Emilio Vavarella. rs548049170_1_69869_TT (The Othe...

Emilio Vavarella. rs548049170_1_69869_TT (The Other Shapes of Me)

Emilio Vavarella presents at GALLLERIAPIÙ the third exhibition of the rs548049170_1_69869_TT (The Other Shapes of Me) project, winner of the sixth edition of the Italian Council (2019). The artist, researcher at Harvard University in Film and Visual Studies and Critical Media Practice, combining artistic interdisciplinarity and theoretical research, has always analyzed in his work the logic that govern the functioning of machines and software (with particular attention to dysfunctionality) to extrapolate its unpredictable poetic and creative effects. His approach is based on the act of appropriating pre-existing material and then manipulating it according to plausible but paradoxical procedures, emphasizing the creative self-sufficiency of processes activated by human will which, by increasing, acquire an imperturbable autonomous existence. His research started from the exploration of the sensitive manifestations of programming imperfections, such as the screenshots from Google Street View that make up the series The Google Trilogy (2012), in which the sporadic technical problems of the algorithm that governs the application generate fragmentary landscapes turned into unlikely colors, extremely fascinating for the chromatic and formal analogies that unite them and which seem to postulate the existence of a new digital aesthetic.

Subsequently, the artist went into deepening the programming codes responsible for the inconsistencies at the origin of the anomalies detected, using the error parameter to better understand the operating methods. So in the series THE OTHER SHAPE OF THINGS – 1. Failed Objects (2017 – ongoing) he dedicated himself to the creation of objects using a 3D printer starting from digital models obtained by scanning failed matrix-objects with different types of imperfections discarded from the circuit productive, while in THE OTHER SHAPE OF THINGS – 2. Datamorphosis (2019 – ongoing) through a sequence of erroneous data processing he undertook to translate the Latin verses of Ovid’s Metamorphoses into three-dimensional forms, surprisingly materialized in sculptural groups that seem somehow retaining the essence of a mythological and poetic discourse conceived more than two thousand years ago.

 In the project exhibited at GALLLERIAPIÙ it is highlighted how the evolution of this research, which despite being centered on the relationship between human beings and technology, placed man in the position of the observer or demiurge – programmer, leads to a “reflection on technology as a part integral to the concept of life, both in a biological and a philosophical sense[1]”. The title of the exhibition refers to the first line of text resulting from the genotyping of Vavarella’s DNA: the process, aimed at determining the differences in the genotype[2] between individuals through biological tests, the results of which are expressed in alphanumeric codes to allow their comparison, is used here with the further aim of translating them into a binary source code[3] to be used to program a jacquard weaving machine and an electronic loom. If in previous projects the artist seemed to verify the intrinsic creativity of a serial process by adopting an action protocol similar to that of the machine, here the unsettling short circuit between the origin and the processing generated by the procedural rules he established suggests an ambiguous competition with technological tools and exposes itself to the risk of a disturbing drift of the meaning of the code in the setting of its application transfers.

In the large installation that opens the exhibition, the binary code deduced from the artist’s DNA fragment is shown on a strip of perforated cardboard cards placed on a rotating cylinder: the holes in each card correspond to the design to be reproduced and through a system of cords and counterweights control the warp threads connected to it, the weaving of the weft and the subsequent advancement of the cards inside the jacquard loom. The result is a sixty-centimeter-wide gray-scale fabric eighty meters long, whose abstract decorative pattern reflects the artist’s genetic heritage section. The automatism of the operation is balanced and humanized by the video that shows how to create this product Emilio Vavarella collaborated with his mother, an expert textile artisan recruited for the standardized and abstract “re-edition” of her son.

In the second room of the exhibition, on the other hand, we find large framed canvases whose fabric was made using the same binary sequence obtained from the artist’s DNA as a programming code given to a modern electronic loom. In this case, the product, whose pattern is identical to that of the previous fabric, aesthetically reflects the technological updating of the processing tools in the impeccable flatness of the surface and in the chromatic vivacity of the threads used. The slippages between the two artifacts, due to the hardware and software differences of the production system of which they are an expression, in addition to making us reflect on the arbitrariness inherent in any translation and application operation, dialogue with ironic democracy with the macroscopic differences (and the improbable similarities) between the artist and his textile analogues.

In the last room, Emilio Vavarella seems to take the collision between the alleged uniqueness of the code and its multiple representations-incarnations to the extreme through a series of Samples, small tapestries characterized by different decorative patterns, some of which even have clear figurative winks, obtained by subjecting the DNA transcription fragments to heterogeneous digital processing. The final emphasis of the intrinsic conventionality of the code as the result of a controlled climax of transpositions (logical, material, symbolic, emotional and technological) characterized by an exponential increase of variables seems to manifest a new area of ​​interest in the artist’s research, now more oriented to pass from the creative observation to a philosophical and planning manipulation that opens up glimpses of existential uncertainty that are difficult to heal.


Emilio Vavarella. rs548049170_1_69869_TT (The Other Shapes of Me)
curated by Ramdom
04/05 – 16/07/2021
Via del Porto 48 a / b, Bologna


[2] The genetic constitution of an organism or group of individuals, corresponding to the set of alleles present for each gene, which presides over the expression of somatic characters.

[3] Code based on two symbols, usually 0 and 1. A binary code allows the transmission of data and instructions through a sequence of 0 and 1, which can be made with a circuit formed by a device capable of assuming two different states voltage (typically on and off).

Emilio Vavarella, rs548049170_1_69869_TT (The Other Shapes of Me), exhibition view, at GALLLERIAPIU, 2021Emilio Vavarella, rs548049170_1_69869_TT (The Other Shapes of Me), exhibition view at GALLLERIAPIU, 2021, photo by Stefano Maniero and courtesy GALLLERIAPIU and the artist

Emilio Vavarella, rs548049170_1_69869_TT (The Other Shapes of Me), 2021, (detail), photo by Stefano Maniero and courtesy GALLLERIAPIU and the artist

Emilio Vavarella, Sections (The Other Shapes of Me), exhibition view at GALLLERIAPIU, 2021, photo by Stefano Maniero and courtesy GALLLERIAPIU and the artist

Emilio Vavarella, Samples (The Other Shapes of Me), exhibition view at GALLLERIAPIU, 2021, photo by Stefano Maniero and courtesy GALLLERIAPIU and the artist

Emilio Vavarella, Samples (The Other Shapes of Me), exhibition view at GALLLERIAPIU, 2021, photo by Stefano Maniero and courtesy GALLLERIAPIU and the artist


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