The Stone Monkey

The Stone Monkey
Carola Bonfili
Curated By Daniela Cotimbo and Ilaria Gianni
Promoted by Fondazione smART – polo per l’arte
With the support of The Green Parrot
La Capella, Barcelona (inside LOOP festiva)
Supported by the Italian Council (2022), Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity, Italian Ministry of Culture.

The Stone Monkey is a work developed through two forms of media narrative: a CGI video trailer and a navigable VR environment that recounts the journey of a small monkey who suddenly witnesses certain parts of its body undergoing a slow process of petrification without any apparent reason and embarks on an initiatory path of healing. This journey through a wild landscape populated by mysterious creatures and objects will give rise to a dreamlike and timeless adventure.

The work is part of Second Order Reality, a project that envisions the construction of a work in the form of a videogame inspired by the text La Tentation de Saint Antoine by Gustave Flaubert. The interest in the book stems from the description of the repeated hallucinatory states experienced by its protagonist, Saint Antoine Abbé. These liminal states can be associated, in some aspects, with virtual experiences where the perception of the body and that of the surrounding environment are presented in altered ways. The resulting story also stems from a collaboration with a group of children through workshops and explores the potential of the virtual to engage the visitor in a hybrid perceptual experience.

“With Second Order Reality I am interested in examining in greater detail certain predispositions of which kids are healthy carriers, such as the ability to explore transitional
states (facilitated by their natural predisposition to enter and exit different subjectivities, whether they are within a digital-virtual scenario, or analogue-narrative one), the interest in
the construction of architectures and liminal spaces (which translates into their fascination for temporal gaps and thresholds that “allow” access to other realities), the propensity for
“magical thinking”, the curiosity towards those which can be defined as “bugs”, “slips” of
perception of their body or of what surrounds them.” – Carola Bonfili states.

Every aspect of the story is the result of careful construction that combines different languages and eras: from nineteenth-century literature to brutalist architecture; from contemporary comics to generative artificial intelligence, In a combinatorial system designed to stimulate a different perception of the environment.

The sounds, created by the sound artist Francesco D’Abbraccio, also play a crucial role in the narrative development, especially as a melody forms to guide the monkey’s journey, emphasizing the importance of senses in this immersive experience.

Through a constant renewal of the imagination, the artist reveals the potential of contemporary narrative mediums such as computer graphic animation and virtual reality, transposing elements borrowed from the collective unconscious into a new dimension where familiarity gives way to estrangement, in a potentially infinite cycle.