Divergences, 2023

Body, biosensors, VR

DIVERGENCES is a film and a 1:1 scale video installation by mixed-media artist Federica Sasso and sound artist Luca Pagan. Drawing from the photographic tradition of studies on human motion, the artists reframe Muybridge’s legacy, resulting in a moving statue that embraces hypercontemporaneity. Conceived as a live recorded performance, a middle-aged man who lost his left leg in an after-work accident walks continuously on a treadmill surrounded by an aseptic space while immersed in virtual reality.

Walking through four VR liminal environments, the subject wears a biosensor suit developed by the artists and a high-tech prosthesis from the Rehab Technologies Lab of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) and INAIL - where the treadmill is typically used for functional tests. Wearable technologies drive him to real-time feedback on his movements by generating sounds reminiscent of water, grass, and the steps of female and male heels, all connected to the four spaces he is virtually walking in. Immersed in an architectural concrete corridor with a metaphorical light on the horizon, as he proceeds, the surfaces change, from carpet to marble, from water to turf.

DIVERGENCES explores a range of phenomena, encompassing the sensation of embodiment (feeling an external – digital or physical – object as part of one’s mental representation of their body) and human perception in a surrounding environment, alongside its reaction to external digital stimuli. Citing scientific experiments and placing them outside of their common context – with the video suspended in white, bright, and fictitious, on the border between art and advertising – the artists push the boundaries of the relationship between humans and technology, leading the viewer to question the future of physical and virtual interactions, ergonomic solutions, and their implications in contemporary society.

Sasso and Pagan investigate new possible connections between the body, sound impulses, and new realities, eager to experiment with how a digital-physical setting (including a virtual environment and a bionic extension of our bodies) can make a person perceive haptic sensations. They guide us through a suspended universe that unveils unconscious and brain reactions, making us question: “Would I react in the same way?”.

Debut at 2023 Ars Electronica Festival September 6-10, Postcity Linz (AT). Ars Electronica Garden Fano: Umanesimo Artificiale (IT). Single-channel video installation.

Artists: Federica Sasso and Luca Pagan
Art Director: Emanuele Amighetti
Styling: Giovanni Nordio
Editor & Supervisor: Carlo Fusani
Director: Emanuele Cantó
Dop: Ciro di Niccolo
Producer: Isotta Fiorenzi
1st AC: Emma Mariano
Gaffer: Tommaso Bolongaro
Grip: Alberto Braga
Bolt Operator: Marc Debon
Photographer: Giacomo Alberico
Styling Assistant: Miriam Perego
VR Designer & Developer: Igor Iurevici
Vice Project Manager Hyperleg Project: Samuele de Giuseppe
Test Subject: Omar Cantoro
Orthopedic: Francesco Migliarese
Graphic Designer: Maria Chiara Moro
Web Developer: Marco Pagan
Shot in August 2023, Milan (IT). Thanks to MovieChrome.
In collaboration with the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) and INAIL.

Website: divergences.it