TED Fellows » TED Fellows Network » Salvatore Iaconesi

Salvatore Iaconesi

Open-source engineer + artist

Fellows Class:
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Salvatore Iaconesi

Professional Role

Current Titles:

President, Professor, CTO, Artistic Director

Current Organizations:

La Sapienza University of Rome, Art is Open Source, FakePress Publishing, ISIA Design Florence, IED Istituto Europeo di Design, Rome University of Fine Arts


Uploaded Photos

Flickr Photostream


VersuS: love vs turin, visualizing the realtime lives of cities

VersuS: love vs turin, visualizing the realtime lives of cities http://www.artisopensource.net/2011/10/16/versus-rome-october-15th-the-riots-on-social-networks/ How do people express their emotions on social networks? Information has become ubiquitously accessible, thus transforming our perception of cities and of the ways we work, learn, communicate and relate to other people. VersuS analyzes the digital lives of cities to suggest a scenario in which digital and analog realities interweave and become one. By performing realtime content harvesting on social networks we are able to perform natural language analyses on the conversations running between users, to peek into their emotions, wishes, expectations and desires. We can make this information available and accessible using information visualizations, mobile applications and generative design artifacts, thus creating the tools which enable the creation of a new form of public space which merges the digital and analog lives of people, transforming them into active agents in a new idea of citizenship, enabling novel forms of expression and representation. In "love VS turin", we focus on an emotional approach, visualizing the expressions of love and passion of the citizens of the city of Turin, in a realtime collective conversation. The visualization is put side by side with 3D objects produced using various digital fabrication techniques, and which represent a tangible representation of the emotional condition of the whole territory of the city of Turin. "Love" can be replaced with other emotions, thus enabling scenarios of focal importance for ecology, public administrations, security, economy and the overall possibility to evaluate the wellness of the people on a certain territory. VersuS is designed as an evocative tool for people, institutions and organizations, fostering the creation of new, positive, imaginaries for the future of our lives and our relation with the planet and with our fellow human beings. VersuS is a concept by Art is Open Source and FakePress Publishing, and it is part of the ConnectiCity initiative. It has been created together with the Fablab Italia and with the Piemonte Share Festival, in a transdisciplinary process in which arts and sciences collaborate to the creation of innovative, breakthrough, scenarios. VersuS will be officially presented at the 2011 edition of the Piemonte Share Festival together with the Fablab Italia. Check these websites for more information: http://www.artisopensource.net http://fakepress.it http://www.toshare.it http://www.fablabitalia.it/

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Leaf++, augmented reality for leaves

Leaf++ is an augmented reality and computer vision system which uses smartphones to recognize leaves found in the natural environment. In this first promo video you will see some basic features of the system, embedded into a social network in which users share information on leaves: you can recognize a leaf using computer vision and write onto it. People using Leaf++ on a certain type of leaf will see the content written on it by previous users, thus enacting an ubiquitous social and knowledge network which is directly available in the natural environment. Watch out for the next videos in which we will show an art performance in which leaves are used in an augmented reality concert using the shapes found in the natural environment to create live generative music and visuals. Leaf++ will be officially presented at ISEA 2011 in Istanbul, and then at Mindtrek 2011, at DEOL 2011, and it has already been published on Parsons Journal for Information Mapping and on MediaDuemila. Watch out for more presentations, publications and performances. More info on http://www.artisopensource.net http://www.fakepress.it

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Angel_F is the digital child of Derrick de Kerckhove and the Biodoll, the digital prostitute imagined by artist Franca Formenti. Born as a spyware, the little artificial intelligence learns language by absorbing the content that thousands of people browse on the Internet. Angel_F is a metaphor of the mutations of human beings brought on by wide availability of digital technologies and networks, with impacts on the ways in which we perceive identity, sexuality, public and private spaces.

