Tonight, the Colosseum Will Go Up in Flames

The Colosseum will be on fire for an art show this weekend, September 17 to 19.
If you see the Colosseum burning this weekend, don't call the fire brigade: The flames are virtual.

Artists Thyra Hilden and Pio Diaz, from Denmark and Argentina, respectively, are putting on the show by using a pre-recorded video of real fire and projecting it onto the structure. Their digital manipulations of the film mean that they even can recreate the effect of wind fanning the flames — and the result is so realistic that, in the past, people have called emergency services.

The Colosseum show is part of their project "City on Fire: Burning the Roots of Western Culture." The two artists have been "burning" monuments since 2005, including the Trevi Fountain, Copenhagen Cathedral, and Seoul Museum.

The show will take place on the nights of September 17, 18, and 19, from 8:30pm to 2am. Given the recent announcement that Rome is looking for sponsors to restore the Colosseum and keep it from, well, crumbling to the ground, seems like kind of an odd choice.

Or, perhaps, an appropriate reminder that these monuments won't simply stand on their own forever.

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