Posts Tagged 'conceptual devices'

Antonio Scarponi nominated for the Curry Stone Design Prize

Point of view is proud to announce that one of its members, Antonio Scarponi, has been nominated for the prestigious Curry Stone Design Prize.

The Curry Stone Design Prize is awarded every year to breakthrough design solutions with the power and potential to improve our lives and the world we live in. The Curry Stone Design Prize recognizes exceptional, emerging design innovations that contribute to the vitality of the world community”.
– from the Curry Stone Design Prize website.

Antonio’s practice takes place at the intersection between contemporary art, design, architecture and social engagement. Intertwining these discourses creates a framework that enables him to engage in the sheer complexity of the societal issues his work deals with. It renders Antonio an independent position where he can situate a critical and “subversive” practice of imagination.

Since 2004 Antonio has been working – in collaboration with Stefano Massa, Federico Pedrini and Antonio De Luca – on the Dreaming Wall project, a public space installation originally designed for Milan. It’s a green-coloured UV light sensitive wall that turns white when light falls on it. At night it displays text messages send by phone, or submitted on the Internet. A computer controlled UV laser beamer projects these text messages that last for fifteen minutes on the wall and then dissolve again. The project is a hacking of public space; it drifts away from the functionality of everyday life and creates what Antonio refers to as “the sub consciousness of a city asleep”.

On a personal level we enjoy working with Antonio, who has a beautiful mind, and a critical and passionate attitude that brings energy and innovative ideas into our collaboration.


Read Antonio Scarponi’s posts on Point of view here and visit his website here
Read an article Antonio recently wrote about his “RIKEA” project.
The Curry Stone Design Prize.
And read their article on Antonio’s practice here.

Conceptual Devices / Superflex / Superchannel

To illustrate some of the issues that have been put into discussion on Point of view, regarding the subject of ‘conceptual devices’ – see posts underneath – I would like to introduce the project Superchannel by the Danish art group Superflex.

I am fascinated by the potential of empowerment and subversive use of the conceptual device as Francesca mentions in her previous post. Superchannel is a fantastic project that illustrates how such subversive powers can be exercised by means of communication tools.

The project provides only for a device – or tool as Superflex defines all their projects – which consists of a television studio and a broadcasting medium (an internet website). It started off in Copenhagen where a free-access studio (available for anyone to use) was build in a gallery. The success of this first studio encouraged Superflex to open new studios, gradually building a network of free-access studios. Some of these were iniated to explore and discuss specific social contexts, such as the Coronation Court project in Liverpool.

Coronation Court is one the oldest housing flats in Liverpool and was about to undergo a major refurbishment when Superstudio was installed. The project dealt specifically with the concept of empowerment because the studio was used as a tool for tenants to discuss issues such as the maintenance, renovations and the rent. They developed a medium that could not only amplify these issues, but had also the potential to create a community that, by its union, was able to participate in the decision making of the building and – on another level – create social cohesion inside the building.

A couple of things intrigue me about this project. First of all, the fact that Superflex has created a playful and simple concept which radically diverts the power of communication and distribution from television studios to their clients: the viewer. And secondly, the position that Superflex takes up as artists. They have limited their role to providing and maintaining the tool and have never interfered in the production of content by its users. This position, I think, is essential to reach the full potential of the conceptual device.

Currently there are around 33 studios worldwide, and around 30.000 shows have been broadcasted.

N55 / conceptual devices

There is a logical relation between persons and the rights of persons. Persons should be treated as persons and therefore as having rights. If we deny this assertion it goes wrong: here is a person, but this person should not be treated as a person, or: here is a person, who should be treated as a person, but not as having rights. Therefore we can only talk about persons in a way that makes sense if we know that persons have rights.

The above text is by the Danish art group N55. As you can tell from it, N55 deals with empowerment. Similar to art groups such as Superflex, Learning Group, but also Joost Conijn and Antonio Scarponi (contributor on this blog) they produce works that function as tools, vehicles (or conceptual devices as Antonio calls them, if I’m not mistaking, maybe Antonio would be interested in explaining more how he defines this idea!) that become meaningful and create content when they are being used. “To use” changes the art-audience into participants or users, and as a result the works directly engage into daily life as such.

N55 produced a huge amount of these tools/devices/vehicles: a home hydroponic unit which enables persons to produce their own food; a soil factory with which users can produce soil out of their garbage; all kinds of crazy modular living units that can be easily rebuild and transported and take up social life in public space as its locus (Public things, picture below).
The last years they have been creating ‘manuals’. In these projects they don’t create any physical objects but rather instructions for better use of leftover materials, space or practices. I love this idea of not producing anything, it’s very sustainable (there is enough trash in the world already) and it puts more focus on the using and the social dimensions of the works. Two ongoing works are particularly thought provoking: ROOMS and LAND (picture above). They both consist of a list of land and rooms that is free to use. In the words of N55:
LAND gives access to land. Any person can stay at land and use it.

Very simple, very effective and there are currently around 20 lots of LAND available, some at remote areas, some in the middle of big cities.
Please use.

Ps. You can download a very extensive and beautiful catalogue of N55 here.

Recent articles

“Veiling the unveiled truth”: the conceptual art of Silvio Berlusconi
Published August 3, 2008 by Antonio Scarponi

We all know that the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is a man of talents. First of all he is a man of spectacle, a perfect actor from the old school. He is able to dance, sing and his practical jokes are famous world wide [...] We all know these skills, but recently in two occasion he demonstrated also to have great talent as conceptual artist.
Made in Sweden
Published July 9, 2008 by Trial and error

On a recent journey we visited two well-known Asian landmarks: The Chinese Dragon Gate and the Royal Thai Pavilion, both located in remote places in Sweden.
From motorcycles to 3,5 million pieces of art
Published July 3, 2008, 2008 by Marja Salaspuro and Sergio Davila

Can classical conservative museum structure keep its historically layered architecture, rooms, collections and objects – and still attract the interest of the modern visitors, mainstream tourists and experience seeking travelers? A philosophical reconsideration around the purpose of museums in our era and the architect’s role as a curator.

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