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(ab)Normal, a young collective of Italian architects, have been making waves amongst the art and architecture community in Europe. Having met initially whilst working at OMA in Rotterdam, they state in a recent interview that their influences come from the likes of Ed Ruscha and Ettore Sottsass. (ab)Normal were recently invited by The Swiss Architecture Museum to produce a series of images for their entrance and have had their work featured in several online magazines.

The project which comprises graphic imagery and accompanying texts came out of a joint frustration they experienced in rendering photorealistic images whilst working in architecture. A desire to explore the ‘fantasies abandoned during the design process’ (Koozarch interview 2017) led them to set up (ab)Normal in 2017. An experiment in architectural representation, they carefully de-construct photorealistic renders before  rearranging them as illustrations based on Normal vectors. In so doing, they avoid any traditional structure that builds the contemporary, familiar visual notion of space to produce an allegory of a culture that revolves obsessively around the internet, gaming and religion.

Normals are vectors describing the inclination of a nominal fragment of a surface, according to the point of view of the observer1. Thus, Normals are impalpable characteristics of surfaces, controlling lights and reflection. If Natural Evolution didn’t provide mankind with such a perception, technology did. Under the transhumanist perspective, Normals become akin to a supernatural sense, the first sense for the machine, the sixth human sense by product.

At the beginning of the 90’S, 3d Printing had been welcomed as the system that will upset the products industry. Autarchic utopias, in which the procedural design of an object will become more important than the object itself, in which a diffused society of producers will start to colonize popular fantasies with uncountable catalogues of user designed objects. Well, nothing of the sort came close to taking over. While the printing revolution might sparkle in a next future, these replicas remain useless.
(ab)Normal collects and arranges them in three-dimensional collages.

These three topics, sounding at first unrelated, structured the prehistory of the metadata society. According to Harari, Religions are intersubjective reality, conventions trusted and supported without verification by entire communities. Religious dogmas had always represented less the unravelling of a mystical truth rather than the trajectories that channel coexistence among men. Internet, and the consequent epiphenomena, could be understood more likely under this perspective; HTML and coding in general, are complex languages, oddly resonating as religious litany, understood by a very limited elite of initiated. The constant interactions with communication devices constitute a body of digital rituals reiterated without comprehension, like chanting the Christian rosary. What led us to embrace religions in the past, brought us to accept Internet as the main societal manager.

If Internet is a Religion, Gaming represents its heroic beginning, the rebellion against a pre-existing status quo.

Luigi Savio, Mattia Inselvini, Marcello Carpino and Davide Masserini met at OMA in Rotterdam, and started to illustrate (ab)Normal at the end of 2017. A recent interview with Koozarch can be read here