La Maschera del Tempo at Giorgio Cini Foundation i...

La Maschera del Tempo at Giorgio Cini Foundation in Venice

The Giorgio Cini Foundation in Venice has been responsible for many projects of culture and research at 360°, in the city and beyond, since the years of its establishment. With the project La Maschera del Tempo, the Foundation has opened its doors to digital experimentation for the first time, with an extraordinary result.
Scene one.

I find myself, on a rainy day, on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore and I wait diligently to visit the new project promoted by the Cini Foundation. Historically, it is one of the foundations most involved in everything that concerns the city and its fabric: from theater to performing arts, to visual arts, this place is a cultural symbol that we envy in many.

Scene two.

While I wait, I want to take a tour of the island and, in addition to seeing the exhibitions open to the public, I meet the curator of the project La Maschera del Tempo, Ennio Bianco. Ennio tells me how the idea was born and how it was realized. His words reveal a great expectation for the remarkable work and above all a look towards the future that, inevitably, will lead more and more artists to try and use virtual reality and artificial intelligence in their creative process. His story intrigues me a lot, and it ends by asking me a question: «Have you ever asked an algorithm to create a work based on a word or a subject?» Not only did he did it, but the result is something surreal.

Scene three.

I find myself in front of the Teatro Verde of the Cini Foundation. Commissioned by Vittorio Cini and inaugurated in 1954, the amphitheatre by the architect Luigi Vietti (1903-1998) has marked the Venetian cultural scene since its opening, hosting exceptional performances of performing art. Defined by the actress Katharine Hepburn as the «most beautiful theatre in the world», the Teatro Verde is so called for the hedges of privet placed on the backs of the stone seats. This place is steeped in history, there were not only theatrical events based on works by Goldoni, but also episodes of the Biennale Teatro: from this place have passed, over the years, several national and international artists, and the air you breathe is that of culture, the eternal. The Theatre has recently reopened its doors to the public and it could only be positive news for everyone.

Scene four.

They are inside the large hall of the Cini Foundation and I am waiting in a room full of experts, students and scholars, the first of this work that already promises to be interesting. After a quick presentation by the head of the Foundation, the lights go out and, just like at the theater, the show begins. An immense white screen and digital work are revealed. The imaginative story comes to life in four acts, between the History, the Shows, the Present, the Future of the Green Theatre, retracing the events of the theatres of verzura, the golden age of the amphitheater, the dialogue with Nature, dominated and dominant, creative force that contributes to the new life of the Theatre.

In La Maschera del Tempo, the Green Theatre lives again, with its architecture and its history, populated by hyperrealistic avatars creatively made through the use of the latest 3D animation software and text processing, combined with the sound design of Maurizio Martuscello, aka Martux_m, transformed into interpreters of the great works that have made its history. Photorealistic «Human-Digital» beings are immersed in real sceneries and dreamlike settings in a posthuman and sci-fi world, between fiction and representation, where Nature and Art breathe and flourish.

Scene Five.

At the end of the screening, in addition to the ritual applause, the feeling is that this work is something extraordinary. Throughout its duration it is evident the attention to detail and the passionate story of a story that has an extended meaning in different directions, combining the dream with a magnificent setting like that of the Green Theatre. I leave the Foundation with the impression that I have witnessed the first of a series of future projects that will be discussed again, or at least that is my feeling. I look at Venice with the question of the curator in my head, to whom I answer: «No, I have never before asked an algorithm to create a work based on a word or a subject but now I would like to ask: how do you see Venice in a hundred years?».


Francesco Liggieri


Fondazione Giorgio Cini Onlus
Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice

Bullhead, courtesy: Mattia Casalegno Studio

La Maschera del Tempo, spalti, courtesy: Mattia Casalegno Studio

La Maschera del Tempo, still video, courtesy: Mattia Casalegno Studio

La Maschera del Tempo, still video, courtesy: Mattia Casalegno Studio

Teatro Verde at Giorgio Cini Foundation, Venice, courtesy Giorgio Cini Foundation


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