Organic materials, reflections and working notes. 


Compost is an on going process, an exercise in which Alessandro Carboni reflects on his artistic and research practice. As an organic process, the artist explore his working notes, materials, theoretical elements and practical developments with the aim to increase the understanding of his pratice. Through a process of recombiantion and fermantation of materials, Compost opens continuously new points of view and observation on Carboni's practice and its constituent elements, in a sort of multiple focus that also collects the details, the parts of 'waste', the small parts ... A mixture of residual organic materials that nourish the soil and in turn trigger other possibilities, new forms. That is, the idea is to articulate a prismatic discourse that embodies Carboni's artistic practice structured by processes and formats that inhabit different languages, from visual to performative. The very nature of Compost in fact is to be continually redefined by the elements that are part of it: the working method is a combinatorial and procedural practice that allows Compost to transform itself and constantly take new forms according to the points of view from which we observe Alessandro Carboni's research itself.


Compost #1

Released on 09/07/2020

Let's talk about the idea. What is an idea? As often happens to me, that the generation of an idea is something that comes from a sediment. It is as if at a certain point, even for a single instant, that matter that has inhabited the subsoil for so long, appears, shows itself and is visualized. This moment happens, but it doesn't belong to us. Indeed it is elusive.

At that moment the parts that lay underground, combine, come closer and that connection that up to that point seemed impossible, manifests itself.

There is a hidden agreement between the parties. That form emerges. Who knows for what tension, relationship, bond, intertwining those elements, come together, as if they were tied by threads. The parts come together, find a structure, a volume, form a plane, and we see an outline. The idea is before us and takes shape. It crystallizes and becomes a solid and at the same time fragile object.

I like the idea of ​​something that crystallizes underground, in the dark and suddenly emerges.

Often, the idea, the shape, the image that emerges is the result of mysterious circumstances that do not always depend on our will. In fact, taking shape depends on the numerous internal and external stimuli that have allowed that idea to become visible.

The image will be visible only if we are able to see. And to do this it takes training, it takes practice to feel the crystallization, the formation of the idea in place. It is a constant training for intuition, the ability to feel, to define, to interpret the process. I imagine the transparent, fragile crystal capable of transforming, dissolving and returning sediment, fertile matter waiting to recrystallize in other forms.

The continuous process of emergence, assembly and decomposition of matter and ideas, generates an anti-narrative artistic research practice close to the logic of compost where the relationship between the elements (bodies, materials, ideas) does not proceed by composition, but you think by composting or on an equal footing. The elements mix and find a relationship without the planned hierarchy dictated by a priori dramaturgical or choreographic script needs.

Starting from this fertile space and generative place, I thought of the word Context, and its Latin etymology con-téxere = weave, fabric. woven, woven.

If in the sediment, in the compost, the elements, in their relationship and decomposition process, are transformed and become something else, in the Context the relationship, the intertwining, define the very meaning of the Context. Whenever these relationships change, the meaning of the context changes. So there is a continuous adaptation, a continuous renegotiation of the founding principles, of the conditions themselves that generated the context,

In its nature the city emerges from these principles. The structure of the city originates from a sediment. Its supporting structure is in the subsoil. The city is made of parts, of relations between the parts. An interweaving of elements (bodies, infrastructures etc.) detached in constant dialogue and relationships. What does this relationship emerge? The urbanity. Urbanity is the crystal that emerges from the constant relationship, renegotiation of dialogue, tension and clash between bodies, infrastructures, society etc.

In the last 10 years I have focused my research and artistic production in the study of the relationships between body and urban space. In particular, Hong Kong, where I lived for about 10 years, gave me the opportunity to observe the unpredictable, emerging non-linear dynamics of the urban space as an ecosystem, complex and organic. Somehow, Hong Kong embodies the paradigm of the contemporary metropolis in which social, economic, environmental and political issues, conflicts and tensions converge an elusive flow, difficult to contain and represent.

In order to understand the transformations of Hong Kong's urban space, I began to explore its verticality by observing the city of the top and visiting the archives of the Hong Kong land register to consult the first aerial photos taken by the British in the city. These images gave the opportunity to recount how many urban space and its transformations in real time.

In my practice, the cartographic process became an attempt to reduce complexity, in particular urban to sign: a process of crystallization, abstraction and representation. At the same time, starting from the bottom, the cartographic process is applied to the body, which becomes a subjective map and an instrument for capturing and representing urban space in its geometric and temporal dimension. In the cartographic process, the generation of the map emerges exactly like the process that generates a shape from the sediment. Urban complexity, unpredictable, emerging, generative as compost, is projected into the projection plane and becomes a map, sign, representation.

