CineMi is a research project (2018-ongoing) about cinemas in Milano from 1896 to 1955, with a focus on spectatorship, architecture and the relationship with the city. The attention is shifted from the movie itself to how the movie theaters influence and determine the experience of the audience, which is always determined by its context. Thus the notion of embodiment – according to Vivienne Sobchack – is crucial: the spectator is neither ideal nor absolute, but bonded to his physicality. During the twentieth century, cinemas in Milano were widespread, built ex-novo or readapted from previous buildings, and constituted a tangible presence in the urban fabric, especially in the periphery where they represented one of the few places of social gathering and cultural promotion. In fact, Milano, apart from a few exceptions, has completely removed the memory of former cinemas: the buildings have been destroyed or redeveloped. The research is conducted using archives and first-hand sources in order to reconstruct and evoke the memory of those places and the social role they played. The archives consulted for this project are: Cittadella degli Archivi, Archivio del Corriere della Sera, Archivio del Lavoro, Archivio Fiera Milano, Archivio Fotografico a2a, Civico Archivio Fotografico, Raccolta Stampe Bertarelli and Cineteca Italiana. Particularly important is the Cittadella degli Archivi archive, which preserves documents such as notary acts, architectural sketches and photos. The Civico Archivio Fotografico provides documents from the very beginning of the twentieth century, whereas the Raccolta Bertarelli is a collection of posters, tickets and flyers. The Corriere della Sera archive supplies important data, particularly about the attendance at screenings. The books by Mario Cavallé Tecnica delle costruzioni di cinema e teatri published in 1951 e 1954 and Antonio Cassi Rametti Edifici per spettacoli (1945) provide an insight into movie theater architecture, making it clear how the new technological innovations met the audience’s new needs. In addition, people have been interviewed in order to collect memories of those places and to reconstruct a more emotional and personal experience of movie-going.
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