All posts filed under “street philosophy

In ancient Greece the role of the street philosopher was to emancipate the people. Often the street philosopher was considered as an activist, and he/she’s intent was to subvert the system. I need to clarify some impressions i have about the society and my work.
I will wrote about my readings and personal consideration about social evolution/ changing paradigm in the age of the share society, dromologhie, pseudo post modernism, or what ever you would like to call it.
I’ve read books of: Johan Huizinga, Bertrand Rusell, Roland Bahrtes, Susan Sontag, Villem Flusser, Marshal Mcluhan, Donald Norman, Slavoi Zizek, Paul Virilio to mention few of my favourite authors.

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I Like ergo sum

In the McLuhan’s Global Village theory should be understood in his key phrase the Medium is the message: with this phrase McLuhan’s points attention on the difference between the passive and active perception.

With passive perception, i mean the pre-owned way of visual arts: Movies, Photographies, Paintings. In perciving passively means that our cognitive effort is mainly on the reflective level: We consciously compare the art piece with our personal past experience, that’s why R. Barthes was talking about the studium of the picture and the punctum: the studium was the process to understand the image and its context and temporality as the punctum was the process of discovery what we find interesting in the picture or the subject underlined by photographer.

With active perception i mean the way to pre-own an instrument, a tool, a device, a new media: the process own the part of passive perception but some how the conscious logical effort is less focus cause we are busy on the actions on the system.

We should use a system, in a transparent way we will compare the intention of act and the result of our action on a reflective plan, but symoultaneously our actions to solve the task will work on the behavioural plan as the whole of the action will work, more deep than with a picture, on the visceral plan. (Consideration about the seven stages of the action D.Norman Design of everyday things)


Without stop me also on the rewards, positive feed backs, that the system will give us in the case of a video game or an app.

From this situation the McLuhan’s Global Village theory was borned:

The new electronic independence re-creates the world in the image of a global village.

 In McLuhan’s Global Village the communications happen instantly everywhere. We are bombed by informations, images, and we pre-own these information with the use and action applayed on meta instruments: browsers, devices etc.

There is no time to stare, there is a need of act and react in a never ending process.

This will brings us to a continuos confrontation with our identity and image of se. Individually It’s up to personal colture and sensibilty but we are all exposed by this process in the whole when we play or use a social network.

The result of this identity loss and spotting of social differences in McLuhan’s vision will bring us to two important social behaviors: First we will became all artists in terms of someone who invent and creates his own meta world as reaction of a dislikes and analisys of the world. (Mass Medias and education McLuhan) and at second we will agregate us in the form of tribes unified by common goals or individual properties: this is what happens now with startup coltures for instance but will talk in details about that in the next arcticle.

So now we are on cognitive plan analyzing our colture and identity: this process reminds me the movie “War Games” and the Joshua simulation.

Even if more states specially in europe are going back to the discovery of their traditions, and there are also, we could call them tribes, that for fear and misvision are going back to a nationalism sense and conservative process. This happen cause actually we are living a clash between a piramid structured society, conceived in the age of modern era, and the needs of human beings wich are all the same and more simple as our human way to think is more organic than linear and structured as a book or a movie. But this is called divergent thinking and is a peculiarity of kids and creative minds. (The Rsa “Changing Paradigm“)

To back to McLuhan the next alphabetization will be the learning of the masses to code as ability to use electronic devices.

We actually are living really differences between who know how to code and who don’t. But at the end of this process the only solution is will be to don’t play wars as the Joshua simulation.

Postmodernism conceived of contemporary culture as a spectacle [..] Its successor, which I will call pseudo-modernism, makes the individual’s action the necessary condition of the cultural product. Alan Kirby

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Daguerreotype & Selfie

The fotographer, loots and in the same time preserves, denounces and in the same time consacrates. S.Sontag (translated from the italian version of the book)

At the end of the 19th century the invention of the daguerrotype emancipate the middle class: finally more people could have a family or personal portrait. This before was a priviledge of important, rich and noble people.

But to understand how the photography subvert the society we should consider that basically photographers were of two types, who had a scentific sensibility and uses the camera to catologue things without judgement: In this category we can find the work of Sander in Germany, Alinari in Italy and others. And photographers who use the camera to reveal social differences (Stieglitz, Arbus USA).

