Memories of the past contribute to prevention: photography as a direct means for public understanding of science

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Caterina Piccione


There are thousands of ways to achieve a sustainable future for our Planet. Some of these follow high-value scientific research activities, while others simply aim to increase people’s awareness of what can and should be done to improve our, and our children’s, quality of life. The easiest way to develop this specific kind of ‘spread of culture’ consists of bringing back to life what was preserved of the history of a population and of a territory, by representing it in a renewed form, and by making it ‘food for thought’. The Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) followed this approach and decided to publish two volumes where the objective was to make people more aware of the geological and volcanic risks in some specific areas of Italy. The immediacy of the photography is used to tell the stories of volcanoes and earthquakes, to represent past events that have become ‘memories’. and to use these as a basis to build a better future. Terremoto Calabro Messinese, 1908/2008 and Terre di Fuoco are the two photographic books that have been published by INGV in cooperation with Alinari, the oldest firm in the world in the field of photography and image communication. The photographs selected to be included in the two books had a double significance: on the one side, they had to convey to the reader the immediacy of the emotions that other people had felt and lived; and on the other side, they had to make people understand the importance of prevention. The fascination of history, the importance of memories of the past, and the extraordinary strength of images help the reader build a link between the past, the present and the future, where the lessons learnt from past centuries and from the study of the Earth and its energy help us to understand which steps should be taken to achieve a ‘sustainable’ future.

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How to Cite
Piccione, C. (2012) “Memories of the past contribute to prevention: photography as a direct means for public understanding of science”, Annals of Geophysics, 55(3). doi: 10.4401/ag-5529.