PhDr. Vlasta Čiháková Noshiro /CZ/ - art historian, Gallery of Critics Prague

This is so called collateral project of the 54th International Biennale of Contemporary Art in Venice – La Biennale di Venezia. The project Outside Itself is curated by Alanna Weiss, founder of  P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in New York, and selected by director of the International Exhibition  ILLUMInations, Bice Curiger, into the biennale section of collateral events.

Benátky / Arsenale Novissimo / Nappa 90

4. 6. – 30. 09. 2011


Federico Díaz is a renowned artist of Czech-Argentine origine, living and working in Prague. He creates for the 54 year´s biennale a self-reproducing, site – specific and interactive installation, in the hall of 500 years old port docks of Venician Arsenale. Díaz developped a computor program, and with the help of robotic machines is creating an object, responding on the light and shadow transformation in the site of installation. The installation object grows and morphs its shape like a vivid organism. It consists of thousands of black spheres of pingpong ball size, which are sticked together and layered by two robots, specially adjusted on the basis of mathemathical program and analysis of ultrared rays of light, into a variable composition shape. The object is formed in accordance with a change of light into shadow, upon constant flowing of many visitors, who cross the ground, intensively illuminated from the light projectors. Each sphere represents one light photon. Optical sensors are monitoring the light fall on the ground, making records of data flow and informations about the light changes on the site for the sake of robot´s instructions. The data of light intensity differs accordingly to the time passage of day or night, then also to the number of visitors, who differently move on the installation ground, being dressed in the clothes of different colors. Since each their movement, each color of their dress, expressing also their psychical state of mind, differently absorbs or reflects the light. Thus the installation fully depends on the number, movement and reaction of people, who are arriving on the ground. If nobody comes, the object does not grow up. Sensors remain untouched and robots produce the only pure space, without arising any dynamical form. Fortunately, this problem does not occurr, as the installation is daily attended by 500 visitors in average, who are actively engaged into the creation of object. When arriving on the lightened ground, they are fascinated by their own shadow,  which appears as a visible trace of their own steps on the ground and in a real time. These shadows of visitors create a map of movements, which is daily evaluated by algorithm, to enable robots to start working and building object just from these crosspoints of walking people. As result, there is an addition of one sphere for each 26 seconds, so the daily growth means some 2000 spheres. The growth of object is scheduled for 4 month duration of exhibition, thus at the end of September, when the exhibition terminates, the final formation of installation would embody some 250 000 spheres.  On this occasion of  the mass visited 54th biennale, having as the main exhibition theme ILLUMInations, ie. exactly and also metaphorically translated as „Light“ and „Nations“, the visitors of all possible nations of the world will affect on the final shape of Diaz´s  work, giving to this work a super-national, global significance.


The installation Outside Itself  represents a new evolution phase of the artist´s work, which was created at the end of year 2010, for MASS MoCA, Museum of Contemporary Art in Massachussets. The installation titled Geometric Death Frequency-141 is located until spring 2012 at the courtyard in front of museum entrance, and people say that succesfully resists even to the tornados. It is made out of the same black spheres as in Venice, assembled by robotic machines into an asymetric shape of wave, closed into a virtual container, 15 meters long and 6 meters high. The data, used for spheres, forming their position, were generated from optical analysis of the digital photograph of the museum clock-tower entry. A three-dimensional rendering of the digital data, the undulating sculpture „splashed“ the spheres as high as the museum´s second story. MASS MoCA director Joseph C.Thompson aptly called Díaz „the ultimate shape shifter“.


Díaz´s sense of originality gives to the interactive project in Venice a visionary significance. Thanks to the immediate reflexion of surroundings and to the interaction of visitors, the work becomes an infinitely vivid organism, symbolizing an independent community. The object currently reflects all in around. Then the robots present some stretched hand of our senses, excessing our body limits, similarly to our society, using new technologies to simulate or stipulate experiences, also to create new informative networks as well. New technologies rely upon to communicate and achieve what the body cannot – to go beyond, to go „outside“ of oneself. New form of variable biomorphical architecture is born and reflects an autoorganisative flow of movements and behaviour of people in their momentary state of mind. In its informative sense it would serve in the future to the creation of new forms of life and new social infrastructure.

Federico Díaz engages himself in the interaction and intercommunication of people already many years. He has developped a range of extraordinary interactive projects, for example Generatrix, Mnemeg, Resonance, Sakura, Sembion and others. He exhibited them at many international exhibitions and institutions as Institute of Contemporary Arts/ICA or Royal Institute of British Architects in London, Algorithmic Revolution in ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe,  Fondation Electricité de France in Paris, Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, and the International Museum Night of Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. One of his first excellent works Generatrix was awarded by Special Prize at Milano Europe, Futuro Presente 2001. Then Díaz was awarded Premio Internazionale “Lorenzo il Magnifico” at the Firenze Biennale of Contemporary Art in 2007, in the category of new media, for the project Sakura (2005). In USA he was presented first time in 2008 with the installation Ultra in open public space, as part of the exhibition of MOMA/PS.1, Art Basel at Miami Beach. Last year he was nominated to represent Czech Republic at EXPO 2010 in Shanghai, where he exhibited LacrimAu, a sensorically monitored object of a massive human tear, covered by 24 carate gold, in the interactive installation in the Czech Pavilion. This object is exhibited now at the Smetana´s Art Litomyšl Festival in the New Church of Czech Brothers for the sake of social help to the poor children and seniors of ethnical minorities. The artist´s motto is expressed in his Manifest Nero – Art is art so far, if it is not created by human hand.


Vlasta Čiháková Noshiro, art critic

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