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Digital Neo-Humanism Art

Sabrina Zannier

Marotta & Russo: Under the Domain Name

Communication to the outmost, visual, auditory, conceptual, emotional, sensorial bombing that overcrowds our daily living from the private dimension to the public one: we all live in this way, every day, and the problem is no longer that of finding new spurs but, in case, that of holding those already arrived, that of avoiding that they slide on us transforming us into bewildered and passive receivers. The problem is, at last, that of being into the spirit, the moods, the technological-humanistic settings of the contemporary era, now moulded by that “digital style” that strengthens in an existential but also aesthetical vein the more and more thin threshold between reality and fiction, where fiction is nothing more than the truth to the nth power, so that it appears, but often also is, truer than the truth. 
Since the time I met Stefano Marotta & Roberto Russo, since I began to experiment and to live their artworks, their conceptual emotional and sensorial “rushes” within that electronic language that crosses and moulds the existence, I began to think with more persuasion that art should be entitled to have a role of guide through the landscapes of our contemporary existence. In a word, I am thinking about the renewed social role of art, because their work, under the mark of a “digital neo-humanism”, extends the thought over the limits between technology-art-life, because their work is marked by that short circuit between digital ‘bit’ and human ‘quid’ which makes electronic media learned and familiar and gives to the man a greater consciousness of his psychic and emotional energy. Their own strong awareness of their artwork and, first of all, of their attitude towards the facts and the world which translates itself into a well-thought project attitude is the basic element of the whole research of Marotta & Russo, a research that could not have a title different from Avatar Project. A project, indeed; a project bound to the concept of ‘avatar’ that, passing from Indù cultures to internet displays, contains in itself the principle of plurality, of multiple, of the persistent mutation of the anthropology/communication binomial.

Avatar Project: surfing among ‘bit’ and ‘output’
After hours of internet surfing, of exploration of web sites that bomb my eyes and my mind with logos, texts and icons which from home to home rapidly mutate the settings, which I often swallow without being aware, because what I’m looking for is not the site structure but its contents, after hours and hours…I stand up with a sense of bewilderment. I perceive a sort of distance with the normal praxis of the daily existence, where I feel again my corporeity, where every action, object, place regains a specific weight, where before everything flowed light and immaterial, where my presence was pure visibility, thought, sensorial attitude, emotion.
Then I observe the works of Marotta & Russo, I enter the Avatar project, I surf again in a site, this time their site, which is an artwork-site, I click the various icons and I pause on their contents, that are mainly images, and I found again the videos, the animations, the pictures, with Lexus, the avatar of Marotta & Russo, who, from work to work (those same works I have seen in their studio and in the exhibitions), embodies the role of digital alter ego of the artists. At this point, the bewilderment fades away, everything seems to combine. And at this point I enquire about the ‘output’ (the title itself of a work), that is about the “exit”, the how and where every project finds its final resolution, about how and where it takes the shape of a tangible artwork. It is understood that for some time many artists distinct themselves through the production of artworks with a connotation of different “exits” (of the mind and not necessarily of the computer), where the same author produces paintings, sculptures, videos, photographs, performances. But it is as certain that the digital iperbolizes this concept through the synthesis, because before the “exit”, that is during a project phase, the language is the same. The panels and the videos of Marotta & Russo, indeed, originate all from the software of the computer, with the same attitude towards the world, certainly, but also towards the used tool, as cannot happen for the artists that switch from traditional painting to photography, from video to sculpture or performance. In that case, always respecting their poetics, they must redefine from time to time the essence of their project just in the name of the radical difference of the used media. This is why the whole work of the duo can be marked as Avatar Project, which is not only a net.art project, but also the presentation of every artwork as picture, video, or as communication work created for the most different circles, which the artists propose in their consulting and production studio for companies, corporations, commerce or cultural agencies. A studio which is also named Avatar Project because this is the work they develop every day surfing among ‘bits’ and ‘outputs’, among immaterial software they mould with rigorous project attitude and hardware, which is to be intended as final support, as container of the pro-jected thoughts.

The routs of Lexus
One of their last works is named OutPut; it is an animation that stands as a paradigm, a reference platform of that thought and that action in which the strong awareness and the rooted belief that moves it has something maniacal, so that it traces a sort of umbilical cord devoted to the persistent flux and reflux between electronics (that is technological knowledge) and the anthropological dimension collected on the ground of community, which is concerned with ethical-communicational values. The animation, emblematically centred on the figure of the architect, conceptually focuses on a working place that winks to the passing from the old and cumbersome drafting machine to the so called desktop, the easy and at the same time abyssal “desktop of the computer”. The whole research of Marotta & Russo develops around this working place, which in the video OpenStep stresses the emotional and poetic valence moving the chords of a sensorial attitude always present in the rational net of their projects. The actor that collects this dualism, leading it with an “open step” in digital places, but defined by a meaningful realism in their ability to evoke the emotions of a new existential ethics, is Lexus, the feminine humanoid created through tridimensional modelling. She is a character of synthesis who, since the first panels endowed with a more pictorial-emotional valence, has lead her own pace into magical-surreal and future-like settings, in which the cosmic dimension suggested by the web flows into the domestic one (but animated by the domotic), concrete expression of that umbilical cord that synthetizes and amplifies in the meantime the short circuit between man and technology. The artists, taking more and more root in the paradigm of project attitude, have then marked their works with a dominant semiotics as engine of the conceptual articulation. So, centring the research on the idea of “mechanism”, of real apparatus, the series named Concept Draws, Body Count and Another Point of You have formalized their “digital language” on the protagonism of the body, the body of Lexus. The body is rotated on itself, taken from different viewpoints, brought near, dissected, opened, reduced to a sign grid and then recomposed with a new synthesis in a humanoid that runs in Open Step crossing spaces streaming under its paces, composing and recomposing itself in the prefiguration of rigorous and essential urban landscapes. Those landscapes are the ones in which Lexus lives and the ones she, pace after pace, re-constructs using pixels; they are those which then, in the series named Under The Domain Name, are generated by the artists through a meditated selection of the home pages of different web sites, taken with their sing-chromatic grid which, cleaned of their specific connotations (texts, icons, logos), translate themselves into virtual bricks for the raising of unlikely buildings. So this originates a sort of metaphoric place that raises the World Wide Web to a real metamorphic environment, in which and from which pulses the anthropological-cultural spirit and mind of our mutant contemporary corporeity.