccardo Preziosi, and the installation sees also the presence of many international writers who donated a poetry text.

2. You participated to the first edition of Arena with a very interesting video work; could you inform us about other video you realized, if you did?

I created many experimental video works exploring non conventional interactions between word, images, sound, digital installation. The intent is rising a reaction, stimulating a non ordinary viewpoint, embarrassing, in front of reality, a deep glance capable of synthesis, just as the perspective of poetry. It would be a very long discourse, and it is difficult to be exhaustive in the ambit of an interview; anyway everyone can see a certain number of my digital video works on the YouTube channel CaterinaDav.
My production is formed by various cycles of works: since 1990 until ‘95 I created digital animation of text and images using software Autodesk Animator, and Autodesk Animator pro; since 1996 until ‘97 I realized the series Terminal Videopoems (Videopoesie terminali), actions in real time on the keyboard of the pc, which let run some of my literary texts (poems and novels) very fast, cancelling their readability, but not totally. The process was recorded in a videocassette and circulated in this form. Some words and typographical characters of these texts were emphasized by increasing their size, so that they stand out emblematically in the scrolling, with an almost strange and unique result, which gave the possibility of many reflections about the approach to poetry, how to write and to read it in multimedia way, in a cultural moment that was rich of suggestions for the proximity of the end of the Millennium. To everything described before was added the elaboration of sound, with a process analogue to the one executed on the written text: my reading was mixed digitally, to the point of erasing the meaning of the words, reducing them to raw material, electronic sound. The typographical character, and the velocity impressed to the text, the use of technology, refer this research to the futurist ancestors, but I think this interpretation is not sufficient to deeply understand it. By watching again these works, I recognize that they offer the opportunity of different readings. For instance, it was fundamental all the preparatory work on the text, the fact that the “action” was put into practice in a succession of phases, and one of them was an interaction - of performative nature - with the computer-machine and with the text self, action on the keyboard that was “recorded”: as a matter of fact, what remains, at the end, is a precise, unrepeatable moment: a “performance”.
Those poems were called “terminal”, for underlining a final phase of the traditional poetry language and, at the same time, the device for seeing them: the “terminal”, as computer workstation, word I used as synonym of “computer display”.
Later, in ‘99, I worked at short animations of the cycle UFOp (Unidentified Flying Poetry Objects). In these animations I followed a ludic spirit which brought me to desecrate, with a dadaist operation, Duchamp’s work self, in the digital sequence Nudo che cade dalle scale (Nude that Falls Down the Stairs).
Since 1998 until 2002 I intensified my work on line, creating the first net-poetry happening in the 49th Venice Biennale: “Azione parallela-Bunker”, part of Bunker Poetico by Harald Szeemann (Marco N. Rotelli curator), 2001, and other net-poetry projects, momentarily forgetting digital video, which I resumed in 2002 with the series Fluxus Trilogy, where I elaborated the theme of the flow, of the continuous transfer, of movement, starting from some words sent to me by the Fluxus artist Charles Dreyfus. Moreover, a large part of travelling recorded in the Trilogy was by car, and this introduces another of my favourite themes, also endowed with futuristic echoes, topic which will be at the centre of the following cycle: “Rumors & Motors”. This includes video (Poem in Red, dedicated to Ferrari Modena car, Milady Smiles, dedicated to the mythical Jaguar E), photography, digital images, serigraphy. Then, the passage from the mythical automobiles to the emblematic “space shuttle” of poetry created in 2009, in a futurist and futuribile perspective, crossed by an incessant idea of roaming and exploration… could emotionally and reasonably find place, doesn’t it?
Another cycle of video and photography works is “Nature Oscure”, 2007, which presents nature as enigma giving us obscure signals about its deep substance, as the digital image does, showing its matter done of pixels and numeric language. In this case, I elaborated photos I took in Brazil, Nice, and in various regions of Italy, reducing their definition for making visible the pixels. One of the most known works of this series is Knives, where a peaceful sight of meadow is crossed by far radio comments, then becoming nearer, about present and maybe future wars… The grass blades like knives, then, because the world should be different.
The video work I presented on SL, in the first edition of digital art exhibition “Arena”, is the dearest one, because it is dedicated to my mother in her eightieth year, a short work which I define “poetry”, even thou poetry verses do not appear in it; it is an experiment – I like to call “post-Dada”, and “post-Pop” - on the topic of memory and of the passing of time, but in a playful disposition, as playing of a child with her mother. In it are variously combined pop images (Marilyn by Andy Warhol), noises and sounds of motors and machines in futurist style, views of private interiors and fragments of conversations. Though the heterogeneity of the used visual and sound material, this video work has a strong unity, which I believe of provocation, irony, and tenderness.

