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    Title: Maurizio Bolognini. Infinity out of Control: Programmed Machines 1990-2005 / L'Infinito fuori controllo: Macchine programmate 1990-2005
    Date: 2005
    64 pgs, cm. 28
    Edited by: Sandra Solimano
    Language: English/Italian
    Publisher: Museo di Arte Contemporanea Villa Croce
    Neos, Genova
    ISBN: 88-87262-47-0

"Non mi considero un artista che crea certe immagini e nemmeno soltanto un artista concettuale, ma uno che con le sue macchine ha effettivamente tracciato più linee di chiunque altro, coprendo superfici sconfinate. Non m’interessa la qualità delle immagini prodotte dalle mie installazioni, ma il loro flusso, la loro illimitatezza nello spazio e nel tempo, la possibilità di creare universi d’informazione paralleli, fatti di chilometri d’immagini e traiettorie infinite. Le mie installazioni servono a generare delle infinità fuori controllo." "I do not consider myself an artist who creates certain images and I am not merely a conceptual artist. I am one whose machines have actually traced more lines than anyone else, covering boundless surfaces. I am not interested in the formal quality of the images produced by my installations but rather in their flow, their limitlessness in space and time, the possibility of creating parallel universes of information, made up of kilometres of images and infinite trajectories. My installations serve to generate out-of-control infinities."

"When I stand before a work by Maurizio Bolognini I feel: of course it doesn’t matter how I feel, but what does matter is the fact that, contrary to the conviction of what one would call the de-subjectivised, de-passionalised ambit of this post-electronic age, I feel.
When I say "it doesn’t matter", this does not mean that Maurizio Bolognini's work embodies perfectly the presumed emptiness of meaning and the infinitely multiple possibility of interpretation. It can in fact mean that, not too old and thus not yet forgetful as I am (unlike the new unhappy critics), I remember, that he makes me remember. […] I see as in a flash the gesture carried out around that time of showing the unshowable, as in the exhibitions le vide and le plein held in Paris at the Gallerie Iris Clert by artists who still thought that the product and not the concept represented the great future challenge. Maurizio Bolognini, on the other hand, who also thinks of the present world - techno-productive, hard and soft - works at a "decisional" level. He is "political". He handles machines, software, contexts and possibly people, constituting a paradoxical pattern of "modes of use", and only at the end (at the end of the decision and once the action has been made) will he perhaps clarify or give a glimpse of the non-sense that belongs as much to the work as to the appointed place. […] 
Certainly with Museophagia (the artist "exhibits" everything that is given in one particular place, stripping it of its function, then packing it up and exhibiting everything in other places of the planned tour), with his Machines (using stochastic software to program computers and leaving them to work without monitors, while - invisibly - creating random images of various square kilometres) […], Maurizio Bolognini is a thousand times heteronymous: he is at the same time Erik Satie (what is the form of your work? the form of a pear", he replied), Marcel Duchamp (Heros Sèlavy: eros is life), Sergio Lombardo ("project for death by poisoning"), Carlo Emilio Gadda (who, asked about the tendencies of recent literature, replied: I tend to my end, I tend to a brutal deformation of the themes which destiny decided to propose to me as formed things and objects"), etc.
In short, what in the avant-gardes and the neo-avantgardes was the ironic psychological challenge to mechanism and automatism culminated in the existentialist years of the twentieth century, in the scandal of the negation of being and the identified place (man, museum, gallery, city), in Bolognini becomes something eponymous (himself), the kind reduction of the ensemble of his calculating machines into a flock, into an entity which is useless and worthless if we are not there to direct it. A creator, or artist, is a person who institutes a mode of use of the world or of the machine: responding lightly and without fear to the bewildering condition which inevitably (and fortunately) sooner or later presents itself to us. 
So don’t close your eyes, please! Allow the machine its innocent operations - silently and blindly."

