Salvatore Iaconesi is an interaction designer, robotics engineer, artist, hacker. TED Fellow 2012 and Eisenhower Fellow since 2013.

He currently teaches Interaction Design and cross-media practices at the Faculty of Architecture of the “La Sapienza” University of Rome, at ISIA Design Florence, at the Rome University of Fine Arts and at the IED Design institute.

He produced videogames, artificial intelligences, expert systems dedicated to business and scientific research, entertainment systems, mobile ecosystems, interactive architectures, cross-medial publications, augmented reality systems, and experiences and applications dedicated to providing products, services and practices to human beings all over the world, enabled by technologies, networks and new metaphors of interactions, across cultures and languages.

His artworks and performances have been featured worldwide at festivals and conferences.

Salvatore actively participates to global discussions and actions on the themes of freedoms, new forms of expression and on the future scenarios of our planet from the points of view of energy, environment, multi-cultural societies, gender mutation, sustainability and innovation on both society and business, collaborating with institutions, enterprises and international research groups.
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OneAvatar connects your body to your Avatar in virtual worlds.

You and your Avatar will be finally one, sharing the same experiences even at physical level.

You get hurt, you Avatar gets hurt.

Your Avatar dies, you die.

(available for Second Life, World of Warcraft)


Virtual Worlds such as Second Life and World of Warcraft address people's perceptions and sensorial domains in specific ways. By using (living) these worlds users experience emotions, sensations and perceptions to which they are used to or of completely new kind. Both types are "new" in the fact that they are created in the users by means of technological devices and digital communications related practices. This is a major trend of contemporary technology. Bridges across information, architectures, prcesses and the body are constantly being created at sensorial or even physical levels. Interactive systems, wearable technologies, prosthetics, technologies that are embedded into objects and locations, domotics, robots, artificial intelligences. All of these things go towards eliminating the possible dualities intercurring between what is organic and inorganic, of what is body and what is architecture, what is thought or memory and what is external information flow, what is a physical product and what is an immaterial service.
This is a very complex subject for discussion, and it represents the full 360 degrees of background that sits behind and at the base of "OneAvatar".
The project starts off from taking into account these new sensorialities and then brings them to an extreme to highlight frictions, possibilities and, most of all, new spaces for dialogue.
We are all, more or less, influenced by the emotional and processual practices connected to the use of networks and, specifically, by virtual worlds. Checking for new emails every 10 seconds; clicking on the "StumbleUpon" button to randomly see a new website for 3 seconds, then passing to the next one; the way in which we scan texts instead of reading them; the use of search engines; the ways in which we identify people on the internet; the way in which we read news and blogs and information. These are all things that are similar to other things that we experienced in "life_without_the_internet", but this resemblance is truly a partial one, as they can be characterized in ways that are dramatically different, and studied specifically. So much that they are being called "new tactilities", "digital senses", "augmented sensoriality" etcetera.
This is obviously true with regards to Virtual Worlds like Second Life and World of Warcraft. When we go to places, chat, interact, buy, visit, dance, have sex in these worlds we have experiences that we define by using names that are pertinent to the analog world, but that are totally different.
Two clear differences lay in the areas of the perception of the physical body and on the notion of identity.
We cannot get physically hurt in Second Life or on World of Warcraft, nor can we physically feel the sensations that we feel when we touch something/someone, when we lift things, move things, when we are hit, caressed, when there is wind or direct sunlight, when we dive int the water or when we fall down from the skateboard or get a papercut. These missing degrees of sensoriality are one of the main distinctive characteristics of the way we experience Virtual Worlds and centrally define such experiences and the ways in which we perceive them. The fact that it is not possible to get hurt and, eventually, die in a Virtual World creates a physical and perceptive distance from that experience, shaping social relations, interactions, world use, economics. This missing body, this sense of being freed from the responsibility of having a body that can get hurt, fall sick, break, die, suffer from pollution, bring a whole plethora of concepts to low levels of attention.
The ways in whch we define our identities in digital and virtual worlds enhances this scenario. To be able to freely define our identity represents a form of freedom, that is for sure, but it also "disconnects" us from the Avatar that we impersonate. Experience becomes real (as it can bear real efefcts that are relational, economic, political...) but theatrical, fictional. It is narrative, more than it is real.
OneAvatar doesn't have a moral/ethical approach to these issues. The project is aimed at establishing real connections running between the virtual worlds and the physical body, to examine the possibilities arising from these practices.
In the first production of OneAvatar, part of the NeRVi (Neo Realismo Virtuale) theories, a video shows a person during a session in the Second Life virtual world. The person wears a set of electrodes that are connected to the USB port of hs laptop. The device is controlled by a software that uses the libsecondlife software libraries to intercept and interpret the status of his avatar's virtual body, trasforming it into stimulations of the physical body.
When the user jumps off with his avatar beyond the edge of a tall building in the virtual world without turning on the "fly" mode, the software interprets this great fall as a traumatic event, and sends a high voltage shock to the player, that is, to all effects, electrocuted.
While this is a fictional setup, as the actual device only uses low voltage stimulations, such as the ones found in sport-related appliances and massage machinery, it creates a shocking representation of what could easily become reality: a deep connection running between analog and virtual bodies. With all of its positive and negative sides.


