My everyday rituals 2,
2021, Oil on linen,
20.5 x 15.75 in.

giveandget 10, 2021, Liquid ceramic, acrylic and copper,
9.5 x 10.6 x 9.8 in.

Peeking at my followers,
2021, Oil on linen,
67 x 47.25 in.

My everyday rituals 3, 2021, Oil on linen,
20.5 x 15.75 in.

My everyday rituals 4, 2021, Oil on linen,
20.5 x 15.75 in.

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Stefania Zocco

United Kingdom

In my recent practice, I’m trying to capture all the small movements that our fingers perform on the screens of our devices while chasing duties and pleasures; they remind me of rituals of old Sicilian ladies - the Majara- to which my mother also subjected me few times in the hope of remove my fears or a sunstroke; the lady used to mark paths with her fingers on my belly or on my head, rattling off prayers in a low voice with her eyes closed; today we are all a little bit –the Majara- of ourselves, connected to our magic stone and capable of perceiving, sensing, codifying, communicating, predicting, diagnosing, loving, winning, dreaming the world.

   - Excerpt from artist statement

Click works to the left (on desktop) or below (on mobile) to view full-screen.︎        @stefania_zocco︎   


What first drew you to the movements, or in a sense mapping, of touches across phone screens?

Repetition and replication have always been part of my practice; the repeated gesture is the mark in my landscapes, and it comes directly from my studies in architecture during high school, where I learned scientific methods to measure, reproduce and create tangible realities.

During the pandemic our essential landscape was largely reduced to the screens of our devices: on Zoom I celebrated birthdays, improvised aperitifs, held artist talks; on Instagram I participated in virtual exhibitions and supported peer artists; while on Facetime I commemorate intimate anniversaries with my partner. Our human landscape lived on the screen inevitably increased our relationship with it, and personally, I decided to switch off the weekly report of the hours spent in front of my devices.

My every action followed and follows a check on my phone, on my iPad, just the same repeated scroll. When the device rests, against the light, on the black screen, it is possible to see the traces of those gestures left by our sweaty, greasy, organic fingers, for me here are the remains of our most contemporary landscape: organic residues on a special mineral compound, on our personal crystal ball.

Do you view the movements as a sort of ritual? Do they offer any insight into the screen tracer’s daily habits or sense of self?

If a life form coming from the future could see our compulsive behaviours towards this set of minerals that are our devices, I really believe that it would refer to them as daily rituals that we cannot do without.

- Are you still wasting your time playing Candy Crush? –

My partner asked me the other day, showing the backlit iPad screen, where the traces left by typing revealed a precise grid instead of the usual fragmented marks. Yes, he caught me. I bored him for months with my little addiction to basic video games, continually claiming to have already deleted any app, but the tracks were clear, and my dirty pleasure was still part of my morning routine. I used to encourage myself to play, as a way to focus before starting work, but it was enough to be lucky and keep winning, to waste more than an hour and a half playing, and also feel proud of the level achieved.

According to the ICD-11 (International Classification of Diseases) the main criterion for this kind of disorder is the lack of self-control over the game. Although there is a lot of research since the 1980s on the problematic use of online gaming, the mechanisms are not well understood due to the inconsistent definitions used in the studies. Luckily, I have not developed any real disorder, and actually I already felt a sense of guilt about it, but yes, our digital habits leave tangible traces of our way of life, especially for those who are able to decipher them.

What is your process like for recording or remembering these movements?

I began to give importance to these movements when I saw them performed by Federico, a little boy of one and a half years old. He reproduced what he had seen his mother or anyone else around him do, primordial gestures like drawing on the walls. So I began to take note of them, focusing, like Federico, more on the movements than the content to which they referred me, so the first drawings appeared.

All these actions transformed into marks captured my imagination. They are hand dances, an entire register of signs that correspond to proper activities as writing, scrolling social networks, entering passwords, playing games or playing music, speaking with someone or presenting projects. In few words, it matches with our life, so I felt like I was revealing a code underlying our digital daily life.

For me it was very important to decide to present this finger dance register with oil painting. Most likely, as all the technologies that have come down to us, this way of interacting will soon be obsolete and outclassed by the next one, and few will remember the touch screen, while perhaps thoughts or eye movements will be enough to continue writing, playing or interaction with others. Surely oil painting will be present during these changes, and will be able to talk about this slice of contemporaneity that today is our present.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

This latest series of works also includes sculptures with an unlikely goal. The idea is to faithfully reproduce a person's index and thumb and be able to access their devices with the cast of them. The research has become very stimulating for me, especially for the new materials discovered and used in the various attempts like waxes, silicones, and rubbers. Obviously none of them have yet reached the purpose. Even more surprising is to reflect on how unique every human being is, to the point of making an organic surface our password to access the digital world. GIVEANDGET is the title of this series of sculptures, precisely to underline the continuous exchange between the mankind and the technology that surrounds him.

A note on the colour palette chosen for these latter paintings: it comes from one of my discoveries during the ongoing research on digital images online, wondering, what are the predominant colours on the Internet? Blue has come out as the winning colour for the creation of websites, while the skin palette is among the predominant for the images uploaded to the Internet, thanks to all the pornographic material present in it, along with the amount of selfies. Here once again a human element emerges strongly, for me certainly something to be valued to understand the human hybridization with digital technology.