Casa Degli Artisti | MYCELIUMINDS
Project conceived by Matteo Domenichetti
curated by Milovan Farronato
Casa degli Artisti, Milano
Thursday 20 January 2022,7p.m. (19.00)
Presentation of project with performative discussion
MyceliuMinds, an unpublished project conceived by Matteo Domenichetti and curated by Milovan Farronato, will be presented at the Casa degli Artisti di Milano on Thursday 20 January 2022 at 7 p.m. (19.00) with a performative discussion between the designer and artist Domenichetti, and Farronato, an independent curator. In the words of Domenichetti and Farronato, the project is situated “in a fruitful and slippery borderland between the natural sciences and art, speculative technology and nautical dreaming”.
MyceliuMinds employs a cross-media, cross-disciplinary, performative, interactive and militant approach dealing with the theme of so-called “surveillance capitalism”, i.e. the type of capitalism that has made human experience, now quantified and exportable, into free raw material for concealed commercial practices.
The discussion is the starting point of an artist’s residency which foresees more public occasions in the coming months, where the theme and thesis of the project will be performed in a live version of the video trilogy which is the heart of it, and the proposal to the public to initiate a dissident practice, i.e. the “Swinging Club”, which consists in friends and acquaintances swapping profiles: a simple, but not innocuous, game, which, if continued on a large scale would have destabilising consequences, where algorithms would go crazy, making the “profile swappers” unpredictable targets. To paraphrase one of the videos in the trilogy, Farronato will play the role of the psychoanalyst in the framework of a screenplay specifically re-created thanks to collaboration with artists sympathetic to the logic and objectives of the project.
The discussion will take place on a three-dimensional stage painted by Paolo Gonzato as part of his ongoing series “Out of Stock”, which on this occasion will take advantage of the faces generated by the site ThisPersonDoesNotExist. The walls of the scenery will also display works by: Katharina Fritsch, Celia Hempton, Katharina Grosse,Goshka Macuga, Enrico David, Daniele Milvio, Riccardo Paratore, Prem Sahib and Thea Djordjadze.
Domenichetti and Farronato first met in January 2019 during an event by Gucci, where the former has been working as a designer since 2017. During lockdown they decided to leave the city and rent an isolated house in the midst of the countryside in the Oltrepò Pavese area where both of them come from. Their new home was immediately seen as a place for experimentation and meeting people, a laboratory of fertile encounters that came to life through visits from artists and friends, thanks to whom the embryo of the project MyceliuMinds soon took on a choral and collective dimension made up of generous collaboration and intense exchanges of ideas.
Domenichetti first heard about the concept of mycelium from Farronato, who in 2014, in Rabka Zdròj, Poland, together with the artist Paulina Olowska, had conceived of a series of performative events based on an investigation into the life of fungi and the possibility of creating interconnections, inspired by Grotowski’s Poor Theatre.
The project’s theses are displayed in a trilogy of videos, in which everything that happens manifests itself as a lucid dream and in which a dream character, P.O., makes his appearance. The videos are presented as though produced by three famous journals, whose names have been twisted.
The first video shows a crossroads, of which the last two represent possible outcomes. In the former, presented as a fashion editorial in the magazine “Dogue”, Mark Zuckerberg, interpreted by the artist Sagg Napoli, goes to see his psychoanalyst, interpreted by Milovan Farronato, and tells the story of a nightmare he has had: a character with a dog mask (P.O.) appeared to some kids on a mountain and started to talk about the pollution of the virtual ecosystem by tech companies furtively gathering data, and about surveillance and manipulation mechanisms.
The canine proposed the solution of radical collaboration, defining it “the path of diplomatic-fiction”, but then his shadow intervened, suggesting instead a dissident practice to shake the whole system, the path of “techno-resistance”. In the fictional narrative, Zuckerberg tells his analyst that he had the nightmare after seeing the Instagram page Canis_in_Somno, a public profile that has existed for some months and on which a series of contents and collaboration have been exhibited.
The page is presented as a dream landscape created on top of a plagiarised profile of Mark Zuckerberg, whose posts have been infected by interferences and by the superimposing of videos presenting talks by dissident activists, scientists and other charismatic individuals. Chosen from amongst the various figures of Silicon Valley linked to the mechanisms of surveillance capitalism, Mark Zuckerberg is used as the icon for the artistic elaboration of the project. In the folds of the profile, twelve posters by international artists also open up, created specifically for the page and inspired by the project conceived by Domenichetti. The artists who have collaborated with posters are Enrico David, Maria Loboda, Sergio Breviario, Prem Sahib, George Henry Longly, Mathilde Rosier, Sissi, Christian Holstad, Camille Henrot, Goshka Macuga, Christodoulos Panayiotou, Beatrice Marchi and Paulina Olowska.
A vast mycelium architecture painted by the artist Paulina Olowska creates the link between the various parts. A selection of contemporary artworks also appears in the studio of Farronato’s psychoanalyst, all carefully selected, with nothing left to chance.
From the introduction two different endings are accessed, in one of which it is the dream character who speaks whilst in the other it is his shadow. The shadow presents his dissident solution from the pages of a DC Comics cartoon (an acronym which in this case stands for “Dream Characters”). A series of famous people sensitive to the cause also appear. The shadow talks of profiling, the mechanism according to which an increasingly accurate profile is attached to every user, on the basis of the tastes s/he displays and the choices s/he makes on the app. The whole of surveillance capitalism is sustained by profiling. The dissident practice suggested here is called “Swinging Club” and consists in friends and acquaintances swapping profiles: a simple, but not innocuous, game, which, if continued on a large scale would have destabilising consequences, where the algorithms would go crazy, making the “swappers” unpredictable targets.
In the second ending, P.O. presents instead the vision of a free and fluid macro-app protected from surveillance: Mycelium. The metaphor used for imagining this macro-app is, in fact, the mycelium, the labyrinth-like, filiform substance of the mushroom, an ecological connective tissue that connects the plants one to another allowing them to communicate chemically in what is known as the “wood wide web”. This second ending somehow suggests a radical but more diplomatic institutionalisation of the swapping practice through an app built like a mycelium, protected, subterranean and which connects adventurously to various social networks as though they were plants, so as to see the forest from all possible angles and no longer from a single, standard perspective.