Appear or not appear, this is the question (or how to bring art into the science)

I admire pencils. I write. Raffaele Marone, photograph

I admire pencils. I write. Raffaele Marone, photograph

Brainstorming concepts with children is one of the exercises I warmly recommend to let things happen. Having children at home I do it every time it is possible. My last occasion was during our last flight to Italy.

“Beirut-Rome is three hours flight, enough to try with one of the most slippery concept” I thought while fasting my seat belt.

So, when Alitalia flight took off I shoot the ball to my 7 years old son Archimede, sitting beside me.

“Archi, what does it means truth?”

“Truth means when you are saying something tttruth” cut him shortly, stressing the word and accompanying it by an intense and not contradictable body expression. Then he turned back to its cartoon leaving me without words, frustrating my plan of three hours debate.

Alone with my thoughts I started to think that Archimede’s answer was more an interpretation than an explanation. He did not dissolve the uncertainty of the concept but had a credit: to remind me that the truth calls for the body.

Fluctuating in the air at 10.000 meters height, watching the clouds below us covering and uncovering the sea, I had the sensation of the appearing and disappearing of my body and of the truth as something that happens between visible and invisible.

Mirage. Tom Young, oil on canvas

Mirage. Tom Young, oil on canvas

The days after, incredibly, the same sensation intertwined the meetings I had.

The first was while drinking a beer with Loreno Michelin, the creator of Birra 32, a young successful Italian brand craft beer. We were sitting on the table of a restaurant in Fano, a sea town in the Marche region, drinking a bottle of Curmi, one of the seven beers Viadeibirrai 32 produces.

Loreno was showing to the owner of the restaurant the new bottle in braille they created.  

“The idea to have a beer in a braille bottle to let blind people read it is really great” I was thinking meanwhile Loreno was touching the braille writing impressed on the glass. What a surprise, later on, to discover that one of Loreno best friend is blind from his birth.

“Sometimes you think business is just business, but when emotions and hidden values playing together it becomes an art!” I thought leaving Fano skirting the Adriatic coast.

The day after I was in Senigallia town to meet Catia Uliassi, sister of the starred chef Mauro and co-founder of Uliassi restaurant, currently one of the top ten Italian restaurants.

In the beginning of the year the restaurant is closed, working and designing the new season proposals, so Catia received me in her house.  I was welcomed in a visual atmosphere invested by light, colors and images, instead of the aromas and tastes normally delight you in her restaurant. What a surprise again to discover Catia paintings! I was fascinated perceiving her sincere nature working with the elegance of the ambience she created. For a while I had the sensation to be in a greenhouse annexed to Uliassi restaurant, with secretly cultivated images like vegetables, waiting to be planted somewhere in our sensorial life.

I left Catia’s house bringing with me a sensation of lightness, the same I had sitting with Loreno.

“Both of them are free” I thought “and the truth of their project has to be  in what they are creating working across the visible and the invisible, playing with taste and sight, practicing the art of appearing and disappearing.

Temp. Wissam Shaaby, acrylic painting

Temp. Wissam Shaaby, acrylic painting

Time to leave Italy came. Just before taking the flight back to Beirut I entered by chance in a small library. Wandering around, a small pamphlet with an enigmatic title attracted me: “Che cos’è reale? La scomparsa di Majorana“ (What is real? The disappearing of Majorana)

I took the book in my hands and I felt an energy, this time the same sensation I had with Archimede’s “body answer”. It was like if something magnetic was emanated from its pages. I bought it without hesitating and few hours later I was reading it sitting on the flight back to Beirut.

I read it without breathing and while reading I could not believe to the incredible coincidences in the book with the thoughts and sensations that accompanied my travel!

The book has been recently written by the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben  who introduces a new theory about the mystery of the disappearing of Majorana, one of the most prominent scientist of the Enrico Fermi equip that discovered the secrets of the atomic scission leading to the preparation of the atomic bomb. The story is well known and still wrapped in a mystery: on June 24, 1938, at the age of 34, Majorana disappeared without living any track. The letter he wrote before his disappearance is full of ambiguity, like if he wanted to confuse the ideas. Till today we do not have any notice of him. An important Italian intellectual, Leonardo Sciascia, wrote a book about the enigmatic story giving an ethical and psychological interpretation: the disappearing of Majorana is the denunciation of the dangerous path the science was entering to.

Agamben is integrating and changing Sciascia’s version at the same time, proposing an intriguing theory of Majorana’s disappearing that brings us directly to face the question:  what is real? According to Agamben’s theory Majorana is the scientist that incarnates the passage from the classical scientific paradigm – based on the determinism and the possibility to have a neutral investigation of the nature - toward the new quantum physics paradigm. Starting from that point the science becomes something different we still do not get completely. Just to have an assay:  in the quantum physics the real is changing at the moment we observe it as stated by Heisenberg principle of indetermination. So, the probability and statistics are the only tools we have to know the real but, what is more disquieting, to know that we are creating it. In other words, taking the permission to express the Agamben theory in a post: at the moment when science switches to the atom’s theory, the real is influenced by our observation and the observation itself – working under the statistics and the probability paradigm – unfolding the governance of the real, producing it. At that moment, the body of Majorana, the scientist that refused the new paradigm based upon probability, become invisible for us!

The book was lying on my knees. I was deep in myriad of thoughts and I lost the track of time. When the voice of the captain informed us we were landing I did not realized the time passed, thinking we were still in Italy. In that moment Archimede, looking out of the window, expressed a contemporary formula of the real, launching me a parachute to exit from my thoughts: “Daddy, look, we disappeared from Italy and we are now appearing in Beirut!” 

Archéologie du changement. Remo Ciucciomei, acrylic painting

Archéologie du changement. Remo Ciucciomei, acrylic painting