The archive is memory. Memory survives only by translating itself into new communication channels.
The idea of a gamified archive was captured thanks to a mix of social pressure and indignation.
Since I started taking care of my father's archive (about ten years ago), I have often been approached by people looking for official virtual contacts, which Enzo never had (he does not use the internet nor computers of any kind, at most some hermetic sms, from a mobile phone with keys, no touch-screen). People were surprised that not even the archive had any official website, there were no social network pages dedicated to Enzo directly managed by us. Indeed, until March 2020, there was no need for it. Even looking anachronistic, or snob.
I have always kept under control through troll accounts (yes, I am a web troll, I apply to virtual reality with virtual identities) the #enzocucchi on Instagram, or the Enzo Cucchi pin on Pinterest... They are used about once a day since I have an eye on them. The contents on Google are constantly increasing and deepening, someone (from various parts of the world) always posts content related to Enzo's work (if the name is used off topic I will intervene).
I didn't have to build an artistic figure out of nothing.
There are almost 50 years of uninterrupted artistic professional production behind it.
This is an initial advantage that should not be underestimated when looking at the cuccchi project.
If the artist is the core of the creation and production, the archive is the preservation and distribution, and media (physical and virtual) are the dissemination, observing the internet data I was very satisfied with having to operate little or nothing in the media field. My laziness and my confidence in quality, which as such finds channels of diffusion, were satisfied. For the rest, my constant contact with galleries and auction houses allowed me to control the flow of works and values in circulation.
Perhaps due to my passion for paper, I have always seen digital documents as too light, material that does not remain .. I was wrong ..
It remains only what has a strongly intimate content but can be translated into the most used language.
Aspiring to capillarity.
Today's books are in danger of not surviving… They no longer express their main function, to spread emotions and culture. They are back to being extremely elitist … pre-Gutemberg type... which is fine, but sometimes books seem to have become objects. Precious, to be displayed on the table in plain sight, rarely consulted, not present in everyone's homes.
Going to look at the websites of some contemporary artists then, or even worse their Instagram pages (social networks and search engines could be seen as the supreme form of archiviation, the era of big data, when all knowledge comes cataloged neatly as linen in the drawers... A ground’s preparation for the advent of a strong Artificial Intelligence perhaps -Ray Kurzweil-), I felt like I was in the presence of the boring old aunt full of big hairy moles that traps you when you was a child in her room full of trinkets showing you all her memorabilia, all her photographic books, her little virtues.
It is true that the artist is self-centered, otherwise he would not want to show his works, but ... The heights of self-referentiality reached on certain internet pages are a source of enormous embarrassment for me. Really cringe.
Telling an artist that he has to take care of his own archive and of his "public image", of his memory… Is wrong. I find it enormously violent towards the artist himself, who should think about anything but what he has already done, or about what he himself is. The cataloging (but also the selection of one's works for a potential portfolio) should not be a responsibility of the artist, who, when forced to perform these tasks, deteriorates himself and his own lymph. There must be a person who takes care of the administration and of the economy, archiving and organizing the artworks, so the artist could remains concentrated on the formalization of the work, and does not pollute his own mind with burden not appropriate to him.
Freedom implies servitude.
The first lockdown in March 2020. The social pressure of "but how is it possible that you do not have your contacts on the internet, we are in the early 20s .." increases and mixes with the need to show .. to exist during a time when physical places are no more easily accessible, travel is a difficult dream.
If we really have to exist on the internet too, I tried to do it in the most interactive and light way possible, a videogame.
Cuccchi is a cultural necessity.
To continue to exist as a real cultural content, it must be recognized videogames are the most well-distributed element in the world among the people through the electronic devices used by the young section of the population. Distribution is globally widespread and is not linked to wealth or social classes, to specific places, to sex or to religious or political beliefs. It is the perfect tool for spreading information on the widest possible range.
(The Three Bodies Problem, by Cixin Liu)
I met Julian Palacios thanks to Andrea Valesini from Fantastico Studio. When the videogame archive came to my mind (after reading Chinese sci-fi), I started thinking about who could develop it (I'm a total ignorant in coding and gaming, my deepest experience stops at Super Mario Land 2 for Gameboy, 1994), and I remembered of Andrea, with whom we met at the age of 12 in Campo de 'Fiori or Piazza Farnese (Rome) to play football. Someone, time ago, told me Andrea had founded a small indie games production house (I didn't know there was an independent scene). I found Fantastico Studio contacts online and write to them, who have supported the project right from the start. Julian was pointed out to me by Andrea.
