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Scipio's Dream

For the 'Exploded View' project, I am exploring the Parco Regionale dell'Appia Antica through video recordings of aerial views of the park and in collaboration with the Italian Military Aviation. The research also delves into 'The Dream of Scipio' (Somnium Scipionis), a section of 'On the Republic', a literary dialogue on Roman politics, written in six volumes by Cicero. The work was rightly seen as a condensation of important ideas from ancient philosophy and cosmology by scholars in the middle ages. Scholars now recognize it as a superb example of a popular meditation technique widely practiced in different schools of classical philosophy, and known today as the 'View from Above'. In Cicero's account, the Roman tribune Scipio Aemilianus describes how, exhausted from feasting, he fell into a deeper sleep than usual. As he sleeps, he dreams, and in his dreams he experiences a mystical revelation, a vision of his mighty forebear. In the dream, Aemilianus encounters his grandfather’s spirit in the outer rim of the heavens, where the ancients supposed pure souls to dwell, near to the gods. Hence, together they look down upon the stars, the earth, and the many different lands and nations dispersed across the surface of the globe', realizing how small and fragile the earth is, in comparison with the overwhelming size of the cosmos.

For the final presentation of my artistic research for 'Scipio's Dream' in Rome, I will be re-recreating through augmented reality the first flight in history over ancient Rome, in the Parco Archeologico di Centocelle, a section of the Parco Regionale dell'Appia Antica. The original flight was demonstrated by the Wright Brothers on the 15 April 1909 at the Parco di Centocelle and it was documented as the first aerial footage in history. For the presentation in Rome, I will be using archive video material of the 1909 flight provided by the Italian Military Aviation to recreate the experience of the flight by matching the original landmarks shown in the B/W archive footage with the landmarks in the landscape of the Parco di Centocelle. The augmented reality simulation will thus take the visitors attending the 'Exploded View' exhibition to the Parco di Centocelle where they will be able to experience the flight virtually. For the exhibition at Arti et Amicitiae in Amsterdam in April-May 2020 I will be using the 1909 B/W aerial footage of the Wright Brothers' flight, combined with other archive video material of the Earth seen from Space, filmed by early satellites from the 1960s to the 1990s. The aerial footage will be also combined with visual poetry created in collaboration with artist and researcher Nicolas Vermeulin and based on the text of 'Somnium Scipionis' by Cicero. The last stage of the project will take place after the conclusion of 'Exploded View' in 2021 and will recreate the actual flight by the Wright Brothers, using a replica of the original plane used in 1909, the 'Flyer', built especially for 'Scipio's Dream' and taking off from the runaway still crossing the Parco di Centocelle. The flight will record once again the same view filmed in 1909, with the archeological sites surrounding the Parco di Centocelle against the backdrop of the wings of the Flyer, thorugh a poetic association between past and future.

Daniela de Paulis works together with Daniela Alcadia, urbanist and researcher at the Università Roma Tre, Rome.
Daniela de Paulis is a media artist based in The Netherlands. She exhibits internationally, often collaborating with other artists, scientists and radio amateurs. Since October 2009 she is artist in residence at the Dwingeloo radio telescope. Since 2010 she has been collaborating with a number of international organisations, including Astronomers Without Borders, for which she is the founder and director of the Arts programme. She is member of the permanent international SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) committee, the only worldwide forum for SETI scientists, and member of the METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) advisory panel. She has published her work with the Leonardo MIT Journal, Inderscience and Cambridge University Press. Daniela is a licensed radio operator and radio telescope operator.

More information about her work can be viewed here:   www.danieladepaulis.comwww.cogitoinspace.org, www.opticks.info
Special thanks to Film Archiv Austria