[NetBehaviour] salvatore iaconesi

Helen Varley Jamieson helen at creative-catalyst.com
Mon Aug 8 12:11:33 CEST 2022

grazie roberta xx

On 02.08.22 18:41, roberta buiani via NetBehaviour wrote:
> Hi all,
> coming out of my lurking mode. I usually don’t post. I tend to be 
> super slow and quite shy about almost anything I write, but 
> Salvatore’s departure has really shaken me and sometimes I find that 
> writing helps a bit.
> I am pasting below the in-memoriam note I just sent to Leonardo. this 
> is my perspective as a fellow Italian who worked several times with 
> him and Oriana from a distance, but developed a solid friendship that 
> I cherished for many years.
> last time I talked to him was in March. little did I know it would be 
> the last time.
> peace.
> Roberta
> -----------
> Writing to celebrate the life and work of Salvatore Iaconesi is not 
> easy. It is not easy because his body of work is so extensive and 
> diverse that one would never have enough space to fit it in a few 
> pages; it is not easy because it extends over, it is entangled, and it 
> is shared with a formidable network of collaborators and friends, 
> which he and his life and artistic partner Oriana patiently and 
> passionately built for many years. But it is especially not easy 
> because his departure is hard to accept. It has been a slow departure, 
> during which he planted many seeds for future work and activities, 
> made new friends, established new collaborations. “Salvatore Iaconesi 
> is alive” announces the website of HER: She Loves DATA, the cultural 
> research centre he and Oriana had founded in 2013. Still, it is 
> difficult to accept that his body, and his wit are no longer with us.
> Salvatore Iaconesi’s work was eclectic, ranging from projects 
> supporting remix and opensource culture, to experiments with AI and 
> hybrid marriages between human and non-human, community data mining 
> and data sharing, collective performances, pedagogical initiatives, 
> and much more. No matter where and by whom his projects were carried 
> on, they were all conceived in the spirit of community participation 
> and co-creation involving many actors, human and non-human; they could 
> be remixed and expanded, recombined and played with.
> I met Salvatore in 2010 at the SHARE festival in Torino. The editorial 
> project he and Oriana presented gave me a taste of the spirit that 
> characterized their future projects: a drive to reveal the narrow 
> minded, exploitative and extractivist rules imposed by institutions 
> and those who retain power, and a desire to rectify these rules by 
> mobilizing a network of individuals and communities with whom to 
> re-think and find solutions for these rules. REFF (RomaEuropa Fake 
> Factory) became a fake cultural institution and an editorial project 
> in response to the exploitative rules imposed by the institutions 
> promoting a funding contest. Hopeful applicants had to agree to 
> transfer any ownership of their work to the funding agency. The latter 
> could then re-use, remix and republish said work. However, no project 
> already containing remake, mashups, and remix would be admitted. The 
> response was an edited book collecting essays, artworks, and editorial 
> experiments that exposed this rather hypocritical and contradictory 
> position and enacted the very practices that had been forbidden by the 
> contest.
> When I first invited Salvatore and Oriana to Toronto in 2014, they had 
> been launching a data visualization project titled Human Ecosystems 
> (HE) in Rome (Italy) and Sao Paulo (Brazil). The project encouraged 
> members of the public to reflect on and visualize the city’s human 
> geographies and affective flows, by capturing information from social 
> networks. Instead of just collecting data from users and artfully 
> laying them on a map, the goal here was to achieve a new and more 
> reflexive understanding of the ways in which different cultures 
> express opinions, emotions and affect. Most importantly, it sought to 
> reveal how cities’ relational ecosystems are formed and which roles 
> different people assume in their communities (influencers, hubs, 
> experts, amplifiers, bridges among different communities etc...). This 
> was made to empower the public to view data as relational agents 
> rather than discrete bits ready to be collected to create more 
> surveillance. Together, during a few (and very snowy) days, we worked 
> with students at the Transmedia Lab (York University) and the members 
> of the public at ArtSci Salon, our art and science collective, to 
> build an affective map of the city. Even the very skeptical City of 
> Toronto’s Open Data team was willing to listen.
> Freeing data from the grip of institutional and corporate power, from 
> their extractivist agendas, from their techno-solutionist patina of 
> fake neutrality was at the core of Salvatore and Oriana’s work.  The 
> main mission of their cultural research centre is to use data and 
> computation to create new realities that would think past using, 
> exploiting, and depleting data and instead rethink the configuration 
> of, and the relationships being established in the neighborhood, the 
> city and the environment.
> The reappropriation, repurposing, and re-vitalizing of data had 
> profound political significance for Salvatore. They also resonated 
> personally.  In 2012, following his diagnose of brain cancer, he found 
> himself trapped in the same situation he was rallying against with his 
> art. Now a patient, he was stripped from his individuality, and found 
> himself caught in a medical system intent to measure, visualize, and 
> examine his condition only, one not seeing him as a whole person: “the 
> patient is a strange being … entirely made of data: blood exams, 
> images of body parts, lab values, diagnoses”. He describes his 
> experience with the medical system as a ritual: “your body, 
> personality, and social connections disappear, and are replaced by 
> data and images”. In the medical ritual Iaconesi was caught in, 
> everything is obsessively quantified and passed through body scans, 
> software, and digital models. He had suddenly become a bundle of data, 
> over which he seemed to have no control. But even that resulting 
> disembodied entity had been taken away from him. In fact, to add 
> insult to injury, all data collected from his body had been stored in 
> a proprietary format impossible to share.
> La Cura became a long-term life journey that extended well beyond 
> medical treatment or medical data sharing. His rebellion against the 