In the states at the same time of the success of the daguerrotype, there was a poet Walt Whitman, who’s work was very insurgent, he in his most famous poem, Leaves of Grass, talks about lower class, slaves and his contemporary society: he mention even the daguerrotype:

The Camera and the plate are prepared, the lady must sit for her daguerrotype. W. Whittman

In this book who had a big success in the states at that time. We found the same need to search for the lower class images in the work of the photographer Alfred Stieglitz.

Later Diane Arbus was aswell influenced by Whitman’s poem and Stieglitz’s work but she add a new property with her action: the irriverent passion for freaks and transgender, the passion for the ugly and whatever was at the opposite of the middle class tabùs and the concept of commercial beauty that she celebrated in her early effort as photographer.

We can observe the de mystification of the stage, the sacrilegious escaping from the consideration of art as something to fill and elevate the religious place, even in this process. Duchamp was here too. The middle class fall was the direct consequence for the elevation of the ugly, and could happened in this form only in the states, cause of the early stage, national identity and recent history.

In France in the mean time R. Barthes was conceving the concept of punctum, studium and the use of a copy to determine from the photographer to the audience the context, pointing his attention on the action of perciving a photography: In my opinion his thoughts were a payback from the German’s theory of the Gestalt and the start of the cognitive sciences of the early years of his century.

But is in the 80’s that in my opinon photography started is decline as art: in terms of research of a personal meaning trough a ludic and not convenient object: at first most of photographers started to don’t considered themself as someone who makes art and that could be good; because they find their own identity outside the art market. At second started a kind of self reference in photography. For instance in the work of Nan Goldin i see the evolution of what Diane Arbus did before her, a kind of self reference: yes the picture were coloured and also the subjects were different but by a social point of view there wasn’t an evolution. When i talk about self reference i don’t mean the photography of a photography or what happen in languages when a phrase refer to it self, but on a bigger scale, for self reference,  i mean when an art makes start to make mention of previous work: mention of some properties. These properties could differ by the personal feeling of the artist/maker and by what detail of the previous work touched his/her fantasy. But why he/she applied this style, concept or technique: simple imitation or a need of identity. Probably both.

This need of identity and imitation is first principle of the phenomenus of Selfies on social’s nettwork today. The picture loose compleatly the temporal context, the sight of the moment, the temporal context, described by Sontag, Barthes and many photographers. The concept of the contemporary selfie is compleatly immediate, his documentaristic scope is secondary to the hic et nunc for the sharing society. A product that should be percived in the same instant.

And that is the devolution from the daguerr invention: the portrait today ha lost compleatly his meaning of status symbol.

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We all are Duchamp’s sons.

In Italian design culture there is a very well known book by the designer Bruno Munari: “Da cosa nasce cosa” (From a thing another will born). For a period i used this key phrase to analyze what the recent story and the criticism of our contemporary coltures i read and lived.

My sensibility brings me to discover how the evolution of social pop colture and philosophy is related to art and accademic philosophy itself sometimes, for instance:

In the 1916 in europe in Berlin and in Switzerland the artistic movement of Dada was born.

Marchel Duchamp, Dada’s artist, in 1917 create the art piece called the Fountain. He brought a pissoir in an art gallery: That was the most riot act ever been in art since ever.

Fountain 1917, replica 1964 by Marcel Duchamp 1887-1968

I will not discuss here the importance of this piece of art by the conceptual point of view: Slavoi Zizek explain perfectly the subversive of the decontestualization of the pissoir, the destruction of Loci and the loose of research of filling the Vacum Loci, in his book Absolute Recoil, by a philosophical point of view.

Since the 1917 now the Fountain of Duchamp is still important in the art world and his evolution with the work of Anish Kapoor who reserach the void.

But if art is avantgarde when this theory, of the act to decontestualize something and give it a new meaning, became popular? In my humble opinion this happen in the 1970 with punk subculture, it were need 50 years. Early punk’s bands showed and decontestualize Nazi’s signs even if they were working class fighting for their rights under the Tatcher goverment.

That is just an example of what have ripercussions in all the contemporary pop culture where after the DIY philosophy of punk colture has relations even with Rap music, Djing and all the homeboy, sampling and mash-up colture.

Continuing this dissertation between the art and the pop colture when the pop colture started to be at Dada, the art world was taking two directions: Pubblic art; graffiti (Basquiat, Haring) decontestualization of the place and pop decontestualization of advertisment culture (Warhol) and Performative art: extreme body art (Abramovich), humans manipulating theirself to go over the industry and the machines.

