WORK 06 / THE SELF / TRAINING

TRAINING 01/12 Every time I train, I record the highest heart-beat I reach every two minutes. I then round it up using one of the following Beats Per Minute values: 100 BPM, 105 BPM, 110 BPM, 115 BPM, 120 BPM, 125 BPM, 130 BPM, 135 BPM, 140 BPM, 145 BPM, 150 BPM, 155 BPM. Every month I collect 72 of these values, biking or running or generally training for 144 minutes on average. While this amount may seem very little, it is what I conceived as a sufficient compendium to my already active life where walking really is the main physical activity. Initially, I annotated my heart-beats timing my run around a green area such as the baseball field outside my oldest son's school in East Cambridge, Massachusetts. Later I switched to a watch with a heart rate sensor to be able to train more freely. With the watch doing the tracking for me I was able not only to run wherever I wanted but also to do other kind of activities such as biking but also digging the foundation of my alpine museum. Lastly I have been able to perceive this beats without the use of any sensor becoming quite accurate to annotate a particular beat in relation to a particular effort I accomplish (Fig. Screenshot of one month worth of recorded heart-beats. The increasing and decreasing of the values is a characteristic of different training sections where I usually reach a pick to then slow back down).

TRAINING 02/12 Reading the ethical essays by the ancient Greek historian Plutarch there is an emphasis on how if one gets old, he or she should not need any doctor as he or she by then must have learned to sense his or herself. In Greek antiquity the elder going to the doctor to ask to get his or her wrist measured was thus scorned. Today however the prolific industry of wearable computer gadgets and quantified self mobile applications have got contemporary humans used to the idea of keeping their health monitored. In this respect my tracking goes against this trend; it only provides the data persewithout any analyses nor anything other than my own self telling me whether it is time I should get some training and keep up with this work. In other words, this physical tracking is not meant to improve my body conditions; it is part of a project in which my real and stable improvement is more spiritual (Fig. Screenshot of the watch I used early on to record my heart-beats. Overall the watch often malfunctioned and it was a frustrating experience. Generally I have never liked the idea of having any active technology attached to my body. Also the trend with these wearable devices have always been that of gathering personal data for other purposes such as commercial ones and in the years I have made use of them I made it a point to erase the data of a training section after manually rewriting it).

TRAINING 03/12 While monitoring life itself, like through life-logging devices with the privacy implications that come with it, it has become a trend to monitor the more abstract and graphical data related to our health condition. In a way this monitoring only shows the social interest in the more bodily aspects of our human existence. Following Seneca advice, I only do the minimum training to keep healthy. Presently I have fully committed my life to the training of my more intellectual, artistic and spiritual realm. In order to do so I had to give up the habits I inherited from my stepfather of doing sports intensively. Every moment of free time in my childhood was dedicated to sports only for the sake of doing sports. There was skiing and biking and roller-blading and swimming activities that all the family members had to follow under the leadership of my stepfather. There was no pleasure in these activities and too often they took place in the very same location (Fig. Screenshot of my running around a playground in the near of my Swedish apartment. The video shows the card I used to keep track of the time it took me to run a round. This was my initial way to estimate my heart-beat. As running on asphalt have often caused me a hard back and related sleeping problems, I have often preferred to run on grass despite being at times muddy or even frozen as in the case of the Swedish playground).

TRAINING 04/12 It was at the age of 16 that I won a scholarship and I spent a whole year in Fort Atkinson, a small town in Wisconsin. There I attended a high-school and experiencing almost military-like training especially in the swim team coached by my foster father. Back in Italy and for several years I spent a daily average of three hours in the gym. As a result at the age of 19 I began taking part in bodybuilding context which eventually got me to represent the Veneto region at the Mister Italy final. Soon after however I fully began dedicating myself to painting and writing. Physical training becoming a secondary activity. As the development of my art brought me to the idea of becoming self-sufficient physical training became mostly related to my survival. Leaving in a Swedish farm cultivating or making wood or renovating became my daily routine. In the winter however I kept up with running in a former railroad and in the summer I kept up with my ritual of swimming across a cold lake. Attempting to move out of the city for good I at last injured my back and it took me years to recover (Fig. Screenshot showing me attempting to swim in the southern Indian ocean after a long solitary walk. Leaving the cold Nordic climate and rediscovering southern climates has helped me to recover my physical health. Despite not actively seeking to do sports, I simply keep on the move and active).

