Riccardo Giacconi

Il corpo nero
[The Black Body]
mixed media installation, video projection and sound, 2015
in collaboration with Alessio Del Dotto and Carolina Valencia.

In physics, a ‘black body’ is an idealized physical body that absorbs all incident electromagnetic radiation, regardless of frequency or angle of incidence.
Il corpo nero is a collaboration with physicist Alessio Del Dotto, composed as an installation with a silent video and a dark room with sound.

A video is projected on a wall, with a small hole in the centre. Behind the wall there is a dark room, where spectators can enter through an opening covered by a thick black curtain. Inside, the room is pitch-black, except for a thin ray of light entering from the outside, from the small hole in the centre of the projection. In the dark room a sound is presented, composed by fragments from a conversation with Alessio Del Dotto, where the physicist outlines the concept of the black body by recounting anecdotes and ideas linked to it, such as the so-called ‘ultraviolet catastrophe’, the first moments of the universe, Borges’ Aleph and the different uses of the word “spectrum”.

An approximate depiction of a black body is a hole in the wall of a large cavity. Any light entering the hole is reflected indefinitely or absorbed inside and is unlikely to re-emerge, making the hole a nearly perfect absorber. The whole installation, separating audio and video and allowing the dark room to communicate with the outside only through a hole, is a reference to such depiction.

Audio track (subtitled in English)
Voice: Alessio Del Dotto

The installation also comprises a plastic curtain (5 x 2,20m), a chessboard-patterned tapestry consisting of 60 squares containing emblems of episodes, experiments, events and characters related to the study of light. Conceived in collaboration with Alessio Del Dotto as a system of thought recalling the Tarot or the I Ching.

Photos: Marco Fava

Exhibited at: Placentia Arte, Piacenza, Italy (2015).