XR Artist: Giovanni Santini
Date: Date: 03.09.2022, Sat
Time: 3:30pm – 5:00pm
In the common sense, technology is intended as innovation in the domain of machines, electronics or anything that can be automated in some ways. What is not captured in this idea is a broader extent of the concept. We can see technology as the human seek for new capabilities, that the generations before could not exploit or imagine. Technology has as an etymological root the ancient Greek τέχνη (techne), which among its multiple meanings presents “technique”, but also “art” and “craft”. In a broad sense, I consider the overused slogan “art tech” as “art art” or “art craft”. I see in the new developments of innovation nothing but the tools for a new, possibly strong, way of expression. In this sense, the piano is technology as much as a VR headset.
I see myself as an XR (Extended Realities) artist, who expresses himself in the domains of Virtual Reality (VR, the capability to create virtual world) and Augmented Reality (AR, the capability to merge virtual and real world). At the same time, I am a musician, trained as composer and pianist.
The program of this concert is divided in two parts. In the first part, I present for the first time three AR compositions for augmented piano in Augmented Reality, Studi sulla realtà nuova (Etudes on the new real). In those pieces, I use virtual objects to extend the technical capabilities of the piano, creating a meta-instrument which can produce acoustic as well as spatialized electronic sounds. Those virtual objects are not treated as mere additional keys, but rather as creatures with their own behavior. The realization is made possible by a software, developed by me, which uses an AR headset to bring the virtual into the real world. The immersivity is recreated for the audience with multiple projections presenting different points of view, creating multiple layers of reality.
In the second part, I will play Italia, a well-known group of compositions from the Romantic repertoire. It is the second book (or “year”) of Années de Pèlegrinage (Years of Pilgrimage), a cycle composed by Liszt in 1835-1838.
The two parts can be seen as different worlds, one looking forward, the other one backwards. However, I find a strong connection. If we consider technology as a form of craft that enables new ways of expression, then the piano technique developed by Liszt was nothing else than a piece of technology, built on top of another piece of technology (the piano). And that technology was realised by an artist who worked at the same time at a conceptual, technical and artistic level, with full control over every component. We are in the age of “art tech”, where different professionals work on their own part, assembling the components like a puzzle to deliver the final work. As an alternative to that, the strive to recover that level of craft is of deep value to me.
The title of this concert is Wanderer of realities. The wanderer is a topos in Romantic literature. We could describe it as a traveler with no clear destination, for whom the voyage itself is the aim. It resembles the Romantic effort to transcend the limit and to face the ineffable. The pilgrimage, in Liszt, has clear proximity to that topos. In a broader sense, Augmented Reality is also a “wandering” technology, unstably oscillating between real and imaginary. And the path of the concert itself, from virtually augmented to real piano, describes another voyage.
Italian Cultural Institute of Hong Kong