Upon my return to Europe, after the years spent in Hong Kong studying the relationship between cartographic processes, urban space and body, I felt the need to apply research to scenic space and to the artistic process that transposes research into a symbolic abstraction plane .
The stage became the compost, the projection plane, in which the sign and the shape emerge and crystallize.


Compost #2

Released on 21/07/2020

My idea of ​​cartographic projection consists in imagining that there is a vertical plane, that is reality, the world in its complexity of relations, and at the same time there is a horizontal plane, understood as a plane of abstraction, the symbolic in which the complexity of the world is represented. Between these two planes there is a diagonal, that is, that process, that ray of projection capable of overturning, transforming the complexity, making the form emerge and crystallize. Transforming reality into a sign.

In my projects, projection therefore becomes not only a metaphor for the creative process but also a way to visually narrate this process. In fact, 2018 I created the work the Angular Distance Of A Celestial Body, in which the performative action of the bodies became the diagonal, or that process of transformation of complexity into a graphic sign. A modular geometric structure composed of wool threads, manipulated by the gestures of two performers, visually represented those rays of projection

From this work, an evocation and yet another reflection on the etymology of the word Context emerges spontaneously, from the Latin con-textere and therefore to the idea of ​​fabric, weaving, intertwining.

But I think, even before weaving, the action of weaving, I am interested in the process of spinning, in the creation of the yarn, or the complex sequence of operations necessary for the transformation of textile fibers into yarn. This transformation, in its traditional form, in particular the one obtained from sheep's wool, is a process of reducing a complexity to sign or thread. From the tangle, from the chaos, from the wild, from the unpredictable, from the fleece that belongs to the animal's body emerges the line, the primary element thread.
Here the weaver comes into play, the "body-maker", understood as a vehicle of variable and discontinuous energies capable of deconstructing, restructuring and bringing out the shape from chaos, as in a compost. So the weaver can be understood like the diagonal one, the transfer capable of transforming the fleece into yarn and the yarn, intertwining the carpet, which metaphorically can be understood as a projection plane.

Like a cartographic process, weaving is a reduction process in which the creation of the thread is the creation of the line. That sign that becomes a thread, that sign that becomes a drawing and a map. Weaving is that process, in which the weaver, body-maker intertwines the threads, the lines to create a plan, that is the map, that is the carpet, an intertwining of lines, a matrix in which the rays of projections that converge in a single plan. If we understand the carpet as a map, the interweaving of the weft and the warp become the spatial coordinates, latitude and longitude.
If we understand the carpet as a stage, the carpet becomes the matrix in which the intertwining of the weft and the warp become the spatial coordinates, latitude and longitude, on which the bodies are positioned in space.

I was particularly interested in the study of traditional Sardinian weaving and in particular that of Nule which uses modular and serial structures and is characterized by the so-called “flame” decoration and by the multiple color combinations. The flames, woven on vertical looms, are rhomboid shapes that are repeated serially in the rugs. The process and the use of forms on a plane, that is on the carpet, reminded me of the geometric forms, the elementary units and primary structures of American minimalism. In both cases, the geometric form became a module, an elementary, serial capable structure. to activate generative processes for the reconfiguration of space.

In October 2019, I left for New York for the first residency of the Context project, with the aim of studying the use of primary structures in minimalist art and comparing it with my studies on traditional Sardinian weaving. For about two weeks I studied at MoMA's Education and Research Center, visited various museums such as the Dia Art Foundation in Beacon, the Donald Judd Foundation. the first starting point was the Primary Structure exhibition presented by the Jewish Museum of New York in 1966. The exhibition featured artists including Sol Lewitt, Richard Serra, Carl Andrè etc. who shared general characteristics of scale, geometry, surface, color . Later, I studied the work of Sol Le Witt, who in 1974 created one of his main works, a fundamental piece on the themes of seriality and variations, the series entitled "Variations of Incomplete Open Cubes".

The work is a collection of 122 metal structures presented together with the corresponding diagrams, arranged on a matrix. Each sculpture is the projection of a three-dimensional cube with some sides removed so that the structure remains three-dimensional and the sides all remain connected. The minimum number of sides is three and the maximum is eleven. The observer is able to mentally reconstruct the complete shape of the cube from the remaining parts.
Given the rules, the exercise starts with the simple question: "How many variants can be created by systematically subtracting parts from an open cube?" LeWitt has taken the basic and universal known form of the cube and begins to analyze and disembody it, depriving the artwork of any subjective judgment or artistic research that might involve composition or expression. Sol Le witt's intent was to create a work purely responding to an idea, following his famous 1967 statement "The idea becomes a machine that creates art".
 Starting from this work, the idea emerges, in my practice, of a grammar of complexity that crosses cartography, weaving, the work of sol lewitt, a grammar, a work practice capable of activating generative processes that invite to the contemplation of seriality, rhythm, incompleteness and ability of abstract geometric forms to be simultaneously simple and complex: it is both reductive and expansive.


