Giulio Camillo, or Giulio Camillo Delminio to give him his full name,was
one of the most famous men of the sixteenth century.
He was one of those people whom their contemporaries regard with awe has having vast personalities.
His Theatre was talked of in all Italy and France;its mysterious fame seemed to grow with the years.
Frances A. Yates
The Art of Memory
This picture is just the web formed by sites that have information about Camillo. So to speak, a representation of the modern Memory Theatre .
From this modern Memory Theatre I have selected the following materials about Camillo .At the end you find a small FAQ about:
The secret of Camillo's Theatre revealed
Now, it is in the nature of the dream of a total encyclopaedia that it must remain a dream. In this respect, it is worth noting that Camillo's Idea del Theatro was formulated in the future tense - as if the actual theatre of memory was still to be built. Unfinishability is here no shortcoming, but rather an added value; it does not diminish, but rather intensifies the mystery. The World Wide Web also owes its aura as a pan-mnemistic docuverse to the sfumato of a diffuse presentation of data, whose incompleteness stimulates us to act on hunches and intuitions, and thus produces that feeling of exuberant spatial experience with which passionate web-surfers are filled. The necessarily limited frame of the monitor only augments this experience by its peephole effect; it feeds the voyeuristic fantasy that there is still something infinitely more thrilling to discover than what is actually before one's eyes.
...the Art of Memory (is) a spatial mnemonic system...
The assumption of the Art of Memory is that we are predisposed to remember things in the context of place, even where there is no significant connection between the thing remembered and the place where it is located, so that recalling the space is a powerful trigger to the recall of the associated information.
According to Cicero's De Oratore, the poet Simonides invented the Art when called upon to name the unrecognisable victims of a physical disaster the demolition of a building full of dignitaries from which Simonides himself escaped through the intervention of the gods. He was able to name the victims by recalling where they had been seated.
Such spatial mnemonic techniques were used subsequently during the Middle Ages (it has been argued by Yates and others that the Cathedrals were organised as aids to remembering the scriptures) and later, in the Renaissance, by such as Giulio Camillo (1480-1544), Ramon Lull (1235-1316, his works revived in the 15th Century), Giordano Bruno (1548-1592?), Peter Ramus (1515-1572) and Robert Fludd.
. . .
The basic method of the Art is to imagine a space, perhaps schematic but usually architectural, which contains the various things to be remembered. Specific ideas can be contained within other more general ideas, by virtue of being in niches within rooms. Rooms may be badged by the statue of a saint, for example, representing some important principle. Some advocates of the Art devoted much energy to devising structures which in themselves had special meanings, so that the shapes of room and the ways in which they are connected take on semantic importance a three-dimensional semantic net, perhaps, but made memorable by being given form as an imaginable physical building.
Importantly for any consideration of VR is the fact that, rather than simply imagining these architectural structures, most of the leading mnemonists had plans to actually build them! Camillo built a memory theatre described thus:They say that this man has constructed a certain amphitheatre, a work of wonderful skill, into which whoever is admitted as a spectator will be able to discourse on any subject no less fluently than Cicero.
Viglius Zuichemus, writing to Erasmus, 1532, quoted Yates 1966, p135
... la struttura del teatro riflette anche una concezione simbolico-sapienziale del cosmo, nella quale confluiscono gran parte dei filoni più significativi del pensiero cinquecentesco, dall'ermetismo all'astrologia, dalla cabala al neoplatonismo.
Il primo ordine del teatro della memoria è costituito dai "sette pianeti" conosciuti, rappresentati in forma umana e posti in corrispondenza delle sette corsie. A ognuno dei pianeti è abbinato un angelo e, soprattutto, una delle Sefiroth, vale a dire uno dei nomi segreti grazie ai quali secondo la tradizione cabalistica, la divinità si espande e agisce nel mondo. Dunque, i gradi successivi, ognuno dei quali presieduto da una figura mitologica, incarnano il progressivo passaggio dall'unità al molteplice, dal divino all'umano ...
...images gave access to immediate, instinctive recognition and remembrance. In L'idea del Theatro, Camillo describes the universe in highly visual and mythical terms, although there is not a single drawing or diagram in the book. The world, the planets and history are pictured as a vast network of visual relationships. This imaginary network is arranged within the context of a celestial Theatre, in which everything from the rocks and stones to the very hairs of our head is sentient and receptive of celestial energy.
