Interview With Matteo Mauro
Born in Sicily, you decide to move to London and proceed your artistic career. How these two different cultures had influenced your creative expression?
Humans act similarly, but express themselves differently. Despite the London culture is very different from the Sicilian’s, both places share a chaotic lifestyle. The former is creatively unrestrained; the latter is ingeniously wild. Historically, I read Sicily as one of the most desired colony of the Mediterranean Sea. On the other hand, London as the most magnetic contemporary EU capital. From this two worlds, I have learnt the classical rules of creative expression and their progression in to modernity.
During your studies in architecture, you discover an interest towards digital art. What made you realize this was the right path for you to choose?
The more I studied the art of building the more I used to find myself distracted away from creativity. I never had an interest of building for the sake of it. I have always been better at building poetical spaces rather than masses of matter. Regrettably, contemporary architecture allows little room for dreams and I don’t want to become a constructor. To conclude, an architectural practice is an 9-to-7 office called studio, a sad place to be in with no consideration of artistic delights… and, despite the few exceptions which I encountered, I was naturally led away, towards the liberty of painting and sculpting.
The series ‘Micromegalic Inscriptions’ are engravings, which reinterpret Wilhelm Kolbe’s etching “I too was in Arcadia”. By keeping the elegance of the original source you translate it into a contemporary aesthetic. What fascinates you most about this symbiotic process with a machine?
What is behind the formation of the algorithmic-machine able to create art, is a fascinating artwork itself. Everything needs to be tuned and calibrated, imagined as a painting, composed as a code. Moreover, the digitalized engravings do not just reinterpret the mechanical processes of traditional engraving, but being reproducible infinite times and anywhere, exemplify the evolution of mass production practices.
In these simulations pixels seem to have an artificial life and they interact over time similarly to nature. Your creations lie between reality and fantasy, opening infinite doors to viewer’s imagination. Please describe us theoretically how do you formulate the programmed language to achieve the final results?
The abstraction process aims to transfer the elegance of the source, into a contemporary aesthetic. The image-origin is traced with a fine line weight; thus the digital canvas is marked. Around those marks, the loop begins to run their infinite linear variations. The pixel’s strokes sense and react to the previous inscriptions. Creative perception and gestural action are totally computed. Conflict becomes either junction or repulsion. The result are eclectic paintings, rich of colours and details. Rich of life.
What does art mean to you?
Today for me art means independence.
How do you stimulate your imagination?
Recently, I like to select colours and study their combinations. I continuously research among the achievements of historical masterpieces. I select details of Baroque and Rococo art, which I then rework. Lastly, I try to stop and think, every time my body requires to. I try not to stop but make, every time my mind requires me to.
Under the supervision of Oliver Domeisen (ex Victoria and Albert Museum curator) you wrote a book titled ‘Micromegalic Inscriptions’. Please tell us more about this project.
The book, which will be worldwide available from the 24th of September, narrates of a journey through the history of Rococo, print-making and contemporary art. My research, my technique, my vision. It is my personal read of a history of art. It is an example of how to learn an unforgettable rule of beauty and reinterpret it with tools of our time.
Your metaphoric works can be identified as Generative Art, where the traditional brush strokes are replaced by software. Which are the pros and the cons of this system?
The pro is that I found a way of expressing the complexity that I had in my mind, coping with the high demand and speed that this market requires. The con is the alienation that primates get from something that doesn’t smell, sound, taste, touch but only looks like you wanted to.
Nowadays technology became a medium and an instrument, which facilitates artists to explore new artificial horizons. What does an algorithm allow you achieve and express that conventional art fails?
Speed, free and easy access. To frame within my own research… Of traditional engraving, it loses the pleasant exercise of the human body, the art of craft, which William Morris, perhaps rightly, describes as source of happiness. Instead, manual skill becomes the coding. The tools of digital engraving are not kept in a private workshop, but are open source, accessible to anyone who decides to undertake this creative journey. Perhaps a digital democratization of the medium of Art, which by progressing loses and gains freedoms.
Do you believe in a peaceful coexistence between man and machine in the future?
Absolutely. Our hands are the first machines of our intelligence. It is common to refer to computational practices as powerful and promising, but not often these promises are true of being close to us. Rather than glorifying or being alarmed by these emerging technologies, it might prove more productive to discuss the intimate relationship, between the coder and the programming language, the interaction between the man and the machine, and the similarities and differences with analogue precedents.
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All images, courtesy of artist: Matteo Mauro