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memory

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2004.06.07 5:07
from mnemonics to Mnemosyne
The evocation of Lethe is extremely apt because it is indeed 'forgetfullness' that is the most present modus operandi at Ground Zero. The 'erasure' was erased long ago.
Rebuilding the World Trade Center Towers as they were is only the easiest form of reenactment, but not necessarily the only form of reenactment, nor necessarily the most effective form of reenactment.
Is not memory itself humanity's primal form of reenactment?


2004.06.11 10:38
life imitates art?
If memory itself is humanity's primal manifestation of reenactment, and ritual is humanity's second manifestation of reenactment, is theater like number three?
"So what's double theater?"
"That's mostly baroque."


2004.09.29 12:16
Olafur Eliasson’s Your Colour Memory
Images of Olafur Eliasson's Your Color Memory (2004) presently installed at Arcadia University Art Gallery (within the quondam power house of Grey Towers by Horace Trumbauer) are available at...
The color of the curved wall changes randomly and continually, and what the naked eye sees in the space is not the same as what a digital camera records, i.e., people in the space do not appear totally tinted when viewed by the naked eye. Moreover, the captured digital image is not exactly the same as the image when it appeared on the camera's monitor, i.e., the resultant image file is much more tinted.
Your Color Memory is a nice, provocative hybrid of art and architecture.
Abele likes referring to the piece as Colored People's Husker Du.


2004.11.30 10:36
text: Chtcheglov: Formulary for a New Urbanism
"Chirico remains one of the most remarkable architectural precursors. He was grappling with the problems of absences and presences in time and space. We know that an object that is not consciously noticed at the time of a first visit can, by its absence during subsequent visits, provoke an indefinable impression: as a result of this sighting backward in time, the absence of the object becomes a presence one can feel. More precisely: although the quality of the impression generally remains indefinite, it nevertheless varies with the nature of the removed object and the importance accorded it by the visitor, ranging from serene joy to terror. (It is of no particular significance that in this specific case memory is the vehicle of these feelings; I only selected this example for its convenience.)"
cf.
http://www.quondam.com/19/1884
fore and aft as well
"Maria, has Chtcheglov died yet?"

2005.03.04 14:53
Re: Versailles, sigh
From the air, yes the suburban street layout is "ugly", but the homes from the first wave of developments (1950s and 1960s) are for the most part 'ok' and some are even stylistically intersting, especially those that look to be from the 1950s. And, in general, the old estate is a very nice place to live, even desirable. The group of homes built after the mansion was razed 1980, are the worst though.
If you read through the guestbook at serianni.com/wh.htm you'll see that for those that grew up near or knowing about the place, the derelict palace was something beyond enchanting. My older brother first took me there in 1970 when he got his driver's license. I was a freshman in high school then, and it was like my first architectural wet dream come true. My goal became to get into every room of the place, and I almost succeeded. Now it's like Learning from Whitemarsh Hall.
A's archaeological evocation is great. Very Piranesian. There's reenactment, damnatio memoriae (erasure of memory) and ultimately palimpsest. The landscape telling a story via strata of data.


2005.03.07 08:13
Re: Versailles, sigh
...there is a 'surreality' to the whole Whitemarsh Hall story, and yes it is "hard to know where to begin." It appears that Summer 1977 was the last time I saw Whitemarsh Hall. This past Christmas I visited with a former architecture classmate who now lives in Canada. Doug saw Whitemarsh Hall at Quondam and told me that I took him there. Oddly, I have no recollection of our going there, and I even told Doug that it was probably Steve Devlin (another architecture classmate who also knew of Stotesbury, as he then lived in the neighboring suburb of Lafayette Hill, indeed named for Gen. Lafayette who was very active in the local hills during the Revolutionary War) who took him there. Doug wasn't convinced, and a month later it dawned on me that Doug and I had worked together the Summer of 1977 for C. William Fox Architect in Chestnut Hill, and that was most likely when Doug and I went to see Whitemarsh Hall.
Exactly 20 years later, sometime in 1997, was the next time I again saw Whitemarsh Hall, but this time it was on the internet at the Serianni website, and that's how most others now also see the place, very much in the virtual realm. It was probably in 2000 that I first returned to the quondam palace site. Initially, it was thrilling to find the columns again, but the thrill quickly changed to something like disorienting because everything else I was also seeing (ie the new housing development) had no place at all in my memories. Essentially, the whole place was now something completely, completely different. It's even hard for me to explain, and perhaps that's why I more than ever want to see my old movies of Whitemarsh Hall--I haven't had a working projector in almost 20 years.
Maybe Whitemarsh Hall now manifests a somewhat new type of archaeology, where it's not just layers of earth that must be sifted through, rather layers of memory. All the same, it's still treasure hunting (which is most likely the progenitor of all archaeology).


