The Pinners, the Grammers and more in the thumbs up era
On the occasion of the 58th edition of the Milan Design week – one of the most chaotic weeks of the year – KooZA / rch in collaboration with Bianca Felicori invites you to take an old-fashioned coffee break. Let your break not be a moment of endless scrolling through an infinite sequence of images and rather follow the live talks on our KooZA / rch social media channels. From the 9th to the 12thof April every morning between 10 and 12 am we will bring together creative minds from various creative disciplines – architects, designers, curators, artists, photographers – to talk about architecture at the time of the World Wide Web. Between a “coffee” and a “pastry” we will discuss the increasingly central theme of digital dissemination, analyzing its problems and its strengths, and above all, trying to identify together use and not misuse the power of the WWW.
Now in her late 20’s, Naomi finds it hard to explain her job. She studied visual communications in Los Angeles and she spent two years in Dubai working in ADIDAS. Now back in Milan, Naomi’s focusing on her recurrent side hustle: writing and editorial collaborations.
Zoe De Luca
Zoe De Luca is an independent curator based in Milan. Her activity mostly focuses on cross-disciplinary researches, analyzing and fostering new artistic practices. She founded DIORAMA editions, an independent editorial project, Siliqoon, an art label devoted to the production and the promotion of contemporary art and last year she launched PANORAMA Milano, a digital archive of studio visits with artists based in Milano.
KOOZARCH:Let’s start with a reflection on Diorama Editionsand Panorama. How was the project founded and how and why did it then develop from the realm of the physical publication to the digital website two years in the running?
ZDL: Diorama Editions started in 2011 as a side project whilst I was still studying in college. So far, we have published 9 issues of the magazine, each issue would have a specific theme to which a group of creatives from different professional backgrounds would respond to. Our main focus was visual arts although we did feature columns dedicated to experimental music, architecture, design and literature. In 2015 we quit the magazine and started publishing books, the first ‘Panorama’ was published at thebeginning of 2016. Panorama is an anthology of 60 studio visits in Milan, the idea behind this approach was to map the city with no restrictions in terms of practice, nationality, location or generational filter but rather cover the artistic scene of the city as we were interested in artistswho were engaging and contributing to the contemporary artistic scene. Following this, last year in 2018 we decided to digitalize all of the contents of the book. Obviously in light of the very different nature of online fruitioncompared to that of the physical publications, the content had to be filtered and curated accordingly. The idea is to now let the project develop and grow organically.
KOOZARCH:How and to what extent did the digital format of the website liberate the project?
ZDL: The limitations imposed by the very format of the book in terms of size and budget always meant that we could feature a defined group of artists, which from more than 100 in our first brainstorming sessions were reduced to 60. This, I would say happened quite organically and did not affect the very objective of the project. Panorama ultimately featured more than 300 colour pages with texts written both in English and Italian, which for an independent publishing house was quite a big project. Nonetheless obviously the unlimited potential of the website now allows us to have much more freedom in engaging with even very young artistsand a greater array of disciplines.
BF: How important is it to engage with creative minds from other professions as means to get inspired and contaminate ones own practice?
ZDL: I think it’s crucial. Especially from the perspective of someone who is engaged with the ‘art’world, it becomes and opportunity to challenge one’s own point of view and be stimulated by the work of others. Within the projects I have developed I have always engaged with other specialists which range from archaeologists, botanists, musicians and so forth. A mental shift is always necessary to push one’s own knowledge.
KOOZARCH:How do you relate to the idea of the multidisciplinary creative?
NA: I have a background in fashion in that it is what I studied at University and it is the industry I have been engaging with ever since, however the way I approach fashion as a discipline is one which does not sit in isolation but rather is continuously influenced by fields as those of art, architecture amongst others. I trust in the idea of a product being fully designed through its 360 degrees only when it has been influenced and is the response to various contemporary stimuli. For example, I studied visual communication in Los Angeles, and as part of the curriculum we had a set design class. Although it was not directly related to my interest in marketing and fashion it did open up different perspectives on fashion at the time and has now actually come in handy when designing a series of runway shows and fashion events. Although I cannot specifically define my day to day job, I believe it is the result of all the various multi-disciplinary inputs and experiences archived up to now. I will not hide that somehow, I am now surrounded by numerous friends who are architects and I trust that they have enabled me to challenge my point of view and perspective.
