"PLUG'n'PRAY"
by Lionella Borean & Chiara Grandesso [UsineDeBoutons]
VIEW Plug'n'Pray OFFLINE
This is the offline version of the website Plug'n'Pray with all external links and email services turned off

'Quabbin' by Curtis Bahn


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In a time of constant immigration, tensions between ethnic groups become greater than they used to be. Different cultures mingle with each other every day to create new, stimulating and complex crossovers, but at the same this process causes conflicts and frictions. Different macro-groups (people from different nations, ethnic groups or subsequent generations) are on the move. They all carry along different moral values, traditions and points of view on life; different ways of relating to each other, political ideals and religious beliefs. Some of these positions may be in harmony with others and some may clash. Moral values are put into practice, consciously or unconsciously, in a variety of ways besides converting other people: everyday behavior, the educational system, the mass-media, political campaigns, as well as the cruelest genocide in the name of racial supremacy or some religious war? All these attitudes state, in different degrees of intensity and mutual (in)tolerance, cultural and moral values. In the northern part of the world religious wars and crusaders no belong to the past. Modern technology and new methods to market religion open up new distribution channels to deliver faith to the end user in ready-to-install kits. Each kit comes in a familiar packaging, like a software product. User-friendly and customizable versions according to the latest trends, needs or personal interests are on display in the shop windows: cheap and easy. This is the concept behind the Plug 'n' Pray concept: religion is no longer a mystical experience or a personal journey to get closer to our transcendent inner dimension - it belongs now to the FCG (Fast Consumer Goods) segment.

A TV preacher is promoting a new way to deal with religious conflicts ­ a software application helps you get converted in a couple of clicks. You can choose the most suitable and convenient religion for you ­ anytime, anywhere. Fanatic crusades, bloodshed ­ get away with it without compromising your pacifist ideals and launch new religious marketing campaigns.

The website parodies these attitudes to elicit dialogue and thought sharing on serious issues like tolerance and religious wars.

The language you read and the graphics you see on the website pertain to the IT world ­ it is a typical e-commerce portal selling innovative, complete, but most of all plausible and convincing software kits.

The "Plug'n'Pray" concept borrows its name and reinterprets the famous idea behind the "plug and play" technology. PnP is a synonym for easy hardware installation and hassle-free software setup that allows you to immediately start using a new HW device or SW application. "Play" becomes "Pray" - your conversion is instantaneous, smooth and seamless.

BIO:

UsineDeBoutons is a design practise in Padova (Italy): Lionello Borean + Chiara Grandesso.

Chiara worked in Milan, London, Paris and Kyoto (Japan), with her own artistic projects and as a designer. She has an MA at Royal College of Art and she has won the 'Parallel Prize' with her final degree's work. She collaborated with Philippe Starck during her stay in Paris from 1999 to 2001.

Lionello worked in Treviso (Italy) on editorial design and graphics. In 2001 he leaves his agency to found a new creative atelier with Chiara in order to explore the design field out of its traditional and boring commercial attitude, working on art projects with a strong social background.

FESTIVALS & AWARDS:

26_04_2004 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"The 10 Commandments" exhibition. (Dresden / Germany)
PnP takes part in the exhibition called "The 10 Commandments" at the Hygiene Museum in Dresden (Germany), from 16.06.2004 until 5.12.2005, featuring artworks by Maurizio Cattelan, Janet Cardiff, Felix Gonzales Torres, Silvie Fleury, Taryn Simon, Santiago Sierra, Andy Warhol, Andrea Zittel, Doug Aitken, Hans Peter Feldmann and many others.

22_04_2004 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Low-Fi locator (London / UK)
Plug'n'Pray included into the 'Low-Fi Net Art Locator' database, a system for locating art projects which use the internet as a medium. London, UK.

22_04_2004 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
PEAM_2004 (Pescara / Italy)
Plug'n'Pray invited to PEAM 2004, the Pescara electronic artists meeting, 19-23 May 2004.

22_04_2004 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
ISEA 2004: final selection.
(please see previous news, 18.02.2004) PnP has been included into final selection of projects at ISEA.2004, the International Symposium on Electronic Arts that will take place in Tallinn (Estonia), Helsinki (Finland) and Stockholm (Sweden) next August. Our project will be introduced August 16th in Stockholm.

21_04_2004 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Art Projects Network (Dublin / Ireland)
PnP selected for The Art Projects Network next exhibition in Dublin, during June 2004.

