The first raw footages shot by ”flying machines” were made at the dawn of photography and date back to 1855-1856. Over 150 years separate us from the experiments conducted by Felix Tounachon, also known as Nadar, who was immediately fascinated by the ascent of air balloons, which he grasped as an opportunity to photograph the Petit-Becétre village near Paris.
Having realized the great potential of aerial photography, on 23 October 1858 Nadar obtained a patent, and simultaneously tried to improve shooting techniques. In advertising terms, Nadar exploited his ”aerial photographs,” fully understanding the fascination that humans had then for the view from above, and which they continue to have. Observing a territory from the sky, in fact, is not merely a sensory experience capable of generating amazement from the unusual perspective that does not come every day. But it is an intellectual stimulus that supports reflection, because it allows a distance between the observer and the inhabited environment or as otherwise experienced.
This vision, in fact, liberates from the constraints of physical conditions, which strongly limits residing and walking within an urban maze or, more simply, moving within a building and place. This is the reason that for the series on the aristocratic villas, the Institute of Art History of Lombardy commissioned the BAMS Photo Basilio Rodella team to portray the urban context of the historic Villa Crivelli Pusterla and the former mental hospital complex. The team consisted of photographers famous for their specialized aerial shots from a helicopter and photographs taken on the ground. What emerges from the series of photographs is typical of the place, characterized by a charming historic facility immediately obvious in its dimensional values. The complex, in fact, appears as a single unit almost “out of proportion” with respect to the “outline of the town,” which in its grandeur tries to dialogue with the local context.
The images taken, therefore, reveal with a clear narrative the ability of the current dynamics of internal roads and the links between the villa and the buildings to the north and south of the area now largely occupied by the Luigi Castiglioni State High School. Photographic images from the helicopter constitute a useful tool to review the different historical phases of development of the complex and the vegetation of the green appurtenance of the villa, allowing multidisciplinary approaches ranging from simple aesthetic enjoyment to more complex architectural project approaches with an emotionally engaging vision.