Interview #65

Matteo Nasini

* The following text is an excerpt from an interview made in 2016. The original version is published in PANORAMA (DIORAMA editions).
* Matteo Nasini is currently based in Rome.

Matteo Nasini (Rome, 1976) studied at Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia (Rome). His work has been exhibited at Villa Romana (Florence); Villa Croce (Genoa); Rowing (London); IIC and Hammer Museum (Los Angeles); Art-O-Rama (Marseille); Clima, Marsèlleria Permanent Exhibition, Fonderia Battaglia and Fluxia (Milan); Marsèlleria Permanent Exhibition (New York); Arti Visive Pescheria (Pesaro); MAXXI, Macro and Nomas Foundation (Rome); Palazzo Fortuny (Venice); Museum of Royal Worcester (Worcester).

Let’s begin with your background as a musician: can you tell me about it?

I began to study music when I was a child, I played the flute, I sang in the choir, then between junior high school and high school I started to become interested in the guitar, bass and drums. In those years – we’re in Rome in the 90s – there was a huge musical ferment, as there is also today. I attended the Conservatory of Latina because in Rome there was no spaces left, and to get there I had to do 100 km in a direct Rome-Naples train. I was playing with many people every day, all around me everybody was playing and everyone was playing with everybody, each one had more groups and projects with which they produced music. My room was a sort of recording studio with a bed, we improvised and used multitracking, we played and played over what we recorded, we were making an absurd music composed by synths, guitars, strings, percussions, voices and self-built instruments, minimal and complex, acoustic and electronic, that you could not perform live and it was implied in the way it was composed that it didn’t want that kind of achievement. We didn’t even know how to reproduce what we had made but we recorded it, we made the tapes and we were giving them to people. This experience with people and sounds, which were closely linked to other frantic activities such as drawing, photographing, filming with dv, produced in me a mindset that is the fundamentals of my interest.

You are working on a very complex project for Marsèlleria Permanent Exhibition…

This project consists of many items of personal interest to me on sound matter and listening perception, on the expressive potential of the consciousness states and on the technological intervention in the identity of a human process that has been transformed by it. I’m capturing the brain activity of people asleep in the form of electromagnetic waves with a machine called EEG. The data generated by this machine are sent to the computer and through an analog to digital conversion, converted into sounds. In Marsèlleria, we had some one-night long sleep concerts where you can sit and sleep listening to the sounds made by a person who is asleep in real time. Then I printed the data of the recorded moments of dream and sleep with a 3D printer, creating ceramic sculptures. I also made blankets to use during the night of the performance. One of the protagonists of the project is the listener and its hypnagogic state, the very variable time phase that everyone crosses from wakefulness to sleep, where thought and images tend to develop in a particular way. During the sleep concerts, in this sensitive and collective condition, the idea is to activate a purely evocative element such as sound, with which the listener can forge a different relationship between suggestions in it, time, space and his/her own mental state, returning a sound experience with similar characteristics to its most archaic manifestations and rituals, in the sense of sound as a tool through which you can a change a condition. All that is alive is sleep, we spend a significant part of our life in the state of sleep, where brain activity is as complex and elaborated as that during waking hours. Creating a sound, a polyphony with these features is intended to be an attempt of suggestion and of exploration of the auditory shape, but also to induce the listener to a different cultural and social perception of an object which is the idea of music of our time.

You have often worked with weavings: how did the yarns born, for example they ones your created for Clima and for the Museo delle Palme?

Some time ago I started to tighten wool threads on the wooden lifting beams that run aground on the banks of the river, I had a studio in Rome in the Magliana area in front of the Tiber river. The alternation of colors in the thread bands made me think of magnetic tapes and somehow in my head I associated chromatisms of color with the ones of sound frequencies, and were like some mute and object compositions. In 2015 I tried both in Palermo and at Fonderie Battaglia to enlarge this action in an environmental dimension; you could see the result of the crossings, the spaces are cut and reshaped by the management of these soft bundles that I realise being born from an auditory insight, but remain absolutely works of physical matter.

Do you have a daily activity that is not part of your work?

The drawing. I love to draw and I am really jealous of those who can draw because I usually don’t like mine when I look at them – it’s always been that way, a bit conflicting. They are like a diary without writing, full of tragicomic biographical scenes, and imaginary animals. The first works with wool that I made, the tapestries, were to cover some drawings I cared about but I didn’t want to show, so one day I went to a sewing shop and I got some balls of yarn, I started to cover designs on fabrics with wool, trying to duplicate the line of the marker with the embroidery.