Sustainability & CSR

World Art Day, between well-being and technology: a talk with Giacinto Di Pietrantonio

World Art Day

Celebrated on April 15, World Art Day is an opportunity to reflect on the critical role that artists play in our society.

With its ability to explore and communicate the most profound human experiences, art emerges as a powerful tool for critical reflection. It can inspire emotions, stimulate dialogue and promote intercultural understanding; it can also provide a way to overcome divisions and build bridges, even – and above all – in a historical context where technology permeates every aspect of our lives.

To delve deeper into these topics, we interviewed Giacinto Di Pietrantonio critic and art curator, former Professor of Art History at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera (“Brera Academy of Fine Arts”) in Milan, Director of GAMeC in Bergamo and currently Professor of Editoria d’Arte e di Allestimenti Spazi Espositivi presso (“Art Publishing and Mounting of Exhibition Spaces”) at IED (Istituto Europeo del Design, European Institute of Design) in Como – who shared with us his vision on the emerging trends, the unifying power of art and the intriguing intersections between art, technology and science.

April 15 is World Art Day. What, in your opinion, is the role of art and artists in contemporary society?

The role of art in contemporary society is complex and crucial. In addition to offering a different look at reality, art provides us with critical tools to analyse everything around us.

World Art Day

What are the emerging trends in contemporary art?

Several trends emerge in contemporary art that reflect the complex challenges and opportunities of modern society. There is a growing focus on social and political issues, with several artists using their art as a tool to explore and comment on global inequalities, injustices and crises. Through installations, performances and participatory artworks, contemporary artists challenge their audiences to reflect on the pressing issues of our time and to consider new perspectives and solutions. Today, through their creations, artists like Palestinian Emily Jacir and Italian Rossella Biscotti, for example, address in a direct way issues concerning wars and humanitarian crises. And how could we not mention the “provocations” of Maurizio Cattelan and the social art of Michelangelo Pistoletto, or even Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, which embodies creative resistance and the challenge to authoritarianism: his life and works are a mix of aesthetics and political commitment, an unceasing dialogue between the beauty of art and the fight for freedom of expression.

Art lives in parallel with society, sometimes even preceding it. We are now in a new phase of the artistic representation of mankind: the era of artificial intelligence that produces art. How can we interpret this?

Contemporary art reflects the complexity and diversity of modern society, offering new perspectives, stimulating debates and potential solutions to address the challenges of our time. We are witnessing a greater interdisciplinarity, with artists collaborating with programmers, scientists and professionals from other fields. This integrated approach to art fully reflects the evolution that we are experiencing as human race, and contributes to promoting new experiments.

How do you see the relationship between digital and traditional art? Can these two art forms integrate?

One of the most obvious trends is hybridisation, with artists combining traditional techniques with new digital technologies to create innovative, multi-dimensional works. This union between analogue and digital art opens up unexplored expressive possibilities, promotes an increasingly broad experimentation and, finally, invites the public to develop new ways of art fruition. But all this has not been born today. In 1962, at the Olivetti store in Milan, an exhibition called Arte Programmata. Arte cinetica, opere moltiplicate, opera aperta (“Programmed Art. Kinetic art, multiplied works, open work”) was inaugurated; organised by Bruno Munari and Giorgio Soavi and presented by Umberto Eco, it can be ascribed as the first reflection on the use of technology applied to art. Way ahead of its time.

IBSA Foundation for scientific research strongly believes in the unifying and healing power of art. What do you think about the impact of art on people’s well-being?

Art has always been the purpose of my existence, so naturally I agree in considering it as something that produces well-being on a psychological, mental – and therefore general – level. A report commissioned by the WHO, which reviewed over 3000 studies on the subject, highlighted much convincing evidence of a direct relationship between art and well-being. And it’s not just art therapy. Going to museums, looking at works of art and sharing these experiences has a positive effect on people’s well-being. IBSA Foundation promotes and supports projects that use art – and more generally culture – as a tool to improve emotional well-being. We share a philosophy that is attentive to the wholeness of the person, as well as to culture intended as a key factor for the progress of our communities.

To conclude, can you tell us about the Digital Aesthetics project, the initiative set up at the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia (“National Museum of Science and Technology”) in Milan?

Developed in collaboration with IBSA Foundation and the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia (MUST) in Milan, it’s a project aimed at exploring the intersection between art, artificial intelligence and digital technology by presenting four digital art installations to the public: “The Wall of Sound”, by panGenerator; “The cage”, by auroraMechanica;  “Robotic voice activated word kicking machine”, by Neil Mendoza; and “Chromata”, by Michael Bromley. The goal is to create new scenarios of thought and exploration between two apparently distant worlds such as humanistic and scientific knowledge, identifying their relationships and contact opportunities. If you are in Milan, I recommend you visit it, to experiment and… connect with art!

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