CYFEST | International Media Art Festival

CYFEST (Cyberfest), the biggest Russian art and technology festival, created by the St. Petersburg Cyber ​​Media Art Lab, will be held for the first time in Italy, in Caserta. From June 22nd to July 1st, the Royal Palace of Caserta will host the final stage of the XI edition of this traveling Festival, which started in November 2017 in New York (USA) and had its main event in St. Petersburg (RU), with stops in Beijing (CH) and Brighton (UK).
Cyfest arrives in our country for the first time in 2018, "the year of Russian culture in Italy", creating a connection between the State Hermitage Museum (venue of the Cyfest in St. Petersburg) and the Royal Palace of Caserta. In the baroque rooms of the royal apartments, art and technology will merge into a unique exhibition, through interactive installations, kinetic sculptures, video projections and artificial intelligence. The exhibition is curated by Anna Frants, Elena Gubanova and Isabella Indolfi, and involve Italian and Russian artists.
The protagonists of the exhibition will be the artists Anna Frants, Donato Piccolo, Alexandra Dementieva, Licia Galizia and Michelangelo Lupone, Elena Gubanova and Ivan Govorkov, Franz Cerami, Daniele Spanò, Aleksey Grachev and Sergey Komarov, Maurizio Chiantone.
In line with the concept of Cyfest 2017-2018, "Weather Forecast: Digital Cloudiness", the Caserta exhibition invites artists to reflect on the influence of technology on life today. Man has always tried to control and predict the weather conditions, unpredictable by nature, a metaphor of the future. However, in the modern era, Man has modified, through irresponsible behavior, even the planetary climate. At the same time digital is a ubiquitous cloud that permeates and modifies, as if wearing Kantian lenses, all aspects of social life: from work, to communication, to personal relationships, to intimate ones. We live in parallel worlds, in "private clouds", the "Public cloud", "community clouds" and "hybrid clouds". The only one who uses the digital consciously, bending it to his needs and answering his own questions, is the artist, who, through new technologies, tries to re-create, recover and arouse, what is most profoundly human: doubt, feeling and emotion.
The CYFEST Festival is organized annually by Cyland Media Art Lab, a non-profit organization founded in 2007, based in St. Petersburg and New York, which aims to promote the interaction between new forms of art and the most advanced technologies. In 11 years of activity, CYFEST has created connections and cultural exchanges between Russia and the rest of the world, hosting 236 artists and 37 curators from USA, Germany, Japan, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Finland, Italy, the Philippines and organizing exhibitions in Moscow, New York, Bogotá, Mexico City, London, Berlin, Tokyo and in many other cities all over the world. Among the prestigious partners of the Cyfest are The State Hermitage Museum, the Pratt Institute, Leonardo/ISAST and the NCCA of St. Petersburg.
This year Cyfest decided to invest in the Campania region, shining a light on one of the landmarks of Neapolitan culture: the Royal Palace of Caserta. In order to make this event an opportunity of growth for all, we are building a vast network of partners from Caserta through the major cultural institutions of Naples (including the Campania Region, MADRE Museum, Città della Scienza, Fondazione Banco Napoli)” explains curator Isabella Indolfi.
The event is organized with the contribution of OneMarketData; under the patronage of the Campania Region, the MADRE Museum, the Idis Foundation - Città della Scienza, the Banco di Napoli Foundation; in network with Seminaria Festival, Academy of Fine Arts of Naples, 012 Factory, Dynamic Museum of Technology - Adriano Olivetti of Caserta; mediapartner Digitcult.


Reggia di Caserta | 22th June 1st July 2018
by Isabella Indolfi



We are in the eighteenth-century halls, in the heart of the royal apartments of the Palace, same spaces where Terrae Motus collection was exhibited (featuring works by Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, Pistoletto, Kounellis and Paladino), in other words where the first relevant date the Bourbon Palace had with contemporary art.
The Cyfest from St. Petersburg brings a digital and windy cloud of art and technology. The exhibition is designed as a journey through the great contemporary changes, among distorted visions of the present, the future and the past. Whether the nature, society, communication or the very human bases, the impetus of digital change has crushed all aspects of reality, whose representation has changed through technologies.
In a path that follows the trends of the atmosphere temperature and clouding, the exhibition halls become gradually “warmer” because of the media they use or the topics they deal with. Following the colors palette provided by meteorologists, we move from the first room, blue and cold, dominated by artificial nature and witness of climate change, to the second and third room, green and orange, mild temperature, sociological changes about machines and technologies is the topic; and finally the last room, red and warm, up to the deepest mutations of the sense of human beings, love and sensuality. Video-projections, interactive installations, kinetic and robotic sculptures and sound artworks play in the eighteenth-century space to increase it, expand it and turn it into new meanings.

