36 WORKS FOR 36 YEARS
Frigo uses A4 size and 55 mm thick cardboard boxes to archive his drawings of ideas after they are scanned (work 11), a selection of the trash he picks after it is scanned (work 08), the sketches of his walks after they are digitized (work 14), his fables booklets once they are completed and digitized (work 05), cut-outs of his paintings after they have been photographed (work 13), the paper notes of the songs he hears when he is driving and can't type on his phone (work 03) but also airplane and museum tickets, exhibitions flyers, books and all the material he had collected before the starting of his project. This material includes his "family treasure", his hairs, nails and teeth, and the journals he kept prior 2004.
Similar to other archival projects such as Andy Warhol's boxes, Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion Chronofile Frigo intends to stow the boxes in a cube construction to be left in nature as a sort of a deteriorating time capsule. Moreover, as a in ancient Celtic, Viking or Egyptian traditions Frigo intends to have his burnt body to be placed within one of these boxes to be placed inside the cube. While one face of the cube sits on the ground the other four perimeter faces are engraved with respectively the Input the Output, the time framework and the spatial framework of his project and the top shows the flower of life diagram as shown on the project website.
Frigo develops special editions more or less based on his other works. These editions include for example: a series of mugs with selected photos of Frigo's right hand using different mugs, a dictionary in which special objects appearing in a dream are interpreted, a book of bed-time stories improvised to children, a series of t-shirts with selected drawings, a book with quotes gathered from the books he reads, a series of sculptures with selected 3d shapes. These editions are meant as a bazar of commercial items to go alongside his other works.
Frigo's theoretical point of departure is based on a distinction between effortless and effortful. Beyond discussions on power, gender, race, globalization and human rights, Frigo attributes to automation the crisis that contemporary society is experiencing. According to Frigo, it is the automation of social, political, economical, religious and intellectual frameworks to reduce the human effort and, in turn, annihilate its nature. In this respect, Frigo's main proposal is to act as automation and, in this effort, reconnect to human nature.
In his manual effort of both working and examining himself, Frigo differentiates from common lifeloggers or social media users. He does not automate the process of capturing, organizing and retrieving his life, but he accomplishes this process manually. By "becoming both the sensor and the algorithm", programming his own behavior, Frigo avoids the privacy implications related to lifelogging turning his operation into what he defines as ''Tebahism'', the manual stowing of life within predefined containers in view of a technology driven crisis threatening human life.
Frigo thus uses the term "Tebahism" to identify archival practices that are more precarious than the dictatorial archival practices advocated by Jacques Derrida. He uses the Egyptian word "tebah", used in the Masoretic bible to signify both Noah's Ark and Moses' basket as life-savers. Beyond the biblical reference Frigo points at the flood myth as a narrative spread in all cultures worldwide. In line with Jacques Ellul, Frigo sees the work of "tebahists" as shamans developing techniques which could enable society to avoid the consequences of new technological changes. His historical examples are: Jacopo Pontormo's diary, Ferdinand Cheval's ideal palace, Dziga Vertov's film, Janina Turek's diaries, Vivian Maier's boxes and George Perec's novels but also relatively unknown tebahists such as John Mallon Waterman, Danielle Roberts, Morris Villarroel and Jacek Smolicki.
In his definition of ''Tebahism'' Frigo stresses the idea of effortful and manual self-tracking approaches. In his research then he looks at ''tebahists'' as life-savers in antithesis with common life-logging and Quantified Self technologies bringing life to extinction through the use of automation. After conducting reception studies in a barn in the alps, Frigo concluded that ''Tebahism'' is a form of syncretism.
In his attempts to describe this work in a scientific context, Frigo has repeatedly explained his point of view and that is that contemporary life is filled with unnecessary procedures, often only meant for the sake of social security and surveillance. He therefore claimed that his documenting activity is only an additional procedure to enforce the self. In this respect, contrary to common belief, the enforcement of the self conducted by Frigo can be viewed in Foucauldian terms as a "Technology of the Self", a Stoic practice that enables individual to live according to nature and become more just and adapt to govern as in the case of the self-enforcing practices carried out by Franklin Benjamin and Mahatma Gandhi.
Here is a list of scientific articles:
2016: Alberto Frigo, Rainer Malaka, Nina Runge & Johannes Schöning, You Can Touch This: Eleven Years and 258218 Images of Objects, alt.CHI 2016: Proceedings of the International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.