Compost #3

Released on 30/07/2020

How can a form be both simple and complex? How can it be both reductive and expansive at the same time? It depends on the point of view from which we observe it. We can understand it only if we think of it as an organic aggregate, structured of simple parts interacting with each other, on the basis of which the global behavior is not immediately attributable to that of individuals, but depends exclusively on the way in which we observe it and depends on how parts interact.
This modality of observation of the form has penetrated into the creative process of Context, it is becoming the practical development modality of the work, in fact the production is understood as a complex system made up of connected parts, in which the formats inhabit different languages, from the visual to the performative, from textual to sound.
Context is like a prism, a synecdoche, that is, it is the possibility of making coexist, co-living, understanding more things together.
The starting point was the geometric figure of the triangle: understood as a minimal constructive unit that refers to the whole, a simple and complex form, which becomes not only an element for theoretical reflection, but also a central element of visual and performative investigation.
So I gave myself rules, and as an exercise I started with simple questions: “What emerges from the combination of simple elements that depend on each other? What emerges from the non-linearity of interaction between the components of a system? Does self-organization allow the system itself to exhibit inexplicable properties based on the laws that govern the individual components? How many possibilities does a system have?
From here on I started, in practice, a series of residencies, in collaboration with 6 performers, with the aim of answering the questions I had previously asked myself.
The first step was to generate a “mesh”, that is a subdivision of the scenic space into triangular, topological and discrete geometric cells.
These cells, triangular units, made of wood, become that narrative, choreographic, visual and performative model, that geometric and discrete approximation that allowed me to observe at the same time, the triangle as the unit and the whole, as a simple form and the complex, as a reductive and expansive form.
Closely related to an ecological thought, I began to imagine the stage space, no longer as a rigid grid, but rather as a "mesh", that is a mobile space of interconnection, in which infinite connections and infinitesimal differences between the elements bring out continuous ramifications: a strange mesh without a center or border, a space of semi-organized anarchy. The mesh therefore indicates a tangle, an irregular density or density of textures or fabrics where large spaces and neighborhoods alternate. In context, therefore, everything is interconnected with each other, and to quote Timothy Morton “every entity seems strange. Nothing exists completely by itself, and so nothing is fully itself ”.

Compost #4

Released on 30/07/2020

The in-between represents a tension or pull between the ‘ideal and the material’ (Grosz, 91).  Its fluidity and boundless, described in this reading as not a space of inherent  logic, but one that is blended, molded or shaped by the variables that formulate tension on this system from the outside.  This ‘position’ provides utmost potential for continued evolution and is reminiscent of the catastrophes discussed in our previous class. 

Though the in-between is not inherently spatial, through its transformation of other opposing variables or fragmentation of such moments it formulates a dynamic spatial construct.  It therefore becomes spatial based on the movement and forces between opposing variables. 

This tension is a theme brought up the formulation of space of memory and home within my current research.  Two opposing camps, one of the physical/material realm, oppose those memories that encompass imagination, future, possibility, and what has yet to formulate itself into reality.  The in-between is the constant negotiation and tension formed between these two sides.  Continually fluid and changing through time, new spaces are constantly being negotiated based on acceptance and movement into the realm of future possibility or the connection to historic memories grounded in the material.  Such a space is as Grosz explains a place where things become frayed or undone; however such action also produced new potential linkages, paths and potential identities.  Grosz continues in the discussion of the role of Nature and its relation to culture.  Nature dichotomized with culture indicates an opposition or view of nature as a burden to architecture.  Grosz suggests viewing Nature as inherent in and with the conception of culture, the ‘locus of impetus and force.’   Grosz identifies the natural as materiality in time whose destination is openness. Nature as ‘becoming’ as suggested by Grosz suggested a deepening respect towards nature, not simply as a tool towards a cultural end.

It should be imperative to understand those natural systems that failed to evolve or survive and how this can better inform architectural design.  This pulls on Grosz’s discussion of Hegel and the tracing of those alternative cultural forces that history has repressed.  Similarly, this better understanding of those which weren’t provides a better understanding of power, force, and the role of dominance in future systems.  Architecture then is the interface between the cultural and the natural, using the best of both camps that otherwise inhibit progress.