Dealing with ways of perceiving nature and reproducing it with digital means, Casaretto focuses on the phenomenon of sensation. Engaged with electronic information, various materials and art-historical references, his works overlap the different sensations with regard to the physical quality of the material and the types of perception within the concept of art history.
The interaction triggered by the physical approach goes deep down into the multidimensional sensation through the materials used by the artist such as concrete, skin, soil and epoxy. The former works of Casaretto, comprised of realistic manifestation of nature created in digital environment, are reversed by these new series of works through the manual intervention of the artist to the machine production. The works define the uniqueness of the handmade and invite the viewers to experience the sensation.
Guido Casaretto (1981) lives and works in Istanbul. One of the founders of Sanatorium, some of his solo shows are: The Pope and Galileo Had a Minor Disagreement, (Zilberman Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey, 2017), Synesthesia (Zilberman Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey, 2015), Extrasystemic Correlations (Zilberman Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey, 2012), Default (Sanatorium, Istanbul, Turkey, 2011); and some of his group shows are: Restless Monuments, (Zilberman Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey, 2018), Urban Justice (CerModern, Ankara, Turkey, 2015), Venice Biennial Italian Pavillion (Venice,Italy, 2011), and Teatro Comunale (Italy, 2000). His work is included in MOCAK–Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków (Krakow, Poland), National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourn, Australia) and many important private collections in Europe and Middle East.
Represented by Zilberman Gallery
SKIN OF THE IMAGE
Kerem Ozan Bayraktar
“Instead of a world in which the distinction between identity and change is clearly defined, with each being attributed to a different principle, we have a world in which objects cannot be considered to be entirely self-identical, one in which it seems as though form and content are mixed, the boundary between them blurred. Such a world lacks the rigid framework once provided by the uniform space of Euclid.We can no longer draw an absolute distinction between space and the things which occupy it, nor indeed between the pure idea of space and the concrete spectacle it presents to our senses.”
In Guido Casaretto’s work, the materialist and the representational dimensions
of the image, haptical and optical perceptions confront each other on multiple levels. This confrontation should not be considered as a battle between two sides with definitively delineated borders and with an absolute result. Rather, we are talking about a conflict in which the sides are interwoven, constantly shifting their position, in which texture and detail encounter symbol and perspective, where the physical space meets optical illusion, constantly blurring their distinctions. This hybridity, one o the most typical qualities of contemporary images, is presented in Casaretto’s works as an artistic problematic.
In saying “haptical”, we are not talking about “contact” per se. While haptical refers to touching, it does not necessitate the act of touching physically. Laura U. Marks says that haptical visuality includes the body more than the optical. While the act of seeing is present in both, in haptical visuality, eyes function as “organs of touch” On the other hand, optical visuality is completely centered on the eye and is strongly connected to the Cartesian mind-body dialectic. This eye which is equated to the mind “… was, moreover, understood to be static, unblinking, and fixated, rather than dynamic, moving with what later scientists would call ‘saccadic’ jumps from one focal point to another.” What makes the eye constantly is perspective itself. This constance enables symbolism as well since in order to name objects, their positions should be identifiable. The constant position of the viewer in front of a specified stage such as painting, a screen, a curtain, or a window and the images that are placed in specified positions within the perspective, prepare the preconditions for symbolism. Haptical visuality belongs more to a universe of materialism than of symbolism. It presents a “superficiality” in which the material is perceived rather than an optical “depth” that is specific to perspective. This is precisely why “texture” has a central function in almost all of Casaretto’s works. It could even be said that some of the works problematize texture itself. The methods and materials used for drawing or coloring as well as the surfaces on which the work is realized have all been chosen to serve texture and tangibility.
In order to grasp these notions, it is necessary to have at least a cursory understanding of the “transfers” that the artist made from one medium to another. A deconstruction in this sense will enable us to move away from the aesthetic charm; from “description to conceptualism.”4 The 3D virtual model “David” is an obvious example to illustrate this aspect: The model’s virtual skin is made up of photographic collages collated from real people’s photographs. Casaretto first produced a sculpture, taking David as a reference point. At this stage, the haptical dimension of the work can be considered to be activated. By looking at the model on the computer screen or at images derived from this model, the production that is realized has a mandatory relationship with the extension that is not optical. Specifically, behind the optical illusion on the screen, the relationship between a distance and another is “mapped” through the relationship of extensions of the environment that we are in. When the artist begins to depict a photorealistic skin using pencil on the surface of the sculpture that he produced, the situation becomes more complicated. The represented skin is a hand-produced copy, half of the algorithm of the virtual David that I mentioned above, the other half a texture formed by photographic references that are impossible to find the origins of. The three-dimensional illusion on the screen covered by the image, depicted by hand on the surface of a sculpture in the world we inhabit is again a transfer that we could dub as optical relationships being mapped by the haptical. The illusion of touching –”bumps” or “depths” of the virtual model’s skin- is equated to the pencil’s sculptural –three-dimensional “bumps” or “depths” of the trace of the coal...
