500 years of Leonardo da Vinci but still we can’t get enough!

We visited the multimedia exhibition “The Da Vinci Experience and his realmachines” in Florence that is being held from May 23rd to November 3rd 2019 on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death, and we were awestruck once again.

Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the most eclectic and brilliant men this world has seen.

It is a multimedia exhibition. With a small surcharge you can start the visit from the “Oculus VR” stations that in virtual reality show Leonardo’s main inventions such as the tank, the cannon, and other war machines all visible in real life dimensions. With your eyes focusing on a machine, you can penetrate inside and see the details and the mechanisms of its action.

This first part is already an incredibly engaging, stimulating and fascinating experience, it gives the impression that you are able to shrink at will and penetrate into the machines.

We then move on to the multimedia exhibition of the paintings, which is presented in this deconsecrated church, where you can see full images and details of each image continuously projected on all 4 walls of the church (and also on the floor) for a duration of 35 minutes.

The atmosphere is really special, the feeling is an immersion in a reality of other times and the expertly selected background music, diffused at 360° in “Dolby surround”, increases the charm of the projected images.

The space is large so it feels like you are a grain of sand in infinity.

You can stand or sit and watch the projected images of which you can appreciate different details by moving to various spots. You listen to the background music in semi-darkness and in an extremely pleasant and relaxing atmosphere, so pleasant that you can stay there for hours and hear and see the projection several times because every time you notice different details and each time you appreciate different sections of the music tracks.

The images projected are taken from paintings or preparatory drawings with religious figures, women, men, animals, images of the machines he invented and their preparatory sketches. Also striking is the three-dimensionality of the figures that seem to come out of the paintings: the faces of the children are much more mature than their age (almost old) but all very expressive.

Another thing that excites is that Leonardo merges his anatomical and medical knowledge into those faces and some become even more intense and fascinating due to the physical imperfections that Leonardo’s compulsive genius puts into it.

For example, experts say that the slight defect of the lips of the Mona Lisa is almost certainly due to Bell’s palsy, which consists of a dysfunction of the VII cranial nerve (facial nerve) that causes the lowering or raising of the angle of the mouth. Yet this makes that smile even more fascinating. Even the clothes and drapes are very neat and enveloping in these paintings.

But we must not stop and let ourselves be hypnotized by the projections. We advise everyone to take a tour of the entire church to observe the beauty of the details and to discover other interesting things that no one tells you about at the entrance nor are they indicated on the brochure because a multimedia exhibition also invites us to “do it yourself” and that is, to explore spaces in search of “hidden treasures”.

If you do, you will discover something beautiful and exciting.

The exhibition highlights not only the eclectic nature of this ‘brilliant man’, much more than what can be seen in the exhibition itself, but also its vast knowledge, such as that of anatomy found in all the preparatory drawings for the final painting.

Leonardo, born in Anchiano April 15, 1452 and died May 2, 1519 in Amboise (at the age of 67 years very advanced for those times), had multiple interests ranging from the human sciences (he was anatomist and botanist) to the arts (draftsman, writer, set designer, painter architect, musician, sculptor), to technologist (civil and military engineer, designer). The depth of his knowledge and the genius of his observations, discoveries and applications is impressive.

The artistic beauty, the music, the arts in general represent a therapy of the soul and the body, and the multimedia presentations set up by teams of multidisciplinary experts have strengthened this positivity of art that we have been able to experience.

It is an exhibition we can share in three-dimensions and in dynamism where art becomes all-enveloping, surrounding us, we feel it, we breathe it, we touch it. It penetrates us and this gives strong sensations and emotions.

Time stands still, we are no longer in Florence in 2019 and not even at the time of Leonardo.

We are in a space of time in which the body vibrates, listens, rejoices. Every viewer becomes, whether he wants it or not, an integral and interacting part with the virtual images that envelop. Images that with their virtuality, their immateriality, envelop and pierce you, appear unexpected, fragmented, in movement, in fusion, peculiarly.

To us the synthesis, to us the active listening to Leonardo’s unspoken message: exploring without setting boundaries, overcoming material obstacles and having the courage, even before the curiosity, to look beyond the visible.

This is an experience that remains well beyond the time spent in the splendid deconsecrated church, an experience that also re-emerges unintentionally during the gestures of everyday life that subsequently returns.

The exhibition was organized in the 1100s era deconsecrated church of Santo Stefano al Ponte in Piazza di Santo Stefano 5, right in the centre of Florence (www.davinciexperience.it).