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The Language of Light 2021: “Verona prima inter pictas”

20 July 2021

During the last edition of the International Day of Light 2021 in May, Opificio della Luce presented a pilot project on the Mazzanti Houses, historic veronese buildings located in the heart of the city, to draw attention to the potential of synergies between art and lighting technology in the enhancement of Verona and of all the cities of art in Italy. 

 

The Mazzanti Houses, one of the most beautiful and spectacular historic buildings located in the heart of Verona, have been the subject of a complex pictorical and architectural restoration since last October. The project updated the  previous one carried out in the early eighties, and today when a first phase was completed, it will also continue on the facade of via Mazzanti, but above all on the Loggias where frescoes prior to those already restored emerged together with important architectural elements, previously hidden by the plaster, such as the seven marble columns supporting elements of the pre-existing loggias of which we had traces only in ancient prints of the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries in Piazza delle Erbe.

The philosophy guiding the intervention was to recover and restore the square to its former glory, at a level consistent with the historical and artistic value of the building. An articulated group of professionals therefore worked on the cleaning and consolidation of the frescoes, increasing the neutral areas where needed. In this way the colors of the masterpieces have found new light both as regards the allegories and the decorative architectural elements. The Mazzanti Houses, therefore, once completely frescoed, now present paintings that are therefore still partly visible. From this reason, there was the need to develop an innovative pilot project in parallel with the restoration, taking up both an ambitious and imaginative challenge at the same time:

  • enhance the frescoes that have just been restored and consolidated by the intervention on the facades of the Mazzanti Houses, with permanent lighting, obtained by respecting the study of the surface and colors of the paintings to be highlighted, to exalt them and to ensure a better fruition;
  • to offer the possibility of a temporary and non-invasive or destructive restitution of the now compromised frescoes through the on-site projection of a digital reconstruction obtained from the study of only partially visible fragments and period reproductions.

A challenge that was immediately taken up by the Opificio della Luce (ODL). ODL, funded by two companies HIKARI and DEF, was born as an innovative network of companies and professionals specialized in solutions for LED lighting and electronic controls, but above all, united by a marked sensitivity for the arts, culture and a working methodology of collaborative type. The goal of ODL is to integrate in a multidisciplinary way the skills and technical resources necessary to design, implement and program high quality and complex lighting systems aimed precisely at the world of the arts and museum systems. A conception of light therefore as a markedly creative element, a vehicle of emotions, as essential in architecture as in restoration. Giorgio Butturini, who spoke in the first part of the seminar, explained this very effectively, underlining how the careful use of light can bring out the frescoed facades and the monuments while always maintaining at the center a basic balance between the work itself and its enhancement, avoiding the risk of a mere spectacle.

For this reason, the pilot project was split in two distinct work plans. The first designed as punctual and detailed plan aimed to improve the perception of colors where the visible frescoes are still present. At a different level, instead, the intervention conceived with light-mapping techniques, a complex technology for calibrating the intensity and colors of the LED light, aimed at projecting the deteriorated and no longer visible frescoes on the facades, reconstructed on the basis of a careful philological work, reporting also in the contents of the projection a narration representing the development of the work of the past and the meanings that wanted to be conveyed by the proposed image. The result given by the combination of different technologies and skills underlying the control of light and video mapping techniques will therefore allow an accurate reproduction of the historical images of the frescoes, offering to the users/ visitors in the square new atmospheres both in terms of lighting scenarios and detail of each single element. An innovative proposal conceived for the Mazzanti Houses and Piazza delle Erbe in Verona with the hope for ODL that it can only be the first stage of an interactive journey through the ancient city and its frescoes and which pursues the original idea to suggest Verona as a laboratory open to the experimentation of the arts and innovation of digital lighting.

 

Simulazioni Illuminotecniche: Giorgio Butturini.

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