Cultural Anthropology

Italy's going through weird times.
Politics turning definitely to a media-controlling populist right wing, persuing the interests of the few. A center-left wing opposition that is totally non-existent, loosing touch with the people for absence of stamina, of effective programs and in the general mindset aimed at the preservation of small(to enormous) private domains.
Tendency to racism, to the unacceptance of the "other".
A surreal and heavy_as_stone diffused perception of reality as filtered by mass-media proposed concepts for success, health, beauty, family, sex, identity, future.
An ex showgirl as the minister for equal opportunities (not_a_joke).
The pope and the catholic church insinuating ever more in the definition of cultural, moral, political values.
And, in the background, continuous malpractices in public and private finance, inflation, debt, social policies....
And I could go on for hours, describing a picture of a nation that is falling apart in more than one way.

Some days ago Rome's University "La Sapienza" announced the new structures for the courses of the Communication Sciences faculty.

In the new setup, Cultural Anthropology was gone, replaced by minor subjects placed during the third year of the courses. Other changes were made, creating courses that further enact the current trend found in italian universities to loosen the critical aspects of knowledge and culture, in favor to those skills that are required to produce the "professionals" that will be the perfect chainworkers of tomorrow's journalism, enterpreneurship, politics....

It is a further small hint of what is going on over here.

I have been embracing practices aiming at the maximisation of my level of independence from the concepts of nation, governments, location, using temporarily autonomous zones, nomadism, globalized practices, socially/politically hacking whenever/whatever is in my power, and enacting DIY, open and gift based strategies.

I am just starting to feel the need to explicitly communicate what is happening in the country where i was born.


Finite vs. Infinite Instantiation in Generative Art

a zen koan is a system crash or a system overload, in a way.

several eastern and central-south american religions use substance overdose to cause access to mystical dimensions.

sounds and repetition are used to reach sensorial saturation points where trance states arise.

vegas can be mystical


Finite vs. Infinite Instantiation in Generative Art

if you go here

a script will try to download all of the images in as reachable by recursively navigating the website.

your browser will probabily crash in a bit.

i often use system crash as a tool for expression. i used it on the web, on second life, in real life, in talking to people...

limiting the discussion to the web, the amount of information available - be it images, movies, news, pornography, pirated software, people - is a big part of any process.

trying to get all this information as input to a human or a not-human system is a greedy algorithm we constantly see: stumblers, googlers, wikipedians, diggers, youtubers...

while the possibility to access limitless amounts content is a great power (socially, politically, economically...) it has ripercussions on the way people/systems perceive information. we learn differently, value information differently, relate differently. stumbleupon is exemplary in his perspective: an economy built on 2-3 seconds of attention and focus.

merchandises have turned visual. products are nt physical objects anymore. marx is not up-to-date. the fetish is not in the merchandise, it's in the communication processes. and the metropolis is not an industrial metropolis anymore: it becomes a communicational metropolis, totally built on communication flows.

the mutation trends are visible in (visual) languages associated to the products. In these last few months of growing oil price, an example strikes me: at gas stations it is becoming common to find "gasolio ecologico" "eco-gasoline". Which is the usal gasoline, with 0.00001% less sulfur inside, and, probabily, with a monstruously polluting industrial refinig process behind it to take that 0.00001% out of the fuel. That specific gasline costs a lot more and the pumps are decorated with green flowery motifs. In the advertisments you find happy families going to picnics, on hills that are nowhere to be found in italy, and the like.

in that case you are obviously not buying fuel.

and mediatic overdose opens up the doors to all these processes. infinite content. no more criticism. 3-seconds attention. visual fetishes.

so we have great power vs great overdoses.

in this setting spiritual and mystical dimensions mutate as well.

many multinationals understood this process really fast. in the same trip to ikea when i enacted the sound performance, the vision of the flags, as if the mall was an embassy of some kind, was, truly, a mystical one.

if you go inside a shopping center i think you will have no trouble in recognizing that you are entering inside a virtual reality, made up from hundreds of material and immaterial components aimed at reshaping space, time and relationships running between people, products, the_world_outside_the_mall...

in a way malls have become cathedrals.

i find the lanes of the mega-stores, with the shelves filled ceiling-high with products in their psychedelic packaging, to be close to one of those infinite, control-center-of-the-universe visions often told by people who got high on dmt, ayhuasca, sanPedro.

so it looks like infinites have their mystic, spiritual dimensions: they're based on overdose and system crash.


Finite vs. Infinite Instantiation in Generative Art

if you look here:

your browser will probabily crash after a bit, trying to open up all of the links in' most recent bookmarks page, in one screen.

if you search on the web about delicious poetry you will find it featured on several art festivals and exhibitions, as well as on several webmasters' forums, trying to figure out if it's a malware or a crazy website.

if you open it up and let it go, assemblages made by layer over layer of text, images and movies form on your screen, created by the things people like most in that moment on the web.

when i go to supermarkets i sometimes feel a deep sense of beauty when i look at the symmetries of the products on the shelves, under the neon light and the weird sounds of the crowd and of the voices and soft music coming from the speakers. more than in many galleries or museums.

a couple of days ago i went at ikea store in rome. there was a box filled with plush toys. if you pulled to extend them, they would play some sounds for a short while. i pulled them all at the same time, about a hundred of them, and placed them around an exhibition of furniture for babies. it was quite psychedelic, and i kept randomly pulling them to keep the sounds going. people really enjoyed it and a small crowd formed, their ikea pencils and graph paper stopping for a moment. the store clerks didn't bother me, but they kept an eye open, to see if something "dangerous" was going on.

then i went to the in-store cafeteria, and i looked outside: there were three enormous flags - italian, swedish and the one of the european community - as they usually exhibit flags outside embassies.

i am not sure that giving an "explicit" and/or "explained" art-context to something creates more art than naturally generates in ways that are only part human or, for that matter, partly material.

most of the beauty of the digital realms is that they tend to materialize immaterial domains. and not by creating objects, but by creating new senses.