2005.03.13 11:31
Re: Versialles, sigh
Thanks for the Freud references, B. Lots of food for further thought regarding the Stotesbury story. I have to say, however, that the Freud quotation--
'The Rome Analogy–tries to explain how memory works through the analogy of the preservation of the archaeology of Rome. The problem arises when one tries to imagine a Rome in which every building and statue of each period of Roman history is imagined existing complete and at the same time.'
--more or less describes exactly what Piranesi already did with the Ichnographia Campi Martii. In fact, a quotation from Freud's Civilization and its Discontents--
And now, I think, the meaning of the evolution of civilization is no longer obscure to us. It must present the struggle between Eros and Death, between the instinct of life and the instinct of destruction, as it works itself out in the human species. This struggle is what all life essentially consists of, and the evolution of civilization may therefore be simply described as the struggle for life in the human species.
--was prelude to the 1999 presentation (in schizophrenia + architectures) of "Eros et Thanatos Ichnographia Campi Martii". Of course, I see this "struggle between Eros and Death" as nothing more than a reenactment of the metabolic process that keeps every human alive.
What interests me more now though, is the notion of Surreal Architecture and how "Here a Versailles (the original Versailles Palace), There a Versailles (Herrenchiemsee), Everywhere a Versailles (Whitemarsh Hall) Sigh" aptly manifests exactly what Surreal Architecture is.
surreal:
1. having qualities attributed to or associated with surrealism
2. having an oddly dreamlike quality.
surreal:
1. characterized by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtapositions
2: resembling a dream
Versailles Palace as the ultimate absolute monarchy dream existence, and its strange 'place' in Germany's 'rise and fall' history (and don't forget Marie Antoinette was a Hapsburg). And now it's a prosperous tourist destination.
Ludwig II of Bavaria, aka The Dream King, reenacts Versailles on a Bavarian island, even more opulent than the original Versailles. Ludwig really only stayed there for 10 days, and now it's a prosperous tourist destination.
Whitemarsh Hall, the ultimate American Dream Home, turned derelict palace in suburbia, and at least one architect's "first wet architectural dream come true." No tourism here though, because there isn't much left to see.
Like you suggested earlier, B, there is a surreal (architecture) thing going on in "Versailles, sigh."

2005.03.15 12:15
Re: facadism
I liked the images of the Henry Miller too. I can understand the ire at what these 'false' facades represent, as well. Nonetheless, the images (for me at least) evoke memories of the free standing, screen facades that Mitchell/Giurgola Architects incorporated into a fair numbers of their designs mostly during the 1970s (--John, I'm sure you know the M/G building at Columbia U., got any tales to tell?), and I'll collect what images I have and publish them at Q soon. I think the immediate precedent for this practice was Kahn's notion of "wrapping ruins around buildings," which (I think) was said in regard to the Library at Exeter (1965-72), but it may have been said in reference to the Meeting House at Salk (1961-62, unexecuted) or even the US Consulate, Luanda, Angola (1959-62, unexecuted).
This past Sunday afternoon (when this thread started), I was having spot portions of my home's back facade repointed--lots of little mortar pieces fell out this past winter due to much moist weather and more than occasional extreme temperature changes from day to day. On Saturday the workmen were doing my Haitian neighbor's back wall across the driveway, and I got them to do mine, so they came back Sunday. These workmen have "day jobs" and they do these smaller jobs "cheaper" on the weekends. Anyway, after the work, the guy whose scaffolding it was, another Haitian and friend to my neighbor and someone I chatted with out back on a hot night this past July, told me about all the work they're doing around South Street and Bainbridge Street near Graduate Hospital. He said, "They are buying the homes from the Black people, then they take all the inside out, make it all new inside, then the White people buy the homes for $600,000 and $700,000 dollars."
In the summertime, I got a real kick out of telling these three Haitian guys about all the Philadelphia streets that were first "Indian" trails. These guys could really relate because they actually know Philadelphia's streets pretty well--I think they were all taxi drivers when they first came here. Finally, the "scaffolding" guy asked, "When was all this?" I said, "Like more than 300 years ago." Then he said, "Oh my God, that's old!" And then they all laughed, and we kind of shook our heads in wonderment.


