Antonio Catalano sends us his lessons learned in in hybrid art-science work
So here are my answers:
1- what is your background as a scientist? In the arts, design or humanities ?
I hold a Msc in Pharmaceutical Chemistry, a Master in Bioethics and a
Master in Cognitive Science and Interactive Media. Ops, well, the last
one is between science, technology, design & culture, so things
already become blurring... In arts I have training in music (private
school) and currently training for 5 years as an actor in an
independent theatre company. Many other little courses opened me to
different approaches that I am trying to apply to contemporary art.
I am currently working as Technical Director for a private R&D and
production center in the pharma&beauty sector, based in Italy, while
working with an NGO called MetaArte Associazione Arte&Cultura as an
actor and organizer. Sometimes I create contemporary art
installations. I am interested in complex systems.
2- when and how did you become involved in a hybrid art/science practice?
I was running on two tracks since high school, studying science but
playing with my band in the meanwhile. Then I slowly started reasoning
on the two of them togheter, as ways to internalize the world around
us and externalize the world inside us. I cooperated with a small
local NGO trying to organize international events dealing with
art&nanotechnologies, and finally discovered that there is a whole
world of art/science professionals at Mutamorphosis, Prague, 2007. It
3- what have been the major obstacles to overcome?
I don't think I overcame them yet! In my country nowadays it is really
hard to define yourself as an artist. Imagine a sciartist! Biggest
difficult I am facing is to keep credible to the scientific community
e.g. working both as a toxicologist and performing street art with
stilts. And to keep credible to the arts community making art and
surviving by working in an industry.That's why I keep the two
professional tracks separate, and created a stage name, Antonio Irre,
for my artistic works. And time, oh time. That's another big
difficulty when you work on different fronts. And identity...
sometimes you just get lost. Really lost. Other difficulties are much
more fun, e.g. create a work of art and science that goes beyond
art&technology, but these are the challenges that I like. But they
takes time. Oh, time!
4- what have been the greatest opportunities/breakthroughs?
My parents gave me much liberty in my choices, allowing me to explore
different approaches, to create my personal track. Even if it was/is
quite strange! Then, things happen if you go for them long enough.
5- what would you do differently, knowing then what you know now?
I don't know enough yet.
6- any advices to someone who may want to walk in your footstep?
Keep exploring, read, read, read, and then do, work on your weak
points, approch things that are very far from you and your world,
connect the dots. Don't follow this track if you want a life full of
friends & spare time & other amenities. But consider that it is a
useful track, a cross-contamination that greatly improves creativity
and smart thinking. Ah, create nets! E.g. adding me on FB as Antonio
Well, thank you for the invitation, I have not a big experience, still
trying to grasp how to manage and what to do with that, but I am happy
to share my thoughts with you all.
Hope to meet you around soon!
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