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Catello Gragnaniello - An AI Love Affair

Words:

Edd Norval

Photos:

IG @catelloo
April 9, 2022

Neapolitan artist Catello Gragnaniello makes futuristic digital scenes that explore love, loss and the full gamut of other human emotions through faceless figures whose lighting, posture, shape and colour tell the story that their faces can’t.

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Unquestionably art for the modern era, Gragnaniello takes anonymous characters and gives them a past, a present and a future. His humanoid subjects look like specimens in a digital experiment, all a part of the Italian’s cyber universe, exploratory blank pages upon which he can impress his own artistic vision.


A student at the at Naples’ Academy of Fine Arts, Gragnaniello’s background is steeped in both a national and personal heritage. Having come of age during the emergent years of the internet and the development of computers as artistic tools, his interests in science-fiction and technology have coalesced with his home city’s unique view on art and life.

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The accumulated effect of this has manifested in the depth and breadth of the Italian’s digital works that explore the possibilities and limitations of AI as a part of humanity. How human are they? Moreover, how human are we? These are big questions and Gragnaniello doesn’t want to give too much away, maintaining a balance between the aesthetic and philosophical.


Both the utopian and dystopian are represented in his works, depending on how the audience wishes to perceive them. What’s interesting about the evolution of artificial intelligence alongside sentient life is that people tend to harbour strong emotions. They’re usually stringently for or against, with their own reasons for their particular stance. Few sit on the fence. Embracing this emotive response, Gragnaniello is able to toy with the potential engagements between vastly dichotomous worldviews.

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Despite the focus and emphasis on the non-human, Gragnaniello’s interests are the most human things of all - expressions of music and friendships. A lot of his art can be viewed as aesthetic manifestations of feelings. These feelings are guided by the day-to-day of his life. That might be a conversation or a song, always something that stirs him and, through this articulation of the non-human, we get to see the human.


Without too much in the way of context or background, his figures exist in a dreamscape, a place frozen in time that emphasizes the protagonist's plight towards belonging in a new, or alternate, world.


It's a tricky thing, telling honest and relateable stories through art. Even more so when the tools of the stories aren't human, but humanoid. Still, 

Gragnaniello’s commitment never falters as he takes us into this new world by his side.


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