DigitalFruit is an interview series from Adafruit showcasing some of our favorite digital fine artists from around the world. As we begin this new decade with its rapidly changing landscape, we must envision our path through a different lens. Over the next few weeks we’ll feature many innovative perspectives and techniques that will inspire our maker community to construct a bold creative frontier. The only way is forward.
1. Where are you based?
I live in Italy between my birthplace of Macerata and Milan (where I spend most of my time).
2. Tell us about your background?
I received my bachelor’s from the Academy of Fine Arts in Milan and then enrolled in the masters course in New Media at the Brera Fine Arts Academy.
I have always been interested in art in general: I began drawing on paper and then approached street photography, but I didn’t clearly know which path to follow. While attending classes at the Academy, I became really interested in the relationship between music and pictures, so I started studying the art of music videos. During my studies, I came in contact with generative and digital art, at which point, I finally understood what my real interest was.
3. What inspires your work?
My research began by studying the relationship between sound and figurative art, more specifically, audiovisual synesthesia. I started to figure out how new technologies can affect and improve art, and what is the imagery and vision connected to this topic. The first thing that always inspires me is music: I am a synesthetic subject, so when I listen to music, I always imagine something figurative related to it. During this time, I observed that I also do the opposite, so when I see an image or a video, I often match it with a song or a sound. I am also influenced by science fiction and in particular, by the cyberpunk movement, as it is visible in my artworks and concepts.
4. What are you currently working on?
I just published a work based on a series of three 360º videos for Fake Lake, an online exhibition group, that is about an intimate experience of an internet user. At the moment, I’m working on integrating sensors from platforms, such as Kinect and Leap Motion, with node-based programming environments. This allows me to mix realtime graphics effects with data produced by these sensors.
I’m also improving my skills in VFX creation in order to create autonomous systems, technically and visually speaking.
5. Describe your process and what tools you like to use.
My process generally starts with a problem to solve, for example, “how can I create that specific effect?”, or “how can I manage to combine a movement with an element for a specific situation?”
Then I decide on the best solution for the task, in terms of time and visual results. For example, I choose which software would be best, and if it would be necessary to mix more tools together. My favorite tools are node-based programming environments, such as Touchdesigner, Max MSP, or vvvv. I also use 3D software like Cinema 4D, or other software related to digital creation, depending on the task at hand. I try to familiarize myself with as much software and I can, because I believe that every tool has specific characteristics that are related to specific parts of a project.
6. What does your workplace or studio look like? Do you work in silence or listen to music while you work?
My basic workplace is really just my laptop, so I can be productive anywhere. Obviously I set up a workspace at home with a second screen (the bigger the better) along with all of my beloved hardware components, such as, Leap Motion, Kinect, the Canon 5D MKIII, and Akai APC40 for now! If I need it, I also use two laptops in contemporary [tandem] if I have more tasks to do in the same time.
Music for me is essential, I listen to it while working and when I do almost anything! Moreover, I often work on audiovisual stuff, so I have to listen to music to do it obviously. In addition, I am also a singer!
7. How has technology shaped your creative vision?
I’m definitely a technophile. I strongly believe that technology can improve and enhance the human lifestyle, if used correctly, and with good knowledge in treating it. That’s the starting point of my artistic research: if you can imagine it, with technology you can surely do it. Moreover, I have always felt comfortable working with technology, and it has affected the way I express my vision.
I find the infinite possibilities offered by technologies and their application in art really attractive. This spurs me everyday to go furthering, studying, and deeply understanding the world of new technologies. I also love figurative imagery connected to technology in general, and in what it is believed to be in the future.
8. Any tips for someone interested in getting started in the digital art form?
The first thing to start with digital art is to imagine something to do, and then start to figure out how to reach that objective. The most important thing in my opinion is to have an idea. Start trying different tools and understand which one is best for you. Secondly, gain a multidisciplinary knowledge base in order to face any request or situation. I’m mostly self-taught and can assure you that anyone can learn anything they’re interested in. Patience is the first thing needed to start working with digital art, mainly to understand how it works. And in particular, which is the best field for each person as it is a wide world to dive into.
9. Where do you see generative and digital art heading in the future?
There is a statement which I found fundamentally related to this theme, John Maeda in his Design by Numbers has written, “Painting with a mouse on the computer screen has a high entertainment value, but… drawing a stroke with a pen is no different from drawing a stroke with a mouse. The real challenge is to discover the intrinsic properties of the new medium and to find out how the stroke you draw via computation is one you could never draw, or even imagine, without computation.”
This summarizes my point of view on generative and digital art. I think that as technological improvement goes on, generative and digital art will gain greater visibility. Although people still need to be familiar with something in order to consider it reliable, so this process needs time. On the other hand, technological improvements run so fast that we can’t even perceive it. In my view, generative and digital art are slowly taking place in the art system and will have a bright future- even if it could be a far one.
DigitaFruit is curated by Adafruit lead photographer- Andrew Tingle