MLZ Art Dept,
MLZ Art Dept,
An Italian collective and visual research project comprising three former bandmates from a late 1990s punk rock ensemble – Discipula’s unconventional structure mirrors the elusive complexity of their hazy subject matter. A decade on from their musical origins, the trio fell back into close contact somewhat organically. It was at this point that Discipula was born as a multidisciplinary project conceived to examine the various applications of images in the contemporary mediascape.
‘In our case, working as a collective is easy, but mainly because we’ve known each other forever. We know each other’s minds pretty well.’ Beyond the sense of mutual understanding that stems from shared experiences, Discipula’s members each occupy distinct roles which in turn allows for the exploration of their chosen subject from various different angles. Where Marco is responsible for writing and communication, Tommaso takes charge of photography and production, leaving the design and aesthetic development of their projects to Mirko.
Combining playful irony with a more sinister dystopian edge, the constituent chapters of Discipula’s How Things Dream project examine the murky axis between technology and capitalism in contemporary society. For the project, Discipula established AURA – a fictional tech corporation with an ever-expanding reach into all areas of human life. AURA’s various manifestations – often presented in the form of billboards, glossy ad campaigns or slick communications materials – thus become an appropriate vehicle through which to reflect upon who stands to gain economically from technological advancement, as well as to contemplate its worrying implications for surveillance, control and individual freedom.
Where AURA represents an ‘assemblage from the facts and fears about today’s techno-corporate takeover’, the latest chapter of the How Things Dreamproject moves the discussion further into the nightmare category. Morpheus is presented as an AURA-led project to develop technology capable of extracting and displaying stills from people’s dreams, reflecting on how the guise of innovation is so often used to cloak capitalism’s hunger for sensitive information. On a Morpheus survey designed to gather data on the content and influence of our dreams, a disconcerting company slogan reads: ‘AURA is already inside you, just close your eyes.’
Far from opposing technological advancement, Discipula are instead concerned with our increasing willingness to part with our privacy as our appetite for technology grows. Whilst a number of AURA’s manifestations loom further on the horizon, others lie within closer reach, instilling the project with a sense of credibility that makes its impact all the more harrowing.