Art of memory was a mnemotechnic method used by ancient romans and medieval scholars. During the Renaissance, it took many magical and spiritual aspects and became central in the works of thinkers like Giordano Bruno. Today, art of memory is appearing as a possible theoretical framework for the design of virtual worlds. Discussion on this list may encompass all aspects of art of memory : practical ("does it work"?) , historical ("what was its role during Middle Ages and Renaissance?"), magical and mystical (its importance in Bruno's thought, the theater of Giulio Camillo, Lullism), and contemporary (media theory, virtual reality, information representation).
According to a letter written by a Camillo's contemporary man called Viglius to Erasmus: They say that this man has constructed a certain Amphitheatre ,a work of wonderful skill,into which whoever is admitted as spectator will be able to discourse on any subject no less fluently than Cicero.
From the same letter: He (Camillo) pretends that all things that the human mind can conceive and which we cannot see with the corporeal eyes,after being collected together by diligent meditation may be expressed by certain corporeal signs in such a way that the beholder may at once perceive with his eyes everything that is otherwise hidden in the depths of the human mind. And it is because of this corporeal looking that he calls it a theatre.
Yes, Camillo made a wooden model big enough to contain a few people and we have a first hand testimony from the same Viglius that reported to Erasmus after the visit:
The work is of wood,marked with many images, and full of little boxes;there are various orders and grades in it.He gives a place to each individual figure and ornament and he showed me such a mass of papers that,though I always heard that Cicero was the fountain of richest eloquence,scarcely would I have thought that one author could contain so much or that so many volumes could be pieced together out of his writings.
Giulio Camillo Delminio(1480-1544) was born in Friuli (a region of Northern Italy near Venice) and studied in Venice and Padova.He became well known for his many theories among which the Theatre was the most important.He had constructed a portable wooden stage to demonstrate its use in his many travels.In 1530 he went to France to show his theatre to the king.He died in Milan.Being his theatre still incomplete, before he died, he wrote a (small) book L'Idea del Theatro trying to explain how the complete Theatre should be.
Apparently not considering that the King of France was so interested to his project that he financed it with 500 ducats with promise of more. During his stay in Paris,Camillo convinced the King that the Theatre ,once completed, would really work its magic. Anyhow he met also with ferocious derision and after his death he was quickly forgotten and what was left were the few pages of obscure writings of the book (published after his death in 1550.)
Frances Yates has written the best in depth account on the Camillo's Theatre. In his book,named "The Art of Memory" and easily readable by anyone,Frances rediscovers the Theatre after centuries of oblivion. Apparently it was almost by chance that she read the small treatise written by Camillo. She studied it thoroughly and was so fascinated that she reconstructed the Theatre in a drawing, making this reconstruction the basis for his book where the ideas behind Camillo Theatre are rediscovered and explained in a fascinating history that starts with the ancient Greeks centuries before Christ and ends in the seventeenth century. An history about a worldview almost completely forgotten, but, as Yates demonstrates, central to the Western civilisation: the worldview behind the Art of Memory.
The Method of Loci (or Art of Memory) was about using imaginary memory palaces to improve memory. The "Idea" of the Theatre by Giulio Camillo, was essentially that of transforming these imaginary architectures in a physical place and then store all knowledge in this place. Now you can learn simply by walking in this Memory Theatre.
This place was crammed with images but also with writings left by the ancients authors.
It was a theatre (i.e. semicircular) and all these objects where disposed on the seven tiered auditorium. The user was instead in the stage. The organization of the images and writings would follow a detailed layout in order to create in the semicircular space behind the user, a kind of microcosm that reflected the Universe structure.So, for example , we had seven tiers , representing the seven planets known at the time.
The images were allegorical and represented general concepts.According to Yates they should be considered more or less like the letters of an alphabet. By combining these images together in all possible way you could form and express any possible concept(as you can express any word with the limited set of alphabet letters) .
This allegorical painting by Titian was painted to be used in the Theatre.It's the allegory of Time governed by Prudence.
Oral cultures, like those of native americans in North America, have the problem to preserve their cultural histories and teachings. Many of these cultures have solved the problem by attaching myths and stories to features of local landscape. It is now the natural landscape that is used as memory theater. It is "read" by the old people to the children and in this way the tribal culture will be passed from generation to generation.