Italiano [English below]
Sono onorato di avere avuto l’occasione di presentare le mie ricerche anche in Canada, invitato da ArtSci Salon, dal Fields Institute for Mathematical Studies dell’Università di Toronto, dall’Ambasciata d’Italia e dall’Istituto Italiano di Cultura, per partecipare a vari eventi (conferenze, performance, tavole rotonde, ecc.) collegati dall’argomento “Emergent Form” (qui un post precedente con il programma). Questi eventi hanno visto la partecipazione di artisti, scienziati, teorici e tecnologi in varie sedi in due città, Toronto (10-13 Aprile) e Ottawa (14 Aprile).
I miei interventi hanno avuto luogo il 10 Aprile a Toronto, presso il Fields Institute for Mathematical Studies, con la presentazione intitolata “The three lives of Homo (Sapiens)^2”, e il 14 Aprile a Ottawa, presso il National Arts Centre, con la presentazione “The emerging true life of artforms”, entrambe seguite da tavole rotonde. È stata anche l’occasione di incontrare amici e colleghi con cui discutere le ricerche che da diversi anni sto portando avanti.
Dunque voglio ringraziare Roberta Buiani e Stephen Morris di ArtSci Salon e del Fields Institute for Mathematical Studies, che hanno organizzato gli eventi, gli attachés delle istituzioni italiane coinvolte, che li hanno reso possibili. E tutti gli straordinari partecipanti, tra i quali voglio ricordare almeno Marco Donnarumma e Margherita Pevere, con cui ho condiviso i temi che pervadono i loro lavori e la vetrina italiana, Charles Sowers e le sue meravigliose installazioni sulla natura e Ron Wild, con i suoi “collage” digitali densi e stratificati tra arte e scienza. Alla fine degli eventi è emersa l’idea di pubblicare un resoconto degli eventi, mi auguro davvero che si possa fare!
I am honored for the opportunity to present my research also in Canada, invited by ArtSci Salon, The Fields Institute for Mathematical Studies, University of Toronto, the Italian Embassy in Canada, the Italian Institute of Culture, to participate to a series of events connected with the topic “Emergent Form”. These events saw the participation of artists, scientists, theorists and technologists in various locations in two cities, Toronto (10-13 April) and Ottawa (14 April).
My speeches took place on April 10th in Toronto, at the Fields Institute for Mathematical Studies, with the presentation “The three lives of Homo (Sapiens)^2”, and on April 14th in Ottawa, at the National Arts Center, with the presentation “The emerging true life of artforms”, both followed by round tables. It was also an opportunity to meet friends and colleagues to discuss the research that I have been carrying out for several years.
So I want to thank Roberta Buiani and Stephen Morris of ArtSci Salon and the Fields Institute for Mathematical Studies, who organized the events, the attachés of the involved Italian Institutions, that made them possible. I want also thank all the extraordinary participants, among them Marco Donnarumma and Margherita Pevere, with whom I shared the topics that pervade their works and the Italian showcase, Charles Sowers and his wonderful installations on nature and Ron Wild, with his digital dense and stratified “collages” between art and science. At the end of the events emerged the idea of publishing a documentation, I really hope that it can be done!
Scientific and technological evolution seems leading to an extension of the idea of life, from the organic ecosystem with plants and animals to a landscape with very different subjects, organic, inorganic and mixed. Some of them are really here, some others are just promised, but they seem to identify a clear direction. Examples are: inorganic immaterial entities from Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Life, autonomous agents and algorithms; inorganic material entities, such as increasingly sophisticated machines, devices and robots; artificial and expanded organisms obtained by creating, cloning and modifying natural subjects through synthetic life; artificial organisms newly created through Synthetic Biology and Genetics [Shapiro 2015]; hybrid entities that combine organic and inorganic elements, as in the field of bio-robotics; while de-extiction promises to revive extinct organisms.
The rise of symbolic intelligence in human ancestors generated an explosion of tools and artefacts that profoundly changed the interaction with the environment, shaping the anthropic world we know. According to McLuhan they are extensions of the body, of the senses and of the nervous system [McLuhan, 1964]. Sometimes we are in such a deep relation with machines that we can do with them what we have never been able to do with humans, for instance communicating with thought. But now it seems we are going beyond the extensions era, since these forms are growing increasingly complex and autonomous, and because of the anthropic environment’s pressure they are evolving as real living entities, organic, hybrid and inorganic. The Third Life does not arise from a general biological evolution but from the evolution of a particular species, expanding Nature from within its own domain. It is designed, created and selected by the anthropic sphere through a cultural process, from what it is called the “artificial”, that is the “natural” peculiar of human species. The more the anthropic sphere expands and develops, the more the Third Life will proliferate and evolve [Capucci 2009, 2013].
The Third Life started operating with the symbolic acquisition. There is a trace of it in Religions and Myths’ Gods and heroes, in unicorns and dragons, centaurs and chimeras, cyclopes and sirens, in the wonderful Medieval bestiary, in the super heroes… Many of these legendary creatures are still living today in movies and in the human imaginary. But the dream of really creating life has been pervading all the human history worldwide, from machines and automata to robots and biological organisms.
Humans have always been influenced and inspired by the living, trying to represent, simulate and emulate it. We have been copying life and Nature’s appearance and behaviour in images, design, architecture, tools, devices, machines, and since prehistory we have been modifying and creating life, giving birth to new varieties of animals and plants by crossbreeding the existing ones or engineering new ones, recently through Genetics and Synthetic Life.
In the arts which deal with Nature and life it is possible to identify three main operating functions. More than independent, alternative and unrelated art states, they should be considered as constituting a bunch of functions, that can coexist and cooperate, similarly to the functions that Roman Jakobson developed in the field of linguistics. In the first operating function, that from the prehistoric body paintings arrives to today’s art, fashion and design, Nature and life are being represented as formal simulations. This is, for instance in traditional painting and sculpture, in simulations like photography and related techniques, and in the many computer-based simulations. The second art function Nature and life appear as behavioural simulations, like for instance in some algorithmic applications, in the generative arts, in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Life based arts. In the third operating function, Nature and life can constitute themselves the matter and the processes of the artwork, that becomes a complex living construct, that often mixes organic and inorganic elements.