Scipio’s Dream

2018-ongoing

The project is the continuation of my research on the Overview Effect, conceptualized by the philosopher Frank White. The Overview Effect describes the radical cognitive shift experienced by the astronauts after observing in first person the view of the Earth from space. Most of the astronauts in fact report an emphasized perception of the interconnection of all terrestrial events: climate, geographic, socio-political etc.

The perception of the Earth seen from space is a phenomenon reported by several writers of antiquity, including Cicero. In Cicero’s account, Scipione Emiliano describes how, exhausted by a banquet from drinking and talking until late at night, he felt into a deeper sleep than usual. While he sleeps, he dreams, and in his dreams he experiences a mystical revelation, a vision of his mighty ancestor. In the dream, Emiliano meets the spirit of his grandfather on the outer boundary of the heavens, where the ancients supposed that the souls also lived, close to the gods. So, together they look at the stars from top to bottom, along with the land and the many different lands and nations scattered on the surface of the globe. Emiliano exclaims: ”These stellar spheres were much larger than the earth. Indeed, the earth now seemed so small to me that I began to think less of this empire of ours, which is equivalent only to a precise point on its surface”.

The spirit of Scipio Africano the Elder, taking on the role of mentor, proclaims to underline the overwhelming beauty and harmony of the cosmos to his nephew, exclaiming: ” The scene filled me with awe and joy. And yet, all the time, I could not avoid staring at our world below “(http://philosophy-of-cbt.com/2013/01/04/the-dream-of-scipio-from -ciceros-republic /). For the project I collaborate with the radio operator Ennio D’Onofrio, who receives every day with his antenna in Pescara, an image of Italy seen from space through the METEOR M Nº2 Russian meteorological satellite. The first image of the project was received by Ennio D’Onofrio with his amateur radio equipment on March 3, 2018, on the occasion of the opening event of the exhibition.

Credits Ennio D’Onofrio