SILICOSOPHY: the aesthetic of mutation
While the fundamental and central question chosen for the Biennial of 2015 by its director Okwui Enwezor is “what will all the world’s futures be?”, and the essential theme of the Milan EXPO of 2015 is “what futures are foreseeable in terms of the accessibility of the planet’s resources for the world population?” the central issue in Carla Viparelli’s current exhibition is closely related to the currently burning issues of the relationship between art and science, between present and future, between topicality and future prospects, between aesthetics and technology. Viparelli “photographs” the current conditions of life on the planet, highlighting a cultural transformation where Man plays a central role, in a process where time is compressed and the speed is very high.
From a sociological point of view the accent is on the centrality of the human figure, which acquires and appropriates the transformation of its life context wrought about by science. However, the relationship between Man and Science is not observed and described in a pragmatic, experimental and/or dialectic key, but rather in a philosophical and aesthetic one, as transformation of the I, as change, becoming, modification of the known world and as the aesthetic aspects of this transformation.
“It is impossible to step twice into the same river, or to lay hands twice on mortal substance in a fixed condition; But by the swiftness and speed of its change it scatters and again gathers (…) it comes together and flows away” (Heraclitus – Fragments).
To some Greek philosophers things have no reality except in their own, continuous development, and the tension of the Greek world therefore appears, in one sense, as a kind of knowledge obtained through a vision of the object contextualized in time and space.
In this work Viparelli gives form and “vision” to that transformation of the world and of things, choosing to focus her aesthetic research on an element of Nature which seems to represent the quintessence of transformation and mutation, namely silicon. Present in the atomic system and original cells of the Big Bank, silicon has a magnificent quality: what we may define its natural capacity of self-transformation. And that is not all; it “lends” itself to science as a “transformable” element. We are therefore dealing with both an interior transformation, as an element which undergoes infinite modifications as part of a natural process, and transformations wrought about externally, by human intervention within the context of scientific research. The philosophy of the self-same transformation embodies two basic elements: the past as starting point, memory, awareness, ethical reference and at the same time element of opposition and dialectic, and the present as objectivity and subjectivity of transformation. One cannot modify something which does not exist; and one cannot modify something which has no immediate space-time contextualization.
This is the starting point or datum of a “journey” which is research, experimentation and manipulation. The flair of the artist lies in her ability to unite past, present and future in a few brushstrokes and pencil lines, through the magic of “visual representation”.
Viparelli captures the aesthetic instant of the transformation and objectifies it – or perhaps we should rather say sublimates it – in an artistic product, presenting as visual evidence the innate beauty of Nature, its infinite possibilities of modification or the beauty and power of the changes brought about by Man through scientific research.
Viparelli studies the aesthetic side of science, the aesthetic of change, of “journey”, of the transition from one reality into another. She studies Beauty in the act of its mutation from a “system” to another. Both Nature and Science operate with “systems” that are something more than mere “bodies” of rules and procedures; rather, they contain within them infinite “bodies” of aesthetic systems.
In the natural world there is not just an ethics of transformation, in the sense of a body of rules and instruments capable of altering things and the environment; rather, there exists an aesthetic of the transformation determined by the creative principle, by creation. It is a matter of an aesthetic of creation.
A scientist who brings about an act of transformation of reality, a modification of the known system, performs – at the same time and immediately – a creative deed which is an aesthetic act as such; just like an artist, a scientist turns a certain reality into another through a creative act, through the creative invention of human intellect and genius. This is Art.
Viparelli gives this moment visual substance through representation, giving life and almost “humanizing” a mineral, namely silicon, unveiling its innate beauty in the topical moment of its numerous transformations: endless instants of beauty which escape the eye and our everyday existence, which the universe nevertheless indisputably possesses.
The artist exalts humankind’s ability to alter reality, making us look within it, or perhaps we should rather say by “revealing” the aesthetic potential of the things we are surrounded by every day: cell phones, solar panels, lighting, glass, diatoms, superconductors, microchips, silicon “salts” or gels, equisetum plants, meteorites and aeroliths, and so on… an infinity of changes, transformations, which show us infinite itineraries of … beautiful visions which all issue from that unique, original and elementary source: silicon.
By representing and concretizing something which is invisible to others, namely the beauty concealed in a simple mineral and its infinite changes, the artist attracts the onlooker’s attention to all the beauty which surrounds us, advising and inviting us to look more carefully at everything around us, to respect Nature and things that may seem banal and foregone, because they all reveal and possess an infinite aesthetic potential.
What will the world’s futures look like? It all depends on our ability to see beauty in every form of mutation of the present, to appropriate it and to look to the future. And this may serve as a lesson to future generations; they should look to the past to obtain experience and look to the future to advance in harmony, and to avoid dispersing the immense beauty concealed in God’s creation.