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Palermo: virtual urban reconfiguration of some ancient squares and quarters


The representation area is nowaday called upon to face new challenges for new computer technologies that have developed over the last few years. Visual communication and multimedia language experienced a radical change: representation and visualization, thought and image are based on the branch of communication and therefore on the trasmission of knowledge that cannot be separated from the interdisciplinarity. Digital imagery challenges more and more analog imagery, creating a scene that is independent from the constructed reality and sometimes reaching to overlap and merge with it: therefore the representation is no longer just a repetition of the real, but becomes itself an autonomous reality, reiterating its heuristic power and causing the crisis of that truthful, although subordinate character that was attributed in the past. In this study we are interested in urban representations, and we ask the question of mending between past and present. There is no doubt that until today the city has been analyzed according to specific and areal terms, with rather abstract conceptual distinctions. The new digital tools and the new navigation systems that use hypertext mode become the preferred instruments for the analysis of the ancient city, to read the formation and the evolution processes, to understand the physical patterns, and finally to compare and correlate the urban shape (that is static and can be read only on the maps) with its perspective and immersive image made possible thanks to the virtual augmented reality. Our interest is directed towards this area of research: we have chosen, as the subject of investigation, some urban portions of Palermo that, over the centuries, have radically altered their face and their meanings. We reconstructed the native configurations from original documents (cartographic maps, surveys, vintage photos) in order to tell the story of their evolution and transformations.