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Gianluca Marziani

Marotta & Russo, ObjectKit

I know MAROTTA & RUSSO since a few years and I follow AVATAR PROJECT since its origins. Among the iconographies that (self)produce contents in forms of great impact, their iconography is undoubtedly extreme for various reasons. The first reason, basic and dangerous, refers to the RADICAL use of the electronic language. The project, indeed, corresponds to a coherent tautology where the computer is an UNICUM: body, organs, brain, and, most of all, emotional stages with capillary developments. We are aware that concentrating only on the software becomes hazardous when the contextual dynamic turns itself to the picture, to the artistic system, to the ethical contents that the image produces in the social-cultural mechanism. The danger I am talking about is inborn in the technological choice but also in the linguistic consciousness of the duo. Avoiding the sliding towards immature forms depends on various modalities, not at all obvious. Personally, as I evaluate the creative intuition in the bond between expressive need and proper means, I have never had doubts about the philosophical quality of “Avatar Project”, as well as the complexity of every single image. The cycles yet produced maintain the concentric autonomy of the direct focus (only digital, only certain elements, only certain strategies) but also the wandering transmission of common memories and humanistic strength. This is a transference of forms and meanings that streams through the cycles, outside rigid assurances but with the steadiness of its linguistic focus. Our analysis starts here, after the last cycle and before the beginning: when the thinking will be/is/was the gravitational element around which every image will revolve/revolves/revolved.

The radical attitude of the duo, at last, reinforces itself in the electronic univocity, in the unbreakable figurative virtualism that mixes complex bidimension and digital apparatus. Not using truthful elements in a direct form means, therefore, acting on the REALISTIC PLAUSIBILITY. The image does not yield to a surrogate of imitations or simulations; contrarily, it inverts our bond with the picture and offers a self-referred figuration, which can be extended to the laws of its own status without the intervention of the external world on the iconic codification. Here I see the second reason of the radical attitude of Marotta & Russo, especially for the contemporary difficulty of taking root in a system where global affiliation is more rewarding of extreme autonomy.

The CONSTRUCTION OF THE WORLD (pictures, web site, video) is the third reason that certifies the radical attitude of their expressive model. Through our eyes we find a life place with its accessory complexities. The atmospheres, buildings, objects and other elements are used to describe the characters that live, think and feel in this world. The invented space has recognizable usages, self-referred systems in which the story takes its shape and becomes true like the tangible world, paradoxically more real because under a full narrative control. The digital reality overlaps ours, impresses its signs on the signs of the civilization we belong. Life on life, shape on shape, input on input, output on output: this is a confirmation that the digital culture moulds our daily world, in perfect entropy with the daily dynamics of the social life.

The BODILY REALISM is another significant datum of “Avatar Project”. A physiognomic recognizability that does not intend to replicate the reality but to create a parallel format, independent from life. The bodies are probed, radiographed in their inner apparatus, analysed with scientifically digital precision. The outer influxes act on the organic form, organize the arrangements of the bone, nervous, muscle and circulatory structure. The shreds of the technological world elaborate a body that is virtual but not virtuous, plausible and equipped. It is not a matter of cyborg mutations or prostetic grafts. Contrarily, the shapes mutate in perfect empathy with the world they belong. They participate to the outer context, they are its result and consequence, until they condition the world from which they come. In the first works the body vibrated in the long field of the landscapes, it moved in an outlined space, among objects and other significant fetishes. With the passing of time the lens has restricted the optics, focalizing on details with a maniacal thematic construction. The cycles gradually go on the fragment, describing the wholeness of the micro-world extending on the borders of the picture.

Observing the works so far produced, emerges a first overturning which concerns the APPEARANCES of the images. We see something but in reality we are speaking with complex under-texts to examine in time and space. The computer, the selected linguistic tool, is able to do it through its double nature: that of elaborative software and that of tautological universe to dissect through a real digital neo-humanism. So the appearance of the shape shows us the sites of information parthenogenesis, a pulsing world that does not exist in the tridimensional reality but that concerns us as parallel vision. Every element contains its grammar engine (a software laid bare, a home page that becomes architecture…) but also the aim of the single tools, the functional excesses, the aesthetic tensions, the hypothetic applicability of our lifestyle.

In the report of sensitive appearances, another character is related to the inverted bond between MICRO and MACRO. We understand that the information microelements grow bigger in order to evocate worlds that mirror the reality. Here also the appearances are born with precise cause-effect relations: and there it is the moral tension that normalizes the technological extremes and overturns the usual bond with electronics. What seemed abstract and graphically isolated to us becomes a return to the humanistic origins of elaboration. We meet again elements of common use on the web that now underline their intellectual provenience, the ground principle through which the human mind (honour to software developers, real concentrate of culture, anthropology, psychoanalysis, sociology and many other things) projected the dialectic mechanisms of the brain into synthetic formulae of practical uses and quick results.

The second overturning is referred to the AUTONOMY of the project before the historical debts that request space. The work makes a neat bounce as far as concerns the figurative bounds felt by the duo, it metabolizes and digests through the gift of invisible fading. Their vision remains European, contaminated by high matrixes that cannot be felt any more, made invisible by a cultivated but never dogmatic attitude, simple but without the superficiality of the obvious quotation. The cultural DNA seemingly disappears but persists behind the images, describing an Italian figuration that maintains Mediterranean and European valences.

But let’s discuss the third overturning, referred to the COMMUNICATION with its load of epochal catharsis. The meaningful datum indicates the disappearance of a precise hierarchy between texts and contexts, individuals and collective environments, class developments and culture. Marotta & Russo remind us that electronics it is not only a functional world, abstract in its internal technicality, destined only to the improvement of professions. The DIGITAL CULTURE mirrors the instances of a democratic society, cyclically open, contaminated in its levels to be moulded. It must also be added that the digital culture crosses East and West, the first and the third world in an interlacement of hidden diagonals, virtual axes and bars where the exchanges and the consciousness make the distances thinner. Communication and digital culture mean nowadays CULTURE OF HUMANITY, a sort of cult of normality where electronics become perceivable, physically protagonist.

The “Avatar Project” indicates the direction of the digital media in their MAXIMAL and REDUCTIONIST crossing. On the one hand there is the dilatation of the media, the open exploitation of its grammar, until a reflection about the tool through its own tools. On the other hand there is the removal of whatsoever virtuosity, the univocal use of the media for a plausible and justified aim. Marotta & Russo do not let technical expertise to overwhelm them, nor they excite shrewdness with special but little specialistic effects. They expand the tool for an aim that sums up the upsettings so far described. Maximalism and synthesis mirror the culture of the present, the remediable ethical contrasts between the individuals, the elastic mass of civilized society.

In the middle of this long journey always comes the MAN with his regenerative energy and the huge potential of the managed intelligence. It is not a case that the pictures look for a non-historical fixity that longs for spatial distension, interpretative openings, until a global abstraction towards pictorial archetypes and classical volumetries. The “Avatar project” is the virtual synthesis of our inner epic sense, of the incoherent struggle we undertake between past and future. We all move within the works, whimsical and emotionally alive human beings. We impress our glance on shapes and colours that are not casual, on backgrounds gradually rarefying, on bodies that are part of iconographic history. The same shots, which denote perspective abilities and a character of filmic culture, catapult us into the waves of the avant-garde twentieth century. If the cross references are visible or not does not matter any longer: the neo-humanistic metabolizing has done its games within a unique project, classically possible in the future, intended as the past that revives with the instruments of the present.