Politecnico di Milano — Design Department


Mnemosphere is a collective cultural project aimed at exploring a neologism created at the intersection of the themes of memory, emotion, and atmospheric spaces.

The Mnemosphere project is funded by a MiniFARB grant and promoted by the Design Department of the Politecnico di Milano with the participation of postgraduate students and research fellows (Ambra Borin, Ingrid Calvo Ivanovic, Marta Elisa Cecchi, Clorinda Galasso, Claudia Mastrantoni, Martina Scagnoli). The project bases its approach on synergistic collaboration between different disciplinary fields, exploring how memory of places can be stimulated through the design of exhibition spaces in terms of atmosphere.
The term "mnemosphere" is a neologism coined specifically for this study, expressing the three themes under study: "atmosphere of space", "memory of places", and "atlas of emotions". "Atmosphere of space" is defined as the temporal spatial state between resonance and penetration, physical, cognitive and emotional; "memory of places" as the specific place that embodies collectively shared knowledge and, at the same time, a more private and personal form of attachment; "atlas of emotions" as the nature and landscape of feelings, intensity and reactions associated with human experience. A series of participatory workshops were organized to gather data and information in order to better understand the neologism associated with the chosen goal. Because of the limitations of the pandemic, the project went from offline to online. An Open Image Contest was launched to explore the topic visually online. Entries were accepted for three months, and more than 200 participants from around the world contributed, uploading more than 400 images capturing the «essence of the "mnemosphere" that has yet to be explored. The expressive power of the resulting images helped create the first outlines of various emotional landscapes, private or collective, associated with the memory and atmosphere of these places.
After completion of entries, the materials were collected on a special website which became a permanent virtual exhibition dedicated to the Mnemosphere and actively participating in its definition and development. The main goal of the project is to make the interdisciplinary neologism an activator of cultural, collective activity. In particular, Mnemosphere worked in a context that, by moving from offline to online, expanded the possibility of creating international comparisons and networks. Through an open competition, its creators will focus on defining the concept of Mnemosphere using a collective and participatory mode and visualizing its changing manifestations through interactive and dynamic atlases to be assembled in an open-access publication. Moreover, interactive and digital atlases of Mnemosphere trace memory, spaces and places through changing and temporal images in which the goal paradoxically becomes to turn an ephemeral message into a permanent memory.