Mine was a very generic idea, to create an explorable temporal path in which you walked in the artistic work of my father .. but not only .. "…to gamify the archive, like pac-man but with skulls". I provided a large photographic selection of works, my role ended in obsessively telling Julian and Andrea to make the playful part prevail over the artistic part.
Game development and game design are the result of the work of Julian and Andrea.
In terms of potential, I think the biggest idea was when Andrea proposed to translate the videogame archive, which I imagined relegated solely to a website and at most to a mobile phone app, into the console of greater use (Nintendo, Xbox, Playstation, Steam). It is like having had the opportunity to access a completely virgin cultural distribution circuit as regards the field of art archives.
Being able to use an archive with the Playstation.
It was a really nice joint, we learned with great surprise that cuccchi is a finalist candidate in the "new" category at the 24th IGF (Independent Game Festival) in San Francisco, a sort of Cannes videogames festival scheduled for March 21st (the Festival is inside the GDC, Game Developer Conference).
The archive of a living artist and a videogame, both every year undergo "the new version of the game" or an increase in content (new archived works), for 2022 we will make a release of 3 new levels of cuccchi that Julian is already working.
After all, archiving is a game as much as the entire human culture is. We decide to believe in something, to have an ethic, an inner order, a culture, tastes and even a memory, based on precepts that change over time, adapting to contemporary language and customs (everything changes because nothing changes, Tomasi di Lampedusa). We use to live patterns that we self- impose every day, by our free will.
I always try to imagine the enormous passage that was the advent of writing. With writing, man begins to rely on an external memory medium. Spoken words were translated into symbols engraved in clay that reproduce the sounds of the words enunciated, freezing in time a speech that otherwise could have changed shortly after.
Imagine living in a pre-writing era, when all human knowledge was handed down by word of mouth (before Homer). The stories told by the sages and rhapsodists changed from time to time, albeit slightly, to suit the audience present. The story told had the function of explaining and certifying the existence and actions of a given group of people at that given moment. The stories could change from time to time, based on the present you were in. If there was a need for reassurance, the aedo would have told the story by emphasizing strength, honor, the antiquity of the stock and the strength of love. If there had been a need for control, the story would have centered on the parts related to justice and iniquity, if you were about to go to war, the deeds narrated would have been emotionally heated, and so on. At the time, an oral story was equivalent to a document, words like archaeological finds.
With the advent of writing all this faded away, the human mind changed profoundly, and the concept of memory changed.
Documents began to be trusted more than people. The sign took over the sound.
The music of all kinds that we listen today is perhaps just a… sweetened genetic nostalgia for a human era in which an enlightened illiteracy carried to memory wisdom made up of long days of songs.
(rivers of words)
The videogame, like all digital culture, is a new form of memory.
Just think about the photographic material that a 7-year-old boy has today. Parents photographed almost every moment of him. Once a child is an adult, he will no longer be able to remember what the fuck he wants from his childhood, there are documents that show the objectivity of events, photos, videos and well-recorded screams.
The videogame also surpasses the impasse of photography and video (passive use), it lets you enter the plot of the representation, the complex interaction with a virtual system opens the door to the concept of: quantum instrument.
By changing our past (our memory) we are constantly shaping the future.
Before, our memory was a bit like a rhapsodos that told us what it was most convenient for us to hear. Now memory is an increasingly precise tool, which can be modified at will in our hands. (see Ted Chiang's short stories, or Ernest Cline's sci-pop novels).
The impact of the advent of the internet and multiplayer video games could amount to the advent of writing. Memory is increasingly external to the human body, easily manageable by everyone, we are more accessible than in the past.
Everything is gradually moving into the virtual world, from emotions (human relationships) to cryptocurrencies (economics), always driven by games (gaming ... on the other hand, the playful act is literally the way human beings learn to approach the world .. the child plays).
There is a dematerialization of being in progress. The idea of ownership is also failing, or at least it is changing (see the - financial and aesthetic - phenomenon of NFT's).
I believe that if you want to keep the memory alive, in addition to crystallizing the events in the most objective way possible, you must then be able to translate the data of those events continuously. Imagine an archive that in 1992 decides to put all its documents on floppy-disk. Cheap, tidy, easily usable (at the time), compact and light. Today? It would be very complicated to consult that archive, no computer has a floppydisk gate anymore (diskettes were called in Italy, I was a child when they were in use and if I saw them I felt close to NASA, interstellar rockets roared on the runways of next spaceports future)..
