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Athena’s Prostheses

Sunday, December 02, 1984–Wednesday, December 05, 1984

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Maurizio Morgantini with Student Artists: Mathew Akinarinade, Jose Tirso Alivores, Robert Cecchini, Richard Clack, Paula Coleman, Thomas Crylen, Mitch Diamond, Paul Efert, Yunan George, Gaye Githens, Ruby Harrison, David Henry, Samuel Hopkins, Linda Ibanez, Robert Kaplan, Michael Kuzel, Bernard Raj Louisnathan, Robert Mangler, Dena Ratliff, Paul Shamrock, David Seigel, Rudolph Taylor, Alnino Ticzon, and Bob Garcia

Athena ’s Prostheses is a collaborative endeavor between Italian Architect Maurizio Morgantini and a group of UIC design students, a team project where new concept models for artificial intelligence and advanced technology implementation were developed in the forms of products and environments. 

The title for the exhibition was chosen by Morgantini because “Athena was the Greek divinity of Intellect, daughter of Zeus, and born of his mind. Athena is pure intelligence.” And because “prostheses are the extensions of the body, of the senses, of the mind. They are the objects.” In a letter to the participating students, Morgantini wrote: “Young people, in order to create their own world, must be free to dream, and anybody can say if a dream is beautiful or bad. The dream is the intimate synthesis of fear and pleasure, intuition and contradiction, memory and prefiguration.”

“I don’t think the dream is far from real life, more simply anticipate it. Today man uses airplanes because many and many thousands of years ago he was dreaming of flying. Man has invented technologies in order to materialize his dreams, and in inventing technologies little by little, he has lost his ability to dream.”

“Today many objects, such as a new coffee maker, can not make us happy, not for its good or bad form, but simply because its design is no longer problematic. Instead of asking you to think up some objects, I have asked you to think of their metaphors. The exhibition itself is a metaphor. It is not the completion of a project, but only the beginning.”

This exhibition was made possible by the outstanding contributions of Robert Cecchini. Special thanks were also given to Doreen Ciesla, Terry French, Gaye Githens, Hank Jones, and Robert Kaplan.

ARTIST’S STATEMENT

Maurizio Morgantini

What follows are some considerations on what I consider to be the circumstances in which the role of Design finds itself today. I have spent much time on these problems which have found expression on many essays I have published through the years. I consider myself to be particularly fortunate because many of the concepts have arisen as a result of a direct encounter with advanced technology and the problematics of the human condition.

– THE CONCEPT OF TECHNOLOGY MUST BE VIEWED SEPARATELY FROM THE CONCEPT OF INDUSTRY. TECHNOLOGY PRODUCES NEW VISIONS, WHILE INDUSTRY ONLY REPRODUCES ITSELF.

– THE CONCEPT OF MASS-PRODUCED SERIALIZED OBJECTS SHOULD BE CONS IDE RED APART FROM THE CONCEPT OF MASS-TECHNOLOGY.

– ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS IN THE ACT OF PRODUCING THREE PHENOMENA:

  • IT ACCELERATES THE RHYTHM OF THE PROJECT
  • IT ALLOWS THE USE OF A GREAT DATA BASE
  • IT PRODUCES HYBRID OBJECTS WHICH ARE A CROSS BETWEEN THE MECHANICAL AND ELECTRONICAL

– THE APPLICATION OF HIGH TECHNOLOGY AS A MEANS FOR SURMOUNTING THE MONOTONY OF SERIAL PRODUCTION.

– DESIGN IS A PROBLEM OF INVENTION BUT ALSO A POLITICAL PROBLEM. IN AS MUCH AS IT MAY DICTATE LIFE STYLES.

– DESIGN IS PROJECT, AND PROJECT INCLUDES ARCHITECTURE. INDUSTRIAL DESIGN. AND URBAN PLANNING. THEY CANNOT BE DIVIDED, ON THE CONTRARY THEY MUST BE INTEGRATED.

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Maurizio Morgantini, Artist’s Statement, December, 1984.

This statement was distributed in the gallery during the run of the exhibition.

EXHIBITION SUPPORT

Athena’s Prostheses is supported by the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Art and Design’s College of Architecture, Art and Urban Planning.

Architect and Designer, Maurizio Morgantini has experience in fashion, photography, painting, cinema, music, and began his career as an urbanist. Since 1980, his interests have been focused on Industrial Design, and particularly in projecting technological tools and environments, with clients like Sony, Credito Italiano, BPM and public universities and institutions. Morgantini earned a BA in Architecture in Milan in 1974.