Ars Hbrida



Dino Ferruzzi

Dino Ferruzzi born in Stigliano (Matera, Italy), teaches "Plastic Arts" at the Bruno Munari High School of Art in Cremona. Active as an artist and independent curator in Milan since the eighties, he is among the founders of Careof Documentation Center for Contemporary Art. He collaborated in activities and workshops of the Wurmkos group, with which he took part in numerous national and international projects. In 2004 he created the CRAC Centro Ricerche Contemporanea, a working space dedicated to educational research and training, taking care of exhibitions, events, workshops, residency projects for artists and two conferences dedicated to contemporary art as an educational project. Together with Anisa, Careof, ViaFarini, DOCVA, and IULM, he was the promoter of two editions of Education Lab. On behalf of Cremona Municipality, he managed "Contemporary art and territory" project.


On the Art System in the age of the Internet

Rome (Italy), 15/10/2017

Dino Ferruzzi exposes his point of view on the work of Frank MacYouch. The result is an interesting conversation about art, globalization, digital technologies and future scenarios of contemporary creativity.


FM: First of all, thanks for agreeing to meet me and have a free discussion on topics you, as an artist and a teacher, know much better than me, having accumulated over the years, long experience in research and teaching of contemporary art. Besides, allowing this meeting, or rather this "unusual chat", you attest how much you care about art and how important it is for you to investigate all its aspects, however strange. Because, you know, I'm an artist still marginal to what we can define the "Art System" (that is, the art which matters, both regarding "market" and artistic canon).

When last August, after many years, we met again and talking about our work and activities, you asked me an opinion on your CRAC website, I soon took the opportunity, both as an IT expert and a web designer, to provide you a prompt and indispensable "technical" support. And if you remember, I also told you about my project and the website, asking for suggestions. And this is how our exciting and fruitful dialogue was born.

DF: Thank you for your appreciation. I hope you accept my ideas about your work because I've already explained them to you during our long and remarkable correspondence by email. So I'll try to be sincere.

FM: Yes I accept them. I got a lesson from them, not only because your observations are sharp, but also because I consider you a friend a master of life, from whom to draw inspiration.

In my youth, you taught me so many things, from art to music to literature: for example, jazz, artistic avant-gardes, architecture, non-fiction, etc.; books and essays that influenced my aesthetic and cultural training in depth. But let's talk about the website.

DF: Yes, let's talk about the website. I visited it and, I must say, it's a good container, accurate and full of contents and, from a graphical point of view, it's essential, as needed. I can tell you that my first direct impression is more than positive.

FM: I'm glad you appreciate this. I'm an IT specialist and from this point of view, I'm sure I've done an excellent job. Painting is a hobby for me, I don't consider myself an artist, a professional. I lack technical skills and this forces me to fill this lack with other tools and methods, for example, graphical ones. Now, it is from such a "contradiction" that I want to start, trying to compare two different experiences, which also imply different ways of thinking and "different worlds". On the one hand, the world of "Art System", Art with A capital letter, I mean the world of professionals and artists who matter, who dictate the rules, the domain of significant works of art, museums and exhibitions, and so on. On the other, the world of pop art, of unknown artists and alternative events, that is the world of "outsiders" and all those who populate the web in search of spaces and opportunities to talk about themselves and their work, capitalizing their ideas with obstinacy. Then there is the Internet, with its global communication network, which envelops everything, transforming it over time, and with which both "mainstream Art" with uppercase and "popular art" with lower case, have to relate, with unpredictable results that often escape any simplistic or hasty categorization. It's like a match between professionals and outsiders.

I don't know if the term "outsider" is the most correct to express my thoughts, I mean the social and psychological peculiarities of the artist I'm describing with it. His activity focuses, to a large extent, on the Internet and social networks. So, as I already explained in the "Reflections", the characteristics of his art are popular: social, to be exact. We could define it "social art" as opposed to "Art System". This description is also the most fitting, I think. I tried to use, for example, "Art with a capital A", and elsewhere I used "art circuit", but I fear that perhaps both expressions don't describe its correct idea. We are only trying to outline scenarios and hypotheses, nothing more, although various elements of analysis are substantially right and possible.

DF: The subject is complex, so I would proceed by arguments and try, first, to relate them to your work and your project, which is the aim of this one-on-one chat. I would focus, to begin with, on three points, which I'll try to elaborate during the discussion:

Let's start from the first one. Despite your clarifications, I still don't understand the real meaning of your project. To put it simply: do you want to introduce your work to the art world? Do you want to share your research with other artists who also work and move in parallel with you?