I don't know if videogame is an important way to communicate .. it is certainly the most used form today.
To experience something there is nothing better than interaction. When mental (virtual) interaction begins to have more weight on reality than physical interaction, the video game takes on an immense cultural body.
The paper archive was set up by Ida Giannelli * in 1990, at the Castello di Rivoli in Turin.
Until 2007, the archive was completely curated and built by her using the museum method, folders, color films, photos, paper documents, correspondence, national and international press.
I went to collect the archive in 2012 with a van. About 50 boxes brought from the Castello di Rivoli to the house built by my father for his parents in 2000, to let them spend their last years in peace, in the countryside, in Morro D'Alba where they spent their childhood as peasants in sharecropping . In the room where they slept I set up a metal bookcase measuring 5 meters by three, filled with folders made by Ida.
With a scanner I started the work of digitalization, at today I am not yet halfway through the complete digitization.
I believe that paper is still one of the safest, most private and easy-to-consult tools for filing. If placed in dry places, some cards can preserve memory better than any other technology, even a secret, never online, no electronics to apply.
The memory of how complex tools such as computers and physical hardware are used could be erased quickly, look at the advent of an immersive virtual reality such as the much anticipated metaverses (Meta, or more: Neuralink technology).
You must always be in the best position to continue being translated into a new communicative flow. Biological evolution is not gradual, it goes in great leaps.
And the only function of life is to expand into materials that weren't alive before.
The life of this videogame archive is closely linked to the length of life that the consoles on which it runs will have. PS5, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Steam. When they are replaced, it will be necessary to re-translate the archive into the language who will come.
The classic setting.
Ida Giannelli has collected in large folders full of color slides and photos of all the pictorial, paper and sculptural works produced by Enzo Cucchi from 1977 to 2007. she Organized them with a code that groups them in personal and collective exhibitions, large public works, large drawings.
Since 2003 I have also had the first digital media that can be consulted (CD-ROMs and DVDs, I also have a floppy disk from the 90s, I still don't know what's inside).
Other folders of different formats organize photocopies of the entire press review on Enzo's personal and collective exhibitions.
In the lower part of the library I tried to collect all the newspapers, magazines and fanzines that have reviewed Enzo's work.
Other folders collect the data of all the catalogs and bibliographies, correspondence, various very amusing letters.
2 folders for the photos portrayed the artist.
2 boxes of scattered photos of various kinds (business trips, personal, unclassified works) yet to be ordered.
A fundamental part of the archive are the books and catalogs made over the years on Enzo's work, which number more than a thousand.
About 200 books were instead personally followed by him, Enzo is a deep lover of graphics and all his possibilities (multiples, artist's books .. books .. were the real diffusion channel until the early 2000s).
Catalogs as temporal documents. Thanks to the publication dates and captions present in the catalogs of past exhibitions, many families of works have now documentation and an exact chronology that reinforces and contextualizes them.
From 2013 to 2017 together with Nicoletta Ossana Cavadini, director of the Max Museum in Chiasso, we tried to bring together all the artist's books and a selection of graphics in a single book (published by Nero), a book of books, thanks to Arnaldo Sanna, an avid bibliomaniac from Camnago (Brianza) and to Alfredo Taroni's Lithos, we managed to develop an exhibition entitled 50 years of art graphic, showed in Switzerland and then at the Mole Vanvitelliana in Ancona.
Making books documenting exhibitions paves the way for good archiving.
Since 2012 I have photographed with a digital camera all the new works produced by my father, and introduced the relative files in the classification copied from Ida's folders, I continued to reproduce his method in folders replicated on various PC’s and hard-disks, organizing them first with File-Maker, and now with Artshell.
Authentication, certification of works, and the possible reporting of forgeries is an important part of the work of the archive, but we should open a long and boring chapter full of carabinieri in charge of cultural heritage, French auctions, “tell me where you took this work” and so on...
*Ida Giannelli should have the same fame and recognition as Germano Celant (it is rumored that they were great lovers in the 1980s).
She is the one who said, in the full 70s - more than fiftiy years ago - that the importance of artists in the future would not depend on the intrinsic quality of the works, but on the archiving quality of the information on given works by a given artist. In addition to the archive of Enzo, Ida edited many other archives of artists now considered really important.
She foresaw the Information Age.