LONDON, United Kingdom — Earlier this year, a young Italian director and video animator started making waves when his short film Beauty was published online and presented on the international festival circuit. An ingenious re-interpretation of some of the most beautiful masterpieces of classical art, ‘Beauty’ is a journey through the most vital phases of human life and the emotions they evoke: birth, life and death. The FG Magazine interviewed its creator, Rino Stefano Tagliafierro, to find out more about his project and what he wanted to achieve with it, his views about the future of digital and traditional art, and the meaning of beauty.
Rino Stefano Tagliafierro Interview
You are an experimental animator and director. Could you tell us a bit more about your artistic background and what inspires you?
I am 33 years old and my passion for video as a medium started about 15 years ago: as a boy, I started to experiment with a small video camera. After that I went to art school – first ISIA in Urbino, Umbria and then a three-year course at IED, Milan. I then started to create music videos and collaborate with different studios on video and multimedia productions.
As a child, my parents would take me to see exhibitions and passed on their passion for art to me. I still remember the first time I encountered the works of Dalì and Caravaggio – both have left a deep mark on my artistic development. In terms of cinema, David Lynch struck my imagination with Twin Peaks and Ereaserhead, but other fundamental influences are Chris Cunningham, Matthew Barney contemporary artist Nagi Noda – who has sadly passed away.
How did you develop the idea of your latest project ‘Beauty’? What inspired you, and what did you want to achieve with this video?
The idea of ‘Beauty’ came out of the need to create a video that would bring to life the most fundamental emotions that each one of us encounters through the walk of life: birth, death, love, sexuality, pain and fear.
Art has always bestowed upon me the most intense of emotions, and that made the choice of the masterpieces of the great artists an inevitable one.
How did you select the paintings, and what is your relationship with classical artistic canons?
The research for ‘Beauty’ lasted several years. Initially I was not sure what I was going to do with it, then the idea of ‘Beauty’ came to me. I started with Caravaggio and Bouguereau – my favourites; then I selected artists with similar characteristics, and finally I picked the masterpieces that can best represent human emotions. I have a huge respect for classical art and I wanted to honour it. My goal was not to compete with it, but to do something completely different.
‘Beauty’ impresses not just for the artistic aspect but for the technical one: how did you make the paintings come to life?
The project is completely self-produced, it was not commissioned and I was not working to any deadlines, which means I worked on it in my own time, during those long autumn nights that I could dedicate to it between one job and the next. ‘Beauty’ was not technically difficult to make, but it required time and patience: I first elaborated the images with a software that uses digital cut out – a process in which you cut the characters out of the background and then reconstruct and redraw the hidden parts – then I animated the subject with an animation software.
You commissioned the music for the video: how involved were you in its composition?
I have known sound designer Enrico Ascoli for years and had already collaborated with him in the past. I asked him whether he wanted to be part of the project even before I finished the animation because I thought he was the right person to convey the emotions I envisaged. He was enthusiastic and all I had to do was give him a few directions on the typology of music and sound I had in mind. He quickly composed an absolutely sublime piece which matches the video to perfection.
What do you see in the future of digital art and its interaction with more traditional forms of art?
The crux is in the message. It is up to you to define it and communicate it, based on the technique which is most conducive to what you want to say. Digital has always been part of the art world. Art and technology will always evolve together: far from being exclusive, they influence each other. When I envisage the future, I see it as an interaction between traditional oil painting and interactive holograms.
What is your next project?
‘Beauty’ is a new project: for now, I plan to present to the most important festivals around the world. I want to spread its message through multiple channels as well as the internet. At the same time however, I would like to find the time to fundraise for a new idea that has slowly been taking shape in my mind: an experimental short film, animated through a technique that allows me to explore in depth my research on movement and the suspension of time – this is a theme that I already tackled in Mysuper8 and Bam for M+A and Rockers for Orax.
To conclude, could you share with us your definition of ‘beauty’?
I feel that beauty is everything that can awaken emotion – whether positive or negative. It is whatever can leave you shaken or speechless, whatever makes me feel alive. It can rest in a word, a gesture, a melody, an image… I can tell it is there by the shiver it sends down my spine. This is why ‘Beauty’ is about emotions and beauty in an absolute sense: the beauty of life in all its contradictions.