Giada Rodani

Arte nel paesaggio, A vision augmented by the universe, 2023
The twentieth century gave us two key theories: the theory of general relativity and that of quantum mechanics. Both had macro (space and time) and micro (matter and energy) implications. On the one hand these theories gave impetus to astro- and nuclear physics, on the other, in their apparent incompatibility, raised new questions and challenges to modern science.
Contemporary society lays foundations in and expects much of technology and of the advance of science. Our everyday lives are shaped by the digital and scientific discoveries of the past few decades; an extension of our perception of the ‘lived world’ is taking place, not only enlarged on a global level but encompassing an experience of the micro and macro cosmos.
We are now projected towards a future in which our senses and intellect are increasingly assisted by IT tools and technology; experience is no longer based on everyday, but on virtual or simulated, reality. Artificial intelligence and ‘augmented’ reality have not only changed the way we ‘learn’, but they have also changed the way we ‘think’, opening this Homo faber hybridus to new faculties and new ways of knowing.
Art today is more than ever a reflection of our times, it sieves the real so that collective imagination remains as sediment. The artist has always interpreted the human condition, nature and society; for this reason his vision and his role in society have now become fundamental to understanding our accelerated epoch in which it is indispensable to find moments of withdrawal /removal and reflection.
An eclectic and powerfully conceptual artist, Loris Cecchini is engaged in an artistic research into the latest trends and scientific discoveries, leading him to question the limits of reality and to explore how far it is not quite as it appears.

An atomic structure in the making, a skeleton of matter, Loris Cecchini’s modular sculptures Waterbones investigate the relationship between nature and artefice, but also between the various levels of perceiving reality, the coexistence and single reality of the micro and macro cosmos. In the individual steel module the artist identifies an archetypal matrix, an abstract natural form, that propagates germinally in space and that recalls, in its tripartite shape, the morphology of a 3-quark baryon, one of the fundamental components of quantum physics.

Waterbones is a powerfully dynamic and expansive sculpture The material used - the reflective potential of the steel is key here - no longer represents the solid and static, but becomes a manifestation of links and connections, the visualisation of a quantum field, of the movement of subatomic particles: these adapt to the surrounding space in dialogue with architecture and landscape, nature and the universe. Through this investigation of the microscopic world, with the support of digital graphics and the most advanced technology, the artist presents us with an augmented vision of the phenomenology of nature, revealing the hidden mechanism keeping the real world together, creating in the Astronomical Observatory a work that binds and connects Earth and the Universe.
We could say that Cecchini’s work is all about lenses, scales of measurement, and the proportions and deformations of reality . Playing with these parameters, he leads us to question the nature of objective reality and to reprogramme our sensorial experience to encompass glimpses of the just-as-real micro and macrocosmos. In Waterbones, as in an act of transcendence, material reality disappears to reveal the fluid energetic ‘bonework’ of the physical work.
True and false, thesis and antithesis, are not resolved into a definitive synthesis, but lead to abstraction, to a transcendence of the phenomenal world. And so the work becomes a medium, through which the observer is opened to a totalising experience.
Waterbones, with its dense network of interaction between subatomic particles, appears as a synthesis of, and homage to, two great theories of the twentieth century in which the choice of an astronomical observatory offers the occasion to put into close relationship the microcosm, represented by the ‘quantum form’ of the sculpture, with the macrocosm, the starry sky projected above the Osservatorio Polifunzionale del Chianti.
For at least thirty years a coherent series of works by Loris Cecchini time and again challenge our senses and our understanding of reality. They succeed in triggering a distortion of our perceptions, eroding our certainties, and undermining our mental scaffolding.
His first work is an eloquent example on this with its visual and conceptual paradoxes, imbued too with a sophisticated irony, so that the observer risks feeling out of his depth, unsettled, even vertiginous. This same effect of disorientation reoccurs in the presence of the first modular spherical works in polyethylene (Morphing Wave or Cloudless, 2006), where proliferation, the atomization of matter and expanding cellular structures were already suggested.
An exacting researcher and experimenter of form and matter, Cecchini was drawn in later works to use steel. Cleaned, smoothed and polished as a mirror to give Cecchini’s modules their characteristic (also metaphorical) strength, resistance, tenacity, and durability, the mirrored and duplicating effect evoked ‘something other’, reflecting the surrounding space, the intimate nature of matter/form and the eternal laws of the cosmos.
Nature in itself fascinates me… I observe it and let it lead me elsewhere, and I like to elaborate nature thinking technologically, which for me is an important line of thought. I look at the relationship between aesthetics and science: I linger on the boundary between the natural and the artificial, I draw on nature but rework it in the light of other knowledge and in the end try to cause a shift, a poetic suspension .

In the various declinations of the module is the search for a matrix, for a pure and universal form, an exploration of the bricks on which the physical world is built. His research into the life-giving forms of matter moves from the abstract study of solid geometry to comparisons with a microscopic vision of the most complex structures in the organic (botanical) and inorganic (mineral) kingdom. His interest concentrates on the codices and overlap supporting the structure of the atoms and subatomic particles, chemical bonds and spin networks, fractals and rhizomatic progressions.