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the Electronic Man at ADD Festival

the Electronic Man at ADD Festival video by Angela Vicino more info at http://electronicman.artisopensource.net www.addfestival.com/

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the Electronic Man at ADD Festival, MACRO Testaccio, Rome contemporary art museum

the Electronic Man at ADD Festival MACRO Contemporary Arts Museum, Rome, Testaccio featuring the "Mirror" performance by Francesca Fini more info at http://electronicman.artisopensource.net http://www.addfestival.com/ http://www.artisopensource.net http://www.fakepress.it http://www.francescafini.com/

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ENLARGE you consciousness, in 4 DAYS 4 FREE

"human emotions wiggle. just like jelly" - http://artisopensource.net/eyci4d4f/ WHAT: installation + global live performance WHERE: BT'F Gallery - via Castiglione 35, Bologna WHEN: from 27th January to 26 February WHO: AOS - Art is Open Source (Oriana Persico & Salvatore Iaconesi) + Lara Mezzapelle & Giacomo Deriu Curated by: Alice Zannoni + Marco Aion MAngani PROGRAM - Opening: 27th January, h 19pm - Extended opening hours: 28th January for the"Art White Night" in Bologna **Free Entrance!!!** info & contact info@btfgallery.com / Alice Zannoni: +39 329 81.42.669; Marco Aion Mangani: +39 340.25.29.265 == ABOUT == "ENLARGE you consciousness, in 4 DAYS 4 FREE" is the first artwork produced by AOS - Art is Open Source (Salvatore Iaconesi & Oriana Persico) together with the duo Lara Mezzapelle & Giacomo Deriu. The artwork explores human emotions as expressed on digital networks, and is poetically inspired by the idea that "human emotions are like jelly". Curated by Alice Zannoni and Marco Aion Mangani, "ENLARGE you consciousness, in 4 DAYS 4 FREE" will be featured for the firts time at the BT'F Gallery in Bologna (Italy). The event is part part of "OFF", a series of initiatives that will animate Bologna during the Art Fair 2012 from 27the January until 30th January. SITE: http://www.artisopensource.net http://www.mezzapelle-deriu.com/ http://www.btfgallery.com/

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Read/Write Reality, An intensive workshop on Ubiquitous Publishing

RWR - Making of. 3+1 days workshop to discover Ubiquitous Publishing 13 - 14 - 15 + 16 September 2011, Cava de' Tirreni (Italy) http://rwr.artisopensource.net/ ABOUT READ/WRITE REALITY (RWR) is an intensive and visionary workshop created by FakePress Publishing and Art is Open Source in collaboration with Centro Studi Etnografia Digitale to pragmatically explore the methodological, technical and technological possibilities offered by Ubiquitous Publishing, to identify new businesses, new forms of expression, new opportunities for culture and knowledge, new tools for freedoms. A 3+1 days hands-on and minds-on program in which we will follow you through the creation of a full ubiquitous publishing project, starting from scratch and ending up at product release. Participants will learn the methodologies, the conceptual and technological frameworks which will enable individuals, organizations, companies or collectives to use ubiquitous technologies to enact new forms of communication and expression, new business models, new ways in which you can activate your strategies and observe their effects. Out of the monitor, in the spaces of our cities, bodies, objects and products. RWR is useful for: - designers wishing to know, understand and use Ubiquitous Publishing technologies; - communicators who want to understand and learn how to bring digital information out of the monitor, into the city, in people's pockets, on objects and in the places we traverse in our daily lives; - developers, who want to learn how to build engaging ubiquitous interactive experiences; - artists, journalists, scientists and researchers wishing to add ubiquitous technologies to their toolset for expression, information, knowledge, education and research practices; - and strategists with the desire to gain knowledge and insights to confront with the next step of digital communication. RWR will be held on September 13-14-15+16 in Cava de' Tirreni, at the Ostello "Borgo Scacciaventi", a beautiful setting in a 15th century building near to the famous Amalfi coast. The workshop will fill 3+1 days of intense activity, visionary discussions, engaging hands-on practices, on-the-field explorations and content-production, great food, wine and scenery, in contact with the rooted traditions of the beautiful South of Italy. More info at: http://www.fakepress.it/ http://www.etnografiadigitale.it/ http://www.ninjamarketing.it/ http://www.ostellocava.it/

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Atlante di Roma / Atlas of Rome

