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10 APRIL 2005

Giulio Camillo's Memory Theatre

"The Renaissance marks a turning point in the history of academic practice. As the knowledge and understanding of the world became more complex, oral discourse, based uniquely on mentally archived facts, was no longer an adequate means of storing information. The increasing number of knowledge theories and models required dissemination facilitated by the printing press, which perpetrated and accelerated the accumulation of written knowledge. Information could be more easily recalled as the library became the new 'palace of memory'. With regard to the structure, summoning and visualisation of stored information, mnemonic treatises of the Gutenberg Era abandon the presentation of individual storage strategies. In place of these, systems of arranging and visualising the by now immense knowledge of the world itself were developed. One example was the well–known Memory Theatre of Giulio Camillo. (Fig.1)

Based on the seven pillars of Solomon's House of Wisdom, it was divided into seven levels representing the order of the world from the seven planets up to Arts and Sciences, Religion and Law. The accumulated knowledge was presented in images, symbols and texts, some of them immediately visible, others confined to drawers, boxes or coffers beneath the images."

(Katja Kwastek)

Fig. 1. Reconstruction of the memory theatre of Giulio Camillo. Reproduced after: Aby Warburg: Der Bilderatlas Mnemosyne, Warnke, M. (ed.), Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2000, p. 85.

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TAGS

Aby Warburgallegoryconceptual metaphorEuropean Renaissance • Giulio Camillo • Johannes Gutenberglibrarymemorymemory palace • memory theatre • mnemonic • palace of memory • Solomon • Solomons House of Wisdom • storage
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