Saturday, April 4, 2015

TeZ: the Synesthetic Dialogue

TeZ in the optofonica capsule, 2008
Tez a.k.a. Maurizio Martinucci, is an Italian multimedia artist, living in Amsterdam. You might be able to place him in a genre of artistry called ArtScience; however, that might exclude him from many of  the activities that could label him as a musician, composer, producer, hacker, a maker-of-the-magical-and-mysterious. And, perhaps a few other things that we know nothing about. Above all, Tez is a prolific collaborator, working with many artists and organizations, notably the Optofonica Platform for Synesthetic ArtScience (facebook). 

Much to his credit, he is interested in the promotion of art, technology, and science: infused or separate, for the sake of education. At any given time, he may be approached in conversation regarding esoteric scientific theories of the 19th century, Italian art of the renaissance, or Iggy Pop at his most debauched... We catch up with him in Southeast Asia, or Singapore to be more precise, where he has taken time from his electronics' shopping to talk to us.

As an artist, how would describe your relationship to technology? Why are traditional "art" mediums not capable of producing the type of effect you envision or wish to communicate?  

I never think of art as means for communication. Art for me is the ability of evoking an experience that is intimate and personal, as such it transcends languages. Of course, there's a degree of communication happening inside the viewer.. I would call it a "synesthetic dialogue", a dialogue between sensations.

Technology is extraordinary in the fact that it enables us to follow the progression of time. Willing or not, the evolutionary pace of humanity is regulated by technology and in complete feedback with it. Meaning, the use and application of it (especially if creative) leads to new inventions and to the evolution of technology itself. In the future, what you call "traditional" will be tied to the medium of the time it refers to. Therefore, art made with computers and sensors will one day will obsolete too and somewhat traditional. Every age had its own technology and it produced ingenious creations with it. 

My focus is on the senses rather than the medium itself. It doesn't matter if I use a painting, a candle or a laser beam... My work aims at evoking a specific sensation related to the physical body and the space it interacts with, including other bodies and/or inanimate things.

"Technology is extraordinary...
it enables us to follow the progression of time...
the evolutionary pace of humanity"

What perceptions do you have of digital culture? If you heard in some context terminology like  "digital tribalism" or "digital imperialism" what association comes to mind? 

Non-Hertzian Wave Transmission
When I was younger, in the 90's, I had a great fascination for the "digital" and all the socio-cultural implications of it. It was the time of the Cyberpunk, and "hacker" truly meant something revolutionary. Today is so very different. On the one hand, mainstream culture has appropriated those ideas and stripped them of their activist and unconventional meanings. On the other, we're looking at a progressive embedding of technology in everyday life, both as commodity and tools for expression and, of course, communication.

Cultural prejudices can only belong to poorly educated people who are looking at things passively. Unfortunately, there's plenty of them. It's not the fault of any one particular, let me be clear on this; we are a product of a system. In one way or the other, the system has become what we know and it promotes horrible fallacies that only time may fix. We can help the debugging though! However, "digital culture" has no other meaning for me than "the culture of this time".

What creative work have you been engaged with recently, and may the public be able to experience anything in the near future?

Lots of different things really. Starting from electronic music for Clock DVA, and more articulated and spatial immersive sonic performances (TeZ / ambisonics), to audiovisual generative art (PLASM), and immersive multisensory installations (ILINX).

The works differ in nature and technique, but what they have in common is the passion for art and science as a holistic paradigm.

Urban Farmers - Singapore
I have an art-science residency in Singapore right now, until May 2015. It deals with underwater vehicles doing swarming actions for both scientific monitoring of the marine environment and orchestrated choreographies of sound and light to "communicate" their findings. Parallel to this activity, I'm working with students on biology and botany related experiments. I'm truly excited to learn more about robotics and acoustic (underwater) communication. Also, the chance to get students to experiment with unconventional ideas and hacking to make their own tools. It makes me really happy and it's lots of fun!  In two weeks time I've connected with all the mainstream and underground scene of Singapore, from the ArtScience Museum and the National University of Singapore, to the main "makers" group, the urban farmers and, of course, the local hackerspace.