[SISEA 1990] Artist Statement: Peter d’Agostino – In the Well

Artist Statement

This entire interactive installation is conceived as an enclosed symbolic space to enshrine or entomb an almost fable-like tale of a boy who falls into a well. The actual story gained international prominence when it was broadcast live all through the night on Italian television. The boy’s parents were joined by the president and the army in the futile attempt to save him. But all the king’s men and the efforts of the media appeared to have been in vain when the boy died in the well.

The installation explores a number of universal themes: myths of falling (Icarus) and of the underworld (Orpheus); stories of Mother Earth and emergence, re-birth and resurrection.

The mediation of the tale through television, and in this case the interactive videodisc installation is crucial to the re-telling of the story. The viewer is now a participant in the story, an interactor, able to intervene in the tale from different physical and metaphorical viewpoints. Contained in a closed kiva-like circular space are several mechanisms, including a peep hole and an interactive touch screen, which provide insights into the piece.

“The Peephole” contains an image of the Well and a reflexive eye gazing back at the viewer. The Renaissance space, of perspective and of the camera obscura has obvious references to Duchamp’s “Etant donnes”. But the image the viewer sees, from inside the closed gate, is from Piranesi’s garden at the “Knights of Malta”, in Rome which frames a view of Michelangelo’s dome of St. Peter’s in perfect one-point perspective. This garden like the scene in “Ettant donnes” is physically inaccessible and can only be viewed through a peephole. ‘The Peephole” segment serves as a commentary to question the notions of “interactivity” and “intervention” in the age of electronic transmission.

  • Peter d’Agostino  (USA)