FM: Both things and neither, since my approach is not "mediated" by Art System. First, it is appropriate for me to focus just a moment on what I consider a crucial precondition, without which we could not even grasp the "sense" of the whole project.

I am an IT specialist, not an artist; painting for me is an intellectual, recreational occupation, I don't need it for a living. It's like graphics, writing, programming, gardening, all activities to which I dedicate myself with enthusiasm, but not methodically. I'm aware that any interest, if cultivated with the right tools, intellectual honesty and competence, can often turn itself into art and, over time, into mastery of language, attentive to both the form and the contents.

It is difficult to explain how I arrived at this conclusion, but I'll try to do it. Ars Hybrida was born from an old project of 1992 when I was attending the European Institute of Design, a project put in train repeatedly and then abandoned, never clarified once and for all, contradictory in its terms and objectives. The main limitation of the project, in fact, consisted in its "slow gestation": some intuitions were good for that period, others less, some came along the way and some, on the contrary, lost their importance. An era has changed. In the '90s we still believed communication focused on television, a one-way media. But then came the Internet, a multi-directional, multimedia and interactive technology. With the digital revolution, everything changed, in a way that not even MacLuhan would have predicted. When I started the project (today the Internet allows anyone to start up his virtual bulletin board or a blog or a personal site), I had to deal with a new reality, crossed by modern fashions and ways of thought. They were radically different from those of previous years, beliefs and "ideologies" of a generation before. But we grew up with them. Art and criticism, perhaps in Italy, but also in France, have always been the prerogative of a certain left, an ideological and well-defined left, which probably today no longer exists.

But let's return to the project: after so many years, its ideological structure is a bit contradictory. Not only because, in the light of global transformations, many ideas should undergo a profound revision, but because any ideological debate on new media and mass culture, signification and communication, has perhaps already stopped at the time of Eco and Maldonado. So it's contradictory even in its attempt to explain and justify a way of producing art and culture that has also changed, getting involved in new perspectives, contaminations, technologies, genres and disciplines.

So, we often end up using techniques and procedures that may sound strange to "some". A hybridism that is not only artistic or cultural, but communicative, expressive, technological, methodological, existential, and so on. It's a global phenomenon, just like the economy, politics, communication, society... It covers everything and everyone, tools, means, techniques and contents, media and interfaces. But let me answer your question, whether I want to introduce my activity to the world of art or share my research with other artists who own the same interests and ideas as me... Well, I must admit that it is difficult to answer.

Clearly, looking at current transformations in our way of producing and enjoying art, I couldn't help but to raise some issues I consider pertinent and crucial today, perhaps even more critical than the problem to define what is art and what is not, a debate, as I said, sterile and without a solution.

The first limit of my art is methodological. The procedures I use to create my paintings, which, I repeat, are graphical and not pictorial, make me lose a lot of time and work... If I were a real painter, in control of his technique, I would spend less time, two days at most. As a result, my productivity decreases and prevents me from creating a suitable "portfolio", and this limits the overall time I could devote to art or, if you prefer, to "Art System" and its dynamics, to increase my reputation and share my research. That's why all my works over the years, even the less representative ones, are not for sale. But I store and preserve them for any eventuality, for example, an exhibition, a showcase or any other event. I need them to set up a minimum portfolio, on demand.

DF: All right, but I would like to clarify some issues about the Art System, which I think are essential. Since I worked for years as an artist and an independent curator, I could tell you lots of things and talk for a long time about pains and delights of this world. But I would also highlight, however you imagine it, that you must "face it", otherwise you are completely out. So I think the operation you did, focused almost on the Internet, brings you, for different reasons, right in this direction.

I don't mean I consider the "system", whatever it is, as a naturalization of status quo, of all what exists, but as a way to work from the inside, to stimulate a radical criticism of anything we don't like since it doesn't work. This critical attitude, which implies vigilance and awareness, is for me an indispensable precondition to continue talking about art and living on it and then to understand what's happening to our contemporaneity, in a globalized context where our entire life comes down to mere merchandise. I need to clarify my position because I believe art should own a social function.

What we started within CRAC went just in this direction. We worked in the school producing art, allowing us to re-imagine us as people freed from chains and obstacles of a despotic and repressive school that has little to teach and train. Therefore, we started, within the school, a "sabotage" experience aimed to "bring out all the contradictions of a system in shambles" (self-quote from an article I published in the book TEN YEARS 2004-2014, and to do this, we tried to convey and stimulate new, alternative models of education and teaching and we are still working on that.

