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Themesicon: navigation pathOverview of Media Articon: navigation pathImmersion
Der große Kalvarienberg (Ferrari, Gaudenzio)

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impossible to imagine the profound effect that static panorama images had on contemporary audiences. In the first few moments, the brightly painted scene appeared so overwhelming that many visitors said they felt as though they were in a real battle. The newspaper «Neue Preussische Zeitung,» for example, wrote: «The visitor is gripped immediately, he is taken completely by surprise and instinctively holds back. One is afraid of being trampled by the horses' hooves and feels the urge to concentrate on going backwards. Swirling dust and smoke seem to fill the air. Trumpets blare, drums beat, drums roll… .»[14] The multimedia event that the Sedan panorama represented served to drum blind obedience, the fundamental prerequisite for the mass battles of World War I, into the groups of schoolchildren who were taken to see it. Whereas Benayoun's panorama is informed by fundamental skepticism of the image—virtual images are given over to stepwise destruction—the battle panoramas of the nineteenth century were firmly committed to a staunch belief in images and their powerful effects.


The panorama and its precursors II: The «Calvary»

In history, the suggestive power of virtual and immersive image spaces has not only been pressed into the service of politics but also utilized by the Church for its power strategies in a visual mass medium. At the beginning of the sixteenth century in Northern Italy, the first of the «Sacri Monti» were constructed—an image wall erected against the encroaching Reformation as it were—a movement which later spread throughout the Catholic world. The idea was to build highly illusionistic, diorama-type simulations of holy biblical places in which thousands of pilgrims a day could become immersed. The most famous of these spaces of illusion, the «Calvary» at Sacro Monte, Varallo, was created 1518–1522 by Gaudenzio Ferrari.[15] Although he is largely ignored today, Ferrari's contemporaries did not hesitate to put him on a par with Leonardo. Ferrari complied with the tenets of art theory of his time which, in addition to the faithful rendering of proportions, colors and perspective also embraced Lomazzo's demand of

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