An Interview with Filippo Dalla Fina: August's MAI + t Collaborator

Cover image by Filippo Dalla Fina
Introduction and Interview by Billy Zhao
I can't describe Filippo Dalla Fina’s Supertears blog without using the word “weird." Fina is a natural at curating absurd and unexpected images. Viewing his blog, I find myself thinking, "Is this what the future looks like?" Supertears is a melting pot of sci-fi, stock photos, and natural landscapes. Traces of Fina's background in graphic design, music journalism, and Japanese studies can be found throughout the Supertears archive. As the blog is the home for his personal experiences, Fina frequently changes his layout and accompanies posts with themed mixtapes such as "Executive Realness" and "Zen Business." His curation of the MAI Tumblr is centered around intersections between nature, science, and technology. Recently, I spoked with Fina over Skype to dig a little deeper into his vision for this month on MAI + t.

Untitled (2014), Filippo Dalla Fina

BILLY ZHAO: I became really interested in your blog because it has a crazy “technology-meets-nature” feel. Can you describe your blogging process?

FILIPPO DALLA FINA: When I blog, I don't really have a scheme. I just get on Tumblr and scroll through the dash to see if there are images that interest me. More than videos, I really like high quality images which are defined — I wouldn't say professional, but clean-looking, which is one of the main characteristics of both technology and machines. As you said, the main themes I'm interested in when I blog are nature, technology, and the relationship between the two. I come from Vicenza, near Venice, in Italy where I would say that some aspects of life are the same as they were 60 years ago, but we do also have technology. We have TV and we have internet, but sometimes I still feel disconnected. It's a weird feeling.

BILLY ZHAO: Did you grow up surrounded by technology or did it slowly enter into your life?

FILIPPO DALLA FINA: I was given my first computer when I was 10, maybe. I didn't really use it for serious stuff; I just messed around with it. But I've always been interested in technology. The weird side of technology, mostly.

The main themes I'm interested in when I blog are nature, technology, and the relationship between the two.

BILLY ZHAO: When did you start your blog?

FILIPPO DALLA FINA: I think I’ve had my blog for three and a half years now, maybe four.

Untitled (2014), Filippo Dalla Fina

BILLY ZHAO: Have you always blogged in the same style as when you started, or have you found that your interests have grown over your four years blogging on Tumblr?

FILIPPO DALLA FINA: My style has changed a bit from since I started. The images I re-blog are always weird or disturbing or creepy. They were more funny in the beginning, like funny-weird. Now they're just weird-weird.

BILLY ZHAO: So, you’ve taken the blog to a whole new level of weirdness. You say that you re-blog a lot. How do you choose which blogs to follow? Do you have a certain criteria for that, or is it very intuitive?

FILIPPO DALLA FINA: The main things I look at when I see a new blog are the content, the icon, and the name of the blog. The graphics are important to me but not as much as the content. I've seen a lot of cool blogs that have a white background with black text — very simple, but the content is cool. The only blog for which I really care about the graphics is my own. [Laughs.]

BILLY ZHAO: Did you learn to play with aesthetics over the course of studying graphic design in school?

FILIPPO DALLA FINA:  I've been playing with Photoshop and Illustrator since I was maybe 17 or 18, so I think my aesthetic has just grown with time passing.

BILLY ZHAO: Tell me a little bit more about your Soundcloud mixes.

Untitled (2014), Filippo Dalla Fina

FILIPPO DALLA FINA:  [Laughs.] It's just a hobby for me. Sometimes I get asked to play clubs. I also played at a festival in Croatia. I really don't look for bookings or anything — it's all just friends asking me. When I have some songs that I like and I think they should be put together because they would sound good together, I create a mixtape and upload it to Soundcloud.

BILLY ZHAO: Do you think that some people listen to your Soundcloud while looking at your blog?

FILIPPO DALLA FINA: Yes, I got a couple of messages saying that. One message said that my blog is a true “internet experience.” I don't know what that means, but it’s flattering somehow.

BILLY ZHAO: It's like an exhibition. You can put on your headset and experience it all holistically. How did you become interested in graphic design?

One message said that my blog is a true “internet experience.” I don't know what that means, but it’s flattering somehow.