There are important organizations that have been working for years outside the public school system and, therefore, outside the Art System, but, despite danger and some inevitable difficulties, I feel we need to stay inside the system and try not to be conditioned and affected by it.

So the same rules, if you like, are not only valid for the "Art System", but for whatever affects us. Honestly, I doubt you can achieve specific goals by using only the Internet. Perhaps it would be much better and enjoyable for you to look at other directions and extend your research...

FM: I agree with you and, albeit with some differences in approach and method, I also believe Art should have its own precise "social function", that never changes, in a cultural event as in a social network, no matter how you consider it, because what changes, in fact, is the usage rather than the stuff. However I know little about Art System, I never invested a lot of time in it, and this is a gap, a gap you can't easily fill, not in a few years. Besides, regarding my personality, I'm a shy person who "doesn't like to expose himself" nor to be the "center of attention", so, to relate to Art System, I should try to be not afraid of sticking my neck out. Then I should also try to participate in events and exhibitions, taking care of people, to know them and vice versa. My ambitions are perhaps more modest, not in the sense that my artistic activity should remain confined within the narrow and discouraging limits of a pure recreational pastime, but because I've neither the time nor the means nor the expertise to organize events of a certain significance. I work until five o'clock in the afternoon (this is my job, for which I'm paid and that allows me to survive), so where could I find time and resources and locations to set up, for example, an installation? It's not just a question of disregard for this kind of artistic communication. I've not chosen painting instead of body art or installation for this, but because it was a logistical necessity for me. Assembling a picture, despite the waste of colors and materials, is more comfortable for me than setting up an installation. As a programmer, I find it cheaper and more functional to use my computer to produce art and then transpose it on a canvas or cardstock, rather than scout around me for locations, resources, people, opportunities and funding for exhibitions or multimedia installations. I say this because I'm fully aware that media and techniques are today multiple and diverse, and this is impressive, in an era of global transformation like the one we're just experiencing now.

DF: Second point, contents. Your works are like packed with long and voluminous texts, which are difficult to read on a website unless we speak of sectorial sites. I believe texts should be synthetic even if full of references and citations. They should be attractive, people should read them with ease. But we are speaking of a site, which differs from a book. I can't find a real consistency in it or I would see it if the site were just a "showcase", a way to exhibit your works. Besides, opening your website or a web page to artists whom you know pretty nothing about, can be risky and counterproductive. You may come across poor, generic contents and second-rate works. You should extend your invitation only to people you know and trust. It is just in this way you can give more value to your ideas and your research.

FM: In fact, I took your advice and I removed that page from my site, disabling that feature forever. As regards "voluminous" texts, their usefulness and their need have emerged in itinere, almost by chance, not by a design choice.

The original idea was to create a "showcase" where I could exhibit my works. But uploading my contents to the website, I realized that many of my creations no longer suited to my current tastes, they didn't "represent me" anymore. They weren't indicative of my evolutionary experience and they didn't represent my new research fields. I made many of these works in the '90s, when I had just conceived my project Ars Hybrida. As a result, many of the ideas that once represented the core of my project, became soon obsolete, they no longer considered fresh innovations in the arts and culture. As I progressed, I always had a lot of new ideas and thoughts, so little by little I developed the idea of ​​a real book, an e-book you could download from the Internet and read comfortably on a tablet.

DF: The fact is that enriched with so many texts, it seems that all contents should justify images. I'm not among those who think that images speak for themselves, but I believe a right balance between what you say and what you show is desirable, to open doors to the unexpected, to all what is not always said or shown. However, I find your search interesting.

FM: You're right. The problem, however, is not the text (its abundance or its wordiness), since it's propaedeutic, as I explained, to the book (no matter whether in electronic or paper format). The real problem is the "website layout" itself. As a result, I moved "galleries" to the foreground, then I moved texts (so-called "voluminous texts") to secondary pages, indexed by topics and accessible by clicking on abstracts or main menu. Unfortunately, keeping galleries on the home page makes them load slowly. So I adopted the solution to move also galleries to secondary pages. In this way texts and images look "separated" and it doesn't seem that the contents must justify the images, as you say. Besides, this allows a better balance between images and contents. So the home page, as it should be, becomes a "showcase", with an informative, cataloging and organizational function.

DF: Third point, the way your operation relates to Art System. For my long experience and knowledge of how Art System works, I can tell you that such an operation like yours and many others we can find on the web, can generate suspicions. I try to explain you better what I'm saying. Although the Internet is a platform of intensive interactions that involves all of us, for its impressive and increasing amount of data, however, what we take into account first, for habit, is what we know or what we consider already established, recognized.