2006: Alberto Frigo, Un an de système autobiographique, Association pour l'autobiographie et le Patrimoine Autobiographique, La Faute à Rousseau Journal, Volume 37, Page 49, Paris, France.
2004: Alberto Frigo, Autobiographical System: building an ideographic history of activities based on artifacts, ISSN 1651-4769, Chalmers University, Gothenburg, Sweden.
2004: Alberto Frigo, Storing, Indexing and Retrieving My Autobiography, Pervasive 2004. Workshop on Memory and Sharing of Experiences, Vienna, Austria.
2004: Alberto Frigo, A Tonic for the Self, Proceedings of The Life of Mobile Data: Technology, Proceeding of Mobility and Data Subjectivity Conference, University of Surrey, UK.
2003. Alberto Frigo, Autobiographical System Based on Photo-tracking of Artifacts, Proceedings of Generative Art Conference, Polytechnic, Milan, Italy.
You can also read how the project has been mentioned in the following books:
2018: Toft Tanya, Digital Dynamics in Nordic Contemporary Art, Chicago University Press.
2017: Mark Hoogendoorn, Burkhardt Funk, Machine Learning for the Quantified Self: On the Art of Learning from Sensory Data, Springer International Publishing.
2017: Susan Flynn, Antonia Mackay , Spaces of Surveillance: States and Selves, Palgrave Macmillan.
2016: Deborah Lupton, The Quantified Self, Cambridge: Polity Press.
2016: Tamar Sharon & Dorien Zandbergen, From data fetishism to quantifying selves: Self-tracking practices and the other values of data, New Media & Society.
2016: David Houston Jones, Installation Art and the Practices of Archivalism, London: Routledge Edition.
2015: Birgit Richard (Et al.), Hamster-Hipster-Handy, Kerber Edition.
2011: Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, New York: Best Books (the name is misspelled as “Albert Frigo”).
2011: Rob Kitchin, Martin Dodge, Code/space: Software and Everyday Life, Cambridge: MIT Press.
2010: Outi Remes & Pam Skelton, Conspiracy Dwellings: Surveillance in Contemporary Art, Cambridge: Scholars Publishing.
2010: Dominique Moulon, Art Contemporain et Nouveaux Médias, Sentier d'Art Edition.
2006: Hannes Leopoldseder & Gerfried Stocker (Editors), CyberArts 2006: International Compendium Prix Ars Electronica, Hatje Cantz Publishers.
To date, every time Frigo is in a new circumstance, like a different place and or with different people and or with a different weather or event while accomplishing one of his 36 works, he position his camera, likely on a tripod and films. About 5 to 20 seconds clips are shot constantly changing perspectives. Generally, a film has no less than three clips and could be very long. Clips are later trimmed, put together and exported to a 16:9 high definition .mpg format.
The making of the films has other dimensions going beyond the mere documentation of a documenting practice. Watching carefully through the films, viewers can detect a narrative, the story of a man giving up a life and finding a new life filled with love and other events. It describes the alternation of seasons, a tragicomedy made of sad and happy moments as human life is. Generally, it represent a struggle to get away with the everyday dogma and find poetry again as well as Frigo's ultimate attempt to deposit his project back to nature.
After a failed attempt in Sweden, in 2016 Frigo bought a three hectares property in his native alps 100 km from Venice. The site is located on top of a valley with the entrance facing east and the back facing west where the Little Dolomites can be admirer. Frigo's work is also intended to give a new meaning to a mountain place completely abandoned by its inhabitants after wars and recessions. Awaiting to obtain the building permissions from the local authorities, Frigo has conceived an open air and public museum which will function both to host viewings of his works as well as a mixed reality application for visitors' to view his works with their mobile devices.
The work is mostly inspired by the life committing works of Ferdinand Cheval, Chalermchai Kositpipat, Jim Bishop, Robert Tatin, Justo Gallego Martínez. While Frigo aims to at least build the foundation of the museum, a mixed reality application will allow visitors to view the actual data. Periodically also Frigo intends to set up temporary exhibitions.
One of Frigo's 36 works consists in presenting on a website a describtion of each of his works along with related audio/visual material. The approach is a Socratic one, considering science as the description of each and every component of a chart and relating to pre-encyclopedic attempts to generate knowledge through universal systems. In this respect, Frigo collects illustrative material as well as he is on the look out for possible references to each work, thus creating a clavis universalis, a system from which to access a broader knowledge.