FILIPPO DALLA FINA: I've always been curious. Since I was young, I really liked looking at things. I like graphics because obviously graphic design has a function. It’s not just some stuff put together —  it's an art. It's a way of expressing yourself. Even when you mess around randomly, it’s never 100% random. There is always something you want to say.

BILLY ZHAO: We're always thinking about ways to merge different fields and create multidisciplinary collaborations. If you were to collaborate as a graphic designer with any person in a different field, which field would you be most interested in working with?

FILIPPO DALLA FINA:  I would say music. I think it would also be interesting to work with people in science or biology or something which has nothing to do with graphics.

Untitled (2014), Filippo Dalla Fina


BILLY ZHAO: How do you see your blog changing in the future? Do you think you'll stay with a similar concept?


FILIPPO DALLA FINA: I really don't know. I don't put much thought into blogging. It's just instinct — what I like at the moment, my interests, images that I find interesting or weird.


BILLY ZHAO: On another note, have you ever experienced a long durational work?


 I don't put much thought into blogging. It's just instinct — what I like at the moment, my interests, images that I find interesting or weird.


FILIPPO DALLA FINA: I went to an electronic concert when I was in Japan. It wasn't that long, maybe a couple of hours, but the room was an arena like a basketball field, and it was all dark. The music was very, very loud. In there, it seemed like time wasn't passing anymore. I felt like I stayed in there for a day. Or days.


BILLY ZHAO: What were you doing in Japan?


FILIPPO DALLA FINA: I was there for three months studying Japanese.


BILLY ZHAO: Did traveling between Italy and Japan influence the way you experience culture?


Untitled (2014), Filippo Dalla Fina

FILIPPO DALLA FINA: I think I went to Japan with the right mood because I am a really quiet person. I would also say I’m polite. I don't like to yell or to scream like most Italians do.


BILLY ZHAO: How did you become interested in Japanese culture?


FILIPPO DALLA FINA: In high school, I used to listen to a lot of Japanoise — Merzbow, Masonna, The Gerogerigegege, stuff like that. My main desire back then was to become a music journalist in Japan. When I went, it was quite a culture shock to me, because everything is so different from Europe. It was quite an experience.


BILLY ZHAO: Were you traveling with other people?


When I am in a big town, I like to go out alone and get lost and talk to strangers. 


FILIPPO DALLA FINA:  I was traveling with my colleagues from university. Thinking about it now, I think that going alone would have been better. When I am in a big town, I like to go out alone and get lost and talk to strangers. I didn't have many opportunities to do that.


BILLY ZHAO: Have you seen Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation? That's what this reminds me of.


Untitled (2014), Filippo Dalla Fina

FILIPPO DALLA FINA:  I like that movie because Tokyo is exactly what you see in the film. It's not exaggerated. Tokyo is full of karaoke and people on the streets. It’s not noisy, but it’s really, really, really crowded.

BILLY ZHAO: Where you live in Italy, is it very rural, urban, or mixed?

FILIPPO DALLA FINA: Italy is a bit strange because everything is older here. In half an hour, I am going to a concert in a city that was founded 2000 years ago. When I think about it, it's a bit strange, because almost every building, every street, is the same as it was then — all cleaned up, but it's the same street.

BILLY ZHAO: It's so interesting to think about the technology boom that's happening in cities, but in Italy, there's all this heritage alongside that. Besides your interest in graphic design, technology, and music, is there anything else surprising about you that you would like to share?

FILIPPO DALLA FINA: I am a normal person. There’s really nothing exceptional about me. The coolest thing about me is that I can speak Japanese maybe, but I don't know if it's that cool.

BILLY ZHAO: That's pretty cool.

SUPERTEARS Presents Terraforming Mix for MAI + t

Michiel van der Bos - Chizra
Hecq - Coldfire
Atiq & EnK - Moonlit Tea Party
Aphorism - Combat Fashion
Abfahrt Hinwil - Tech 10
Access To Arasaka - Nostromo
Nebulo - Automnal
Totakeke - Casbah
Talvekoidik - Hymn
Nine Inch Nails - At the Heart of It All

To visit MAI + t, click here.

Filippo Dalla Fina is a 26-year-old graphic designer born and living in Italy. He has a blog and a Soundcloud.