FM: I'm aware, this is the point: an operation like mine can "generate suspicions", even if I only attempted to find an alternative to Art System, that requires, I imagine, years of hard work, dedication, and long waiting. Only through the web, through intensive interactions (for example, social networking), established topics (e.g. artistic avant-gardes of the 20th century) and structured metadata (keywords and descriptions) is it possible to "establish a reputation" in a short time. Searching for keys and metadata is not enough, however; we must also produce quality contents for search engines (so-called search engine optimization SEO). I admit, maybe I overthink, like any IT specialist...

DF: If I understand correctly, the e-book should be a copy of your website?

FM: Yes, my idea is this. The title of the e-book should be "Ars Hybrida" and the subtitle, "an atypical manual for artists and non-artists", and this is meaningful.

This ambiguity, you're right, can generate more than legitimate "suspicions"... I cited Brian Eno ("music for no musicians"). But there is a correct logic and a purpose: on the Internet, there's a big demand for manuals, everyone believes he can become an artist in 15 minutes and everyone can become it for 15 minutes, as Andy Warhol claimed, to provoke people. But then, if you read the text, you realize that things are different, much more problematic, articulated; art requires method and constancy and, above all, reflection and awareness. Without artistic knowledge, it isn't even conceivable to become an artist, even when you evade Art System, which, as we know, has its own rules, however strange they may appear or obedient to profit.

DF: You have a very personal point of view, which interacts with your profession and your particular interests. However, the point of view of those who, like me, have been working for decades in art and culture, is a little different. Usually, our interest in an artist's work is out of the Internet. This medium has only a communicative function, which is direct but relative. Curators, gallery owners, experts, and people prefer a direct relationship with artists and their work. To know an artist, you must first look at his work and then hear what he has to say about it and his research. That's the way we follow.

FM: We've already talked about it. I find it difficult to arrange a permanent art exhibition that truly represents me. I need an equipped space, such as a hobby room or a garage, but above all, I need an effective strategy that allows me to produce, in a short time and with little effort, enough representative works.

DF: I don't want to say you need not build a website since it's useless, but sure it's not relevant, for the reasons I mentioned. So, if your purpose is to show people who you are, I would first focus on the website and then, regarding images and contents, on how to make it friendly and responsive. But I would go outside your house and then let people know what you produce.

FM: For me, a website is a place to "start" and test people's satisfaction. For example, I could make available the download of high-resolution images after registration, to check the total number of downloads. If total downloads exceed a certain number, it means that people are satisfied, thus I could plan to gather, for a possible exhibition, all the most downloaded paintings, transposing them later on a canvas or a cardstock, and discarding, instead, all those that, in terms of popularity, didn't receive any like or download. It may seem paradoxical, but this is the reality, this is the logic of the Internet, with which art has to confront in our time, far beyond what we could have imagined until yesterday... That's "digital reproduction", to quote Benjamin.

With this, I don't want to legitimate everything, not without ethical or deontological consequences. An ethical question is: is it appropriate to produce art with methods that have little to do with real painting? A deontological question instead is: is what I create art or is it not?

A lot of factors come into play, first artistic "awareness" and then a proper knowledge of art history, techniques, tools and so on.

As for letting people know my work, well, I can't tell... it's not easy when you get to a certain age. You lose enthusiasm and determination, you have much less desire to go out, to break the usual routine. You should also be able to re-examine yourself...

DF: I'd like to give you some tips on how to move, on what to do. The site is excellent, but it can only be useful as a first approach; it is a good thing, instead, to contact curators and visit exhibitions, do it in person, they might find interest in your research.

For this, you need a "good acquaintance" of curators and galleries and places where artists and projects are hosted. Since you live in Rome, start from there.

FM: All right, but it isn't just a question of time and space, it is a matter of costs, I need an initial investment, which is difficult to estimate, without sufficient information. Apart from materials and resources, I need also contacts, circuits, opportunities. For example, to complete my portfolio, which I have yet to catalog, I need a lot of money, I don't just mean materials, I mean colors, paints, canvases, frames, and so on. It would cost me at least ...

DF: Sorry if I interrupt you, I understand your reasons, but I repeat, you need to build a "good portfolio", it's fundamental! I think few images are sufficient for a website like yours and they must be in high resolution, accompanied by an abstract and some indications about dimensions and applied techniques. Then, with these resources, you put yourself out there, hoping to find people interested in your work, confident to see it later live.