(from Simonetta Lux, Silently and blindly)

" I am curious about Maurizio Bolognini as the artist who rejects art as an eternal system of values in our accelerating information-based globalized culture. I am interested in his implicit critique of art, in his desire to reject what today substantiates a vapid, seemingly flawless marketing agenda where the names of a few blue-chip artists constantly rise to the forefront of our attention and become the subject of a pandering discourse. I cannot help but wonder about Bolognini's purposeful, yet heretical claims for the disappearance of art. His non-art position disclaims the territory reserved for the subject, for the creative energy that stops and starts relative to the psychological and other related contextual circumstances of the emotions. Furthermore, I am interested in the end of art as a phenomenon, again coming out of northern Italy a century after Marinetti disclaimed the role of nature in art as a mimetic factor in favour of machinery. I find Bolognini's conceptual appeal as an extended rejection of this factor - from industry to post-industry to the age of information.
Ever since I wrote a short essay for Italian art magazine "Tema Celeste", called The Investment Power of Amnesia (1992), which later became the basis of a book published in New York, called The End of the Art World (1998), the signals have been pointing more and more in the direction of art at the service of investment, subsumed under a somewhat mindless and repetitive rhetoric, that is entirely programmed and media-driven to the extent that artists can no longer function as artists. The daily stock exchange has proven an adequate model to usurp the territory of art-conscious spectacles, meaning that artists today allow themselves to be caught in a netscape of image-making, of bits and bytes, if they have any aspiration toward continuing sales. I cannot help but see Bolognini's SMSMS (Short Message Service Mediated Sublime) as a kind of necessary provocation to thwart the machinery of the culture industry, as once described by Adorno, that has become ironically concurrent with the rise of multiculturalism and cultural globalization. I see Bolognini's overall point as to re-focusing attention on the problematic of art in the face of computer technologies that appear to be making conventional ideas of advanced art - both as production and distribution - irrelevant (at least from the perspective of the public domain which is, of course, commercial media).
[...] I think that any truly innovation idea in art - including politics and economics - cannot subsist without some form of internal critique, and that the most effective forms of internal critique might be instigated from outside the loop; that is, outside the container where the program is stored. Through the process of mediation, the inside reflects the outside. If I understand this phenomenon correctly, it is called media ecology: There is no effect without a cause. Thus when Bolognini stores his algorithms into computer sigillati or "sealed computers," we are told that the information is running through variations of time and number but that the linear constructs are not visible. They are sealed within, outside of visibility.
The method, in some sense, resembles the early works of American conceptualist Robert Barry who in 1968 put his 90 mc Carrier Wave (FM) piece into an empty gallery and in 1969 placed his Cesium 137 (0.51 MEV Beta Energy) radiation into another gallery. In each case, there were no visible signs of the work. Whether we are talking about Bolognini's "sealed computers" - with more than 200 in existence since 1992 - or Barry's Carrier wave or Radiation pieces from the late sixties, the concept is important issue. Here we are allowed to re-focus the problematic of art, top art outside of its marketing production and distribution systems, and to examine it afresh - in the realm of unperceived thought. When we deal with invisible reality as art - knowing that something is automatically being produced - we think of art in a different way. By conventional standards, it is the end of art as we know it; but it does not exclude the possibility to think art or to designate art in different terms.
As Witold Rybczynski has made clear in his book, Taming the Tiger: The Struggle to Control Technology (1983), it is not the technology itself that usurps culture. Rather it is the mind that observes and delegates its use. So when Bolognini talks about the new role of the artist as one who observes and delegates, I find it interesting. It comes closer to Moholy-Nagy's Light-Space Modulator (1922- 30) - abstract patterns that are produced through the effect of light bouncing off chrome and steel, filling the room with a kind of relaxed and tranquil ecstasy and effervescence. Why not? Is pleasure so exempt from art?
Bolognini has spoken of his "technological zoo." I like this. It suggests that sometime the animals in that zoo may be set free. But the time may not be now. To seal the computers, of course, is more philosophical, but this is important as well. This is the basis of creating an internal critique for art, and at times this is necessary - more than necessary, it is imperative. When the computers are sealed the context that surrounds their normative visibility is put into question. That time is right now." 

(from Robert C. Morgan, Maurizio Bolognini: the problematic of art)

