Multimedia Arts students from Istituto Marangoni Firenze are working on an upcoming project on the city of Florence and its fashion history. The artistic director is digital artist Andy Picci, Mentor at Istituto Marangoni Firenze for the academic year 2021-2022. His project review and workshop with students in Florence was an opportunity for the I’M Firenze Digest Editorial staff to interview him.
By Sofie Engelschiøn and Giulia Piceni. Cover image photo Virginia Niccolucci.
Since his first appearance as Pete Doherty’s doppelganger on the cover of Le Parisien in 2015, Andy Picci has never stopped provoking public opinion through his multifaceted artistic expression that went from poetry to digital art. His artistic practice mainly focuses on the definition of identity; in recent years, he started to create a series of Instagram filters to manipulate reality and our everyday perceptions and appearance.
Under his guidance, Istituto Marangoni Firenze students in Multimedia Arts are working on a large-scale project that will cover the historical city centre of Florence, enhancing multiple locations linked to the city’s rich fashion history through AR and Instagram filters. The project will be unveiled in June on this website. For now, we asked Andy Picci for further details on the project and his mentorship experience.
I’MF: To start, can you introduce yourself?
AP: My name is Andy Picci. I’m a conceptual artist, and I like to reflect on the construction of identity in the age of the hyper-digitised society.
I’MF: How has today’s review been?
AP: It was exhausting for me, and my students, I guess, [laughs] but also very interesting. It’s crucial for me to see how students explore many of the tools I analysed in the past, to see how they use them in different ways. It’s interesting to see what fresh and creative minds come up with from something I’ve been using for such a long time.
I’MF: What is a mentor for you?
AP: A mentor, I guess, is someone who will find a way to enhance the creativity of others, each student depending on their vision. It’s not someone to look up to, but mostly someone that will be able to help the students bloom.
I’MF: How can people experience the project? What are they going to find?
AP: At the beginning of June, there will be an outdoor-virtual exhibition. People will be able to experience it through their smartphones across the city, using Instagram as a platform to discover each student’s work and iconic places in Florence playfully and interactively. It’s Florence under a fresh eye!
I’MF: What was the inspiration behind the (RE)mixing the city project?
AP: I guess working with augmented reality and allowing the students to reinterpret the city was the central aspect of this project. It was a way to enable students who usually don’t have many exhibiting opportunities to share their vision of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
I’MF: For you, what is the relationship between public space and AR?
AP: At the moment, there’s some ambivalence in the audience’s eyes towards virtuality. But I believe that this is bound to change. The traditional way we differentiate reality from virtuality today is coming to an end. More and more interactivity will lead our daily life.
I think that using virtuality to enhance our experience of reality is just a logical step into augmented life. We’ve been doing this with all other inventions over time: making our lives easier and more performant. To make the best of what’s around us. This is what augmented reality is about: bringing the new layer of interpretation to something that we’d experienced in a very static way until now.