WORK 34 / CONTEXT / MOSAICS

MOSAICS 01/12 From the very beginning I attempted to deposit in nature back-ups of my project. Initially then these back-ups were to function as some kind of time-capsules for future archaeologists to examine but in a later stage they started working more as triggers for people to retrieve the files associated to each month production particularly in the context of the project museum in my native alps. In this respect I have conceived 15.552 unique patterns in which the number associated to each month production can be decoded. Through the years I have manually reproduced these patterns with 400.000 1 by 1 centimeters glass tiles I have manually assembled to recreate them (Fig. Picture of 1 of the 15.552 tags I have created. After reproducing the pattern of each tag using 25 mosaic tiles, a 1 centimeter layer of concrete is applied on it resulting in a 9 by 9 centimeters tile. The dimension of the tile is specific to the wire mesh I use as part of my museum. The tiles perfectly insert within these meshes and some further welding can be used to fix them onto the mesh. A web application later allows viewers to manually decode the pattern and retrieve the month file associated to it. More specifically the pattern in the picture would retrieve month 102 of my musical notations. The tags then are almost like QR codes but unlike QR codes humans can learn to read them).

MOSAICS 02/12 In the building of my museum I felt compelled to fill it with every of my month production rather than let a software explore a semi-empty structure with some visual hints. This drive to fill my ultimate installation reflects the drive of my project which is literally that of stowing a preconceived space. Also I was compelled to insert in each of the tags I have created a digital memory of the correspondent month productions. I went as far as conceive the tags not as 1 centimeter thick tiles but as 9 by 9 by centimeters cubes to be inserted in the museum facade, each cube actually containing an archival and miniaturized print out of the month file it represents. Later however I came to think that my archive already has that function and that a digital memory could be anyway placed in the device used to retrieve the month files (Fig. Screenshot of my master thesis written at the beginning of my project. Already then I experimented with the idea of time-capsules. In 2004 for example while in Kenya I dug a month worth of my archive under a baobab overlooking the Indian ocean. In the following years I have attempted to create several ways of depositing my archive back to nature using mostly USB sticks thinking to put them in sealed glass bottles or in flying balloons or in bananas to be taken by monkeys. At last however I opted for a cleaner and longer-lasting approach).

MOSAICS 03/12 I conducted several experiments to try to evaluate whether I could have incorporate within each tag the month file associated to it. Knowing however how ephemeral digital storage can be I at first incorporated in a cubic version of a tag recycled soda cans so as to place in the hollows space within a print. I also attempted to use more archival digital storage solutions such as CDs. A CD would either fit diagonally in the cubic version of the tag or could be placed behind e flat version of the tag if mini-CDs would have been adopted. Generally at last I opted to simply think that the memory should be just kept within an actual tag-retrieval device in the museum context. I also came to think that in the near future the museum itself could work as a server both storing and broadcasting the data exclusively in its premises and no longer on the World Wide Web (Fig. Picture of one of my early gallery exhibitions in Stockholm. After spending a whole year in a copper graphic workshop to find ways to make my photos fully archival, I developed test-tubes with the intention to dig them. Later I opted to keep the printing more straightforward abandoning this idea. Generally I have realized that to make my project archival it takes time and less time can be dedicated to the other instances of the project. At last I was able to incorporate the making of my tags in my daily routine without stealing time from it).

MOSAICS 04/12 In the first phase of this work I wanted to use a ready-made technology such as QR codes as an identification for all the files I generated. Later I figured out my own labeling system which in turn simplified the design of each tag. I attempted to do so in several manners particularly in view of a case-study I needed to set up during my short lived career as a scholar. At this point I was mainly attempting to set a tagging system in space following the layout of my virtual palace. Such an approach worked well horizontally but could not allow visitors to explore the vertical elements of the virtual palace such as the headshots of friends presented in the columns and the drawings in the upper corridors (Fig. Picture of a prototype I developed by while in the Netherlands trying to figure out a way to let people explore the full layout of the palace I have conceived to host my project. For the purpose I engraved the month productions on wooden pieces and I used rebars to stuck them in the landscape. In the picture the engraved wood would have allowed visitors to retrieve the first month of my dream diary but not the remaining 431 months as the tags should have been located in the same area. The same problem occurred for all other non-spatial and sequential presentations of the project such as the journal. In this respect I gave up this approach and the whole idea of recreating my palace in space).