TRAINING 05/12 Over the years, pursuing solely my intellectual project, the attempt to find a place where to house it has given me the opportunity to express myself physically once again. While at first only recording my daily training I soon began to also record the heart beats related to my incredible physical efforts to turn an abandoned farm in the alps into my museum. Mostly alone since 2016 I began clearing the farm valley and flattening a field. At last with the help of some close friends I was able to build there a 7.2 by 7.2 by 7.2 meters steel cube manually carrying and lifting its 6.000 kilos structure without the assistance of any machine. While this work is mostly conducted during the summer, in the winter period, back in the Netherlands I generally struggle to find the right conditions to train. Biking for example can be quite challenging with the either rain or wind preventing me to do so (Fig. Screenshot showing me attempting to clear a path to reach my steel cube museum in my native alps. The physical work is made most strenuous by the actual remoteness of the site. There are barely any roads to reach it and it is completely disconnected from the grid. While for this work I have been repeatedly attacked by locals, I was able to show them my spartan discipline. I gave an example of self-sufficiency which is quite in contrast with my contemporaries most reluctant to even pick a shovel up).

TRAINING 06/12 Either way, while spending the winter with my family in a Dutch village, I attempt to seize every opportunity to do physical training by for example letting my family drive somewhere and reaching them with my racing bike. I also found ways to train at home such as with a mini-bike but also doing small renovation works especially in the backyard where starting 2020 I began to produce the textures and mosaics of my mountain museum. Often also I do tai-chi which I learned by an old Chinese man in Cambridge Massachusetts but there is no significant heart-beats in this kind of training. Seldom I train in the living room doing some basic yoga and weight lifting but also these kind of training are not significantly aerobic (Fig. Screenshot showing me doing a tai-chi section in a camping site after spending a day driving through France. As I have often commuted first across Sweden and then through Europe, I have been regularly practicing tai-chi mostly as a way to hinder my lower back pain. The pain has emerged as a combination of too much digging and lifting in my former wife Swedish farm but also due to all the hours spent commuting. In this respect I have never been fully able to train as I have wished to. Overall I started avoiding running, the main cause of my stiff back and subsequent sleep disorders. Nonetheless I was able to live with this handicap and overcome it).

TRAINING 07/12 In the mist of my project I found myself without a job, in a foreign country and with two kids to tend. While the two small kids pretty much occupied most of my time, the remaining time I fully made use of the remaining time to respectively update my project and fabricating the textures for my alpine steel cube. In this respect the handling of the kids became my main physical occupation. While they were small I was lifting, holding and cleaning after them. Later at last I was able to do more physical movement with them, such as ceasing each other, playing with a ball but also biking together in the open surrounding all around our Dutch village. As the kids grew older we undertook more challenging activities together especially in my native alps. If walking in the flat landscape of continental Europe pushing the stroller with two kids did provide me some physical training, it was walking up the mountains in the south that I was able to do quite some aerobic training and slowly get also my kids to get used to it (Fig. Picture of me, my girlfriend and our kids taking a break from biking. Around our Dutch village the biggest challenge has always been going up the river dike and face the wind. While in the mountains many challenging walks where taken also with my oldest son who has been trained from the beginning to do so despite living in the flat and hostile Swedish farmland).

TRAINING 08/12 As a child I have been experiencing the burden of my maternal grandparents' poor health. They were recurrently ending up in the hospital for heart related problems and we pay them many visits. Initially I was relating their health problems to their stressful life-styles; the 1960s Italian economic miracle turned them into rich industrialists smoking, drinking, cheating on one another and keeping the fat diet of their farmer relatives. As I became older however I have also began to see how life could become stressful at times. Not only the growing kids up alone was particularly challenging but what became most distressful was the political attempts to sabotage the building of my museum in my native alps. I have been particularly hit by this situation especially in combination with weeks of Dutch bad weather. In situations like this one I was not able to take the usual hike out in nature so as to renew myself. I had a first hand experience on how badly things can turn out if I am not able to take an upper hand of my life. I felt the worries of a man trying to fulfill his only expectation in life, that of communicating his life to others but accepted that this might never happen (Fig. Picture of my maternal grandfather during a blood test. I took this picture in one of the several occasions in which I started taking my grandfather to such tests after I got my driver license).