In the artist’s works of this form, an unusual “engineering”, modeling the digital
as analogue (we often discuss the reverse), is also at hand. It is necessary to consider the digital and the analogue not just in terms of their being media, but also as the differentiation between “sustainability” and “detachment” of texture. The optical presents a contour, a boundary and a depth; the boundary allows us to “mark” the objects and match them with concepts. Detachment is not only through borders, but also in the distinct distance between the viewer and the painting. Thus, the optical takes up from a digital universe. (From this perspective, a Renaissance painting is also digital.) The haptical takes texture at its center and makes is thus difficult to delineate the boundaries: it is not static but moving. Because of this, it is defined more easily through an analogue representational model. The result is this “New David” permeates the digital almost as a backdoor virus into the sculpture and painting tradition. When we approach the material through a representational perspective, the digital (just like the transformers in electronic devices) into the analogue. The artist choosing not to easily print or turn into objects through three-dimensional printer, instead using hand-produced surfaces must be this particular issue. Because what is produced by hand causes a “parasite.” The parasite is specific to the analogue universe. It will be sufficient to remember the static on old televisions to describe this. The parasites on the screens draw us back into the material, the surface of the screen rather than the illusion of the image inside the screen. The screen is transformed from a window that draws the subject in, into an object that can almost be touched.
Marks, in talking about cinematic perception, points out that this perception is
not completely “visual” but rather “synesthetic.” In synesthesia, perception and sensation conceive separately. The image, outside of being a frame, a window or a mirror, comes into being as an experience specific to the extension.5 This is why the eye is a touching organ. Casaretto’s Waterfront corresponds specifically to this situation—in this work, the artist transforms “the textures of a wavy sea painting in perspective” into a relief. The object in front of us shares optical and haptical visuality at the same time. What we see is more of a “sculpture of painting” rather than a sea painting and it does not only appeal to the sensation of seeing, but triggers other perceptions as well. Sartre explains a similar notion as such:
“In fact the lemon is extended throughout its qualities, and each of its qualities
is extended throughout each of the others. It. is the sourness of the lemon which is yellow, it is the yellow of the lemon which is sour. We eat the color of a cake, and the taste of this cake is the instrument which reveals its shape and its color to what we may call the alimentary intuition…The fluidity, the tepidity, the bluish color, the undulating restlessness of the water in a pool are given at one stroke, each quality through the others; and it is this total interpenetration which we call the this.”
It is possible to interpret all the actions that the artist has realized as a specialized effort to remove figuration from the optical without abstract painting, attempting to make it belong to the material universe. We are living in a universe in which the resolution of the materials that hold the images are so small that we could not feel them, evoking a feeling of the images having lost their material dimension. In this
eye-centered world, Guido Casaretto’s position in relation to the object, touching and looking become more prominent. Poetically, this could be interpreted as an attempt to give body to ghosts.
THE POWER OF SENSORIAL PERCEPTIONS
Marcus Graf: For your third solo show at Zilberman Gallery, you have prepared a new series of works. Could you please shortly outline its general formal and conceptual framework?
Guido Casaretto: Over the past five years of my production I mainly focused on processes operception of any different context, through the means and processes of another. To clarify, I actually try to copy a system or a set of concepts (rules) that is trying to represent another. This background can vary, like a computer program trying to imitate a factual occurrence or a maquette trying to represent a final manmade structure. In the last body of works I focused on the use of materials and processes of different artisanal productions, trying to find a space and correlation between the subject matter intended in these productions and the concept from which the subject derives.
M.G. You use the term ‘copy’ in connection to your work. How do you see the relation between the original matter in our ‘first’ reality and the one produced in art as our ‘second’ reality?
G.C. I tend to use the term ‘copy,’ to express the appropriation and repetition of
parameters that belong to a different context, and by repetition I achieve a similar outcome. To clarify, I think I am using a set of physical and material movements, as a ready-made piece, but instead of using a given object and altering it to an art-related problematic, I do the same to a set of movements (in the specific, artisan processes). As regards the second part of your question, I don’t see the outcome object that I produced being any different from the original matter or in terms of reality. I believe that second reality (the art reality) stands between the two.
