Telling the story of filmmaking from the era of the magical lantern to the present days here, at the Fabbrica del Vedere

14 January 2022

Nowadays everything is on screen, although off the stage there is a whole story to be told. From the magical lantern to the old camera, these tools are just a memory. With patience and dedication, Carlo Montanaro built this life-long archive with the very same passion that he had when he was a child and saw, for the first time, the puppet theatre. So, this is how the “Fabbrica del Vedere”, a three-floor museum hosted in a typical venetian house was born, hidden in calle del Forno, in Strada Nova, a few steps from Giorgio Franchetti Gallery, in Cà D’Oro.

Three floors full of films, cameras, publications, photos, and tools that seem to be carried from far away. Dioramas, stereoscopic viewers, the “new world”. Objects that tell a story, instruments that guard the intensity of black and white, describing the first steps of moving images, the light that filters through a cartoon to retrace the history of cinema. It is among shelves, archives and drawers that lies Venice, the city that celebrates its 1600 years and that it is still able to give, today as in the past, the message of an eternal city, admired across the whole world. “Attilio D’Este used to live here – tells Montanaro, that taught theory and mass media methods at the Accademia di belle arti in Venice, later becoming the director, in addition to also becoming teacher of film language techniques and restoration of cinema and audio-visual at the faculty of Literature and Philosophy of the University Cà Foscari -. He used to be a baker fond of cinema, and this house used to keep testimonies of the history of filmmaking as well as the period that preceded the movie era. Once he died, I decided to buy this house and everything it contained, so later, at the end of 2014, I opened this museum in which people can admire everything I used to have and all the things I have been purchasing throughout these years”. 

The archive includes several different materials that aim at proving how it is possible to see, since the invention of image reproduction. So, we begin with engravings (from Canaletto to the Veus d’optiques…), then glasses of the magical lantern, photography, the analysis, and the synthesis of movement - proved by machines used in the period that preceded the development of cinema and filmmaking -, television and, eventually, the digital. There are the experiments made by Jules Etienne Marey, the discovery of the Lumiere brothers, the fiction inventor Georges Méliès, the silent cinema and the introduction of sound and colours. There is a world that changes, a work that has changed, a language that continues to change and all this, thanks to the effort of Montanaro won’t be lost and it is, instead, ready to be known as this tiny venetian corner. 

Every year, the “Fabbrica del Vedere”, together with photographer Francesco Barasciutti, produces a calendar with a selection of materials that are guarded inside the museum. A journey that has begun in 2015 with the exhibition “Lanterne Magiche” (Magical Lanterns), which included a selection of lanterns dating back to the 1800s, and that continues still today with the presentation of the eight edition of the Calendar 2022 and the Exhibition “Cineprese” (Cameras), which can be visited until the end of February, from 5.30pm to 7pm. On display, there are tools that Montanaro used to define “machines far away from the concept of camera”, each one of those with its own history and charm, among which a camera dating back to 1903 stands out. It is through eleven machines that we can retrace the ascent of the “Tenth Muse”. Beginning with some seconds of filming, to the rechargers that allow to record from 5 to 9 minutes continuously. 

Evolving technologies also include the evolution of tools and their materials, which originally were characterisedonly by wood, later aluminium and, eventually lead. Tools that today risk to be forgotten since they are no longer used on set due to the use of cutting-edge cameras and digital technologies, which, undoubtedly, will never replace the charm of those “boxes” that guard pieces of history of filmmaking and photography. 

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