36 WORKS FOR 36 YEARS
Following is a set of frequently asked questions (in bold) and answered by Frigo (in italic):
Is this an artistic provocation?
No. While I see some connection with certain artistic trends (namely body art, conceptual art and experimental literature), this project came into being as a necessity to cope with the many ideas, thoughts and dreams I had as a young man. I kept diaries and then, as digital media became available, I shifted to that. Unfortunately however this project is used as a media provocation by journalists attempting to use in order to get readers. These journalists disclose only certain twisted elements of the project (e.g. that I photograph everything I touch while in reality I photograph only the objects I use) and not only they rise the indignation of the public (e.g. "so what happens when he goes to the bathroom", "is this art?" etc.) but also have harmed my private life.
Do you see your project as some kind of compulsive behaviour or as a form of hoarding?
No. While I had a tough childhood I still think my impulse is that of creating or better regenerating life. My attempt is pure and genuine like that of a man looking after a garden he wants to share with others. The garden is tidy and by far not the dwelling of a hoarder. It isn't a maniac collection but rather a careful selection on a predefined space. For this reason I wouldn't define my project as a form of hoarding, nor archiving, nor collecting but merely stowing. My life has been very precarious, often on the move and stowing is really what I came to do with the fascination of placing life in a vessel which is one day going to be disclosed.
Are people around you affected by your project?
Yes and in a positive way. I am dedicated to life and to take care of my nature as well as the nature of the people around me like that of my children to whom I am dedicating great part of my life. Carreer for me as never being a priority.
Is your project a form of extreme narcissism?
It is rather a form of a sacrifice to show others how prolific human nature can be. The reaction of those who have experienced my project is by far related to me as an author. Rather they have experienced a mirror of themselves and of reality. Personally I have invested very little on my public image.
Who has financed you and the realization of your project during all these years?
I have mostly being unemployed all this time. At the beginning I was struggling to get a position as a teacher and so forth but then accepted my condition as an immigrant. My source of income comes from renting rooms to other immigrants. I started by renting half of my one room apartment and slowly expanded. I believe the fact that I am disconnected from social subsidies, universities, galleries or coorporporations gives my project a level of authenticity. I am quite isolated, get seldom a voice in a publication or an exhibiton but can at least keep independent and truly stick to my belief.
You often use religious symbols in your project like the number six, the cube, a cathedral. But are you religious?
No. I see a great danger in people adhering to a set of dogmas, not only religious but also academic and political. I am terrified by these forms of adherence as they can quickly lead to fanaticism and war. If there are religious resemblances in my project is to create a form of syncretism or unity putting at peace all the various dogmatic frictions which nowadays media only radicalizes.
So do you believe you are creating a possible solution to what is happening in the world today?
Well, like me others have understood the importance to take in consideration marginal practices like mine. I mean not only I have anticipated of a few years social media for example. I also believe that within my project and the life I have conducted to look after it there are elements anticipating the catastrophic effects that the new technological paradigms can bring about.
What is then your position about Big Data? Hasn't your project contribute to the raising of surveillance at large?
No. Please notice that my practice is conducted manually; it require my involvement to generate it. I am not making use of any sensors nor algorithms. I am acting as a sensor and I am algorithm and by doing so I keep human. Notice I abstain from any form of social media or the use of any effortless wearable device. Not only those who explores my data can perceive the effort and love and care I took to generate it but also they themselves have to actively interpret it given the fact that I don't provide any meta-data such as geographic position or time stamp nor link among the data itself. It is more of a Rosetta Stone of time.
All other lifelogging projects such as Lifelog, LifeBytst and Memoto have failed. How come your project is still running?
First of all these project were not independent meaning that they were supported by respectively DARPA, Microsoft and Kickstarter. Relaying on external funding always brings in a set of constraints. Secondly all these project relaid on automation to do the lifelogging job, meaning they relaid on sensors and algorithms to capture, organize and retrieve the life of individuals. This is never a good strategy - a newer and better automation is always around the corner. Suddenly a lifelogging device with a better camera and algorithm will turn your previously collected data obsolete. My project continues because it has a set framework of operation that I can manage myself manually. Also I do not attempt to do anything with my data – I present the chronological flows of datasets I collect using different devices and it is up to the viewers to create associations. There were other examples of individuals lifelogging manually.
But you are not the only one who has been lifelogging manually right?
Correct. I recall among the first artists experimenting with lifelogging using the digital media Ellie Harrison and Jonathan Keller. Like me they emerged before social media and I guess with social media decided to quit their life long projects or anyway disappear. These discussions about privacy implications and Big Data affected them although I believe that manual and effortful lifelogging operations are not only immune but also antidotes to the crisis we are now experiencing in my opinion because of social media (e.g. populism boosted by Twitter etc.). After social media was born there was a surge of artists experimenting with what has been called self-tracking or quantified self. I believe this has been more of a trend in the arts. I am thinking of Laurie Frick's work for example as other American artists showing "how cool it is to do art with data". Only few of these artists develop lifelogging as a more philosophical form of existence with all its implications. Some old friends such as Jacek Smolicki, Brian House and Danielle Roberts have done so to some degree.