"Universal City" is a multimedia performance that documents the evolution
of the city in history. Whereas in the past the city was symbolically the
world, today the world has become a city.
The city rose up in an area once scattered and disorganized for so
long that most of its ancient elements of culture were destroyed. It absorbed
and re synthesized the remnants of this culture, cultivating power and
By means of this concentration of physical and cultural power, the
city accelerated the rhythm of human relationships and converted their
products into forms that are easily stockpiled and reproduced. Along with
monuments, written documents and ordered associative organizations amplified
the impact of all human activities, extending backwards and forwards over
Since the beginning however, law and order stood alongside brute force,
and power was always determined by these new institutions. Written law
served to produce a canon of justice and equality that claimed a higher
principle: the king's will, synonymous with divine command.
The Urban Neolithic Revolution is comparable only to the Industrial
Revolution, and the Media Technology in our own era. There is of course
a substantial difference: ours is an era of immeasurable technological
progress as an end in itself, which leads to the explosion of the city,
and the consequent dissemination of its structure across the countryside.
The old walled city has not only fallen, it's buried its foundations. Our
civilization flees from every possibility of control, by means of its own
extra resources not controllable by the egregious ambitions of man.
The image of modern industrialization that Charlie Chaplin resurrected
from the past in "Modern Times" is the exact opposite of contemporary metropolitan
reality. He figured the worker as a slave chained to his machine and fed
by machinery as he continued to work at maintaining the
machine itself. Today the workplace is not so brutal, but automation
has made it much more oppressive. Energy and dedication once directed towards
the production process are today shifted towards consumption. The metropolis
in the final phase of its evolution, is becoming a collective mechanism
for maintaining the function of this system, and for giving the illusion
of power, wealth, happiness, and total success, to those who are, in actuality,
It is a concept foreign to the modern metropolitan mentality that life
should be an occasion to Live, and not an excuse for generating newspaper
articles, television interviews, or mass spectacles for those who know
nothing better. Instead the process continues, until people prefer the
simulacrum to the real, where image dominates over object, the copy over
the original, representation over reality, appearance over Being.
The first phase of the Economy's domination over social life brought
about the visible degradation of every human accomplishment from "Being"
into "Having". The present phase of social life's total occupation by the
accumulated effects of the Economy is leading to a general downslide from
"Having" into "Seeming".
The performance is based on the instantaneous interaction between video
and music: the video component is assembled in real time with RandomCinema
a software that I developed and projected on a screen. The music-noise
is the product of human radical improvisation togheter automatic-computer
Everything is based on the consideration of the element of chance as
a stimulus for the construction of the most options. The unpredictable
helps to reveal things as they happen. The montage, the music, and their
interaction, are born and die and the same moment: there are no stage directions
Universita' di Siena
Via dei Termini 6