The history of Olympic sport is written in records. Records tell the tale of individual athletes and national teams, of the rise and fall of ancient and modern sports, of changing approaches to athletic training and preparation. They also track the history of human achievements: firsts that are followed by new firsts in the pursuit of ever higher summits of excellence. Records are achieved by human bodies that compete both against their peers and against precedent, which is to say, against the “record book.” Technologies for the measurement of time and speed are integral to that book because records are measured in time and speed.

Records: embedded in the word are the three keywords around which an exhibition that I art directed at the unique Trento Tunnels facility in Trento, Italy, is built: Time, Speed, and Bodies. Time is the medium of competition. Speed is the stuff of competition. Bodies are the actors that bring time and speed alive in Olympic competitions. Through their interaction, together, they have shaped the history of the winter Olympics from the time of their foundation in 1924 to Milano Cortina 2026; winter olympics that are now ever increasingly compromised by the realities of climate change.

Opened at the beginning of February 2024 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, expertly designed by Daniele Ledda at XYcomm, Records is the first of three exhibitions that will accompany the Milan Cortina 2026 Winter Olympics. The entire series is entitled Anelli di congiunzione or “interconnecting rings.”

The exhibition itinerary includes an immersive data storytelling installation developed by my metaLAB Berlin colleague Kim Albrecht and myself involving a century of Winter Olympic competition data including every athlete who ever competed in the Winter games from the Saint Moritz games of 1924 to the present. The records that document each of these facets of the Olympic movement tell a richly detailed, multilayered tale that can be experienced at the micro-scale of individual athletes (the teams on which they competed, the medals they won, their gender, height or weight) or the macro-scale of an entire century of Olympic history and tradition.

- February 28, 2024