Anna Pou, with a degree in Geography and History, specializes in Art History and has focused on Salvador Dalí. A professor of Digital Humanities at the UIC Barcelona, ​​she has explored the intersection between the brilliant artist from Figueres and cybernetics in her doctoral thesis.

Recently, he has shared his knowledge in the form of a book, Dalí. Art_Ciència_Cybernètica (It Brings Art, 2023), focusing on the fundamental themes of his research. In addition, she was the curator of the immersive Dalí Cybernetic exhibition at L’Ideal Digital Arts Center in Barcelona.

Regarding your research on Dalí and cybernetics, how did the idea of ​​exploring this particular topic come about?

It arises because I’m starting to make an exhibition, which is currently on a 5-year world tour that is currently in Lisbon, Berlin and Copenhagen, but which began in Barcelona, ​​at the Ideal, where I was curator. The exhibition revolved around Dalí and cybernetics and the idea was mine. This exhibition tries to link art with technology and science, therefore there are artists who fulfill this and there are some who do not, so the most complete case is Dalí. In a newspaper interview, Dalí said that the art of the future would be cybernetic or it would not be at all. It was totally visionary, since he said this at the end of the 80s. From there, I began to research for many years and this exhibition came out that, to this day, I continue to research because I am doing my thesis on this topic.

What was the experience of showing this topic in such an immersive way in this exhibition?

Very good, one hundred percent good. I believe in the dissemination of art and I am totally against the vision of art as something for a few privileged people who have a high spirit. I believe that we must disseminate art and, therefore, bring it closer to the people. It has always seemed like a task not only fun, but also very necessary to break with this elitist concept of art. Therefore, the experience has been very good, hundreds of thousands of people have passed through this exhibition. Immersivity is a way to bring art closer to people in a way that is much more adapted to new times, as Dalí himself kept repeating.

How is cybernetics related to the work and artistic style of Salvador Dalí? What made you focus your research on this connection?

No one until now has been given this relationship, although the Dalí museum theater is full of electronic circuits, chips and pixels, so I suppose it is also something very new. But it was from an article that I began to investigate and even now I am afraid to open a book because I find everything, many connections with computer scientists, digital artists, etc. The best thing is to go to the museum and discover things that you don’t understand and that no one has seen and that we have right under our noses. An example is a saint built by Dalí that is one meter high and carries a chip in his hand.

How did you approach the research for your doctoral thesis? Would you highlight any challenges during the process, did you ever want to throw in the towel…?

The opposite has happened to me, the beautiful thing was on the third day of starting to investigate, I found a book in Dalí’s personal library, in which he underlined and drew many of the books and I found a book by the founder of cybernetics which is a man who wrote several works and one of them was painted by Dalí. There were angels and androgenic beings and they all looked up, towards God, because he believed in immortality, he did not want to die, he was obsessed with immortality and from there his passion for science was born, seeking in it the answer to everything, to life and death. Well, with cybernetics he believed that man would go to another evolutionary state and the machine would be like the leap from man to angel.

The research has been translated into Spanish, English and German. What was this translation process like? Has it made it reach more audiences?

It has been very difficult. Translating a book is very complicated and at the same time it is the catalog of my exhibition. We have done the translation because this is going around the world and in fact in Berlin they have asked us for another 2,500 copies. At the moment, we have 10,000 printed copies and we will continue to do so. It must go to all continents so it must be in different languages.

How do you feel after seeing people’s response in general?

I feel that I have worked a lot to get here and I have always believed a lot in finding a different way of transmitting art. I have always thought that a more modern way that was appropriate to the times was necessary, as Dalí said. I’m not against museums, but new means of disseminating art were needed, so on the one hand I feel very good because I feel that what I thought, well, works, that is, just because something reaches the masses does not mean that This is banal, without having to fall into the belief that only art is for connoisseurs. Museums should be entered with a more open attitude. We are doing something wrong if people fear not understanding anything before entering a museum. People are not afraid to go to the cinema and it is also a different art. It should be open and people feel comfortable being able to understand and learn it.

Has your perception of Dalí changed after carrying out this research related to cybernetics?

Yes. Dalí had always seemed like an ingenious person to me and I was very struck by the fact that he was a person who promised a lot behind fireworks. People have stuck with the fireworks and that has done a lot of damage to Dalí, because people have stuck with his image of a crazy person, but I never saw him this way, on the contrary, I was very attracted to the attention. What I didn’t imagine was that there would be a series of electronic circuits that all connect to each other and everything has a millimeter meaning. He said he was an enigma and that the world in general was an enigma.

Everyone thinks that the Dalí of the 60s is banal, but from then on, he got bad press, because he approached mass consumption, when now any artist uses Instagram or promotes himself to sell himself. He started doing it and was criticized a lot for it. What I didn’t imagine was that I would laugh so much investigating him and the joke is that he is infinitely intelligent, there is no one finer than Dalí. There is no intelligence finer, sharper and brighter than his. He is such a cultured man that he used a register that no one understood. He spoke from myth to science. He takes many records to create his own cosmogony. You have to be cultured and you have to want to understand it. I am tying threads, but tying threads is very difficult, you have to be creative to understand Dalí. You have to think in a way other than rational and logical. There are a thousand secrets that are still hidden, it’s like a game.

Why are there so many hidden secrets about Dalí even after so many years?

He is an endless source, he is a brilliant mind and he is a visionary. The people who study him are not as intelligent as him. Because he was an enigma, he wanted to stay that way, therefore, there are many layers to reading Dalí. He can be analyzed through advertising, science… etc. He has many levels of reading. They are not visible at first glance, they are complex. Among all of them, one requires another. The alchemist Dalí needs the cybernetic Dalí. One leads to the other.

Dalí is many things and has been stereotyped as a surrealist and crazy. But what about the Dalí who held a conference that managed to bring the Nobel Prizes in Physics under the dome of the Figueres theater museum in 1985? What is happening with this Dalí? There are many Dalis and we only focus on one, the stereotypical one and I disagree.

How do you see the future of research on art and cybernetics?

Just as we have gone from the canvas to the Tablet, it is very clear that this is a medium, that it is the current one and everything indicates that it will be the one of the future. More and more we live plugged into a computer or a screen. We talk on screens, we flirt on screen and it is clear that we paint on screen. The future will be very promising, especially in a society in which cybernetics is part of our lives.

Is Dalí’s work still relevant today and transcends time barriers?

Yes. In fact, the director of the Dalí museums, the foundation itself, has organized a course in which she has invited me and other curators to a course called: Reformulant Dalí. Therefore, Dalí is constantly rethinking himself. There are many artists who can resume because society changes and the vision of the author changes. But, specifically, Dalí is very challenging, he challenges you. Dalí challenges you. Because he is still an enigma and was very advanced for his times. He wanted to last in our memory and so many years later we are still talking about him.

You also carry out a teaching task, is it necessary to introduce more art into education?

Art in education is very necessary, and I am not talking about art painting, but art in its broadest sense. I talk about everything, music, design, architecture, etc. Sensitivity must be educated and it is very necessary to teach a different way of seeing the world, in a very enriching way. Exploring reality from different prisms is essential. Encourage creativity. Science and art have very similar processes and we must realize that the humanities and sciences are not antagonistic, they have always gone hand in hand. We have this mistaken idea of ​​the spirituality of art, but this is what it means to be a 19th century romantic.