"Maurizio Bolognini's work is located in the narrow edge zone that separates the subject's acceptance of, and surrender to, the preponderance of technology, from the residual determination to strive against it, which remains after all jubilatory human-centric self-illusion has been laid aside, in order to force technology to withdraw into itself, and to drive it somewhere beyond itself. 
He is in perfect harmony with all our work on the aesthetics of communication and the technological sublime. The use of technology has helped him give form to that sort of positive nihilism which must always have been his way of feeling the world. It is difficult today, even in the context of the most advanced of the so-called 'technological arts', to find another researcher so capable of responding with such rigour to the demands posed by the new technologies, and of identifying the possibilities for activating them in the aesthetic domain.
Bolognini is aware of two equal and contrary stimuli, and his work seeks continuously to reconcile them: on the one hand, there are the stimuli arsing out of the realisation that the technological sublime, which we have been talking about for a long time, is an incontrovertible fact of our present being in the world. He is well aware of the threat of excessive technology, which seems to result in the definitive and radical expropriation of the human, and he grasps its signs with his intellect and intuitive sensors. But another strong notion moves him and counteracts the first: if approached properly, the new sublime, which comes not from a natural excess but from an artificial production of the mind, makes its partial domestication possible. And this is what Bolognini is working at.
With regard to the synthetic image, for example, he accepts the fact that, as we put it, it appears "as a self-contained epiphany, that is, as a visual entity which is self-generating and has no relationship either with the imaginative life of the subject or with any type of natural or objective referent", lending instead all his attention to "the synthetic image as an implementation of a self-subsisting alterity [which] confirms the most complete achievement of human power and, in the last analysis, this is what is really offered to our admiring contemplation [...] the synthetic image confirms [therefore] the capacity we have acquired to produce sublimity in a controlled manner and to consume it in socialised and repeatable forms.
How can these two different statements be reconciled in what he produces? He understands that they are utterances that are only apparently contradictory and in fact both contain truths that need to be identified and shown. His Sealed Computers meet this requirement. The right way to force technology to take on aesthetic value is not to pointlessly trying to subject it to expression, to sentiment, to meaning and so on, but rather to force it ever more to withdraw into itself. Only a self-contained and self-transparent technological epiphany will be able in some way to have something to do with aesthetics. The non-image of sealed computers, spread out on the floor like organs awaiting transplant, and the non-images of lines tending to infinity which they trace represent the most rigorous and pitiless aesthetics of the machine. But not only the products of synthesis are forced in this way. As we know, the other strong aspect of the technological sublime is made up of the bustle of telecommunication or, more precisely, what we have called the communication block; and this too is made to withdraw into itself, to work in vain. In Short Message Service Mediated Sublime, a program enables a computer to receive and read SMS messages which arrive from cell phones owned by members of the public; all the messages are gradually inserted into a database and are transmitted to other software which in its turn is used to transform, on the basis of certain parameters, the messages received into a dynamic succession of abstract graphisms; these are then modified in real time by the arrival of new messages and as a consequence of the random modifications which they produce in the basic parameters. Certainly, many different notions are invoked and put to work here: the hyper-subject, randomness, the configuration, once again, of a non-image in real time, and so on. But one notion in particular is offered to our intellectual vision, and this is communication without information or, if you prefer, a pointless, gigantic and planetary statement: it works. " 

(from Mario Costa, Bolognini and the domestication of the sublime)