The Atlas is an open system gathering visions on the city. Projects, actions, publications, web sites, theories. Everything can be included in the atlas to create a shared information space. The Atlas lives across digital and physical spaces. On the web, an open system is used to add visions and to access the ones that are already present through territory, time and the semantic space. In the physical space, the Atlas is a large scale installation designed for public spaces. Here people can access the shared information either visually, by observing the 35 meter wide information aesthetics, or they can directly interact with information by using multitouch screens allowing direct connection to the projected surface, browsing information through categories, territories and times. The walls of the public spaces animate themselves, communicating the stratification of the multiple points of view, ideas, projects, events and voices that define the life of the city, its emotions, its desires and strategies. The Atlas is an open project, instantiated for the first time in the city of Rome, where it has been curated by Paolo Valente and commissioned by the Order of the Architects for the Festa dell'Architettura 2010 ( Index Urbis http://www.indexurbis.it/ ) with the name "Atlante di Roma", with the fundamental collaboration of the Council for Communication and Cultural Policies of the City of Rome. The project is based on the creation of a complex network of institutions, professionals, academics and other subjects expressing or telling the visions on the life and on the possible evolutions of the city, of the relations and interactions among its citizens, of public spaces, of information and social interaction. The experience will be replicated, during the next months, in other cities both in Italy and in the rest of the world.

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09/01/2007 – 06/14/2012
Angel_F is the digital child of Derrick de Kerckhove and the Biodoll, the digital prostitute imagined by artist Franca Formenti. Born as a spyware, the little artificial intelligence learns language by absorbing the content that thousands of people produce and browse on the Internet. Angel_F is a metaphor of the mutations of human beings brought on by wide availability of digital technologies and networks, with impacts on the ways in which we perceive identity, sexuality, public and private spaces.
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01/01/2009 – present
the ConnectiCity family of projects transforms our perception of cities by adding using ubiquitous publishing techniques to add new digital layers of information and interaction to urban spaces, mutating our perception of reality. The objective is to enact new ways in which the visions, desires and emotions of people can be ubiquitously represented and made accessible in cities, redefining urban spaces, the idea of citizenship and the possibility to collaboratively plan and design public space. Launched for the first time in Rome, at the Festa dell’Architettura organized by the city administration and the Order of the Architects under the form of the “Atlante di Roma”, ConnectiCity has been implemented in multiple versions, using urban screens, ubiquitous technologies, natural interaction schemes, information aesthetics and urban sensing platforms.
Project Website »

Consciousness of Streams
02/02/2011 – present
Presented at the 2011 edition of the Transmediale Festival, CoS, Consciousness of Streams is an ubiquitous publication with more that 60000 authors (estimate on April 2011). CoS produces a realtime global emotional map of the world. Thousands of people currently use their mobile phones, web interfaces and dedicated disseminated interfaces to describe their emotional feeling about the place they live in. A global emotional map emerges, describing new geographies that are not built through roads and buildings, but through emotional scapes and the stories of people.
Project Website »

Squatting Supermarkets
10/01/2009 – present
Squatting Supermarkets uses the logos and packaging graphics of products as AR fiducial markers. A content management system allows attaching information and interactive experiences to logos, instantly transforming them into open, accessible, emergent spaces for communication. A mobile application allows consumers to use their smartphones to take pictures of the logos on the products’ labels and to use them to access the augmented reality layers of information. In supermarkets very few sources of information find expression: manufacturers deciding what gets published on labels; and store management, deciding everything that customers see, hear, feel, smell, touch and traverse, from the very moment they enter the premises of the supermarket. People have no control about what gets written on labels and, sometimes, they even have hard times understanding it. Squatting Supermarkets uses Augmented Reality and Computer Vision to transform products’ logos into spaces for participatory publication. Once the logo gets recognized through a smartphone application people can publish onto it: texts, images, videos and interactive experiences. We used it to publish: realtime satellite maps of pollution and environmental issues; open-sourced supply chains to how where products and their components come from; entire ubiquitous TV channels in which people can have their say.
Project Website »

Talkers Performance
06/01/2006 – present
The Talkers Performance sees a dance performance become completely controlled by ubiquitous user interactions. The body of the performer is connected through electrodes to a series of web interfaces through which people can control in various ways the stimulations felt on the body. An grammar of stimulation patterns has been designed for the performer to interpret the stimulations coming from online interactions, thus generating a choreography in real time. A feedback loop takes place, as the movements of the dancer are captured and transformed into the parameters controlling the visuals and sounds which characterize the performance, creating a complete synesthesia.
Project Website »