11_03_2004 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Solutions for modern living" art show (Downtown Ithaca, NY -USA)
PnP selected and invited to 'Solutions for modern living', a multi-artist show centered around themes of consumerism and surveillance. (May 2004)

10_03_2004 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Digital Vision (Vancouver / Canada)
PnP invited to 'Digital Visions' 2004, a virtual on-line exhibition coordinated by emergent artists and curators at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

05_03_2004 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Version_04 (Chicago / USA)
Plug'n'Pray selected for 'Version_04: invisibleNetworks convergence' (April 16 - May 1, 2004)

05_03_2004 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Immedia04:Surface (University of Michigan, USA)
Plug'n'Pray selected for 'Immedia04:Surface' the ninth annual digital arts exhibition held at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan (USA) May 7 - May 23, 2004.

18_02_2004 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Thailand NewMedia Art Festival (Bangkok / Thailand)
Plug'n'Pray invited to take part to MAF 2004, a festival on art and new media 20th and 28th March 2004.

18_02_2004 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
ISEA 2004 - short list (Tallinn / Estonia, Helsinki / Finland & Stockholm / Sweden)
The PnP project figures in the ISEA.2004 short list. The short list includes a selection of 300 entries on a total of 1400 candidates.

28_01_2004 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Furtherfield (London / UK)
PnP found a place to shine among various net-art projects endorsed by Furtherfield. This non-profit organization, founded in 1997 in London, enjoys support from among others the BBC and the European Community. They promote digital art and Internet discussion forums on art and culture in general. Click here to find a page about to Plug'n'Pray.

15_01_2004 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Rhizome, N.Y.
The PnP project has been included into Rhizome archives, the famous art organization affiliated to the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. See the Plug'n'Pray page at Rhizome.org website.

22_12_2003 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Transmediale.04 (Berlin / Germany).
The PnP project has been selected to partecipate to Transmediale.04 festival, January 2004.

21_08_2003 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Next 5 Minutes Festival - Amsterdam.
Invited to introduce the PnP project at the "Next 5 Minutes" festival (4th edition) in Amsterdam, 11 - 14 September 2003.

21_08_2003 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Copenhagen wireless art exhibit.
The PnP project has been selected to partecipate to "Copenhagen..wireless..art" exhibit whole month of August in Copenhagen (Denmark), at Royal Park (Kongens Have) + Pio Diaz exibition space.

27_07_2003 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
La Biennale di Venezia (La Biennale d'Arte di Venezia)
The PnP "Pray by wire" initiative is included in the BlogWork "Eventi" (Events) section of the 2003 Venezia Art Biennale website. (A cooperation with ASAC - Archivio Storico dell'Arte Contemporanea.)

18_07_2003 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Violence Online Festival, Agricola de Cologne.
PnP has been invited to the Violence Online festival, an online event organized by Agricola de Cologne (Cologne-Germany). This festival will be hosted also at the Open Air at Royal Gardens Copenhagen (Denmark), Nonetart Festival - Arte Digital Rosario 2003 (Argentina) and File2003 - Electronic Language Festival Sao Paulo (Brasil).

25_06_2003 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
ADCI Silver Lapis Award.
The Italian Art Director Club is the most important national association for creative and communication professionals. The Lapis Award is given to the most creative project of the year. And this year it comes to Plug'n'Pray. All finalist and prize-winning projects are published in the Association's Annual Book. Short List in the Website Category. (and a golden award, Graphic Design Category, with 4 projects in Short List...)

25_06_2003 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Garage Festival, Stralsund (Germany)
PnP has been invited to the Garage Festival. This event will take place in Straslund (Germany) and it will kick off on July 25.

INTERVIEW:

Who are the people behind your project?

UsineDeBoutons a design studio in Padova (Italy): Lionello Borean + Chiara Grandesso

What is the intention behinde plug-n-pray? What stood at the beginning of it?

We started a discussion, a few years ago when we lived in Paris, about (in)tolerance: the way people live toghether, the way they live day by day, with their cultural and social differences, in big towns like Paris. And the difference between big towns like Paris, that seems to accept cultural differences, and the 'deep' Italy or small european cities, where is not so easy to live side by side, christians with muslims, for example. And the social situation seems to be heavy, more than a few years ago.

