Interactive, informative and site-specific installation for the Marinoni Theatre in Venice


Keepsake, interactive installation

Keepsake is an interactive, informative and site-specific installation inside the Marinoni Theatre, a long-abandoned and now threatened theatre located on the Venice Lido. The installation evokes the images and sounds of the theatre from the 1930s, years in which it brought joy, serenity and entertainment to the patients of the nearby bathing hospital. The spectators of the installation become keepers of the memories of the place, thanks to their visit the theatre comes back to life and makes people aware of its value.

Keepsake allows people to have a romantic and melancholic experience through sounds and images. The installation is an invisible system that is sensitive to people’s presence. When a person walks through the theatre something unexpected happens: they are greeted by the sound of the sea and a large picture appears on all the windows. By looking at this picture, the user is able to see the places that have characterised the theatre in the past. The interaction is very intuitive: the presence of a person triggers the system’s response, without requiring an intentional action.

For the prototype, we recreated the visual and sound experience of the laboratory installation. Due to the small size of the laboratory room, we decided to simulate the projection of only two windows. Space and code were studied together to create a convincing prototype. Not only did we reduce the scale of the projection, but each element of our prototype was adapted to the room. The prototype is made with: a projector, a webcam that detects the person’s movement, speakers and a laptop to process the data and connect all the devices.

The installation is located in the Marinoni Theatre, one of the many abandoned buildings in the Ospedale al Mare complex on the Venice Lido.

Built in 1926 to replace an earlier recreation centre, it was given to the Venetians by the man who had it built, Mario Marinoni.

We chose this place for its charm. The theatre is located a stone’s throw from the sea. Apart from being a beautiful theatre, it was also a special place, where patients could practise heliotherapy and take advantage of the benefits of exposure to the sun. Today it is a public space, but it is in danger of disappearing and becoming a hotel complex.

I investigated the history and imagery associated with the theatre, with the aim of creating an atmosphere that would do justice to the memory of the theatre. Exploring the Giacomelli archive (an archive containing images of the theatre), the team and I extrapolated the images that best suited the development of the project. During the detailed design, I worked on the realisation issues, the solutions from this design were then used in the prototyping. I was responsible for the configuration and implementation of the physical structures required for the installation.

I was also responsible for the realisation of the 3D models of the theatre, in order to decide in detail on the audio and video technological requirements. Together with Claudia, I was responsible for the shooting and post production of the Teaser, Experience and Prototype documentary videos.