In 1990 Graffiti has part of the Hip-Hop colture arrived in Europe as they were present since the 80’s in NYC and the States. It was needed only 20 years.

Body art takes longer even if started also in the 90’s as part of Tribe’s Ravers and also Punk Rock subcoltures but as niche, to see body art really mainstream we should wait at least the 2004 when the soccer players and pop stars started get tatoos.

In the mean time Public art Graffiti introduced the concept of collaboration: A “wall of fame” indeed was an art piece made by collaboration of more the none writers (spray can painters).

The stage was destroyed, the university and public education looses importance and the medium class dissapear: after this 40 years of apparently not really evoluted tecnically, progress, except for computers, we builded the Mcluhan’s Global Village. Today the communications are at the speed of light, and classes differences can be spotted easily then in 1917.

Someone of you can comment that those things are used by corporates too and there is not anymore avangarde in art or in society, i will disccuss this later.

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Aestetic and process in Software arts.

All i’ll writte belove will be a personal opinion about many things i readed in the past and that i’m searching now with the purpose to solve some questions related my job and my passion.

Anyway a part of those things are already metabolised by my brain, so i’ll try to be concise.

It’s time to keep clear in my mind about many ideas, mistakes and questions i have and i did.

Let’s try to simplify and to agree a common language between you and me:

What is the Software art ?

With the term Software art, i think we could agree to describe any form and any category of art maded by a custom software.

A Custom software is a personal set of rules and a process written in a computer’s language to produce, in this case, a piece of art.

So we could agree that in this vision the term Software art could group all the many terms that try to describe art related to custom softwares/ medias and computers as: Interactive art, new media, generative art, bugs-art, Net Art etc.

We should agree also that Software art does not group Digital Art. Why?

Cause in my opinion the term Digital Art describe art that uses computers and softwares tools but simply doing this the artist does not create his own tool or medium and in this way the art product lack bringin informations about the intimacy between the artist’s logic the concept and the process of creation.

To code is a invisible form of informated art. If you have the colture to read it.

Why i do software art ?

Because i could not keep separeted the science and the art. Art is technè to service a research of the beauty: (in the Platonic philosophy point of view).

Because if in the early past, we keep separeted the process of creation and we spend a lot writtens to try to describe the concept and the process of any singular piece of art, now with Software art we could have a gestalt of form concept and process.

Is the software art conceptual or is formal ?

I’ve already answer this, but to be more straight: Both and that’s also why will win on other forms of obsolete arts.

Is conceptual:

“In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.” Sol Lewitt

“Formalism includes work from different tendencies and with diverse aspects, so it ends up seeming ambiguous and complex. Its dominant feature is austerity, as well as a geometric component that unites form and content. Its works have an impersonal and technological feeling, with no perception of the artist’s hand.” Richard Serra

Is Formal:

“Thus, for Kant, form consists of the spatial… organization of elements: figure, shape, or delineation… In the parts of the Critique of Judgment in which form is emphasized as the essential aspect of beauty, Kant is consistently a pure formalist.” Donald Crawford

But it deal with space in virtuality.

 Industrial vs Artisan, process?

In the post-post-modernism age, in the Global Village we are living in, it makes no more sense to argue that by a technological point of view:

“Postmodernism conceived of contemporary culture as a spectacle [..] Its successor, which I will call pseudo-modernism, makes the individual’s action the necessary condition of the cultural product.” Alan Kirby

Software art is both toghether. All the efforts of software’s industry and software artisans actually is pointed , by a tecnical point of view, to refined the languages/tools.

What should be the reserach of an aestetic in software art ?

I think that you can not use technology, without talk about technology, and you can not use technology without know technology.

That’s why i think Software art, in its syntetic language: can not be not, self-referencial or society-referential, or in the case of art art-referencial.

Also cause cognitive sciences teach us that, anything we percived is confronted by the way with our past experience.

So what are the differents between a technologist and technology designer/artist?

Design and art using technology in my opinion could be confronted with what Villem Flusser wrote in Toward the Photography’s philosophy: the same differents that are between a photographer and some one who push buttons: The critic sense.

All that points i argue here in a too simple way, are really deep. So deep that i feel uncomfortable to talk about it, i feel small and unuseful related al the humanity thinkin evolution.

But i would like to dedicate this start of thinkin to all my friends pasts, presents and beyond.

A progressist, a Global Village’s product, an eloger of the creative otium, a not someone who’s pushing buttons, an atrist.