2005.04.17 14:47
...and Piranesi
Piranesi did a whole lot more than visually represent "improbable and imagined" spaces. Piranesi was primarily an ur-archaeologist, and his hands-on understanding of "history" manifests an unprecedented delineation of how history coalesces with (architectural) design. Even Piranesi's personal design history manifests a coalescence, e.g., Prima Parti di Architetture e Prospettive through the Carceri through the Osservazioni sopra la Lettre de M. Mariette through the Diverse Maniere d'Adornare i Cammini through the Vasi, Candelabri, Cippi.
...remember when you responded with:
"Xavier Costa, in a class he taught at the AA while I was there, related it [the Ichnographia Campi Martii] to museological strategies/memory aids. Not sure that this is what you are asking, and I don't know if he ever published such a thing."
Could it be that Costa received his information from Marcel Baumgartner's "Topographie als Medium der Erinnerung in Piranesi's 'Campo Marzio dell' Antica Roma'"? published in 2000? Baumgartner at least admits/footnotes his knowledge of the Encyclopedia Ichnographica as published at www.quondam.com from 1 July 1998 to 20 March 2000.

2005.06.25 14:15
Envisioning the Past
Sam Smiles and Stephanie Moser, editors, Envisioning the Past: Archaeology and the Image (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005).
I've been looking forward to getting/reading this book for almost a year now because of Susan M. Dixon's "Illustrating Ancient Rome, or the Ichnographia as Uchronis and Other Time Warps in Piranesi's Il Campo Marzio." therein.
I've known Sue Dixon since 1975, as we started architecture school together. Sue and I had many phone conversations regarding Piranesi and the Campo Marzio from 1994 to 1997. We hardly communicate at all anymore, and that's mostly because Sue sees my Campo Marzio work as too outside the realm of academia and also somewhat infringing upon the work that she herself wanted/wants to do. In her last email to me (of almost two years ago) she actually suggested that "publishing via the web is not copyrighted." Of course, I immediately informed her that her supposition was completely bogus, and it is indeed unfortunate that such a notion is indicative of how academia chooses to view any kind of publishing that is outside of academia's own control.
I still like Sue, but I don't like the academic mold that she and all others like her have to conform to. I particularly dislike how my unprecedented Campo Marzio work remains academically unrecognized. Granted, I was surprised to find Sue actually mentioned me in a footnote within her essay above, but all that really does is point to a rather large lacunae in her references. I'll be "de-constructing" "Illustrating Ancient Rome..." in a series of subsequent posts... Here's something for starters:
The whole point of Dixon's "Illustrating Ancient Rome..." occurs in one sentence on page 121:
"In this sense, the Ichnographia reads as a memory of an ancient Roman past rather than a historical reconstruction of it."
This passage is remarkably similary to a sentence within the abstract to "Inside the Density of G.B Piranesi's Ichnographia Campi Martii" which I wrote in 1999:
"The hundreds of individual building plans and their Latin labels within the Campo Marzio do not "reconstruct" ancient Rome as much as they "reenact" it."
It looks like Sue hasn't realized that human memory itself is nothing but a reenactment.
...footnote 16 of "Illustrating Ancient Rome..." reads:
I thank Stephen Lauf for pointing out this late fourth-century monument. It is situated on the right bank of the Tiber, just south of the bridge leading to the Mausoleum of Hadrian.
The monument Dixon notes is the Arch of Gratian and Valentinian II, but the arch that Piranesi delineates within the Ichnographia is the Arch of Gratian, Valentinian and Theodosius, so I'm not really sure what Sue is thanking me for (and I certainly hope that she is not somehow covertly implicating me as to making a mistaking identification). There are a couple of possibilities as to what really happened here:
1. Sue could be recalling some long ago phone conversation that we had. I doubt this though.
2. Sue is referencing (albeit incorrectly) page 6.1 of "Inside the Density...". If this is the case, then she should certainly have provided the full bibliographical reference.
3. Sue could be referencing the "Honorius, Flavius" entry of Encyclopedia Ichnographica that was published at Quondam in 1998. The Arch of Gratian, Valentinian and Theodosius is indicated there as well.

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