KOOZARCH:In what ways do you think that the internet has questioned the threshold between disciplines?
NA: I think this is definitely the case. In fashion today there is a very thin line between what is considered a designer, an art director, set design etc and I think this is also thank to the level of information and knowledge which is shared via the internet. One can now use this medium to self-educate oneself on specific topics and professions without necessarily having to go to school. I don’t believe in a sectorial environment but one which is extremely fluid where one’s own studies do not dneed to define their career. I believe that this is largely due to the world wide web and social media platforms.
KOOZARCH:Do you see a harm in each and every one of us being able to market themselves and build specific personas on the www?
BF: Building upon this last question, at a time when one can portray himself as an ‘architect’, an ‘artist’ do you share the idea of the internet building consensus as unproductive killing the critics?
NA: In my opinion there are always two sides to any given situation and obviously there are professions where it is easier to say be an ‘impostor’. I see the role and profession of the architect as one which is difficult to ‘fake’ whilst that of the critic is instantly easier, especially nowadays when there are so many sources of ‘information’ and one might find it difficult to distinguish what is ‘critical’ and ‘truthful’. At the same time, I think that there is an extreme strength and potential in the possibility of everyone being able to speak their own opinion and have their own voice as long as they are well informed.
ZDL:I wouldn’t necessarily say that a direct consequence is the death of the critic, rather I think that the contemporary critic is nowadays challenged. Whilst before there was a very frontal relationship between criticsand theiraudience, the remarkable amount of information and tools available online has enabled us to autonomously build a multi-faced knowledge as well as to access to debate with others; This established a wide network of ideas and opinions, but most importantly the widespread feeling of a bigger awareness and critical sensibility, even regardless of their legitimacy. The shift in this relationship is a controversial but challenging phenomenon, which I find extremely interesting.
KOOZARCH: What are those digital platforms which for you push and challenge artistic discourse nowadays?
ZDL:This is a huge dilemma for me. I have always been the kind of person who bought magazines; Nonetheless in the past few years I have started relying more on digital content and I have to admit that the amount of data provided by these platforms is very overwhelming. Examples as Art Viewer or Contemporary Art Daily regularly upload an incredible amount of information, both online and on social media. Whilst at the beginning this was very engaging and compelling, I soon realized thatmost of the entrieswere re-blogs of other sources, rather than critical editorial contents; These are generally press kits which have been almost directly uploaded without any kind of editingbut rather selected according to specific policies. I believe this is quite a significant problem as it does not create any added value. I must admit I am still struggling on defining specific sources of information especially as I am often juggling with differentiating topics and themes. This brings up another problem which is, how the time one dedicates to an article is defined. This is generally outlined as the period one engages in writing the piece, however double if not triple the effort lies within the research. One can be talking about a 5000-character piece and three days of research prior to that.
KOOZARCH: Both within the realms of the digital and physical print, have you experienced a change in the format of the content.
NA: This is particularly relevant to digital articles. I have frequently been asked to keep my online work much shorter and concise compared to printed matter. This has a lot to do with the medium of the screen, I for example do not engage in reading a 30-minute piece on the screen whilst I would with a book.
KOOZARCH: This introduces an interesting topic which is what lead Bianca and us to experiment with this format of the podcast. For us it is a way to absorb and engage with digital information which is not filtered through a screen. What are your ideas on this medium?
ZDL:I am very engaged with the medium but, although I spend my days multi-tasking, I cannot seem to listen to a podcast and contemporarily work on something else.I need to focus on what I’m listening to.
BF: We connected via Instagram; how do you use this medium from a professional point of view?
NA: I don’t have a website and Instagram works as my visual diary. It is my stream of thoughts through pictures and the way I also discover and engage with people who have a similar approach to this media. This is exactly how you and I met at the beginning before sitting down for a coffee and engaging in a physical conversation.
KOOZARCH: From person to project, what role does this medium play for Panorama?
ZDL:This I would say offers a few glimpses into the research, with the aim of redirecting people back to the website. It is the most filtered the content can get, from 7000 characters to no more than a few words. It is a communication tool.