• Part of
    Ubiquity Network logo

    Read Chapter
  • No readable formats available
  • Inventing Interfaces: Camillo’s Memory Theater and the Renaissance of Human-Computer Interaction

    Peter Matussek

    Chapter from the book: Black C. & Álvarez M. 2019. Renaissance Futurities: Science, Art, Invention.


    Giulio Camillo’s legendary Theatro, which supposedly enabled its visitor to internalize the entire cosmos, was never finished, and all that survived is a cryptic treatise that calls upon future generations to fulfill the promise. After having fallen into oblivion centuries ago, Camillo had a remarkable comeback with the aid of Frances A. Yates. In her book The Art of Memory, she portrays Camillo’s project as an amalgamation of ars memoria with Hermetism and Lullism; from there, she draws a line to future scientific thinkers such as Bacon and Leibniz. With that view on the history of ideas, Yates earned sharp criticism in professional circles. Among artists, however, her book was enthusiastically received. It inspired numerous Memory Theater works by artists, composers, and writers, as well as digital developments in computer technology. These, in turn, proved to be forerunners for new paradigms of human-computer interaction, whose experts have started to see Camillo’s work as a prototype for future advancements. This chapter was written by Peter Matussek.

    Chapter Metrics:

    How to cite this chapter
    Matussek, P. 2019. Inventing Interfaces: Camillo’s Memory Theater and the Renaissance of Human-Computer Interaction. In: Black C. & Álvarez M (eds.), Renaissance Futurities. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.79.d

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivatives 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

    Peer Review Information

    This book has been peer reviewed. See our Peer Review Policies for more information.

    Additional Information

    Published on Oct. 15, 2019