FM: No, I don't think images must be at all costs in high resolution, because it can slow down web pages loading. With a slow connection or, even worse, with a dated, under-performing device, it could completely crash.

It's better to store images on other platforms, such as Instagram, from which users are then free to download them in high resolution, through a link, after registering.

DF: However, you don't need an "exceeding" production, this should not be your concern. A high production generates inflation. So, always show few things, but consistent with your research. Hide all the rest and show it only when required, otherwise leave it in the "drawer".

FM: Yes, I don't need an exceeding production, but a work that "represents me" altogether, yes I need it! That's "consistency".

DF: Ah, another critical question: research. Continue with your research, always passionate about what is new and unexpected and don't be afraid to take risks. Research is essential. I don't want to comment on you do, but I can't see in your work radical experimentation, which on the contrary appears more explicit in your writings about artists, movements, and philosophers who have radicalized their research experience.

FM: In fact, it is so, and it couldn't be otherwise, for me, as for many others, even famous ones. This is not for demerit, without a doubt, but because true radical experimentation doesn't exist today. That's why, wishing to progress in my work, I felt the need to debate on it, with thoughts and reflections that could clarify the problems that an artist nowadays must face in order not to be trivial, to avoid plagiarism and, above all, self-proliferation. So it is not only a proliferation of images and sounds, texts and meanings (which are non-material entities), but of objects and goods, primarily consumer goods, which overwhelm the world, devastating it and polluting it. If you glanced at my reflections, you could notice that, at a certain point, I wonder and answer: So, what makes "original" and above all "innovative" an artist today? Perhaps, when everything develops so fast and history seems to have nothing new to say or invent, he should understand how things can be "created by reusing" and "redesigned by improving", which translates into two words, as simple as effective: "assembling through innovation".

Perhaps I wasn't able to innovate enough, but at least I escaped remake and above all plagiarism. Many artists, even famous ones, try first to "grab people's attention", so they use provocation, ambiguity, events, as a programmatic manifesto, a mixture of announcements and intuitions, and then they call it innovation. My experimentation is so not radical, but it contains however many elements of interest and novelty, both in approach and methodologies, such as, for example, the application of probabilistic algorithms to artworks production.

DF: But going back to our discussion on how a portfolio should be, as I told you, a portfolio shouldn't be vast, but quality, so I feel that your whole production, in its forms and techniques, draws too much inspiration from historical avant-gardes, rather than contemporary imagination. All this is fine, but put it to rest, because what you need first is to bring out your creativity, for example in the way you use materials, that don't perform an aesthetic function only but take a variety of forms too, conceptual above all, as shown by frequent quotations and references in your writings. Perhaps, even if you talk about it on many occasions, I can't understand its final reward, if justified only by the "pictorial medium".

FM: In chapter "Computer graphics", I dedicated an entire subsection to this topic. The title is "Back to the picture?" ([PUT LINK]{.underline}) and I talk about the function of paintings, in the sense of traditional pictorial media.

Are they still relevant today? Does it make sense to talk about them, since some pictorial works (for example, those of Digital Art) can be used both in 2D mode, on flat screens, and in 3D mode, through holograms?

Soon after, I launched the idea to compare, for an in-depth analysis, electronic books to paper books: where is the difference, I wondered? In shape, in technology, in materials or something else? And I quoted Philip Smith who, for the comparison, coined a successful neologism, "bookness", in other words, "The Whatness of Bookness, or What is a Book". So I wondered: does anything like "bookness" also exist in painting or sculpture, something we might call "pictureness" or "paintingness" or "sculptureness"?

Does a painting, as we've known it until today, still maintain its role or has it turned into something else? Is a picture a product, an object of art, or has it rather dematerialized, becoming design, which today is nothing but a multifunctional and distributed communication system?

DF: You have a lot of ideas, I think you could further expand your research, by experimenting with new techniques and media and installing them together. So why not try and go beyond the borders of the frame and known forms, why not consider the space as a dimension you are going to "invade"? The vast space, as well as rooms, are always a good reason to work.

FM: The "digital reproduction" has already started an inevitable dematerialization of paintings as products (handmade products), going far enough the borders of the frame, to invade, as you say, in the "wide space" of visual and synesthetic communication. Now, both space and rooms are, without doubt, a good reason to start but, for what concerns me, I find it difficult to manage installation, because I can't find the time nor the space required to produce my paintings, I mean, simple two-dimensional paintings, limited by frames. Managing an installation, therefore, involves costs and sacrifices that exceed any benefit or reward I could derive from them. Space and rooms to "invade" are not free, you must look for them, you need contacts and authorizations, some investment too and a lot of time. You need a team.