MOSAICS 05/12 The tiles reflects ancient media such as Roman mosaics and clay written tablets that have survived through the centuries and were brought all the way to us. While practically nothing of my project may survive, the tags could be the outcome that could longer withstand the climate. With time however the grout holding the mosaic tiles together would also decompose inevitably compromising the tags. Possibly only keeping these tags less exposed to the weather could avoid deterioration yet I came to enjoy the idea that in fact some maintenance is needed and in the course of time I will have to apply a new layer of grout to each tag (Fig. Illustration showing a more lasting solution I conceived prior starting to use mosaics as the medium to render my tags. Here I thought of simply perforating the metal textures of my museum. The process was however quite time consuming and not so precise. Also from the opposite side it could have been read mirrored. Generally perforations would have also turned the texture more fragile and more liable to rust. Most importantly the perforations would have mixed what I came to conceive two separate projects, the tags representing the numerical representation of each month file and the textures encrypting the titles of each work. My choice then was that of developing the two works independently and with different media).

MOSAICS 06/12 It took some time for me to decide how to realize my tags. After abandoning the idea of perforating directly onto the textures of the project museum, I attempted to engrave them on such metal textures. Given how much time I wasted holding an engraver and not getting any decent results, I conducted my first experiments trying to paint directly on ceramic tiles. The results were quite satisfactory but ceramic in general was too weak of a material to keep exposed to the rough mountain weather. I then started my first experiments using mosaic tiles. At this point I even attempted to use several colours so as to reduce the amount of mosaics needed for the reading of the pattern. Lastly I tried a few glass tiles I got from a Dutch shop and even experimented to melt the tiles together in a kiln. After several unsuccessful experiments I came across a technique to make mosaics reversed and then pour cement right on top. I tried using alkaline free fiberglass as a reinforcement but at last I began using concrete and obtained a sturdy result. At this point I ordered over 400.000 mosaic tiles directly from the glass mosaic manufacturer. Its main distributor was in Germany where I drove by to pick the mosaic on my way back from Italy where I spent the summer setting up the museum structure (Fig. Picture showing some additional experiments I conducted to evaluate the seizes of the patterns).

MOSAICS 07/12 Each of the 5 rows of the matrix making up a pattern have 2 black coloured pixels. The arrangement of the coloured pixels make it possible to encode a 1 digit number from 0 to 9 as follow: 0 White, White, Black, Black, Black; 1 White, Black, White, Black, Black; 2 White, Black, Black, White, Black; 3 White, Black, Black, Black, White; 4 Black, White, White, Black, Black; 5 Black, White, Black, White, Black; 6 Black, White, Black, Black, White; 7 Black, Black, White, White, Black; 8 Black, Black, White, Black, White; 9 Black, Black, Black, White, White. Each row corresponds to 1 of the 5 numbers associated to one of the 15.552 month productions making up the 36 years project. The first 2 numbers correspond to the actual project so they go from 01 to 36. The last 3 numbers correspond to the actual month. As there are 432 months in 36 years the last 3 numbers then go from 001 to 432 (Fig. Picture of a diagram I drew for my oldest son in Sweden to explain him how to decode the number of each tag. He wished to develop an application to allow users to scan the tags with their smartphones as part of his high school final project. Waiting for him I built a simple manual interface where users themselves have to actively retype the mosaic pattern in a matrix to retrieve the month file associated to each of them. After some hesitation I implemented this mosaic retrieval interface as part of the website).

MOSAICS 08/12 After experimenting for a long time with different sizes, I have opted for a 5 by 5 centimeters mosaic pattern. In this way the mosaics in the museum are 5 centimeters apart. Initially I did so to provide enough space for a smartphone to scan them without confusion as well as keeping them small enough not to be subject to breaking. Each tile is applied to the back of one of the 432 metal textures covering the project museum. The tiles can be also used in other exhibition settings but given that it would take me at least 8 years to manually reproduce all the 15.552 mosaic tiles, it is more likely that my museum will be the only place where they can be viewed. At some point, when the Italian far right attempted to sabotage the building, I considered cementing the resulting tiles in urban environments, such as abandoned infrastructures like old bridges and railways, something I however never pursued after the building was resumed (Fig. Screeshot taken by my girlfriend showing me with my daughter during our daily ritual of sticking 25 mosaic tiles on a 5 centimeter wide paper tape. While 15 tiles are white and 9 tiles are black, 1 tile is red and it is meant to indicate the correct orientation of the tile. The red mosaic tells me and possibly the smarthphones used by visitors of the museum to scan a tile, that it is the left upper corner of the tile they are looking at).

