Paolo Parisi / John Duncan
“Conservatory (San Sebastiano)”, 2004
Stacks of emptied corrugated cardboard, three elements, cm 260x260x335 each; hydraulic PVC pipes , dimensions variable; “Islands”, acrylic paint on wall, 11 elements, dimensions variable; “Three benches for everybody”, cardboard, cm 130x260x50.
Sound installation; composition, voice: John Duncan. Sound design: Giorgio Tomasini.
Ph. © Domingie & Rabatti, Firenze

An Artificial Paradise
Paolo Parisi created a work when an installation was specially designed in late 2004 for the new Quarter contemporary art centre in Florence, which at the time was presenting an audio work by John Duncan. To make it, he brought together different languages and specificities: architecture, painting, sculpture, sound installation, language and various performative events operated upon the spectators, involving them at various levels in the discovery of a landscape. A mixture of natural sublimity and artificial paradise. Three observatories made of cut-out recycled cardboard with the outlines taken from a series of geographical observations were installed in the large hall oft he Florentine venue. These Observatories, which were open to and could be used by the public, had water pipes coming from them. They were organically stretched out on the ground to simulate a vegetal proliferation – a forest, with an intricate tangle of the landscape as natural as it was artificial. And indeed the three observatories did not just act as telescopes. They were phonic and audio systems, distributing sounds and voices, absorbing rustlings, capturing noises and broadcasting whirrs and words, texts and shouts,in such a way as to give spectators a taste of their own experience in everyday public spaces,in a street or in a square. In this case,however,the place was transformed into a city-square theatre on a dramatic or comic occasion.The spectators could share sounds, energies, images and words with others far away from them.The sculpture thus became an elaborate system for communication and observation, and for perception and reproduction, while the space was transformed from a container into a place of experiences and relationships.

The composition of sounds and voices created for the occasion by John Duncan had reduced to no more than a sonorous morass and to a magmatic fluid or jumble, a whole series of highand low terms – slang, upper-class and lower-class language – which almost led to a Lacan-type lalangue,a rustle of sound waves with their own plasticand pictorial consistency as well as different intensities and speeds.The large walls of the area had also been modified by a monumental painting that transformed the optical perception of the space itself.

The pictorial gesture is reproduced in another direction by altering the scale, but the ratio between large and small stays the same. We are faced with magnitudes that are incommensurable with our world: the cosmos and molecular nature. In this case, painting and sculpture evoke our molecular world, that of atoms, and the immense cosmos, destructuring the space of life and returning it in far more complex forms within a landscape that is or can be lived in a number of dimensions. Because both Self and what is other than Self – and thus painting too – take life from countless dimensions and timespans.

Sergio Risaliti, from “The Dual Discipline of the Observer”, 2006; in “Paolo Parisi. Observatorium – Gegen den Strom”, Edizioni Periferia, Luzern CH