Relive the amazement of the great Renaissance painters who descended by torchlight inside the Domus Aurea discovering the grotesques, identify with Raffaello through his first studies of these ancient wall decorations, find oneself in the presence of the legendary Laocoon in the darkness of a suggestive underground environment permeated by a disturbing sound storytelling: these are just some of the emotions that the public can experience thanks to the digital multisensory experience designed ad hoc by the Dotdotdot studio for Raffaello and the Domus Aurea. The invention of the grotesques scheduled in Rome from 23 June to 7 January 2022.
Created on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the death of Raffaello Sanzio, the exhibition, curated by Vincenzo Farinella and Alfonsina Russo with Stefano Borghini and Alessandro D’Alessio, is promoted by the Archaeological Park of the Colosseum and produced by Electa.
The multimedia exhibition itinerary stages the artistic research and the stories contextualized within the Neronian pavilion, through six installations and a visual and sound storytelling project that develops through a multisensory, poetic and evocative experience dedicated to the theme of grotesques, starting from the apex of their masterful interpretation with Raphael until their subsequent diffusion in the world.
The famous home of Nero reopens its doors with an immersive setting conceived and created by the Dotdotdot studio to tell in an unprecedented way the works and the ancient events related to ancient painting buried in the “caves” of the original Domus Aurea. Their discovery took place around 1480 by some painters – including Pintoricchio, Filippino Lippi and Signorelli – who were the first to descend by torchlight into the cavities of the Oppio hill to admire the pictorial decorations of ancient Roman environments, until the arrival by Raphael who fully understood the logic of the decorative systems of Nero's residence, re-proposing them in numerous masterpieces, revealed for the first time to the public through the potential of digital.
“The exhibition becomes a representation of scientific research, of the curatorial and narrative choices that are the basis of the exhibition itinerary” explains Laura Dellamotta, co-founder and General Manager of Dotdotdot. “The skilful use of multimedia makes it possible to tell stories and events to create conceptual and content bridges between apparently distant thematic chapters and over a long period of time. Despite the technical complexity of the staging, it is not important to dwell on this, but rather on the unprecedented, personal and educational experience of heterogeneous and mostly inaccessible historical-artistic contents, staged only thanks to digital”.
The public will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in fascinating stories – such as the discovery of the Laocoonte sculptural group, Nero's project for the Octagonal Room, the expansion of grotesque decorations throughout Europe up to their influence on the works of great artists of the twentieth century – to live a disturbing sensory visit experience, where emotion, surprise and curiosity will lead the visitor to memorably learn the multiplicity of contents that are hidden in the story of Raphael and the Domus Aurea.
In the various rooms the exhibition project is developed on large veils and arched elements that recall the Renaissance “sfondati”. The digital projections involve the ancient walls at full height, in search of the dialogue between the materiality of historical architecture and the immateriality of contemporary technology.
Along the way, the multimedia language is enriched thanks to a special Sound Design project conceived and created by Dotdotdot through in-depth historical research on the music of Ancient Rome and on the melodies of the Renaissance, the period of the rediscovery of the Domus Aurea. The soundtrack of the visit is composed and performed in real time with digital generative music tools that evoke the sounds of instruments of the past – oboe, flutes, trumpets and organs – and musical scales typical of ancient times. The result is a harmonious soundscape with classic melodies, where even silence becomes an important narrative element.
The musical background is in fact enriched with sounds and noises that emphasize the contents and architectural characteristics of each room: songs of muses, sprites and magical voices accompany the video projections of the celestial vault, while cavernous noises, reverberations, whispers, drops of water and stones that roll in the distance contribute to increase the evocative potential of the Neronian palace. Video and sound projections come together in an evocative performance of lights and shadows that every 30 minutes simulates the transition between day and night, dematerializing the setting and revealing the scenic and architectural beauty of the Domus Aurea.
The sound storytelling is developed in synchrony with the visual and interactive project. In fact, sound also accompanies visitors' interactions: as the presence of people in the room dedicated to the discovery of grotesques increases, whispers and whispers increase, while approaching the projected video wall, which comes alive with the presence, the noises of bottom like dripping or howling of the wind.