Interview with Simone Arrigoni
BIFA 2021 Winner, 1st Place, Non-Professional Science category, “Resonance”
Q: Tell us a bit about your background? How did you discover your love for photography?
I have always felt a deep artistic sensibility, which never stops looking for a means of expression, even when everything seems lost. I grew up studying Piano at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia in Rome as a young promise of classical concertism. Soon after earning a Piano Diploma with highest honours, two sudden events changed my life: my brilliant pianist career ended by a wrist injury due to a violent frontal impact with a stolen car which had lost control; and just few months later, my 17 years-old cousin Stefano tragically lost his life at sea. One of my cousin’s dreams was to establish a Freediving World Record, thus I promised to set it in his memory and I started agonistic training. I have kept my promise since 2003, setting 21 Freediving World Records in the sea, lake, under the ice and together with dolphins.
I have always aimed at conveying important messages and emotions through music first, and my underwater activities then, as urged to reveal the hidden beauty of the universe surrounding us with every possible means of communication. And in Photography I could not but find another elective way to express myself and explore the world through the filter of creativity.
Q: What was your last work and how did the initial spark of inspiration come about?
At the beginning of 2021, during an interminable rehabilitation from a very serious disease that almost killed me few months before, I have started working on a brand new project: I used the phenomenon of Cymatics to make visible the natural sounds coming both from the Earth and the Universe. Thus I aimed at impressing into my shots the invisible symphony of reality. That’s how I landed to my last work: Resonance. The Secret Beauty of Visible Sound.
Q: In your free time or as a hobby, what genre of photography do you enjoy most?
Alongside the photographic projects that I love to take care of down to the smallest detail, elaborating the concepts behind them and publishing images and texts in photographic books, in my free time I also love to dedicate myself to Astrophography – a passion that I share with my wife.
Q: You were awarded Non-Professional Science Photographer of the Year 2021 for your work Resonance. Can you tell us more about the technical background of this project? How did you come up with this particular idea?
During my endless search for a meeting point between Art and Science, which I had already started with other two photographic projects (InvEarth: Nature Itself Becomes Art and STARt. Look beyond), I have focused on the goal of creating an innovative project, which allowed me to combine “the great loves of my life”: sound (I’m a classical pianist), water (I’m a freediving champion with 21 world records) and nature, including the cosmos (as I have been very fond of astronomy since I was a child).
Through the macro-photographic technique and playing with various colours, I could show something invisible: the sounds of nature, which with Cymatics can be made visible while tracing fascinating patterns on the surface of the water, according to the laws of physics acoustics.
Q: What other genres do you enjoy creating in?
I love to wander around the cities worldwide in search of unusual visual stimuli. That’s how I created my “Sky Painters” and “Synchrony” series, in which I portrayed at long exposure the perfectly synchronized flight of starlings’flocks . Or I use to scan architectural elements inspired by macrophotography, in other words trying to capture details that create peculiar geometries, plays of light or symmetries.
Q: What does winning this award mean to you?
This rare and special acknowledgment of my work makes me deeply proud and grateful, especially at this time in my life. In fact, I conceived and implemented the idea of the Resonance project in a long rehabilitation phase after I was hospitalized in the Summer of 2020 for a sudden and very painful illness, that left me with only a 10 percent chance of survival. I fought and came out of it -although I still bear “the scars”-, as I have always done with the long series of obstacles I had to face in my life.
I am not aiming to complain or seek compassion, I just want to explain that when I was still in danger of life and barely had the strength to get out of bed, in photography I found an anchor – my anchor. Locked up in a small flat without strength, I was forcibly far away from music, freediving and nature. But photography allowed me to find these beloved elements of life in an alternative way, and even to bring them together.
You cannot imagine the amazement and enthusiasm felt -and shared with my family- at every extraordinary pattern that the sound waves imprinted on the water before my eyes! I absolutely wanted to communicate and share this emotions, and photography was the perfect means to do it.
Now that you know the context in which Resonance was born, you can understand how special this award is to me.
Q: What would be your dream project in photography if there would be no budget limits and you could travel anywhere, photograph anything/anyone?
I would definitely leave as a tourist astronaut on the International Space Station in orbit around the Earth, to be able to admire and photograph the wonders of our planet from space: the rounded edges of its atmosphere, the white swirls of clouds, orange dyed dawns or sunsets, dancing auroras, storms of lightning, and so on.
Q: What is the one piece of advice that you received in the past about photography that you follow to this day?
Since I have started dedicating myself to photography more than 10 years ago, the only opinions that help shape my works are those of my wife, with whom I share all my passions. Of course I also received other advice, often conflicting, but honestly I have always chosen to follow my ideals without bending them to fashions and judgments.
I never stop -not even for a second- enjoying photography, and I totally believe in what I do while carrying out both my projects and single images. Perhaps this makes even stronger the emotion I feel everytime someone appreciates my work.
Q: Are you working on something new right now? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Yes, I am working on a new series of my Resonance project, aimed at unveiling another sector of Nature that lies around us almost completely unnoticed.
Rome (Italy), 6 January 2022