On June 27, in the freshly opened MEET Digital Culture Center in Milan, a conversation took place between Maria Grazia Mattei, MEET Founder and President, Francesca Giulia Tavanti, former Art Programme Leader and current Director of Education at Istituto Marangoni Firenze, and Andy Picci, artist and I’M Mentor.
They discussed the current state of digital technology and its application to the art world and new educational models.
The main topics shared between the three speakers were the technological revolution currently influencing the world of art and the role of schools and mentors in shaping tomorrow’s creative minds.
Arts Curating student Giulia Piceni recounts the key moments of the talk for the readers of I’M Firenze Digest.
By Giulia Piceni. Cover image: Andy Picci, Never assume the obvious is true, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.
The conference The Digital Side of Art took place in the brand-new MEET venue in the Porta Venezia district in Milan. The founder and president, Maria Grazia Mattei opened the talk by describing the venue and the Immersive Room in particular, where the event took place: a 250-square-metre space that uses multiple projectors to display 4K images, 270 degrees on the walls, in line with the project philosophy.
The cultural centre took several years to be designed and created. It was eventually opened one year and a half ago, thanks to the essential help of Fondazione Cariplo. The concept initially came to the curator’s mind around nine years ago: the keyword behind the project is indeed the adjective “immersive.” Mattei didn’t simply want to create an exhibition space but a “house of culture” where people could breathe art, and dedicate an area to emerging digital art; a venue where we could finally experience the intangible digital world even through our bodies.
DIGITAL RENAISSANCE AT ISTITUTO MARANGONI FIRENZE
With Francesca Giulia Tavanti, Director of Education at Istituto Marangoni Firenze, the audience was brought to the meeting’s core concept. As she explained, we are experiencing a new world, a post-pandemic dimension in which people feel the urge to rethink and reimagine the world around them after the physical and mental immobility experienced during lockdowns.
In this sense, the art world is responding through a series of new ways of experiencing exhibitions and works in more immersive and engaging ways.
As Tavanti stated, “perspective itself was a tool for immersion” when Filippo Brunelleschi first theorised it in Florence during the early stages of the Renaissance.
Creating a vanishing point in any composition was an attempt to capture and control reality, the world around the artist and the spectator.
In this sense – she added – being Florence the capital of the 15th-century Renaissance, the city is also a valid candidate to be the perfect venue for today’s artistic revolutions.
Not by chance, a new attempt at immersing the spectator in a unique experience while reshaping the Renaissance city, has been (digitally) materialised through a recent educational project in collaboration with artist Andy Picci.
ANDY PICCI: MENTOR AND ARTIST
With the project Re:Mixing the city (might delete later), Andy Picci supported the second-year students in Multimedia Arts at Istituto Marangoni Firenze in creating a series of Instagram filters. The objective was to “reshape” key historical locations in Florence with the added layers of augmented reality. An innovative application of virtuality, a new way of interpreting the city of the Italian Renaissance through a new digital lens.
The artist declared that using a widespread platform such as Instagram was not an accidental choice. Not only do artists have the chance to display their artworks to a large-scale audience, but they are also making a big statement: an artist doesn’t need the physical limitation of a gallery to be exhibited.
For this educational project, Andy Picci’s contribution has been essential, considering that his young and talented pupils had only a few months to get accustomed to professional 3D design software.
In Picci’s opinion, this has been a chance for them to reconsider their artistic approach and the research process behind any artwork: skills and artistic sensitivity have been equally challenged during this special project.
Andy Picci stressed the importance of emphasising artistic investigation, as he underlined during the conversation that young artists tend to spend more time caring about graphics than the concept itself. As the artist stressed, our world needs new ideas and innovative perspectives, and education is key to building them.
Even for Andy Picci, the art of the past is a primary source of inspiration. As he explained, we are exposed to more than 3000 images per day and looking back at other eras, getting to know the Old Masters is a perfect way to reset the mind and start creating.
The moderator Maria Grazia Mattei took this opportunity to create a perfect conclusion to the conversation by projecting a site-specific artwork by digital artist Refik Anadol: Renaissance Dreams (2021). The images of various artworks from the 15th century went on the screen and melted into each other, creating unique patterns that covered the walls of the Immersive Room at MEET.
As all the speakers explained, we can’t create our future without looking back at the past. We would be lost.