And there's another aspect: the concept of 'religion' is different from the concept of 'church': for example we know that the catholic church is in crisis, the multiple waves of muslims arriving from the third world force to find a new balance, new solutions, and to divide the same space. And the church itselfs needs to defend his position: it's not so easy to *live* the tolerance, outside.

In this contest, it sounds ironic but powerful to have a pocket solution (a 'religious' kit) to sell to the different, to convert new 'audience', to find an easy way to solve the problem, jumping from a religion to another...

I guess there is a serious political context: Religion and its capability of spreading violence, crime and injustice. Why do you pick up that topic in our days?

When people start suffering (less work, no houses to rent, the higher prices at the supermarket) the RABBIA increase and you have to find an enemy.

It's easy to target the differences, the black skin, or the extraUE boat people, or SouthAmericans peones that stole your ex privileges. When SARS epidemy starts (do you remember? it was a worldwide problems when newspaper talked about it, now the ploblem is not in the first pages, so it doesn't exist) it was easy to target all Chinese people like angels of death. Simple and easy.

The religion is another point to create differences. It's easy to target. It's legal, we defend our identity. Different god from mine, you're worst than me, you're the other to fight. But religion becomes a flag to cover other problems: you defend your land, your thought, your lifestyle, your religion from the enemy and this give you a legal way to emarginate other people. But you're only finding a false cover to defend your interests.

Today is easier than ever to find religions as a new social problem. I mean where're in a new MiddleAge of crusades and it's sound ironic because our society has spended years to create a non-religious political model, but now the religious identity seems to be more rilevant than 20/40 years ago.

We think it's just because is easy to use religious to hide other problems.

Are you critical believers in one religion or the other, or are you agnostics?

I've grown up in a catholic family where they teach me catholic religion with not a complete convinction... I think that their traditions were more stronger and they don't need to start to think about the value of the messages they learned from their parents and they continued to teach to their sons.

Jesus talked about "the light" but I think that 'churches' help you become blind. I respect people who believe in god, but I think they have to distinguish the spiritual feelings from the rites created by human people.

To whom is your website addressed?

To everyone, where intelligent irony helps to educate intransigence. To blog writers, to underground communities, to local spirituals groups, to surprise our bishops. We hope to help start thinking about.

What sort of reactions have you got so far, especially from religious people?

We expected a lot of legal causes or just a few but at the end we received more entusiastic email than flame letters. In particular I were prepared to receive letters from muslims people or from people that don't need we touch their symbols (the images on the packages are not so 'political correct': the catholic cross is rotate from a strange prospective, the jewish candelabrum is not standing right, etc.) but nothing important happens.

A lot of people give us suggestions to update the site, to create new kits or really interesting plug ins, a lot of creativity. Someone else are not so happy. We had a few letter from people that mainly ask more respect to religions, ("you can't believe that...", "we're not so ridiculous than you describe", "your stupid irony on a serious aspect of life", "after this life you'll understand"...) but also email from people of the chatolic church that appreciate the irony and they support us ("but please don't publish my name"...). Now three of these people (a catholic priest, an italian jewish and an iranian muslim) will support the forum ( (http://www.plug-pray.splinder.it in italian, at the moment) we need to start and they'll moderate the email from their specific religious beliefs and point of view.

The site started with the italian version only. We had a strong wave of visits, (today the homepage has had more than 120.000 italian hits with no marketing or advertising actions, only by "tell your friend...") and the english version is now online (in a beta release) but we're not advertising it because we're not sure to be able to manage the proprotional wave from the entire rest of the world (hits, emails, etc.).

What are your future projects?

PnP has launched "Pray by wire" (http://www.plug-pray.org/wired.htm), a call for contribution contest to create an art exhibition we need to show in London, Milan, Berlin and Amsterdam during 2005: we need photograph of where you find technologies that help religion, from hi-tech event to low-cost solutions. We have received a wide range of images, from polish telephonic cards with the picture of JohnPaul2nd, to kitch images of green/blue neon christian crosses...

And then, another new project. We need to complete a trip trought the 'unchangable' proprierties of the human being. After the religious differences of PnP, we'll be soon online with a new project about skin differences and we hope it will be interesting.

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10 May 2004, all materials © usine de boutons
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Lionello Borean + Chiara Grandesso
Usine de Boutons
Via Guido Franco 99B
35027 Cadoneghe PD
Italy

e-mail: hello@usine.it, info@plug-pray.org
wwweb: http://www.plug-pray.org