Too late to have existed
The extreme memory of the wine I have is the one of the wine I’ve never drunk. But somehow even if I have never taste it, that wine has existed. I remember the adults naming it “the wine of the prince”. I was a child and “el prencipo” (the prince) was a farmer making his own artisanal wine. We were used to visit him – my big family, uncles, aunts and large number of cousins – having unforgettable picnics celebrating the first weekends of springtime.
“I have never tried the wine of the prince but it is like if I have known its taste since ever! A taste that I will translate into an image one day!” – I was fantasizing past summer driving along the Collio region - renowned for its white wines – while crossing the border between Italy and Slovenia.
I was directed to Cormons, a small village in the Gorizia province in Northeastern Italy, to meet Luciano De Gironcoli, a local prominent artist, to discuss about the organization of an exhibition of his artworks at our gallery in Beirut.
Luciano was waiting for me in his studio surrounded by hundreds of his artworks coming from a long life career. When I entered the studio I just had to have a look around.
My attention was drawn by a series of heads depicted on a grey recycled paper by mixing acrylic, pastels, ink and collage.
“They are inspired by the iron buildings of the old military architecture in Vienna, bunkers erected during the second world war to protect people from bombs” – Luciano told me.
Watching the paintings, the theme of the conflict was evocated starting from the contrast between colors and marks, although the final result seemed to drive the contrast toward the composition of hypostatized masks than to its explosion. As if the conflict had been captured in a particular moment of its life, showing us the astonished masks we become when life comes to life.
“These masks give us back the taste of time!” - I told to Luciano.
Just after pronouncing these words I was crossed by a shiver: the masks Luciano depicted impressively looked like the taste of the wine of the prince I never tasted and I had been imagining to find out one day!
Astonished and overwhelmed by the coincidences, looking at the heads/masks represented by Luciano, I asked him:
“Do you like to taste some of them in Beirut?”
“Ehm…you mean… to show them?” – Luciano replied looking at me through his glasses.
“Both!” – I assertively smiled avoiding to involve him into the absurd of my phantasies.
In October 2017, two months after that meeting, I opened the solo exhibition of Luciano De Gironcoli in Beirut. The last day of the exhibition, on November 4, I was goggling in the web and the news took my attention: an artificial intelligence system developed by an American chip production company called Nvidia, created an image generator of people never existed.
The news reported that the result was achievable thanks to the perfection of an algorithm exploiting a technique named GAN (Generative Adversarial Network) that allows to two neural networks to work each other comparing a database of more than 30.000 snapshots of famous person like singers and actors. The result was, precisely, the production of images of people never existed. The images presented a never seen and entirely credible quality, impossible to distinguish from every images of a real person (with consequences difficult to imagine in a future where augmented reality and artificial intelligence are going to play their role).
Sitting in front of Luciano’s paintings, smoking a cigarette, I had the sensation to be at the last cigarette of an era condemned to its disappearance.
Phantasy and reality seemed to lead out of my sight the opposition that made them possible to be mentioned. They start to become liquid words beside of the emerging status of the person never existed.
This should have been the reason that drove me to start to write this once upon a time story. And it could be also the reason why, when you will read it to the end, it will be too late to have existed!