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The Fate of Phaethon


Carlo Cerri | Marco Noviello | Alessandro Grisendi

2022 – OOOPStudio, together with MA.BO_studio Mattia Disisto, and in collaboration with Carlo Cerri, presents a video-mapping project for New Year’s celebrations.

“The Fate of Phaeton” is the title of the video projection realized for the Cathedral of Modena, inspired by the Greek myth of the Son of the Sun, who drove his father’s chariot up to the sky to illuminate the Earth and then, striked by Zeus’ lightning, fell into the river Eridano, the Po.

“Let me just drive them for a day, so I can prove to you how worthy a son I am for so great a father… Please?”

Helios, God of the Sun, after having warned his son about the difficulties that the undertaking involved, allowed him to lead the carriage. Phaeton took the reins with the ambition of being able to accomplish such an important task: bringing light to the Earth, warming men, allowing life for all living beings. But when he soared into the sky, he was unable to tame the horses and drove the chariot in a disastrous way, getting the fire too close to the land surface: forests burned, seas and rivers dried up, snow melted and many lands became arid deserts…

Called to intervene, Zeus put an end to this havoc by striking Phaeton with one of his lightning bolts, killing him instantly. The young man’s body fell into the river, mourned by his sisters who turned into poplars.

The video-mapping created by OOOPStudio proposes the salient points of the story of Phaeton, accentuating his drama through some important elements recurring within the myth – in particular the flames of the blaze and the water of the river. The hands open the scene, tearing the curtain apart as if to remind that a human gesture is always behind everything. Immediately, the display of the tragic ending heralds the conclusion before retracing the story of the young Phaeton. The projection follows the unfolding of the story and develops the plot by playing with the architectural elements that characterize the Romanesque building: semi-columns, arches, capitals, loggias in which the storytelling fits perfectly. The facade and decorations have been redesigned to bring the scene into the reality of the present moment, now, here, in front of us. Further realism is conferred by the use of light which not only creates scenographic passages between sceneries, but also reveals and draws the figures with light and shadow effects interspersed in the wall elements. The punctual and looming sounds recreate the progress of the events, a real theatrical pièce.

The scene closes with the image of a reborn and luxuriant nature giving the hope of renewal.

As a metaphor of the present day, the myth leads us to reflect on the condition of our planet, warning us to consider how dangerous bold and reckless human actions are, too much concerned with today and too little with tomorrow.

Produzione: Ater Modena

Regia: OOOPStudio & Carlo Cerri

3D modelling and animation: Marco Noviello

Houdini VFX content: MA.BO_studio (Mattia Disisto)

Editing & VFX: Alessandro Grisendi

Musica: Bruno Moretti