Caelum” (Daniele Spanò) breaks the ceiling, threatening the visitors from the top, while “Dark Sea” (Licia Galizia e Michelangelo Lupone) takes them from the bottom, up until they wet their feet by touching it. “Number 0” e “Living Tapestry” (Anna Frants) are artworks with infinite eyes, that follow us, trace us, trap our faces in their database, reflecting a fluid society, immersed in futuristic architectures dwelled by weird characters, lost in simultaneous fragmented visions. A society uncertain in its present, continually questions its own future holding on to the past. How to live without death? declaims Donato Piccolo’s head (Thinking the Unthinkable) who looks at us unreasonably from under a table, asking questions about the singularity of the human being and the alleged artificial intelligence. Which theories will develop the posterity once they find the ruins of our disappeared civilization? is the question that motivates the complex multimedia work “The Sleeper” (Alexandra Dementieva) who, in the blink of an eye, finds us frozen, like the protagonist of the same name film by Woody Allen, facing the narration of an unlikely future. Archaeological traces of a re-activated past are scattered here and there in the exhibition, like ruins re-programmed for a new life by millions of fingers ready to digit impro- bable codes for new communication systems. The analysis of the past media takes us to the collaboration with Museo Dinamico della Tecnologia Adriano Olivetti in Caserta which shows some pieces of its collection; vintage Olivetti typewriters give evidence of a past believing in the wholeness between man, technology and territory. The memory of a slow and reflective communication, which has gone lost, counters the new technologies of artificially intelligent hands, which try to create a “Dialog” (Elena Gubanova e Ivan Govorkov) in the universal language of gestures and signs. From the 1930s Olivettis to the recent robotics, time has perhaps slipped away from our hands, like grains of sand running down an hourglass, impossible to count unless changed into sound; the sound of the time passing by “Quantum” (Alexey Grachev and Sergey Komarov).
In the last room the temperature is high and the color is red because to be questioned is the animal nature of the human being, which slowly transforms itself, molded by the technological invasion. If human intelligence has become artificial, what happened to love, to sensuality, to instinct? “Possessive shoemaker” (Anna Frants) keeps us suspended on the nuanced themes of dominance, possession, submissiveness and youth. The mechanism is oiled, the movements are constant and delicate, the liquid comes out. Man and woman are vainly reflected in the mirrored surfaces of “Danae” (Elena Gubanova and Ivan Govorkov), golden like the rain that made her pregnant by legend, mythological moment that has fascinated people and artists, including Rembrandt, painter of the Danae to whom the work is inspired. In this great and enchanting mobile sculpture, the body of the goddess is abstract, yet we recognize the sensual movements of a living mechanism, which breathes under the gaze of the visitor. In the same way the sensuality that is consumed behind the cameras becomes abstract in “Lipstick Portraits” (Franz Cerami), that suddenly propels us in the huge dark room of the web. An intimate and private vision assaults us in the small room, and comes without asking permission, as a late-night reflection, clouded by the consequence of digital change.
Franz Cerami and Maurizio Chiantone are the artists from Campania who have been engaged in creating unpublished works, speci- fically conceived for this exhibition. The genius loci is now to be heard, by playing in “Anime” (Maurizio Chiantone) a site-specific sound artwork that projects us out of the exhibition halls, in the magnificent English Garden.

We started this journey from the artificial nature in the first hall and we now find ourselves riding the waves of a melody, flying in a rush over the 6 kilometers of the Royal Park, only with the aim to come back to ourselves.
Without answers, but with many questions. This is what Art is for.
The individual is the beginning and the end of everything. Creator of the beauty and complexity of artistic, technological and social artifacts. Responsible for the momentous changes that are happening, the individual is that little flap of wings sufficient to alter the course of the climate forever (Edward Lorenz 1963).