MOSAICS 09/12 Every evening I assemble approximately 6 tiles attaching them reversed on masking tape. After cutting the leftover tape I store the tiles in a box and by the end of a week I have 36 mosaics ready. I then bring them out in a purposely built shed in my girlfriend's backyard and spend an evening setting up the wooden frame I have built for casting. Later I attach each mosaic with additional paper tape in the center of each of the resulting 36 squares. Likely the morning after I mixes by hand approximately 12 kilograms of concrete and pour it over the wooden frame working quite hard with my trowel to spread the concrete in the frame. After approximately three days I lift the frame and remove each individual tag. An additional evening is spent cleaning the concrete from both the casting frame and the casting table and grouting each tile likely listening to a podcast about more or less recent world history. In a following day I clean the tiles and brings them inside to be photographed. By the time this process is accomplished I am ready with a new batch of mosaics to be casted (Fig. Picture of the shed I have built outside of my girlfriend's house in the Netherlands. Often my small daughter Livia was of help in making the mosaics. Having to spend most of my time with her and my youngest son I mostly worked in the shed during the evenings).

MOSAICS 10/12 Since I spend my summers in my native alps in Italy building the project museum, it is mostly in the cold season that I undertake the making of the mosaics. In this respect not only I work All the concrete casting is made in an unheated shed I have built out of material I have found in containers next to building sites. Often then the mosaics that are in process of curing are subject to freezing temperatures. As a result too much water in the concrete mix I use might compromise the strength of each tile. Also if I am too early in removing the tiles from the frame, many might in fact crack. The most sensitive phase in which a tile gets cracked is when I lift the wooden frame I use for casting. Right where it is lifted some tiles could break. Rather than reproducing this tiles I use epoxy glue to fix them. Later the actual process of grouting them eventually covers up and fill the crack even further. Also the sticking of the mosaic tiles onto one of the museum metal textures enforces them even further. Knowing however that local hunters in the near of my museum despise the project, I do expect them to try to use these tiles as targets. Also I take in consideration the strong hailstorms that due to climate change are becoming more frequent and destructive (Fig. Picture illustrating how I repair the cracked tiles using epoxy glue and clams to hold the pieces together prior grouting).

MOSAICS 11/12 After being polished, each completed mosaic tile is brought inside to be photographed. The tile is then placed on a window facing daylight where I photograph it using a smartphone with a 2736 by 2736 pixels resolution. After being photographed the tile is placed in a box with other tiles. Ideally these boxes are the size of a shoe box. They cannot be too much bigger as they can get too heavy and they might break. The tiles are in fact 250 grams each making 36 tiles weight 9 kilograms. Each box is then around that weight and it is well taped and stored indoor awaiting to be transported across central Europe and on the opposite side of the alps where the museum is located. The total weight of the 432 tiles placed on each one of the 36 square windows of the museum is around 100 kilograms. While starting to transport the boxes of tiles to the barn I own in the near of the museum, I waited to have them all ready prior actually inserting them in its inner textures (Fig. Picture of the set up I use to photograph each and every tile. During this process I arrange the tiles in chronological order and check that there are no mistakes or that a tile is not replicated or whether one is missing. Later the 36 photographs of a batch of 36 tiles are binded in the same .pdf file representing 1 of the 432 month productions of the project).

MOSAICS 12/12 In an ideal exhibition setting the tiles should be located in one of the side rooms to the main exhibition hall. Given that the wall where the tiles should be exhibited is 7.2 by 7.2 meters big all the tiles could be here placed spatially but without any borders and reproducing the actual textures of the final museum but with the four walls of the museum placed side by side to create a larger square as envisioned in my website. While the tiles per se shouldn't have any particular function, they could be still scanned by visitors with the red dot again working as some sort of separator between the various patterns that in this case are placed right next to each other (Fig. Rendering of the ideal exhibition with the wall where the tags should be placed highlighted in red. By putting the tags right next to each other the work becomes a giant mosaic storing much information, both numerical but also encrypting the actual titles of the project as in the metal textures around the final museum. Also such kind of work if will ever be conceived might take several years to execute and could be much more lasting than the actual tiles exposed to the weather and the anger of people who do not want to have any non-conventional art in their almost extinct and sterile communities. If at last the museum will be dismantled, I will search for an already existing cubic building where to accommodate the work).