ESCAPING THE MODULE: Designer Giorgio Olivero’s algorithmically germinated creations are locally grown,
laser-harvested, and hand-assembled in Italy.
checkerboard that has exploded into a basket of chip guys! Computational aesthetic Processing
tendrils. It’s a glossy, writhing cylinder fringed like gods like Reas and Fry and Marius Watz! They’re
an electrified straw hat. digital artists making one-of-a-kind fine-art sculp-
It also looks Italian. Somehow. Definitely. It’s a tures, electronic art you can feed right into the fine
brand-new object that frankly looks like nothing art market, collectible, beautiful!
else on Earth, but I’ve been in Italy quite a while That’s the new horizon! Because it’s organically
now and this fabject definitely looks Italian. Gina grown out of the computer graphics world, the
Lollobrigida looks less Italian than this newly interaction design world, and you can print it out
generated thing. and put it right there on the table next to the olive
“Melting plastic isn’t enough any more!” Olivero oil! It’s a real-time sculptural medium with static
declares with infectious glee. Conventional industrial pieces that have kinetic value — no, they’ve got use
design is collapsing in Europe, the assembly lines value, they might even turn out to be industrially
are all heading for China, and there’s a tidal wave of practical!
design grads coming out of the schools! Meanwhile, Or maybe — Olivero says it with a sophisticate’s
Italy’s dotted all over with small tech companies shrug — maybe it’s all a collective hallucination.
with exquisitely high-end digital equipment, and So, as the creative director of his growing young
they’re not using their full production capacity! firm, does he jump on that train, or not? That’s the
So that makes sense, but just one problem there. question.
Nobody’s got a clue how to talk to machines with And that’s not a boring question. That’s interesting.
their own digital tools.
What this situation calls for are some real software engineers with skills and sensibilities. Arduino
Bruce Sterling is a science fiction writer and was the guest
curator of the SHARE Festival 2007 in Torino, Italy.