The practice of painting, on the contrary, is like a meditative discipline for me (see chapter "Zen and manual dexterity"), that turns painting into a "creative opportunity", a magical creation around which we rediscover our true self, our inner space (Ma). Yes, it's a "craftsman's workshop", a "minimalist laboratory". It's like a return to manual dexterity, inspired by Zen, whose existential and aesthetic essentiality fascinates me. Trespass has already happened, on an inner level and a different approach.

I've several hobbies, including DIY and gardening, which are typically manual, but "occasionally" I also write short stories. Besides, I can't play, otherwise, I would compose music and much more. Hobbies are for me a way to keep my mind in balance and exercise when combined with meditation.

To work full-time in Art System, you need to put a little of your hobby dimension away, because what we lack more in our society is just our meditative dimension. Too much pollution, not only environmental pollution but a visual and acoustic one; too much communication saturation! We move more and more away from our existential center, from the naturalness of being.

DF: I understand what you say and I don't want to critic your work, which I find exciting and passionate. I've just used a direct, immediate approach, but I think it's necessary also a further investigation on my part.

FM: My work and my research are full of contradictions and ambiguities, I can't deny it. Besides, we wouldn't call it "research" if it were coherent and perfect from the beginning. We do everything for profit today and that's true in art too. Even an artist would gain money from his paintings. Now, since we can't put installations on sale, as we do with objects, we must then look for different ways, methods, and circuits, to earn money from them.

The hybrid art, as I imagine it, is very similar to pop art. In some respects, it's an ultimate evolution of it, it exasperates some of its characteristics. As a result, it is a clear product of globalization. For example, you can download it from the web. Thus, you can download every single high-resolution picture for a modest sum of 0.79 cents. Then consider the possibility to receive at home (via Amazon or eBay) posters or numbered prints, provided with an authentic signature of the author, then add his book for a modest sum of 4.99 euros (in electronic format) or 49.9 euros (in paper format), do a little calculation, do it in statistics, and what do you get out? Calculate a global network of over 2 billion users ( to 2011, according to Wikipedia), calculate at least that most of the websites are in English and then consider I'm going to translate my site into English and, in statistics, what do you get out? A vulgarization of art? Probably yes! also Wikipedia is a vulgarization of Treccani.

On the other hand, it is a trend that concerns not only art but culture and fashion. Take the case of "customized sneakers", which are unique, numbered items, often with an autograph and in limited edition, sometimes out of stock. The motto is "create your style", which means create a shoe that matches the way you are or even an idea you have in mind. For example: paint a butterfly on the edge of the shoe or glue some diamonds on its laces. Just this year in Milan, in the premises of Fabbrica Orobia, the first Italian edition of "Sneakerness" took place, with long lines of sponsors, retailers, investors, and fanatics who literally stormed the warehouses since the early morning hours, as if it were an Apple’s iPhone presentation. Some models of sneakers can reach very high prices, around 300/400 thousand euros. Since then, a real "sneaker market" has emerged, with a large number of popular Facebook pages, which collect orders, gaining customers’ loyalty. Likewise, new forms of intermediation have arisen, which go far beyond buying and selling shoes. They rather investigate market supply channels, focusing on customers’ requests and exclusive trends. Besides, new professional roles have appeared, like the “shoe pusher”, a tailored figure for what we could define a sort of "shoe addiction". Well, how to explain this phenomenon, how to define it? Who sets the rules? How should we consider sponsors like Puma and Swatch (the Shoe System) or the re-sellers, the pushers and so on? Should we consider it as a new collective folly, the folly of customers? the psychological disorder of the new generations?

Everything revolves around the Internet, the globalization and it needs, the homologation of mass compulsions and desires.

DF: What you say is true, but some interpretations are perhaps a little forced, should I consider them as provocations?

FM: Yes, provocations! ... Giorgio Gaber used to say: There are two types of artists: those who plan to make history and those who only plan to make cash. I don't need much. I only plan to remain in my meditative dimension. As I stated before in the home page (section "Info"), my paintings are not for sale, neither they will be. But things are evolving fast, right in the direction I said: that of outsiders, on one side, and professionals, on the other.

DF: The Art System is a complex ecosystem, with its rules, relationships, and conventions, but for people like me, who work in it, it is also a valuable reference point, which allows us to understand, besides, how artists relate to art and the market with their work. As for your work, I feel you have maybe a lot of restraints and worries, justified by inexperience and uneasiness. If you don't know how to move in specific contexts, yes you feel uncomfortable. I would try to clarify a few things on how the world of contemporary art essentially works. I hope it can help you.