"Finding a definition for what, using a simplification, can be called Maurizio Bolognini's 'drawings' is a complex matter. His work is original and full of implications that go beyond art: he is conducting research into communication, the media, language. [...] And perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this research is the possibility of unlimitedness. In theory, the drawing designed by the artist and carried out by the machine could be infinite, covering kilometres and kilometres of walls, each different from the other. Bolognini starts from theoretical problems which he then resolves through his works. The artist, deus ex machina, creates an algorithm, a set of mathematical formulas defined in such a way as to achieve a certain result, which he inserts into the machine. We are in a borderline state between randomness and predictability. What the machine carries out is not always completely random. The artist exercises initial control by inserting the formula. All this contains an idea of utopia: the attempt to execute the largest image in the world [...] to create an image that stretches to the end of the world, to the end of space.
The "instructed" machines work in time; all Bolognini does is to start them off. Then they continue on their own, involving the temporal and spatial dimensions, tending towards a geographical vastness in which the image, the sign, become a process of measurement, a medium of knowledge of longitudes and latitudes in an electronic space between the real and the illusory dimensions of a more or less forced virtuality.
There is always a geographic dimension to his works. In Museophagia Planet Tour there is also a satellite vision. Indeed the satellite map manages to give a completely different vision of totality in which man is a relative entity. The last ninety years in the history of art have been strongly marked by the discourse of Duchamp. The history of the avant-garde is a fundamental component in Western art. Usually the lesson of Duchamp has been misunderstood, interpreted in a largely futile and presumptuous way. Today there really is little point in following dutifully in the wake of Duchamp instead of offering a reply. Memory must be able to process, to search, to offer a new meaning to things. Thus work like Bolognini's can become a reply (which today is more useful than ever) to Duchamp. [...]
The work produced by the machine is absolutely unique, similar in its principle of execution and different in the set of areas that compose it. In this sense Bolognini attains the purity of the technological sublime, in open conflict with the banality of provocation and the various forms of art generated solely by the market economy. [...] In 1950, a year after putting on a Spatial Environment in the Galleria del Naviglio in Milan, Fontana argued: "the great revolution of the Spatial Artists lies in the development of the means of art. The Spatial Movement aims to achieve a form of art with new means, like radio, television, black light and radar and all those means which human intelligence will be able to discover. [...]
The invention conceived by the Spatial Artist is projected into space. The Spatial Artist no longer imposes a figurative theme on the spectator, but enables him to create it himself by means of imagination and the emotions he receives. A new consciousness is being formed in mankind: we no longer need to represent a man, a house or nature; we need instead to create spatial sensations with our own imagination". The link with Bolognini and with his reflection on the role of the machine in the creation of space is clear. His is a space which tends to cancel itself out, to converge on a point that is different from the point where it started. Electronic space does not exist in the same way as physical space, and all the information is gathered together at one single point. In this sense the images come from a parallel universe, which is not, however, illusive, but is actually produced by the intelligence of the machine - an aspect which I find very similar to the space of light in Lucio Fontana. [...]
Bolognini's images are not simply the result of random or stochastic processes. The equations, the instructions which he gives to the machine, can change the course of things. In some cases one has the sensation that the artist manages to master the machine, to provoke artificial intelligence and to dominate it with that margin of randomness which makes the thing so fascinating. And indeed Jackson Pollock's gesture of dripping is also a kind of attempt at ordering chaos. The artist tries to put order into the chaos of the pictorial gesture by placing himself as an intermediary between the painting and the surface - where painting is to be understood in the total sense. Again utopia: the attempt to domesticate chaos which goes far beyond the starting point; the meaning is social, political in the universal sense. It is impossible to succeed completely when one starts an autonomous process and then things go ahead on their own.
The basic question posed by Bolognini is whether, in the face of the excess of digital technologies - and ours is an age of excess: too much information, too many images, too much communication, to the point where everything is cancelled out - one can defend a humanistic perspective; or whether one can and must accept that the subject is no longer at the centre of history and that everyone is a little less responsible for the surrounding context. Perhaps Bolognini is interested in defending the first solution, but it would be simplistic merely to reject technology and the machine. On the contrary, he defends it with his awareness of its limits. In this sense his is an attempt to domesticate and thus get to know chaos intimately. Naturally, the situation remains contradictory. Is complexity this side or that side of the individual?"

(from Angela Madesani, The nomadic sign)

" It seems as if Bolognini's work focuses on the surpassing of art or rather, as he himself states, on the moment when art transcends. Art seems more and more characterized by the artists' will to go beyond the language, to reside well beyond the line of metaphysics. To go beyond means, for some of them, to stop on the border line and cast a glance to all that surrounds them. Their purpose seems to be the identification and construction, through an innovative use of language, of a place where a greater ability to listen and a new thrust of an ethical type can be developed. [...] There is a highly ethical connotation inside Bolognini's work. [...] Works such as the Sealed Computers not only imply the trespassing of art onto unvisited territories of language, but they represent a search for a new anthropological condition. Both the neo-technologies and the postmodern condition lead us to face new horizons, to go beyond the perceptive faculties and the supreme borders of sensitivity. Bolognini's Sealed Computers, as well as Max Neuhaus' works on sound, move on the edge of the unutterable and the imperceptible. In Max Neuhaus' work, music ceases to be an unidirectional message sent by the performer to the public and becomes a communicating process, that is an unforeseeable group activity.
Slowly and imperceptibly Bolognini's computers build a parallel universe. Even when, very rarely, he shows some drawings realized by his machines, in spite of the very large dimensions, it is an infinitely small sample of this unlimited, chaotic and unforeseeable universe (it will never be possible to look at all the pictures produced by his machines as they have been programmed, put into action and deprived of their monitors). We are facing here a search for a new form with infinite possibilities. [...] This is why we have passed from certitudes onto questions and finally to this condition of permanent interrogation, which looks like having become our usual way of being. We are entering a world whose complexity can exclude the subject, removing him from the centre of history, but we are also entering a status of unsteadiness, which is maybe considering some alternative possibilities, as many as the metaphors and the technologies we shall be able to make available for our existence. Bolognini's works and actions - his Sealed Computers, Museophagia and his on-line experiments - not only grant us further original metaphors, but they moreover attempt to create individualities capable of sharing the complexity and sophistication of the neo-technological environment, by promoting a new attitude toward creative participation, balanced between utopia and infochaos."