His exploration of nature advances from the use of scientific instruments and studies, to the search for signs, for morphological structures and phenomonal organisation, then to reward us through his art with a macroscopic vision of the subatomic universe.
Once the ‘module’ is identified, mechanically elaborated at a technical and computerised level, it is produced at an industrial level. The result is then entrusted to the sensibility and creativity of the artist who, from time to time, rearranges it in new configurations to bring it into dialogue with the host space, whether internal or external, architectural or natural. His quest is not satisfied though by just presenting and revealing the invisible reality of the phenomenal world, but probes the emotions, exploring the wonder and beauty of the structure of existence .
Truth and beauty appear to be the two moving principles in Cecchini’s artistic research. But truth and beauty are not only two philosophical concepts or artistic precepts, for they also have a profound vocational meaning to the scientist. Paul A.M. Dirac, winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1933, identified beauty as a way of reaching truth: ‘The research worker, in his efforts to express the fundamental laws of Nature in mathematical form, should strive mainly for mathematical beauty’ Other scientists share this view, expressed in the work of Philip J. Davis and Reuben Hersh (The Mathematical Experience, 1981)and earlier by Godfrey H. Hardy: ‘A mathematician, like a painter or poet, is a maker of patterns… The mathematician’s patterns, like the painter’s or the poet’s, must be beautiful; the ideas, like the colours or the words, must fit together in a harmonious way’, and again, ‘Beauty is the first test. …’.
An aesthetics of physics exists, as it does in nature, based on its own laws both scientific and mathematical. From these probably stem our profound, instinctive and congenital idea of the beautiful: symmetry, proportion, harmony, fractal reiteration, the golden ratio, etc. So beauty is not just subjective, but can be considered objectively. Where truth creates beauty and beauty truth, we can trace the evolution of knowledge and of human understanding, as Dirac put it: ‘getting beauty into one's equation, ... one is on a sure line of progress.’
Has the beauty of Cecchini’s work something to do with all of this? Taking the scientific observation of nature, studying the morphology of certain phenomena and the supporting mechanism, Cecchini examines the depths of the physical world, lighting on pure and essential creations (as found in some mathematical formulae), finally identifying in the atom, in energy, in the links and perennial motion, the extreme synthesis of reality.

The study of the infinitisimal world, understood better today with the advance of quantum physics, is as ancient as human thought. Although today we know that even an atom is divisible, it is worth remembering that more than two thousand years ago Democritus contemplated atomism (5th century B.C.) founded on his interest in unchanging physical principles based on the existence of indivisible particles (?t?µ??, ‘indivisible’) of which everything is made. This atomic conception of reality, with matter in movement continued with Epicurus in Athens in the 4th century B.C and spread throughout the ancient world, to find in Lucretius, in his primordia rerum, sèmina rerum (the beginning of things, the seeds of things) and his corpora prima (original bodies or entities ) in his De rerum natura (1st century B.C) one of its milestones. This great insight was then explored further in the 16th century by Giordano Bruno and Galileo, but found its first truly scientific advance in the nineteenth century first with Dalton and then with the studies of Goldstein and Crookes, who identified the first subatomic particle, rebaptised by Thomson the electron. Following great scientific advances (by Bohr, Sommerfeld, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Chadwick, Pauli, etc.) the quark was discovered and revealed the inexhaustible dynamism of matter.
We had then confirmation from science that matter, wherever it exists in space, is above all movement and rhythm. Everything is engaged in an endless cosmic dance, the same that for centuries Hinduism identifies in the dance of the god Shiva, symbol of the eternal cycle of universal creation and destruction.
This dynamism and vibrancy is also one of the main characteristics of Waterbones. As in quantum fields there exists neither a beginning nor an end, the work, with its proliferation of reflective surfaces, conveys a sense of impermanence, of continual mutation. Waterbones demands no particular viewpoint, but the onlooker is drawn to shift position constantly in an attempt to capture the whole, to assess the definitive form. But the sculpture escapes any attempt to hold it still: it is a creation that lives and dances with the viewer, and even more intimately with the space into which it has been integrated.
The sculpture has to be seen beyond the confines of a finished work for it also encompasses conceptually the ‘empty’ space surrounding it. The space is no longer a void, no longer an absence, but almost a sacred place, with a concentration and condensation of energies. The void penetrating the volumes of the Waterbones is dense with potential energy, with internal tension .
Modern physics has for some time moved away from the mechanical conception of the world founded on solid particles moving in empty space. Quantum theory and the theory of relativity opened a new perception of matter and space, of particles and of the void. The study of the force fields of subatomic particles has made these two elements of reality inseparable and strictly interdependent. They make clear the interconnection between the micro and the macro cosmos, the inextricable unity between each element and the whole.
The open dialogue with the surrounding space, offering a 360 degree viewpoint (even reaching beyond the scope of the visitor’s eye), make Cecchini’s modular systems, open and unrestricted, continually in the making, an amplification of reality and of the senses, where the observers’ experience is completed by their own personal scientific, poetic and cultural input. Waterbones in their aerial suspension reward us with a sense of lightness and evanescence, often leading our eyes upwards, up and beyond, transporting us to an extra-terrestial ‘habitable’ space.