The Codex Atlanticus is a twelve-volume, bound set of drawings and writings in Italian by Leonardo da Vinci. It is the largest such set, which was used for atlases. It comprises 1,119 leaves dating from 1478 to 1519, the contents covering a great variety of subjects, from flight to weaponry to musical instruments and from mathematics to botany.
Recently, the Codex found a second life in the airy atrium inside the glass and metal walls of Northeastern University’s Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex, on the Boston campus. Of course, it is not the original text but this interactive digital installation of the text is pretty close to the real one. It was unveiled on November 20th and will be on display for the next four weeks. A touch screen in front of a black fabric backdrop lets visitors to thumb through high-resolution renderings of the artist’s explorations. The colour-coded interface is designed to enable the user to reorder and sequence the pages in ways that may catalyse new insights.
The project has been developed by The Visual Agency, a design firm in Milan, in partnership with the Biblioteca Ambrosiana. The Center for Design of the College of Arts, Media, and Design helped bring the installation to the university, along with the Office of the Provost and the Italian Consulate in Boston.
Paolo Ciuccarelli is a professor of design and the founding director of the Center for Design at the Northeastern University. He had previously led the Communication Design program at Politecnico di Milano in Italy, where he worked for 20 years across disciplines. He says, “I think it’s very difficult not to get fascinated, to fall in love with the extraordinary richness of these pictures, this content. Hand-drawn pages from the 15th, 16th century, I mean, it’s something really mind-blowing.”
Shahjadi Jemim Rahman