You should imagine contemporary art as a multi-level building. The last floor is the experimental one, where you can find legendary works of art and the history of art itself.

Here you can also find all those museums, foundations, art galleries, non-profit spaces, and so on, that propose or consecrate, on many levels, the art of their own time.

To practice art, you need a direction, non-mandatory, but recommended.

- First, you need a good knowledge of contemporary art history;

- then you should attend galleries, museums, institutional and non-institutional places, meet and contact people operating in the art business, both in national and international circles;

- and you should be present at major events, art fairs, biennials, etc.

In short, you invest time, effort and even money (travel, accommodation, meals ...), waiting with obstinacy and learning, for now, as much as you can.

In the meantime, I suggest you work hard on your research. People must know what you do because this encourages them to invite you to art events and to take part in collective or solo exhibitions, hosted by intelligent curators, well integrated into society and art system.

Another critical thing to know is as follows.

In the world of contemporary art, artists invited at events and exhibitions, in various contexts, don't pay for their participation, however important, nor publications, if any.

Therefore, be careful and never take part in those events where payments are required (for example to use the room or to publish a catalog, and all that).

I say this in response to your concern or belief that it's always necessary to pay, to take part in an exhibition or to get an insertion in a catalog. This conviction doesn't increase your visibility. Why should an artist pay for this?

Those who take part in paid exhibitions have no awareness of what is going on behind these operations or, at least, they participate because they ignore a lot of things. The idea is, the more I engage, paying for my insertions, the more my reputation increases and becomes relevant and well-known.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true: nobody denies you anything if paid. These operations only aim to earn money, gathering up a large number of artists and offering them a plethora of unusable cultural services.

Perhaps these operations allow us to sell some paintings or to show them at some exhibitions, but we are very far from the world of contemporary art.

If you want to say something important through your ideas and your works, you must work hard, in many directions.

You should always organize your exhibitions in the right places with the right people (according to your needs and interests). If you move following these steps, you can build out a very reputable curriculum, to show people, through a professional profile, who you are.

All this has to do with art, or what I call "making in art".

Of course, you can do everything, it's your right, but territories, paths, and intentions in art, as you can understand, are different and distant.

I repeat you need to be honest with yourself and ask yourself what you really want. Then you can build all the rest and let it happen.

FM: Dear Dino, your observations on my work are acute, I appreciate their extraordinary lucidity and my doubts are exactly yours, just as my conclusions. I find your advice useful and your considerations on art illuminating as well your quick lesson on Art System.

Embarking on the path of art means, as you suggest, not only working hard but above all with "honesty" and passion, like you, who dedicated your best energies to art and its teaching. But responding to your previous remarks, my website, as you may have noticed, is a "content website", rather than an image website.

However "voluminous" my reflections may be, yet I expressed them on a full personal level, with no pretense of saying something new and original. I focused on some primary aspects, highlighting their difficulty as well as their novelty. Then, prompted by your observations, I tried to illustrate, with examples, a different conception of art, that of "outsiders" (to which, for different reasons, I look like), and I compared it to Art System, that of professionals like you, whose cultural background starts, undoubtedly, from opposed assumptions and experiences.

Whatever the difference between these two antithetic conceptions of art, the context within which they move is common to both: globalization, Internet penetration, new information technologies. What changes, instead, is the approach.

Art System needs to protect its independence from the Internet, using it at least as a tool for parallel communication, for instance through institutional or even private websites, however, linked to exhibitions, events, and shows of some importance.

For outsiders, on the contrary, the Internet is everything. It's a place for meeting and exchange, promotion and business, discussion and debate, but it's also a place of solitude. Through the Internet they hope to achieve a better ranking in search engines, so they seek visibility, try to sell their works through unlimited channels and circuits, in a thousand different ways, or they will distribute them for free, through new forms of intellectual property.

As those who, cut off from the market logic (that is, the labor market), look for new jobs and opportunities, better if "smart" activities or, to use a buzzword, smart working, in the same way outsiders consider the Internet to be a helpful and useful tool for most of their purposes.

So, why not take advantage of such an opportunity? After all, I'm an "IT specialist" and art is only a passion for me. But I like to produce art with those unusual methods and means I've often described. What matters is that I always work with "awareness" and love.

So, just a few months ago, since I'm a decent programmer, I bought a web domain for a little money, and then I created, in a few days and with a bit of luck, this website you see now. That's how my adventure began (with all considerations put forward there)!

