LONDON — Gucci’s new creative director Sabato De Sarno has a penchant for words and art.
His debut spring 2024 show was titled “Ancora,” the Italian word for “again,” and to add a personal touch to the brand’s refurbished stores, he’s featured works from his favorite artists, some that use words as a tool, such as Massimo Uberti, whose work “Spazio Amato” is hung at Gucci’s newly opened store on New Bond Street here.
In the summer the brand launched a collaborative auction with Christie’s that’s now returning for a sequel with a new title, “Parallel Universes: from Future Frequencies to Gucci Cosmos,” as a continuation of “Gucci Cosmos,” the immersive exhibition that’s the result of a collaborative process between British artist Es Devlin and Italian fashion theorist and critic Maria Luisa Frisa, taking place at 180 Studios at 180 The Strand in London.
The auction will be open for bidding until Nov. 28 on the brand’s digital gallery space, Gucci Art Space (artspace.gucci.com).
The brand has commissioned nine artists to produce nine pieces of art using technology and artificial intelligence that reflect Gucci motifs, ranging from the horsebit and Flora to Rosso Ancora.
The artists include Alexis Andre, Alexis Christodoulou, Amy Goodchild, Harvey Rayner, Jacqui Kenny, Jo Ann, Melissa Wiederrecht, Thomas Lin Pedersen and Sasha Stiles, a poet who incorporates AI into her writing practice to produce word art that’s returned for the sophomore project between Gucci and Christie’s.
Stiles’ moving artwork is titled “Repetae: Again, Again” and features a plain black background with red writing that reads “Again” accompanied with a poem that she’s written with her AI-powered alter ego, Technelegy.
“I really love playing, looking at how tools like natural language processing AI and large language models are influencing and opening up new possibilities for writers like me to explore new creative realms,” she said in an interview.
Her piece nods to poetic repetition and how that works throughout poetry, algorithmic and generative art.
“In the context of Gucci, I understand the word ‘ancora’ to mean again and again, it is a repetition of things that are important and essential to the legacy of things as they continue to be meaningful to us,” said Stiles, adding that it gave her the opportunity to use poetry as a lens to explore.
At “Gucci Cosmos,” the final room is an empty space called “Gucci Ancora” with a large rectangular box that plays a collage of videos and images with a red hue layered over.
In the shadowed room, phrases run across in Italian and English while a voiceover of Devlin and De Sarno plays on a loop.
On all sides of the room, small hooks are attached to the wall with interchangeable clear plastic slabs that contain words chosen by De Sarno for the guests to interact with and tell their own narratives, which is where Stiles took her cues.
The New York-based artist’s background is in language and literature, but she grew up with parents who made documentaries on science, engineering and astronomy, which has inspired the fusion of her work that carefully sits between linguistics and technology.
“I’ve been researching these things for at least a decade, reading out of my own curiosity on speculative technologies like transhumanism, digital immortality, neural implants and AI — all these things that have sort of come to the forefront,” said Stiles.
In 2018 she took all of her writings, poetry, drafts, manuscripts, research notes and combined them into a data set that created her own custom version of a GPT (generative pre-trained transformers) creating Technelegy, an AI-powered ego that’s trained to emulate her style of writing and tone, which she’s now been using for almost six years.
“When I write something like the poem for Gucci and Christie’s, I’m using that approach, which is a mixture of my own human voice and then the influence of these cybernetic tools that have a very distinct point of view and are influenced by a huge number of written sources outside my own mind frame,” explains Stiles.
She finds the process conceptually interesting at this moment in time as the conversation surrounding AI is debated widely.
Stiles believes that poetry is a lens to explore things that are really complex and hard to grapple with, such as the meaning of “what it means to be human as the world becomes increasingly post-human.”
To bring like-minded artists together, she cofounded theVERSEverse in November 2021, a literary gallery that showcases poetry in different mediums using art as a means to challenge traditional literary establishments “who were slower to adopt new technologies.”
“When I came to web 3.0, I saw a lot of folks in this space who were digital artists. They were doing a lot of amazing things and there were a lot of platforms and marketplaces that had been created to support artists, but none existed to support and cater to the needs of writers specifically,” said Stiles.
She commends Gucci for taking an interest in her poetic artwork, pointing out that so much of text-based art in museums are considered artwork, but when it comes to the subject of poetry, published poets and their work are never put in museums.
“We wanted to think about the value and impact of putting poetry alongside art, saying ‘poetry is art, language is an art form and it deserves to take up that space,’ alongside the things that we typically considered master works of art,” said Stiles.
The poet admits that she equally looks to the future as she does to the ancient texts and classical literature.