TRAINING 09/12 At first my back issues prevented me from doing all the physical activities I wished to do on a daily basis. Later I had to try to do physical exercise while left alone taking care of my kids. Ultimately I have found my native mountains as my ideal scenario for maintaining in good health. There I can hike, do the require maintenance to my museum and the field and the forest around it but most importantly I have to keep physical in order to survive the increasingly erratic weather and the lack of infrastructures. In this respect I might relate to my former shepherd ancestors who kept in the mountains during the summer and descended with their flock in the lowland during the winter. As I turned out I also spent my winters wondering through the green flat pastures of the Netherlands pushing my kids to then spend our summers together in the alps. (Fig. Screenshot showing me hiking at high tempo up a hill in the near of Heidelberg on my way to make my year transhumance to the alps. Rather than running then and facing back problems, I have eventually resorted to this form of training when in a mountainous region. During my winter time in the flat Dutch landscape biking is my ideal form of training as my back is not subject to any pressure with my barycenter keeping pretty much horizontal).

TRAINING 10/12 If my stepfather got me mostly used to training, at the age of 25 I got back in touch after twenty years with my Canada-based father. The latter slowly revealed to me his rheumatic issues which during the harsh Montreal weather force him to walk around with a stick. This revelation had a strong impact on me; I also began experiencing some forms of rheumatic issues and at last I gave up all sports activities, especially running and swimming. Only with time I understood that in the course of his life my father wanted to experience the harshness that his father experienced fighting in Russia. I understood that I could have dealt with my chronic pains more gently, moving in a warmer climate to begin with and doing exercises like tai-chi. My focus also shifted towards more more natural physical activities and in the end towards labour such as the building and constructing of my museum. In this respect I believe I have inherited not so much strength but a great resistance which is also shown in the marathon I am conducting in the very undertaking of my project (Fig. Screenshot showing me attempting to train aerobically while keeping my barycenter straight. The lack of movement due to the first chronic pains had strongly affected me while living in Sweden. To some extent my leaving Sweden going first to China where I learned tai-chi was essential to recover my physicality).

TRAINING 11/12 Without any doubt I have understood that my native alps are the ultimate environment where I can fully feel well. There I can relate both my body and soul to the beautiful yet challenging landscape without the need of any additional training. Surviving the alpine landscape in itself fulfills all my natural need such as the very movement my genetic of a mountaineer have programmed me to do. In particular the taking care of my small farm in the alps and the museum I built there provides me with all I need to stay fully fit. Doing so I avoid all the restless feelings and the frustration I develop when I cannot be physical especially in northern countries. In this respect this instance of the project describes my struggle to be physical in a more natural fashion within highly civilized environments which only allow physicality in more and more dedicated places such as gyms. Not only these places requires money to be accessed but also increasingly they tend to create small tribes and distinguished social groups belonging to one or another training club. In this respect I am most skeptical about this devotion to the body much resembling the criticism of ancient philosophers like Seneca criticizing such forms of ephemeral fanaticism (Fig. Screenshot of my phone where I used to annotate my heart beats manually after giving up my watch, thus becoming myself the sensor).

TRAINING 12/12 In an ideal installation context the beats resulting from the tracking of my training sections are played by a large clock positioned on top of the central tower at the entrance. In this respect the clock resemble the Big Ben, the Great Bell of Westminster Palace in London. It's dimensions are slightly bigger resulting in 720 centimeters in diameter. Importantly it can be heard inside the exhibition space where its clicking acts as a metronome particularly to the musical notations of the records of songs reproduced by the organ just below it. The clock should also be mechanic as the one developed by the Long Now foundation (Fig. Rendering of the ideal exhibition where the the clock is red highlighted. This work is similar to the works of artists such as Brian House and Danielle Roberts, who have used their biofeedback to generate art. It is the only work in which I let an actual sensor annotate the data for me. Soon however I began working differently from my contemporary artists as the watch became too much of a frustrating experience as well as the on-line interface with which the data could be retrieved became too intrusive. In this respect by recording my physical effort manually and by putting all my effort in the execution of my project, I quickly went off the trend of artists doing “cool stuff” with new wearable gadgets. In fact this work got me off sports all together).