DF: I can understand your point of view and I also share what you do. I hope you can enjoy everything you do and all that gives meaning to your existence. The opposite would be a pity. However, I would like to clarify some issues about the Art System, to avoid misunderstandings. Don't believe Art System is the only reference point I have. It's not true. Although I know it well enough, I always had trouble with it, for diverse reasons, and this applies not only to my artistic research but to many other artists, even established ones, who can't completely identify themselves with this way of thinking and "making art". So, when you realize Art System depends on the market and that the market controls it, it happens you are definitely "cut off" from it.

What do I mean? When I realized that the Art System and the Market System were not only similar but related to each other, often overlapped, I decided to stop and to remain somewhere on the border, a place which could allow me to find possible "alternatives" to both.

So, I still believe we can create an alternative, for example, a sort of "alterity container" in between.

I'm talking in particular about that complex and dynamic reality which characterizes non-profit organizations. In Italy, for example, where subjects live or survive in a reciprocal disharmony, there is a dense network of non-profit organizations. There is little or no collaboration, which often provokes acute conflicts, with severe consequences, deriving from a sad, selfish attitude.

However, I made my due reflections, which I expressed over the years, in numerous public contexts. I remember in 2003 a long interview on this topic, prepared by Eugenia Delfini, an independent curator who lives and works in New York. In that interview, I could clarify some important issues and I offered a lot of possible solutions and ideas.

To put it briefly, I hoped the expansion of non-profit could arise from a strong cultural and political need because the social sector is open to new forms of cooperation and coexistence. In particular, I expressed the need for a comprehensive approach, for an observation area, even at the local level, to promote the construction of "autonomous" communities, as places for direct democracy.

The quest for alternative spaces and activities compensated, in fact, for the void left by politics. But social bonds and participatory relationships can still fill it.

Seen in this way and within such an Art System, the diffusion of quality non-profit spaces would represent a very neuralgic circuit, able to encourage experimentation and research in areas that don't always depend on market laws. We may consider them as independent spaces, aimed at stimulating knowledge and exchanges between artists and curators operating within the national territory. I was, therefore, considering that in Italy this phenomenon is still irrelevant and that the many existing non-profit associations aren't yet capable of moving and working in an "integrated way". So, an independent cultural hub, like that of non-profit, would be an extraordinary wealth and a significant development opportunity, not only for contemporary arts.

I then said to Delfini that, as far as I was concerned, I believed in a more extensive project for a small research center, which would have represented a great chance for us to operate in our territory and society. I had just planned for my city (Cremona) a local development project that could embrace contemporary art and culture as instruments for environmental rehabilitation and upgrading. In particular, I imagined a place for cultural exchange and analysis and, above all, I imagined art and culture as factors of social growth, which is what I later tried to achieve, translating all of this into the experience of CRAC, from 2004 to 2014.

In Italian regional reality, which comprises small provinces, the birth of many "non-profit containers" would act as a driving force for rapid development of local cultures. It would represent a productive factor to give strength to social cohesion, revitalize specific situations of our territory and, besides, discuss peer-to-peer with all relevant actors who, in different measure, work together to build a better socio-economic and cultural environment for our city and a larger territory.

When I was answering Delfini's questions, I imagined like a Fair Trade, parallel to market capitalism, but able to overturn both profit and human exploitation rules. We must start from a social context and then imagine, from a moral perspective and a bright, shared model of existence, other market forms. This for new sustainable development and to overcome any exploitation on people, and so much more. A great example of cooperation, not based on money, but similar to a gift ... and here it opens a whole new world!

FM: Once again I have to thank you for everything you said up there, for your suggestions and clarifications on a world, that of non-profit, I had not yet considered until today, both in my reflections and in our "conversation". Now, I intend to deepen it, not only from a theoretical point of view but as a precious opportunity of growth for me and my specific artistic research. An opportunity to reinforce my reputation and let the others know my art, despite its inadequacies and its amateur aspects. I hope, besides, to take advantage of all possible alternatives, except current Art/Market System and its communicative solipsism, based on a compulsive "cut, copy, and paste", which today prevails on the Internet, undermining any genuine effort in innovation and artistic research.

DF: There is a lot of irons in the fire and this is perhaps an endless "chat". It would be interesting to deepen so many aspects, but for now, I stop here.

FM: You're right. I want to conclude with a sentence I love: There are only two mistakes we can make on the Path to the Truth: not to go all the way or not to start the journey."  (Buddha)