Thursday, February 28, 2013

Story Plots from Carrier and the Sistine Chapel

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the Sistine Chapel underwent a renovation. There had been almost 500 years of soot, dirt and human perspiration that had accumulated on the great works of art on the walls and ceiling. The project eventually took 20 years and the results were phenomenal. Having viewed the project in 1992 I was able to see the before and after results. The restored works showed the original vibrant colors and the clarity of the paintings. It appeared as if they had been saved from a dark fog.

Another polluter was noise. As the crowds of tourist gathered to view the great works of art they began commenting as if at a party. The volume would begin to rise higher. When it hit a certain decibel level a security guard would shout, “Silence!” Although startling it was not enough. The crowd soon forgot and would quickly reach the decibel level which in turn produced another performance by the guard. This noise was damaging to the art and needed to be addressed as well.

The Vatican commissioned the international company Carrier, a unit of United Technologies, to come in and develop a system to control the environment of the walls and ceiling for the artwork and as well as a separate environment on the floor for the crowds of tourist. They would have to accomplish this without adding to the noise factor and disturbing the beauty of the art or the building. Carrier was able to accomplish this and in my hometown of Collierville TN they have on display in their headquarters how it was done.

I brought this to you to show the vast array of story lines that you could read into this. The mystery of the Vatican could be combined with the discovery made by the Carrier engineers in the 10 foot thick walls of Sistine Chapel. The romance of a United Technologies employee with a love interest he/she found while in Rome. How about a story of contraband smuggled into the country, city or Vatican by an employee while working there. We could also have a dishonest Vatican official overseeing the project but with a self-serving interest in the successful outcome or lack of it. 

The scenarios go on and on. Choose what interest you most and put it into the equation. Do some research and check out your options. In this case if the Vatican spin is not to your liking Carrier also has other landmark installations like the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence, the Singapore Hall of the People in China or George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate. Surely one of these locations would appeal to your story. Around us are great story opportunities. Should you decide to use one of these ideas for your next story, I would love to read it.