An interview with Giacomo Costa: the artist of the digital age
By Andrea Carloni & Carlotta Ferrati
By Andrea Carloni & Carlotta Ferrati
Giacomo Costa is an artist born in Florence, for over 20 years he has been investigating the relationship between human beings and nature and through his work he tries raise awareness people about our planet. Among the many things done, Giacomo Costa has exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale and one of his works since 2006 is part of the permanent collection of the Pompidou Center. The preface of his monograph The Chronicles of Time published by Damiani was written by Norman Foster.
I’ll start with a direct question: are you worried about our planet?
Yes, I would say very much. The environment has always been at the center of my artistic career. Before doing the artist I spent part of my time doing the mountaineer and climbing mountains, the strong contrast between these pristine and powerful places compared to the distortions of the city was a slap in the face.
This contrast made me realize that the city is a place where man is only a marginal part of a chaotic world. From these reflections I started using urban places as a means of telling people. In ’96 when I began this work of investigation towards a world that was no longer sustainable, scientific research activities knew the subject well, but, you know, public opinion and culture were much less.
Often in your works the work of man is contrasted with nature, almost as if it were an eternal battle between good and evil. Why?
When you climb mountains, you feel the power of nature and understand that you are only a small appendix; man is one of its components but it has gone mad.
Human beings, unlike all the other guests on the planet, can influence the environment. Also, thanks to technology, humans can manage to live in places that would otherwise be impossible. In my works nature is seen as something non-human and often hardly relates to the city that is instead the emblem of man. I would like to emphasize that nature’s behavior. This is not the result of a design, but simply it exists and does, instead the man who can plan his actions often makes wrong choices. In short, nature does not have a will while man does.
Your work could not exist without using a computer. What is your relationship with technology?
Like almost all those of my generation I really liked the science fiction. So, when I was a child the first computers began to be marketed. These machines attracted me a lot. After many years have passed and besides doing the mountaineer I also practiced the activity of photographer, but my desire was not to interpret reality but to manipulate it. We were in the second half of the 1990s and finally, thanks to Photoshop, I could begin to modify the existing one. The computer has become the extension of me and I use it to express myself. The interesting thing is that the computer being a technological tool evolves and with it my art also changes.
What programs do you use to design your works?
At first Photoshop, but then I started using three-dimensional modeling programs that allowed me to start from scratch to create my works. Lately instead I use more advanced programs that allow me to create three-dimensional animations. In fact my last works are animations. The program that I use more is Houdini, mainly to do special effects.
I believe that artists have the ability to understand the present and to anticipate the future. So I ask you if the future you imagine for our planet is different from what you would like.
So, let’s start from the assumption that I don’t have much faith in human beings!
The future I imagine is similar to our past with a world dominated by aggression and personal interests. But now, unlike the past, it is very easy for masses to access and know the thoughts of the most enlightened people.
Quickly large global movements can be born that pursue positive goals. So, I am pessimistic towards humankind but optimistic because thanks to new technologies we can spread and implement positive thoughts.
A very important thing is that all of us are basic and the behavior can have more influence than we believe on the fate of our planet.