Assignment EX1B for the Mobile Media and Media Ecologies module.
I don’t know if an outdoor installation should be considered an inventive public space media project but at least it shows a great example how can be difficult to produce an artwork or a creative project in public space and what kind of unpredictable outputs can produce it.
This is the story: In December 2009 the artist and musician Carsten Nicolai produced pioner ii a big outdoor artwork in Piazza Plebiscito, in Naples (Italy). It consisted in a series of three large balloons moored with metal cylinders on the piazza, internal 12 kw light sources and a real-time system that produced sounds according to the seismic activity of the Mount Vesuvius, a volcano from where the city of Naples extended to the sea.
According to the artist’s words
the work pionier II has been especially designed and developed for the public space project on piazza plebiscito. a number of enlightened large-scale helium balloons hover above the piazza, fixed to large metal cylinders the ground via strong wire are free to sway in the wind. the scenery is completed by an underlying sound played through several loudspeakers installed throughout the piazza. it will be generated by a transfer of seismic movements caused by the volcano mount vesuvius. the installation occupies with the the interaction of artificial and natural elements – directly referring to the antagonism of the city and its natural environment – to express how difficult it is to achieve stable conditions and how easily a system might be undermined or contradicted [C. Nicolai, pioner ii, http://www.carstennicolai.de website information, 2009].
As I really appreciate almost a lot of Nicolai’s works, this one sounds and looks awesome to me. The way he uses different media (also in a kind of logical opposition) it is a interesting way to force and trick perception to follow other paths (in this case a flying object that emits light and loudspeakers that produce sounds according to the seismic deep earth activity).
BUT WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THREE DAYS?
Well, how I can say, Interactivity maybe??
This is an image:
What happened exactly?
There are few noises about it and an official note.
According to the Italian newspaper “La repubblica”, these flying balloons had been removed by the city council for public safety problems; in fact it seemed that some kids just tried to put them down by shooting with slings and other weapons. Beside some consideration about the lack of consideration of some people of art object as iteself, i don’t want to take an ethical position about the failing (is a true failure?) of this installation (also if according some sources this artwork was produced with public money, in an area that suffers from poor environmental and social condition since decades). Anyway I think that this could be considered a good example of levels of interactiveness of an artwork in a public space.
I have just few questions to make. Can we talk in this case about unwanted interactivity? And what is a public space (in different places)? What about artwork in public spaces then? Should a public artwork be interactive now? Do people expect interaction?
Anyway more recent news talked that the real reason of this quick end are meteorological related as the winds were too strong for the stability of the balloons.
PS. Also if this post could seem a bit against Nicolai’s works and Neapolitans and Naples city, this is not my intention and my opinion, actually. Naturally it is just a starting point for a consideration about the topic of the assignment. I really appreciate how Naples is investing money and efforts in contemporary art activities and actually it is one the most growing cultural places in Italy and in Europe, despite the dramatic social situation. I don’t forget the Piazza Plebiscito has been the scenario for other public space artworks, like Anish Kapoor’s Taratantara, realized in 2000 (and originally created for the Baltic, Gateshead, but then presented in Naples).