3. The connection between SL and RL regarding your artist work: how do you see
Second Life and how you use it, this means: as laboratory, as immersive space or also space for socializing?

For an artist, every real or virtual space can be a laboratory. Second Life just fascinated me, because I find it a deeply poetic place, with the solitude of its sunsets upon the nothing, of it’s desert squares, of its infinite seafronts and archipelagos, with its environments that suddenly appear and vanish, become idyllic or gloomy, fantasy, or disquieting, or futuristic, familiar o extraterrestrial. Furthermore, one meets actually strange people over there, that, in their wear and forms, express really so much of values and disvalues of the society of the first life. Everyone designs his own avatar as he would like to be, or appear, and can experiment more then one identity, putting into play aspects maybe irreconcilable. There is who on SL purchases luxuries, inaccessible in the first life, who transgression, who a cyber, fantastic, or sexy look, etc.. I believe it is a world for condensing the imaginary, but endowed with embarrassing proximity with the real world, its qualities and mistakes. The graphic is rather versatile, but anyway linear, I would hazard “idealistic”: not the sea, but the idea of the sea, not the body, but the idea of the body, and so on. SL is a world which makes possible many reflections, when reproduces hierarchies and values which come from the first world: it is, at the basis, a world where we can buy and sell, appear, possess, where private property does exists, and, if we violate it, we are fought off, a planet where we can feel lost or alone, and, in certain explorations, also suffer echoes of ancestral fears, if, for instance, after a clumsy link with the mouse, we end in the bottom of the sea, or in places where we no more find the exit, or too high in the sky, or in intricate and obscure gardens, created by who knows who. We can learn very much from the other persons, of what they are and how they see themselves, watching what they build on SL, even thou, paradoxically, SL avatars are entities behind which we perfectly hide. SL islands are a little like planets.
Personally, I use it as space of exploration and art creation, of communication, and, in my idea, these three aspects are actually one. It can also be a world for meeting persons an socialize. But, all things considered, SL is decidedly a solitary world and few frequented, also because the exploration becomes slow when numerous avatars are present, after that, who wants to travel through this universe for discovering, has to adventure by himself, alone.

4. Which is the impact on the real public of the works realized in Second Life?

The innovative potential of an idea generates anyway a response. It can be notable or minimal, it depends how we cross the multifaceted world of communication, which has his rules. In my case, it was an interesting impact, because many international web sites and on line magazines – supposed that they can be considered part of “reality” (their public does, anyway) – drew attention to “The First Poetry Shuttle Landing on SL” on the Centenary of Italian Futurism, on the 40th Anniversary of the first lunar landing, in an important context such as the Venice Biennale. I would also say that the impact of the event I realized in Venice, in San Servolo, on October 9th (Network Poetico_Net-Poetry Reading in Web Cam), has amplified the one of the Second Life installation and vice versa.

