Following a research-based and often collaborative process, Fabio Lattanzi Antinori incorporates coded surfaces and data-informed structures in order to investigate the constant act of negotiation with information systems. The practice encompasses sculpture, print, sound, poetry and interactive installations, and considers notions of belief and value. The piece has been shortlisted for the Aesthetica Art Prize 2018.
A: Fortune Tellers incorporates forecasts from the Shanghai Stock Exchange from a very specific time. What informed your decision to choose this form of data?
FLA: With this work I wanted to reflect on the notion of future prediction in our society. The piece uses data that supposed to b the forecast of the value of the Shanghai Stock Exchange on the financial market, for each one of the days of the exhibition that ran at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai. The data was very kindly provided by a team of specialised data analysts using a proprietary algorithm, by a team of scientists who have developed a model or network of artificial neurons, that is designed to learn from the market’s history in order to predict its future development and by a financial astrologer.
My hope was that by combining such diverse forms of applied knowledge in the same context, the artwork would allow the audience to question the definition of science, knowledge and to reflect on how notions of belief are received and processed across the domains of science and superstition, normally considered to be at their exact opposite.
A: This data is then translated into harmonies performed by three Chinese sopranos. Why do you think it’s important to add another sensory layer to the installation?
FLA: I wanted to collaborate with the three Chinese sopranos, as I think they complete the artwork, both from the point of the experience as well as that of the conceptual reasoning behind the piece. Opera underwent a profound social transformation and became the symbol of an elite and as such it is now often associated with notions of class and status within the society; it possesses a special language, one that often appears to be shrouded in mystery and extremely hard to decipher unless you are a part of it. It evokes epic feelings of symbolic tragedies, played by characters displaying inscrutable behaviours, which I feel to be not so distant from role played in our lives by international finance and the extremely important, yet volatile financial markets.
A: How can viewers interact with the work?
FLA: On a physical level, interaction happens when the audience touches the surface of the black flags. This activates sensors that are screen-printed with conductive paint on the surface of the flags themselves; when these are activated, the code matches the value of the Shanghai Stock Exchange at that time with the mapped voice of one of the three singers. The artwork is polyphonic and the audience can activate the three panels simultaneously. The difference between each reading of the forecast data dictates the score of the singers. This seems to provoke a range of different reactions within the audience, from playful ones to marvelled and intimate relationships with those same symbolic numbers.
A: Information networks and global structures are a defining part of the contemporary experience. Why is it important question them through your practice?
FLA:They play a vital role in the way society is being shaped and as they sit at the centre of an interconnected ecology, they will be more and more crucial to the way society itself will develop. Understanding how they work and what are the implications of their usage, the benefits and risks they carry, it will be vital, in order to make sure some important questions won’t remain unanswered.
Digital technology is already running the daily life of a large segment of the world population and it will become more and more pervasive in the coming years. Yet we still don’t fully understand the ecology that the data driven networks are bringing up, neither we do keep into account the interrelations existing between the different elements of such networks. We are at a point where a tweet can bring the market to a near crash, as in the case of the pound dropping as a consequence of French president Francois Hollande’s statement with regards to the Brexit negotiations. And the fact that fake news, which have been around for centuries, now take place at the superfast speed of digital infrastructures, only complicates the scenario even further and calls for regulations or some form of mutual supranational or interpersonal agreement.
A: Where do you find your inspiration? How does this work compare to your previous works?
FLA: My process is mainly research based and often collaborative; I find inspiration in the dialogue between individuals who come from a diverse background. Inspiration comes from different sources, I attend talks as I can, I read books and papers, listen to interviews on podcasts and try to expose myself to a good dose of daily news. And like many of us, in the interconnected social system I engage with a peer network of artists, scientists and thinkers.
A: Why did you enter the Aesthetica Art Prize, and what does it mean to you to have your work shortlisted?
FLA: Being shortlisted for an award is probably one of the greatest ways to increase the exposure of an artist’s work, help build a network and promote their career. It is also undeniable that being selected by such a prestigious panel contributes to validating one’s practice, something every artist needs to a certain degree. I have followed Aesthetica Magazine and their programme of events for a while and I entered the prize because I thought it would be a great platform where to showcase my work.
A: What upcoming projects do you have planned?
FLA: I will be in residence at the MMMCA, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, where I am developing a series of sculptures inspired by official statistics on the Korea society. During my staying I will also participate in a seminar as part of the programme of the E.T.A. (Experiments in Art and Technology) at the MMCA, curated by Deoksun Park. In September I will be featured in a show at the V&A in London, curated by Irini Papadimtriou and at the new Science Gallery, curated by Hannah Redler. At present I am also planning an itinerant series of talks, across different cities and venues; the project is in its infancy and it will focus around digital technology and the way it affects contemporary living.
The Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition runs 18 May to 30 September at York Art Gallery. For more information, click here.
1. Fortune Tellers, 2016. Approx 2.45 x 4.5 x 2 metres.