RE:Animation, 2017. Multimedia installation composed of the following elements, installed in a variable arrangement: (1) “The Scanner”: 1 HD video, 8min 30sec, colors, sound, looped. | (2) “The Portfolio”: 8 photos, inkjet prints on photographic paper, 40x21cm each, glued to the wall in a grid format, unframed. | (3) “The Book”: softcover binding, 475 pages, colors, US letter format. | (4) “The Animator’s Confession”: Sound work, 00:35 seconds, looped. | (5) “Untitled GIF”: animated GIF, colors. | (6) “Driven”: 1 HD video animation, 1min 57 sec, colors, sound, looped.
In the 2013 sci-fi movie “The Congress” by Ari Folman, Robin Wright impersonates herself as an actress who is offered the last contract of her life by an evil agent called Jeff Green. In signing it, she accepts to be 3D-scanned and transformed into an animated character whose “image and personality” are owned by a Hollywood Studio. In October 2016, I received an email from a fictitious Hollywood studio interested in buying my “face\image\personality” to create an animated character for an upcoming movie. The offer was clearly a scam, but it seemed to follow the script of “The Congress.” So I decided to create a fake digital persona based on Jeff Green, the evil agent from Folman’s movie, and responded to the scammers to see if they were interested in buying Robin Wrights’ image—exactly as it happens in the movie. My idea was to sell them Robin Wright’s character as it appears in the movie: an ambiguous identity that is partially a fictional character and partially a real person. During the course of a month I communicated with the scammers while impersonating Jeff Green, and in the end I sold Robin Wright’s “image\face\personality” for $620,000.00. RE:Animation consists of documentation of the process together with additional media that blur the boundary between my relationship with the scammers and the plot of Folman’s movie. Through a complex assemblage of videos, sound, photos, legal agreements and contracts, I intend to document and distort the line that separates reality and fiction.
INSTALLATION AT THE HARVARD ART MUSEUMS
(1) The Scanner: HD video, 8min 30sec, colors, sound, looped
This high-definition video presents fragments from the movie “The Congress” edited so that they compose one single conversation between Robin Wright and Jeff Green, leading to the actress being 3D scanned.
(2) The Portfolio: 8 photos, inkjet prints on photographic paper, 40x21cm each, glued to the wall in a grid format, unframed
The scammers of “BLUE SKY FILM STUDIOS” asked for eight images of Robin Wright so that they could “extrapolate her face/image/personality” using their mysterious and cutting edge 3D CGI technology. These are the images that I sent them, they are all screenshots from “The Congress”.
(3) The Book: softcover binding, 475 pages, colors, US letter format.
The book presents and organizes documents and materials that are part of the installation by following a chronological order. It includes all the emails exchanged with the scammers, the contracts, the agreements, the PayPal invoices and more. It also features screenshots that document social media posts created by other people who had been targeted exactly like me, and satellite views of the physical location from which each email had been sent.
(4) The Animator’s Confession: Sound work, one pair of headphones, 00:35 seconds, looped
The sound is a fragment of a conversation between an animator who was the head of the “Robin Wright Department” for twenty years in Folman’s movie. The fragment ends with Robin Wright asking for more information, and then the audio loops back.
(5) Untitled GIF: animated GIF, colors
Shown marginally, either on a small screen or as a small video projection. The GIF shows the animated versions of Jeff Green and Robin Wright dealing with a contract through minimal movements in a loop.
(6) “Driven”: HD video animation, 01:57, colors, sound, looped
This looped sequence is divided in two parts. In the first part we see Robin Wright driving her car in a realistic landscape. In the second half we see her, as an animated character, driving in an increasingly more surreal and colorful animated environment.
- (2021) (Online Solo Exhibition) Fondazione Imago Mundi. Re: Animation / Reloaded, curated by Mattia Solari, Treviso, Italy
- (2017) (Solo Exhibition) Harvard Art Museums – LightBox Gallery, RE:Animation, Cambridge MA, US
“Glitch: la verità nell’errore. Conversazione con Emilio Vavarella”
Interview by Mauro Zanchi and Sara Benaglia, 5 July 2020. (ita)
“Digitale Off Limits: intervista a Emilio Vavarella”
Interview by Maria Chiara Wang, July 2020. (ita)
Low Form. Imaginaries and Visions in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
Vavarella, Emilio. “What is it like for a computer bot to be a computer bot?” and “Visual Essay”
Catalogue of exhibition at MAXXI – Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, CURA Editions, 2018 (ita-eng).
“Glitch: The Truth in the Error. A Conversation with Emilio Vavarella”
by Sara Benaglia and Mauro Zanchi, August 2020. (eng)
Special thanks to Matt Saunders and Sally Scopa and to the team at the Harvard Art Museums, in particular to Chris Molinski and Gavriella Levy Haskell.