5. Could you speak to our readers about your participation in the Venice Biennale?

The Biennale 2009 saw me involved in two collateral projects. The first is Détournement Venise 2009, a multimedia art project on the topic of memory, with several international curators; it has invested various locations in the city of Venice, among them ScalaMata Exhibiton Space, where I presented my video work Ma-mma, described before, in a collective video-installation of thirty artists from several countries (in the context of Makers Project).
The second project is MHO_Save the Poettry (by Mare Nostrum Foundation), which included international artists, poets, and philosophers (Marco N. Rotelli curator). In MHO_Save the Poetry I realized a constellation of virtual events, in world premiere. I will begin by speaking with the already mentioned The first Poetry Shuttle landing on SL. It is a virtual installation with the form of a stylized space shuttle. I used the thin linearity of SL graphic for its ludic, essential and symbolic quality, for creating a poetry object: the space shuttle as archetype of a place done for navigation in far and hostile environments, as privileged position for observation, a space of survival for the poet, always a little “alien” and diverse in our world that runs after completely different myths. The space shuttle evokes the intergalactic exploration, the possibility of unknown encounters, the coming across last frontiers, territories ”beyond” the Pillars of Hercules of the language, rising many echoes in the collective memory, and, overall, the idea of journey as a topos of poetry of every time. In the Centenary of Italian Futurism this all assumes, in my idea, a value and a significance, on the one hand recollecting the heritage of the avant-garde which, one century ago, celebrated the future - opening poetry to synesthesia, performance, and multimedia, conjugating it with the machine and technology - on the other hand, this relaunches poetry self toward new unknown targets.
The space shuttle, therefore, not as instrument for leaving and escape, but for exploration of new worlds and modes of art, possibility of a sharp view on contemporaneity.
The installation, on line since June 4th 2009, is open - since July 20th - to everyone who wants to realize in it a performance or a poetry reading, until the final date of the Biennial: November 22nd. The landing of the poets happened on July 20th and 21st 2009, on the fortieth anniversary of the first human landing on the Moon; the poets have the form of colourful prisms, which, in contact with the mouse cursor, donate to the visitor a poem file.

My participation in Venice includes also the collective event NETWORK POETICO_Net-Poetry Reading in Webcam, a connection in real time performed with poets from the world, on October 9th 2009 in San Servolo Island (VE), in the press conference room. From 2:00 PM until 4:30 PM thirty poets had the possibility of realizing a poetry reading in Venice, using Skype software and a web cam, being visible on the wide screen of the auditorium, where everyone could see, hear them, and also read in real time the chat where they wrote poems and friendly greetings, together from very far places of the planet. It was an exciting moment of friendship, nearness, which testifies how art is today something very different, that uses new materials at disposal of the artist, technological instruments, but overall the possibility of communication at distance, of communication in general.
The Venice project previews also a work in progress on line: a guest book, accessible from the Internet and from the space shuttle on Second Life: Welcome on Board, where everybody can leave a poem, a sentence, a virtual sign which gives gradually life to a great collective poem. Until now participated more then two hundred international poets, writing in several languages more then three hundred poems and texts. The project will go on until November 22nd.

All the described virtual projects of the Biennale 2009 have been developed in a phase of the Internet which is completely different, compared with the one where I realized, i. e., Parallel Action – Bunker in the Biennale 2001. The Internet is now structured more as a landscape of “islands”, of small and wide communities, similar to actual planets, organized in hierarchies and geographies, with proper languages and appeals. Among some of the best known: YouTube, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc., but everyone can experience that do exist furthermore communities around whatever argument, from news to love meetings, of universities, of artists and writers, and so on. Second Life self is going toward an analogue organization. In this case, the metaphor of the space shuttle, as possibility of movement and communication among these “planets”, seems still more fitting.
The project of the Biennale 2009 is moving in the context of this changed and changing scenery, not with an unique virtual event – like in the Biennials of 2001, and 2005 – but with a “constellation” – never a term was more appropriated… – of interconnected events, which invest some of the most popular communities: YouTube, Facebook, Blogspot, and a net of web pages, developing in a new way a discourse I initiated around digital art many years ago: the one that sees in new media communication a row material at disposal of the artists, at the centre of every process; a light material in appearance, but very heavy and difficult to be modelled, a texture of human relationships capable of involving persons who are physically far away, but actually nearby when they build together a new kind of artwork, shaped upon the society in continuous changing.

© Caterina Davinio, November 7 2009.

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Tag: 53^ biennale di Venezia, arco rosca, art, caterina davinio, culture, paolo valente, performance, rosanna galvani, roxelo babenco, second life, Altro...uqbar.media, virtual poetry shuttle, visual


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