“My work as a hybrid media artist results in projects that are expressed through multi-modality.”

Paul Catanese employs intricate studio customs and explores a wealth of media platforms. He uses a radically combinative critical practice to uncover psychological and biological dimensions of time and creative play. Dancing through technology, history, music, and text may confound but leaves you curious and engaged. His measure of art history, geography, popular myth, and technological inquiry spin a web of data submerged in art theory over the last several decades. Nonetheless, he remains committed to studio practices like drawing, printmaking, and sculpture. Rather than present ideas that symbiotically combine technology with traditional media, he focuses on graphic probabilities and virtual patterns, allowing chance to play a decisive role in the moment.

“Gli Infiniti di Bruno: State E” 2023
19.3 x 27.6″ Digital Inkjet Print on Xuan Paper
Photo Courtesy of the Artist

For someone who clearly grasps the value of investigative research, artificial intelligence, performance, and collaboration, he routes their paths through mediums that percolate in a rich broth of alternative spatial configurations. In discussing a collaborative residency and installation at Chicago’s Cultural Center in 2009 titled “Visible from space,” Catanese’s remarked that  “Immersion is key. I want to learn things that I had not planned to learn, and physical relocation intrinsically catalyzes these types of experiences.” The success of this work had much to do with his patience in permitting a collection of chance occurrences to come to fruition over as much as 6 years. This persistent and rigorous degree of investigation, improvisation, and curiosity has provided him remarkable opportunities readily available at artist residencies, to which he’s taken full advantage.

“Gli Infiniti di Bruno: State F” 2023
19.3 x 27.6″ Digital Inkjet Print on Xuan Paper
Photo Courtesy of the Artist

Catanese’s interdisciplinary text is vital to apprehending his approach to exceptional environments. Not just data but a psychological and poetic investment in each location. His rapt attention to the play of language and respect for place is richly lyrical. In his notes about the above experience in Chicago, he recalls the exceptionality of place. “The desert puzzles me. Every moment, the challenge of survival must be considered. It makes immediate the relation to the body, and therefore the mind. Synapses sizzle like ink on a brayer, the nervous system floods the ears with a high-pitched whine that modulates the wind. Dust devils travel in packs, roam the valleys, rearranging bric-a-brac.”

In Catanese’s latest project, “Bruno’s Infinities,” he ventures into  dense historical environments to design visual and musical components of a sprawling lost opera gathered from artifacts about the remarkable and chaotic life of the 16th century Italian priest and philosopher, Giordano Bruno. “Bruno’s Infinities” is a Promethean narrative that lies between variances of mediums, narrative, and destination. The initial stage of the work is a series of digital inkjet prints and motion studies, a platform to launch a performance-based installation. Through a shifting of mediums – applying ritual studio practices to vestiges of the post-sacral, Catanese triangulates content assembled from a network of biography, theology and ideology. It’s a structural method of building information overlap that’s more familiar to historians and theorists but played close to the vest for artists. Nonetheless, Catanese shines a light on a speculative, often inscrutable process that embraces as much about how he makes things as the things he makes. The uncanny manner in which the artist prosecutes a mise en scene, seems all about projection. He consciously embraces Bruno’s psychological profile, visiting sites in France and Italy that were significant to the figure’s religious publications and trials. In addition, Catanese produced a series of clone-like portraits titled “Synthetic Twin” based on the philosopher’s portrait and Catanese’s MRI scan.

“Gli Infiniti di Bruno: State H” 2024,
41.6 x 27.6″ Digital Inkjet Print on Xuan Paper,
Photo Courtesy of the Artist

Details from Bruno’s chaotic and reclusive life in the sixteenth-century, were ideal for dramatization. Catanese proposed and developed the project for a Fulbright Scholarship at the Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Fine Arts in Wroclaw, Poland this summer. The venture sustains the artist’s penchant for staging multiple categories of creative production with an open, meta-apocryphal structure. Beginning in Wroclaw he’s re-produced moments in the Italian philosopher’s multidisciplinary study of memory and astronomy, etc., that ran afoul of the Holy See.

“Gli Infiniti di Bruno: Synthetic Digital Twin (iii)”
2024, 31.5 x 27.6″ Digital Inkjet Print on Xuan Paper
Photo Courtesy of the Artist

Giordano Bruno was a well-respected, even feared intellectual whose nomadic life left open huge tracts of time where he was functionally reclusive. It’s there that Catanese re-conceives the original specter of dogma, Papal decrees, and inquisition that lead to the allegation of heresy and the philosopher’s cruel undoing. Catanese’s overlapping of AI, synthetic data sets, canon law, catechetical supplication, and biography, explore a chilling period of space-crossed co-realities.

One becomes accustom to the artist’s confidences in principle and in its structure, utterly. Catanese’s narrative reconstruction and maneuvering is designed to explore both the variable and rhetorical sides of history, it’s boundaries and quandaries. It’s evident in the artist’s reveries of cosmological scholarship and theater that they are fictive, but also on point. His language is a quasi-theological dream and a romance.

“Gli Infiniti di Bruno: Synthetic Digital Twin (ii)”
Year: 2024, 31.5 x 27.6″ Digital Inkjet Print on Xuan Paper
Photo Courtesy of the Artist

To be sure, aesthetics provides a gratifying way to comprehend troubling but beautiful epochs that require explanations for lost expanses of time. Catanese’s project reminds us how myth may be transcendent even if alarming. We see how history, like memory, provides post-equilibrium to asymmetrical experiences – an impulse to narratize the incongruent and align with bodies of knowledge like science and literature that also, in this case, trade in sacrificial acts. Catanese’s antiquity unties tragedy and enigma and codifies a dream of ancestry in a hermeneutic battle of wits.