(from Enrico Pedrini, Maurizio Bolognini: Between Utopia and Infochaos)


Maurizio Bolognini

L’infinito fuori controllo

Macchine programmate, 1990-2005

Programmed Machines, 1990-2005
a cura di/edited by
Sandra Solimano
Progetto grafico, redazione e impaginazione neos edizioni
©2005 by neos edizioni – Genova
©2005 by Museo d’arte contemporanea di Villa Croce – Genova
Finito di stampare nel giugno 2005 presso arti grafiche bicidi – Genova
ISBN: 88-87262-47-0
Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Villa Croce – Genova
8 – 26 giugno 2005

Mostra a cura di

Maurizio Bolognini

Catalogo a cura di

Sandra Solimano

Testi di

Maurizio Bolognini

Mario Costa

Giulio Giorello

Derrick de Kerckhove

Simonetta Lux

Angela Madesani

Robert C. Morgan

Enrico Pedrini

Domenico Scudero

Sandra Solimano


Ezio Brenzini

Segreteria organizzativa
Anna Lercari
Paolo Scacchetti

Francesca Serrati

A cura dell’artista
con la collaborazione degli operatori del Museo coordinati da Michele Ceravolo
e Massimiliano Raugei

Ufficio Stampa del Comune di Genova
Simonetta Menini Camilla Talfani

Direzione Comunicazione e Promozione

Settore Musei
Gabriella Taravacci Sabina Errile Armanda Piccardo

Museo di Villa Croce

Federica Titone


Ian Harvey, Genova


R.A.S. Assicurazione, Agenzia di Genova

Comune di Genova

Giuseppe Pericu

Assessorato alla Cultura
Luca Borzani

Direzione Cultura
Direttore Teresa Sardanelli

Settore Musei
Guido Gandino

Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Villa Croce

Sandra Solimano

Ezio Brenzini (Amministrazione) Michele Ceravolo, Massimiliano Raugei (Coordinamento operatori/Allestimento)
Nadia Fagioli, Angelo Gandolfi (Biblioteca)
Rita Gorgoni (Collezioni) Paolo Scacchetti (Didattica/Tecnologie) Francesca Serrati (Mostre/Didattica)
Anna Lercari, Federica Titone (in collaborazione esterna) Gaia De Marzo (in stage)

Operatori del Museo e della Biblioteca

Pietro Campanella, Luciana Cozzoli, Giovanna Cruccu, Antonio Della Corte, Rosanna Felini, Fabio Grechi, Patrizia Guarducci, 
Ezio Ottonello, M.Cristina Pellegatti, Giovanni Ramberti, Rolando Rossini, Jolanda Salmonese, Giovanni Sotgia, Riccardo Villetti, 
Lorella Zafferri, Sergio Zanasi


Macchine programmate: l’infinito fuori controllo.
Conversazione con Maurizio Bolognini


Programmed machines: infinity out of control.
A conversation with Maurizio Bolognini




Bolognini e la domesticazione del sublime


Bolognini and the domestication of the sublime


Mario Costa


Gli algoritmi sigillati di Maurizio Bolognini: tra segno e significato


The sealed algorithms of Maurizio Bolognini: between sign and meaning


Giulio Giorello


La galleria d’arte nell’epoca della sua riproducibilità digitale


The art gallery in the age of its digital reproduction


Derrick de Kerckhove


In silenzio e ciecamente


Silently and blindly


Simonetta Lux


Nomadismo del segno


The nomadic sign


Angela Madesani


Maurizio Bolognini: la problematica dell’arte


Maurizio Bolognini: the problematic of art


Robert C. Morgan


Maurizio Bolognini: tra utopia e infocaos


Maurizio Bolognini: between utopia and infochaos


Enrico Pedrini


La mente profusa


The profuse mind


Domenico Scudero


Programmed machines: infinità e identità


Programmed machines: infinity and identity


Maurizio Bolognini




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