BioMythicry: an interview with Peter Ciccariello

Interview by Willi Paul.

Co-Presented by Magazine &





The other: enter the myth
Hesitation, reasonably like an apostrophe
Marking the now empty space
Who will walk the row beneath?
Non-attachment, instead
The severed trunk swings back

— Peter Ciccariello

Interview with Peter by Willi

If I joined you in the inbetween, would we laugh or cry?

I think actually being in the inbetween is a joyous place, that space, at the end of one thing and before another thing has appeared. That is the space where possibility lives. I visualize it as being similar to an action potential in Neurobiology. After a given stimulus there is a rise of depolarization and before repolarization occurs the action potential represents the apex of the motion. So yes, we would probably laugh uncontrollably.

Is “Many, many worlds” a cover plate for illusionists, fonts smashed, macro butterfly wings?

An Illusionist counts on the fact that the viewer can only see one view at a time; this gives room to create magic, or to allow magic to happen depending upon your point of view. The image “Many, many worlds” is a nod to Multiple-worlds theory which denies the reality of wavefunction collapse. On a really basic level, I think that means that everything that could happen actually does happen, only not in the same universe. Definitely smashed font, or actually reverse leading and that beautiful, highly iridescent color comes from the mother-of-pearl of a friend’s abalone shell.

Are you not producing visual, allegorical memes?

Yes I am, absolutely, as the name of the thing is not the thing itself; the image of things are not either. In Wallace Stevens’ poem “Not Ideas about the Thing, But the Thing Itself”, we are aware of the self looking “outside from a space within. Humans have always had this perpetual concern with the dualism of imagination vs. reality, of looking out, of looking in, knowing that there is something out there, but what exactly is it? Is it a leap then that in this world besieged by massive amounts of imagery, there may be an understanding that there is an inner relationship of images that spells out hidden, unconscious narratives? Again, my perch is in the in between, setting up shop at the point between one thing and another, the point “where process overlaps and defines form and form becomes the carrier for the birth and evolution of ideas.”

Is there a new myth brewing in “Bee-and-skull-with-paint-tubes”?

I imagine it is my vanitas, an old myth, re-processed, an acknowledgment of the emptiness and meaninglessness of earthly life, keeping symbols of death close at hand, lest we forget; images that symbolize the fragility of life and the unequivocal certainty of death. The paint tubes, art, a rather futile defense against this absurdity. But it is Samuel Beckett’s quote that I come back to repeatedly – “All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” There is nothing braver then, in the entire scope of human response, than to move forward in the face of this utter and abject absurdity.

If “Word-being-born-I” is your flag, what makes up the Ciccariello internal universe?

What makes up my internal universe is the quest to make sense out of nonsense, order out of chaos, meaning out of meaninglessness. “Word being born I” is a meditation on where language came from, not in a linguistic sense, but more in a metaphorical sense. This came to me visually as a cosmological birthing of words similar to the ‘big bang’ origin of the universe’s early development.

“Love-of-paint” is alchemic, but how? To whom?

My work is, if nothing else, concerned with mysterious transmutation, the transformation of simple, unobtrusive objects and textures into a form of magical realism. I never know how it happens, or when it happens; I just show up and hope for the best. Having been trained originally as a conventional painter, I developed and nurtured my own “Love-of-paint” decades ago. After my move to almost completely work on and with computers for my imagery, I never lost that initial obsession with paint. There remains, always, an urge to represent that erotic viscosity even now in my work. The alchemy is present in the birthing and transmogrifying of an abstract creative impulse into the concrete world.

Give us some pros and cons from your experience with the film “Avatar”.

I greatly enjoyed the first half but was a bit disappointed with the second. I was hoping for a more creative narrative than the standard Hollywood formulaic good vs. evil, but visually it was stunning, really fine special effects, beautiful cinematography, and state-of-the-art 3-D imagery.

What is pop art now?

“Balloon dog”, Kincade, courtroom drama.

Is sustainability like a new religion?

I hope not. Religion comes and goes, belief is fickle. In the sense of sustainability being the capacity to endure and to protect diversity and health of the planet I would feel better about it being based in science, perhaps compassionate science. Not to say that achieving critical mass is not essential to obtaining a quantum cultural leap, but let’s hope it remains based in reason.

The sacred. How does this ring true in you?

To be certain, it arises most often in nature, in even the tiniest, most unnoticeable things, an unexpected splash of color, the fascinating asemic writing in mold growing on last year’s gourds, the sensual transparency of the sky through the clouds, the sadness in the weight of rain, that the sublime can appear, and most often does, in the commonplace, and that it becomes so very clear that it is the other you are experiencing and not the self. Most clearly I see it in light, light that gives form to my world, warmth and comfort, light that creeps in around a corner and changes everything, light that travels beside you even in the darkest most inhospitable places.

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Peter Ciccariello Bio –

Peter works at the interstices of creative intermedia, where process overlaps and defines form and form becomes the carrier for the birth and evolution of ideas. Inter-disciplinary and cross-genre, Ciccariello is an artist, poet, and photographer working with metaphor and allegorical memes. His work is concerned with the dynamics of language and text in 3-D digital environments. He has studied painting and design at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, high-end computer graphics at Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island, and book design and graphics at Parsons School of Design, New York, New York.

His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at Harvard University, Boston, MA, The University of Arizona Poetry Center, Tucson, AZ, Brown University in Providence, RI and at the Abbaye de Neumünster, Cloître, Luxembourg. Recent work has appeared both in print and online in, amongst other places, Poetry Magazine, New River, a journal of digital writing and art, dbqp: visualizing poetics, Oregon Literary Review, MOCA The Museum of Computer Art, Otoliths, and Word For/ Word – A journal of new writing.

Connections –

Peter Ciccariello
Ciccariello at

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Image Credit: Love-of-paint (detail) by Peter Ciccariello

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The [open myth source] project gathers conversations, symbols, songs, visual art and stories. Building a house for Myth in the Sustainability Age.
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