Mona Lisa taking a selfie and Mozart's finger portrait. Digital art by Dito von Tease with deep connotations
Dito von Tease — a digital artist from Italy who does not want his face to be seen on the Internet — tells why the famous classical canvases are no longer so incomprehensible to the average person, and also why the finger substitute our faces.
— From your biography, that published on your site (and called Ditography) we found out that you live in Bologna (Italy). For people who have never been in your city, how you can describe it in a few words?
— Bologna is known as "La dotta, la grassa e la rossa” that means "the learned, the fat and the red”. The learned — because there was the oldest university in the Western world (1088 a.c.). The fat — because there is special culinary tradition that is known all around the world: tagliatelle, tortellini, mortadella and lasagne. All these dishes were invented in Bologna. And the red — because of terracotta-colored brick buildings, but it is also a reflection of the left council which has governed the town for many decades. This is the best view of my city.
— Also there noticed that you got education in “best schools of art and design...” Tell us about these schools and what did they teach you. Perhaps something that you remember for a lifetime.
— I got my first degree at ISIA — Highest Institute For Art Industry in Urbino. It is one of the most important design and visual communication schools in Italy. I learned the basics of design from the best professionals in the area of graphics, photography and illustration.
After the first degree, I won a scholarship at Fabrica, the Benetton Research and Communications Center, which was founded by Olivier Toscani. This experience gave me the opportunity to work with young artists from all around the world and gave me an idea of international artistic experience. This was my basis for the profession of art director and then digital artist.
— No-one knows how do you look like. We know Dito as an author, but we don’t know the person in his real life. Why is that?
— I'm an Art-director and work in advertising. I decided to create an image of an artist without restrictions from clients, marketing, budget and make my art freely.
— Portrait that is Ditography, how much it is look like you?
— He looks a lot like me. But in reality I actually have a nose.
— You have made several units of work, where famous modern or past personages are depicted as fingers. Why did you decide to make such a project?
— My project “Ditology” started in 2009 when I decided to create my account on the Facebook. I wanted this virtual space to be free from oppressive relatives, colleagues and friends … so I decided to create an avatar (userpic). The word Dito means finger in Italian, while Von Tease — is a tribute to the artist of disguise. In Italian someone could say I wanted to "hide myself behind my finger" ("nascondermi dietro un dito”) - it's a popular expression and a metaphor to indicate a not-very-effective hiding place.
My desire to hide myself from real life made me think about people' identity in virtual image. ‘Digitus’ in Latin means finger. In the digital age, the finger is a tool that we use every day on touch screens, keyboards. Thus, in a sense, everyone is “hidden behind his finger” while surfing the internet.
But also in our real life we all try to hide ourselves behind the image of us that we prefer. Our virtual and real masks hide and protect the uniqueness of our fingerprint. They can even help us freely express our ideas, opinions and desires.
For all these reasons, our identity is genuine and fictional at the same time. Individual and social. Natural and cultural. And, of course, real and virtual.
— How did the audience perceive this project? What kind of feedback did you get?
— Since 2011, “Ditology” has given over 1 million unique visits to my blog; Received more than 50 reviews in newspapers, magazines, TV and radio; More than 1,000 reviews on blogs and online media sites.
The project was distributed in more than 150 countries. Prints of the project are sold in London, Paris and other 25 cities of the world.
— Leo Caillard in an interview for our Magazine
said that the artist should not pay attention to the reaction of the audience or comments. What do you think about this? Do you pay attention on this?
— It depends on who says their opinion and in what context. Not all opinions have the same weight and importance. Often people, especially on the Internet, like to tell the world what they think about everything, including my works. I ignore them. But I listen to the opinions of people whom I respect. Those who are truly experts in the field of art.
— In the project “Classicool”, heroes of famous classic canvases that are known to everyone, make selfies. Tell us about how you came up with this project and implemented it.
— The “Classicool” project continues to reflect on the image of a person. This is a reflection on the perception of selfie as a socio-aesthetic practice, which was made possible by the democratization of photography and public virtual space.
In “Classicool”, the personages of famous paintings abandon their pose, literally “picking up a canvas” to paint (take a picture of themselves). Portraits and self-portraits, once intended for elites, gradually dispersed and flowed from a private exhibition to a public one.
— In your opinion, what is the task or mission of the contemporary artist?
— Today art should be light, smart, temporary in the form, but strong, unsettling and clever in its content. Art can go beyond dogma, academic knowledge, museums and private collections. It must be in the stream of streets, the Internet, transmitted to millions of people so that they can enjoy it in their places.
— Can you tell us 3 names of contemporary artists and their projects which influenced on you?
— Amazing collages of pop icons created by Ron English
; the incredible story of Banksy's
anonymity; amazing sculptures of Ron Mueck
— Do you have future plans?
— My future plans are not about work, but my life. I would like to grow old together with Tatiana and see our son, grow up happy in a better world.
— What can you advise for young artists to read or watch to have more inspiration and pumping skills?
— First advise: read and watch, go out and meet people. Travel when you have chance and be amazed of the world like a three years old child. Second advise: there are no handbooks that teach how to make art. Art is a need, if you make art, you feel the need and you have to do it. Third advise: don't look for ideas, they will look for you when you least expect them, you just have to learn to recognize them.
By Sergey Gutakovsky