> reductive constraints imposed by the medical technologies, and against 
> an inflexible and impersonal medical system, materialized into the 
> release of his medical data online. He turned to the community at 
> large to seek help, solidarity and comfort. His request was drawn by a 
> need to open up “cancer’s “source code” as a biopolitical rite of 
> healing, aimed at redefining concepts such as “disease” and “cure” “… 
> to re-appropriate the condition of being ill, and to foster a society 
> that recognizes disease as a complex experience — one felt by social 
> bodies as much as individual bodies”.
> His story far exceeds issues of information gathering and 
> dissemination; issues of disease and control. This act of sharing was 
> not meant to disseminate information with the purpose of receiving 
> more. It was not meant to acquire knowledge to be used for his 
> exclusive benefit. His act of sharing opened to a precarious and 
> indeterminate space. By turning to a community made up of close 
> friends and complete strangers, he welcomed and eventually recovered 
> human and affective elements that had been lost in the extreme 
> operation of reduction he was enduring during his experience within 
> the medical system.
> Maria de la Bellacasa explains that caring is “everything that we do 
> to maintain, continue and repair our world, so that we can live in it 
> as well as possible”. Caring also means becoming aware that “studying 
> and representing things have world-making effects”. It is a way of 
> thinking and speaking beyond what we assume to be some social and 
> “politically” useful research. La Cura evolved into many other 
> projects, all initiated with the same spirit of caring, using data 
> creatively and for social causes: “the cure does not exist if not in 
> society”.
> Last time I had the pleasure to collaborate with Salvatore, and last 
> time I heard his voice was in March 2022, during an interdisciplinary 
> series of talks, workshops and events that I co-created with my 
> colleague Elena Basile titled: “Who Cares? Sustaining relations of 
> health beyond the time of crisis”. We invited Salvatore and Oriana and 
> their team to facilitate a Data Meditation, because we knew that their 
> approach to data to evoke self-reflexivity, empathy and mutual 
> sharing, instead of impersonal and mechanical interaction would break 
> the cycle of apathy that had characterized so many conferences and 
> talks (including the one about health care!) during the pandemic. 
> During one of the roundtables, coincidentally scheduled exactly 2 
> years after the beginning of many lockdowns around the world, 
> Salvatore shared his extraordinary experience of being in a hospital 
> just before Italy shut down: “The Hospital was shutting down. 
> Surgeries were stopped, people were being sent back home. But the 
> pandemic was hitting full strength in the realm of information and 
> data too. People were massively exposed to horrible things about the 
> pandemic, completely and carelessly fed with information about people 
> who were sick, dead and dying, with no care for their fragilities…The 
> use of data and information at the time was truly violent and 
> careless. It was a very violent experience. We decided that we should 
> do something about it. That’s when we started developing these new 
> rituals where these data and information are not forces that divide 
> people but unite people and bring them together. That’s the origin of 
> what we call Nuovo Abitare” .
> The “Nuovo Abitare” resonated greatly with our desire to bring 
> together a community of users, artists, scientists and caregivers to 
> reflect beyond the cruelty of a tired health care system and its 
> triage based culture. Importantly, it gave us hope that this new 
> concept could one day be adopted by many.
> I want to remember Salvatore Iaconesi with these words, because I 
> think they not only encapsulate the profound sense of justice and care 
> that drove his work, but also his optimism and hopeful thinking, in 
> the face of the violence imparted by and conveyed through data, in 
> spite of collapse due to climate change, wars, political unrest, 
> medical emergencies etc..
> It is certainly not a chance that the logo that stands out on the site 
> of HER: She Loves Data is a heart. A heart which will grow larger 
> thanks to the way his thinking and his generosity touched and inspired 
> many of us. Even though his body is no more, his legacy is here to stay.
>> On Aug 2, 2022, at 11:59 AM, Alan Sondheim via NetBehaviour 
>> <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org> wrote:
>> Hi Everyone,
>> I was hoping someone would say something; I didn't know him, but from 
>> his work at Furtherfield, I felt his thinking resonated with my own 
>> the strongest in the show.
>> There was no bio for him in the back; was that his desire?
>> Best, Alan, and Marc, I hope you're doing well. At the moment 
>> speechless, too much pain everywhere. And thank you everyone for this 
>> list and Furtherfield -
>> On Tue, Aug 2, 2022 at 4:21 AM Helen Varley Jamieson 
>> <helen at creative-catalyst.com> wrote:
>>     last week my copy of "frankenstein reanimated" arrived & i
>>     immediately turned to page 175 and read patrick lichty's
>>     interview with salvatore, about "la cura", the collaborative
>>     artistic project to open source a cure for the brain cancer that
>>     he had just been diagnosed with (the interview was made in 2012).
>>     salvatore died a couple of weeks ago, on 18 july. has this sad
>>     news already come through on netbehaviour? maybe i missed it ...
>>     i am remembering salvatore's smile and laugh, his warmth and
>>     generosity; and the cyberformance that myself, francesco
>>     buonaiuto and miljana perić created for "la cura" (which was only
>>     performed once, for salvatore & oriana, in 2012 or 13 & now
>>     exists only as fragments on my hard drive).
>>     r.i.p. salvatore - i am glad to have known you!
>>     h <3
>>     -- 
>>     helen varley jamieson
>>     helen at creative-catalyst.com
>>     http://www.creative-catalyst.com
>>     http://www.upstage.org.nz
>>     https://mobilise-demobilise.eu
>>     _______________________________________________
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>>     NetBehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org
>>     https://lists.netbehaviour.org/mailman/listinfo/netbehaviour
>> -- 
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helen varley jamieson

helen at creative-catalyst.com
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