Artist of the Month: November 2012, Riccardo Iacono

Artist of the Month: November 2012, Riccardo Iacono Riccardo Iacono, Island, 2001

This month Ruth catches up with artist Riccardo Iacono to discuss his current work 'Lamp Posts', the limitations of vision and throwing peas.

Ruth Wilbur: Much of your work explores visual perception. What have you learned about your own perception in the course of making work?

Riccardo Iacono: There is more than one reality, and everybody likes happy endings. My work is largely concerned with the experience of seeing and living with mixed realities and multiple identities, managing the blind spots that arise from changes in perspective and the use of different materials and viewing systems. What we see depends on why we look. My memories and experiences inform what I observe and record.  I've become increasingly conscious of the limitations of my vision, I struggle to 'see' in some form or another and I have learned that in order for us to make sense of things visually, then we need a framework.

RW: Over 20 of your performances and interventions involve throwing objects. What interests you about the act of throwing?

RI: The works are largely concerned with questions of who, what and where I am. Throwing enables me to consider the relationships of the body, image and place and the correspondences of eye and camera movement. The work 'P-Sample 1' (2006), uses pea throwing and editing to analyse, verify and manipulate time, space, materials, identities and behaviours. Ricocheting peas were used to create a network of sounds and images that corresponded to my visual and thinking experience.

Riccardo Iacono Psample

Riccardo Iacono, P-Sample 1, 2006

In works such as 'Elephant', DV, colour stereo, 7:30 min (2007), and 'Missing' DV, colour stereo, 4 min (2007), I focus more on the camera shake that follows the act of throwing, the z-like movement of the eye looking toward and away from the target and back again. Viewers watch the camera make a ‘z’ movement which becomes quite disorientating to follow. The movement is comparable to the sideways weaving, stuttering and slippage of movie film passing through a camera or projector. It is also similar to the recoiling action of a canon or a rifle upon firing, and the movement of the body created by the pumping action of the heart, the pulsing of blood through the veins.

RW: Social interaction and performance is also a big part of your work...

RI: Yes, in several works I use the reactions of the public. 'Kinky', DV colour, stereo, 1:45min (2006), for example, was quite an amusing piece. It was made while I was walking around East London. I was throwing peas at buildings, signposts and cardboard boxes and capturing the sounds and images on video. A man stopped to ask me what I was doing and the conversation that ensued became part of the work.

Riccardo Iacono Kinky

Riccardo Iacono, Kinky, 2006

RW: What was the last exhibition you saw that had an impact on you and why?

RI: Guy Sherwin’s screening of his 1972, optical sound 16mm film performance, Cycles #3, at Cafe Oto, presented as part of Hackney Film Festival. He used two superimposed projections to create this extraordinary pulsating hole on the screen. It was accompanied by a rhythmic thumping soundtrack made by placing paper dots along the optical sound area of the film-strip. I found the experience awe-inspiring.

RW: It’s our 21st Birthday in November. You finished your BA in painting at Glasgow School of Art in 1991. How do you think the art world has changed since then?

RI: Advances in computing, mobile and web technologies have led to more work being produced and exhibited using digital media. With the development of the internet, artists are able to create their own personal exhibition spaces and use the internet as a way to develop and engage international and target audiences. Developments in technology and digital media have also enabled a greater scope for cross-disciplinary collaborative practice, social engagement and interactivity.

Artists are now working with new realities, the world is not as it was 21 years ago, our experience of space and time is so very different. People have shorter attention spans, it's not just technology that has changed but people too.

Riccardo Iaccono, Lamp Post Series: Lady on a train (2012)

RW: You’re most recent work 'Lamp Posts' (2012), has been shot using mobile phones. What made you decide to use mobiles to film rather than HD video cameras?

RI: The series follows my experiences of everyday situations, such as walking, travelling on the underground, people watching and using the bathroom. Some of them are quite formal and meditative, while others are more playful and amusing. I decided to use mobile phones to photograph and film for convenience really. The phones are very basic, small and lightweight, they are also very discreet. In public no one bats an eyelid if you are holding a mobile in your hand. If I used a device that actually looks like a camera, people would have responded quite differently.

I’ve done a few videos using HD, but I still prefer the qualities of lower resolution video files. The native 3gp compressor that is built into the mobile I used to make the 'Lamp Posts' series creates this soft, fuzzy-like quality. I haven’t discovered anything like that with HD yet. I was also keen to keep the file size low so the works are easier to manage, distribute and archive.

RW: There are over a 1,000 works in the series. That's a huge number. Why did you decide to make so many?

RI: That's an interesting point. A friend recently described me as 'an obsessive artist', which is true. I’m forever making work...It's a bit of a problem. I had a chat with the writer and filmmaker Ewan Morrison recently, about photography, and about how everybody has a mobile and is taking pictures and shooting videos. He seemed to think there was too much photography around...I on the other hand, think it's interesting to present unedited material. In the 'Lamp Posts' series everything has been included, even the unimpressive films and duplicate photos, but I am planning to develop a number of versions of the project and will be considering how the work is organised.

RW: You have work on a number of social media channels such as Youtube and Vimeo. What advice would you give to artists looking to promote their work? 

RI: You need to think about who your audience is and how best to engage them. Some platforms are better for reaching people than others, it really depends on the kind of work you do and who you want to see it. Wordpress and Google Blogspot are great promotional and presentation tools, you can customise the appearance of the site and visitors can subscribe to news feeds and updates. I find it a great way of getting feedback.

View Riccardo Iacono's profile >

Interview by Ruth Wilbur, November 2012

Coming Up 

You can watch Riccardo's film ‘London Fields’ (part of the Lamp Post series) at The Museum of Club Culture in Hull on 24 November 2012 as part of the 'One Minute Volume 6.' screening.

About Riccardo Iacono 

Riccardo Iacono is a London-based artist working with abstract film, digital animation, video collage, painting, performance, installation. He has exhibited widely nationally and internationally and has work in a number of collections including The British Artists' Film and Video Study Collection, Central St Martins, Lux and Canadian Film Makers Distribution.

Riccardo's work considers the body in relation to image and place, often making evident eye and camera movement. Themes of difference, displacement, conflict and play are also tackled.

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