The Electronic Man
03/01/2011 – present
The Electronic Man produces a connective global body in a realtime performance that takes place simultaneously all over the world. Presented in occasion of Marshal McLuhan’s official Centennial Celebrations, the performance realizes one of McLuhan’s most interesting theories: “Electronic man like pre-literate man, ablates or outers the whole man. His information environment is his own central nervous system.” Thousands of stickers featuring the QRCode and logo of the Electronic Man have been disseminated in hundreds of cities worldwide. When people see them and scan them, they are connected to the performance and can download a free smartphone application. Whenever someone, in any part of the world, participates to the performance, all other participants’ phones vibrate simultaneously. A vibration, in our pockets, close to our bodies, triggered by a digital interaction happening anywhere on the planet: a new, synthetic, externalized sense which interconnects tens of thousands of human beings across the globe.
Project Website »

VersuS, the realtime lives of cities
10/01/2011 – present
VersuS is a series of works about the possibility to listen in real-time to the emotions, expressions and information generated by users on social network and using ubiquitous technologies, and to publish them onto the cities which they are related to. A scenario emerges according to which it becomes possible to realize information landscapes which are ubiquitously accessible and which change our experience or urban spaces. These projects also suggest the possibility to use these methodologies and technologies to promote novel forms of participatory practices in urban spaces, for decision-making, policy-making and urban planning and design.
Project Website »


I am an Italian engineer, artist, professor and hacker, and I created Art is Open Source, an informal network promoting artistic, creative and critical practices in different parts of the world. I have always been fascinated by cities and urban spaces. When I was younger, I used to be a skateboarding wiz, enjoying the power of being able to reinvent grey, sad neighborhoods and transform them into magical places for acrobatics. For the same reason, i got involved into the Italian rave partying scene: the possibility to claim the unused, forgotten spaces of our cities, and transform them into ritual gatherings where thousands of people would be able to freely express themselves was incredibly powerful. Technologies have always played an important role in my life. I started developing software really early when I was 12 and living in Philadelphia with my family, and throughout my life I have designed and developed videogames, artificial intelligence systems, robots, expert systems, realtime systems, and technological tools which allow people to express themselves, live, work, learn and collaborate in better, positive, constructive ways. Over time I have collaborated with international corporations, research labs, activist organizations, NGOs, and I constantly valued the possibility to interweave all these different perspectives on the world, creating scenarios in which technologies emerged to answer important societal challenges, promoting culture, freedom and possibilistic scenarios. I have lived and worked in meny places, such as Italy, Brazil, Spain, the Czech Republic, Malaysia, Japan, India, Finland, the United Kingdom, Tunisia, Albania. I currently teach Digital Design in several universities and lead Art is Open Source, an informal, dynamic network of artists, designers, engineers, architects, makers and hackers, pushing forward the possibilities to reinvent our reality, to promote a more positive, aware, active and collaborative planet.

Fun facts

Favorite meal:
Many of Italy's best foods come from the traditions of the poor people of past generations, having to create meals practically out of nowhere. I especially like the "minestrone di pane", a main course in which you take old, tough large forms of bread (the ones the nobles would throw away), cut them in half horizontally and pour into them a hot, steamy, vegetable soup. You then cover the lower part of the bread with its lid and let it rest. It becomes a wonderful, tasty, healthy meal which you eat with onions dipped in salt.

A funny story about me:
When I was 10, my family moved to Philadelphia. I had no friends there, and language was not helping me to make new ones easily. I would have done anything to get a new friend! I met some boys at my school who were really into dirt-bikes, and I enjoyed them a lot, even if I'd never been on one before. To approach them, I lied, and told them that when I was back in Italy, I used to go dirt-biking every day. They smiled and said: "oh, well, come with us then!" And I just couldn't force myself to confess that I lied. So, in a day, I found myself all geared up, sitting on a motorcycle, ready to start it. The boys were obviously aware of my lie, but played through it, smiling. As soon as the bike started, I found myself on the ground and, basically said: "i've never been on one before". Everyone started laughing. We became good friends.

Vital Stats

Fellows Class
TEDGlobal 2012
Living in
Rome, Italy
Working in
Rome, Italy
Born in
Leghorn, Italy



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