M.G. Is your work a copy or just another version of reality and so another original?
G.C. As I mentioned above, I see the physical piece—the object that I have produced—as an ordinary part of the realm that we call factual reality. To give an example, I see no difference between a piece of ‘real’ marble and a ‘drawn’ marble. I think the difference of versions lies in the correlations that we find between them.
M.G. Your works reflect on the idea of nature and its representation. How would you describe the concept of nature in the current series?
G.C. As you pointed out, the main concern in my work is the representation and perception of the factual. I tend not to see it as nature in the strict sense of the word, because I am mainly bound to the repetition of another process. This can find its connotations in a natural system like any other. The act of representing through copying is generally used to understand and perceive natural phenomena, thus it takes my subjects to this context, but it is not a prerogative.
M.G. I believe that the concept of illusionism plays a fundamental role for the understanding of your work. How do you evaluate the role of illusionism and realism in your current work?
G.C. Simulation or illusionism is an important feature of an artisan process, neither the process of a stucco artisan or that of an impressionist painter is fundamentally different from my work. The repetition of a textural pattern or a correlation between a natural occurrence, like the formation of a mountain, and the layering of paint strokes on a given surface, have the same process similarities in my context. To return to your initial question, the grade of illusion or simulation in my works is given by the degree of realism involved in the initial process I am trying to repeat.
M.G. Referring to impressionism, where optical matters and issues were of fundamental importance, how do you relate your work to optical matters and simulation?
G.C. Optical matters, or more specifically, sensorial perceptions, have been one of the main parameters throughout all my production. It is maybe one of the common threads in all my bodies of work. That said, in this context I tried to analyze the means through which a brushstroke imitates a perception, which is the main common denominator for the impressionist period. The repetition of single saturated strokes to represent light information led me to copy the same process to achieve actual material layers in a landscape. I changed the brushstroke width, to be somewhere in between the factual material and the paint thickness, trying to push the perception from optical to a more bodily-haptic one.
M.G. You work in series, and often change aesthetics and material according to the needs of your line of thought. How do you decide on materials, aesthetics and media?
G.C. This depends on the process that I am trying to imitate. Some come with a specific set of movements and materials, thus the aesthetics form accordingly. In the case of following a more abstract process, I try to base decisions on the concept of the original matter, like comparing digital rendering to architectural material layering. I try to keep an active research in case of materials, mostly just out of curiosity, a big portion of which is not used in the works itself. To my specific perception, a painting is just a very thin sculpture, because it still has to be built and so on for the other media.
M.G. Let us discuss some works in detail by starting with the meaning of the title of the show.
G.C. The two references use their respective systems to explain how occurrences take shape. In both cases there is a search for truth that has connotations in the factual world, and they both work within their parameters. In a much smaller scale, I try to achieve the same relation with every piece. The concept of every object has to work by itself, of course, in my case eliminating any search of a truth whatsoever. I see a relation between a craftsman trying to direct the composition of the factual material and a scientist or a priest trying to wield logic, with very small success, I might add.
M.G. Could you please introduce the formal and conceptual outlines of the work Monte Rosso?
G.C. In this piece I mainly tried to emulate the phases of an outdoor painting process. To achieve that I tried to copy the brushstroke technique of the impressionist period, enlarging their width. The correlation between a stroke and the periodical build-up of a factual mountain is imperative in this piece, so I decided to use only the materials given in any classical painting, such as linen, acrylic and oil paint, by gradually molding them. The subject does not derive from any actual mountain chain, but is an approximation of an Alpine landscape, hence the made-up title.
M.G. Whereas the work Monte Rosso is spectacular, the work Historical Connotations on a Z-axis is rather minimal.
G.C. For this piece I collected a few photos from different marble cutting facilities, focusing mainly on the spare parts and the systems they use to stack them. Selecting the ones that originate from the Mediterranean region, I recomposed the stack as a whole piece with appositely-cut composite panels. Finally I replicated the texture of each marble slab with graphite. The whole process repeats the steps that a ‘stucco decorator’ follows to complete a batch of work. The decision to use the marble replication process instead of many others they use was taken in view of the fact that the formation of the reference rock, as it says in the historical record, and the stacking action have very different archival processes but continue to derive from the same concept.
M.G. What are the formal and conceptual parameters of the work Rest-Off?
G.C. The original subject of this work is a composed concept, therefore has references to factual information but has no direct derivation that we know of. By amassing
all the materials used in the exhibition in the casting process of the sculpture, I tried to emphasize the proximity of the two. To simplify, I repeated the non-clarity of the conceptualization of the subject in the non-clarity of the relation among the used materials.