Texts

 

The Screen and the Door Works by Fabrizio Giannini

 it I en I fr

The life cycle of a media image has three stages: appearance, impregnation, disappearance. This process is identical for any image, what changes is the frequency with which images appear and the period in which they remain impressed on an individual’s consciousness. Memory is thought to be selective. The most efficient ways of transmitting information are what marketing strategies are looking for.

Fabrizio Giannini travels on the surface of his computer and television screens, immersing himself in a flow of information homogamous and antagonistic, frivolous or serious, engaged in a furious battle. Making use now of first one, then a different image that attracts or interests him because of the importance of its power of synthesis of grouping. His work becomes an area of negotiation between private sensibility and the surrounding culture. Giannini reproduces for example, in partly modified form, the best known logos of the biggest brand names (Global, 2002-2003), placing the observer immediately in front of images that he recognizes. In a series of more intimate works, which he has been working on for a number of years, he creates on paper images from sitcoms, from films and from television programmes, carrying them into a new context – the walls of an art centre or of a gallery – in the form of small, airy compositions. Their specific plot reveals their origin. These images, deprived of the movement the originally made them part of a message, now appear deprived of any sense of territoriality”[1].

Appearance

In the context of contemporary media, each appearance presupposes a disappearance: one image crushes another, occupying the scene for a brief moment, before being discarded. Even though they have the same constitution and the same omnipresent quality (appearing at exactly the same moment on millions of screens) not all media images possess the same symbolic power in the consciousness of the spectator-consumer. Those of the logo, the identifying symbol of a brand name, will be stronger and more powerful the more the abstract entity to which they make reference have acquired importance in the collective imagination. And this importance will depend on dimensions such as consistency, connivance and seduction.

Logos have become our Proustian madelaines, complex horizons in which the values of identification, of appearance, of seduction, of power, of sovereignty are articulated. Reproducing the logos of a number of famous brands, Giannini impregnates his work with their sacred aura. The famous advertisement for Pepsi Cola comes to mind: “The scene takes place in the sky. A man is surfing through the air. The plane that launched him has disappeared. A wild goose reaches the man. Together they execute the most amazing acrobatics. The man opens a can of Pepsi and lets the liquid spill into a long floating ribbon in the air. The bird, behind him, catches the liquid in its beak and, no longer thirsty, flies away from the man to join a flock of geese, who then join up to form the PEPSI logo in the sky” [2]. By showing the logo at the end of the film Pepsi signs the whole sequence. It signs the sky, the birds, freedom, imagination and the perfection implied in a succession of marvelous animated sequences. Looking at a popular logo implies soaking up all the promises that it contains. But at the same time, in a time when there is total war between brand names, it means being aware of manipulation, of special interest groups and unscrupulous marketing strategies. Power always has a dark side. The works in the Global series illustrate this.

The Screen and the Door

In 1918 Guillaume Apollinaire invented the calligramme, “a poem, the verses of which are positioned so as to create an image of the subject of the text” [3]. Originally the calligramme was a poem, but above all a means of short circuiting the specificity of the poem, its evocative freedom. However, is not the image imposed by the calligramme an obstacle to the free poetic association of the reader? In this sense, the calligrammes created by Fabrizio Giannini are a metaphor for the strategy enacted by brand names : the transformation of the poetry of our lives into a filmed advertisement, showing us, on our television screens or on the pages of our favourite magazines, the exact name of the product that will lead us to happiness.

Giannini’s calligrammes are poems for the technological era. Recomposing well-known images (The Twin Towers, portraits, logos) that have already been transformed into one means of communication (the internet) via a specific typographical font organized by a dedicated computer programme, Giannini evokes the coded dimension of our relationship with reality, and as is the case with most of our knowledge about all aspects of life, this derives from media of different kinds. As is the case with calligrammes, almost all media host both text and images.

Declaration: each image written into a strategy of seduction and adhesion articulates within itself a double imagery: the screen and the door. The first is the objective space of the information, on which the spectacle of the product is depicted in great detail. The second is the space designed to capture the observer, who is encouraged to mentally cross the screen in order to acquire the seductive values on show, and to subsequently confirm his adhesion with a concrete gesture from real life (buying a product, taking part in a demonstration). The works by Fabrizio Giannini, however, disturb the whole scenario. By definition, art should have nothing to sell but itself (the disinterested end as defined by Kant). On the aesthetic plane, moreover, the logos in the Global series imply a distance from their original references, portraying in only approximate fashion the original shapes and colours. With regard to their spectral quality, as calligrammes , this connotes an obscure and intense universe of computer science coding, that brings to mind the world of the hackers (specialists in the art of manipulation). These modified logos distance themselves from the values and the seductive qualities of the originals allowing us access to their qualities as constructed objects.

Metamorphosis

The spectral dimension of the works of Giannini is more evident in his series of portraits (Portraits, 2002-2003), that no longer conform to the strict definition of the calligramme (the text is no longer comprehensible). But, on another level, they conform excessively and throw cold light onto the condition of mankind in the technological era. Our memories have become those of our computers. The alignment of typographical characters that creates the faces of anonymous individuals is nothing more than a succession of contingent ciphers, letters and symbols similar to the ciphers, letters and symbols as they search for web addresses. Everyone adapts, everyone transforms. These portraits, with their indistinct outlines, are a metaphor for our lives that are dematerialized in the System.

Gauthier Huber (1971) has been director of the space La Plage – contemporary art. He is also editor of the das Kunst-Bulletin, and is a contributor to art press. He lives and works in Neuchâtel.

[1] One strange item:  The “original” territory of these images is in sharp contrast to the concept of territory due to being that of a virtual space (television); but in reality is more real than a gallery (territory “of arrival”) due to the relative conditioning of the images transmitted.

[2] Nicolas Riou, “Pub Fiction”, Editions de l’Organisation, Paris, 2002 (p. 65)

[3] Le Robert quotidien, 1996