Reggio Emilia North American Study Tour: Day 5 – The Digital Landscapes Atelier


With ‘Toro Mateo’ Outside the Loris Malaguzzi Center

We spent the afternoon visiting only one of the 5 atelier spaces at the Loris Malaguzzi Center. I chose the “Digital Landscapes” workshop. It is here where children use traditional materials, both 2- and 3-dimensional, to interact with with light projected from digital devices. The combination and interaction of IMG_0800these two distinctly different media transforms perception in ways not often experienced or explored.  New and surprising perspectives are revealed.


Here is a brief overview of the various work areas in this atelier.

IMG_0792A 15 minute black and white film loop of a choppy ocean. A variety of black, white, and transparent objects (e.g. styrofoam pillars, various geometric shapes) are provided. By arranging these objects in front of the light source (a ceiling mounted projector) students are invited to “play” with the ocean scene. A flat bed sheet suspended from the ceiling on a dowel acts as a screen.IMG_0791

A simple drawing program loaded into an ancient laptop computer provides a canvas for students to draw and project that drawing onto a bed-sheet screen. Various solid and transparent 3-D shapes are provided so students can explore not only the drawing function, but the perspective of  the geometric shape as it casts a shadow onto the screen.

AnotIMG_0794her video loop of a full-color underwater scene delineated another section of the “Digital Landscapes” atelier. This area invited children to set up typical 3-D objects to transform the scene. But mirrors were added to this area so children could play with reflected and repeated images to make patterns.

In another area of the atelier a static image of a cathedral was projected. Students were invited to build structures to harmonize or replicate the projected image.

In yet another section of the atelier a digital camera and a series of familiar objects was available. A projector was simply used as the light source and so a blank scrIMG_0798IMG_0796een offered unlimited exploration of digital images and shadows. The juxtaposition of digital camera and projected image provided a unique learning experience for the adults manipulating the materials as they worked to find out why a photographed object appeared on the screen it its natural form, but was accompanied by an infinite series of shadows!

This exploration of the “Digital Landscape” atelier was followed by a trip to Nido Rivieri; an infant toddler center in Reggio Emilia. Again, we were not permitted to take photos of the school, but I offer these take away mental images from that visit.

  • Rivieri is dedicated to music exploration with many opportunities for infants and toddlers to make music: with overturned pots and pans, a disassembled piano, chimes, wood blocks, or a tube/string telephone connecting classes
  • Rivieri has a 30′ X 30′ boxwood maze in the play yard
  • Rivieri uses fine long grass in circular patterns as meeting spaces
  • Rivieri has sliding boards built into the side of a hill so youngsters do not have to climb ladders to access a fun ride
  • Rivieri has a walkway built of varying landscape samples so children can feel different patterns and textures with their feet
  • Rivieri, although it is in the center of the town, has a very large outside play area – estimated to be over 3 acres
  • Riveria has an adult to child ratio of 3 to 1

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