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1998.04.29
satirically reenacting the misadventures of Messalena
The other big discovery deals with the horti Luciliani and the horti Luculliani. Up until now, I mistakenly thought it was the horti Luciliani that Messalena murdered for, but it is actually the horti Luculliani. This change of circumstances has two effects. Starting with the horti Luciliani, since it now seems to have no historical background, I was curious to see whether Luciliani showed up in the Latin dictionary. It did show up, and I now know that Lucilius is the father of Roman satire. Of course, this is very thought provoking because it makes me wonder if there is anything satirical in Piranesi's plan of the garden, and perhaps the answer here has something to do with the shrine to Minerva being in the center of one of the building complexes--literally "wisdom" (but also "weaving") in the center of a garden of satire. Furthermore, the other aspects of the horti, such as the theater and salons, now make more sense.
satire 1 a : an ancient Roman commentary in verse on some prevailing vise of folly   b : a usually topical literary composition holding up human or individual vices, folly, abuses, or shortcomings to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony, or other method sometimes with an intent to bring about   c : LAMPOON   2 a : a branch of literature ridiculing vice or folly
censure 1 : a judgment involving condemnation   a : spiritual chastisement by an ecclesiastical agency
wit implies intellectual brilliance and quickness in perception combined with a gift for expressing ideas in an entertaining, often laughter provoking, pointed way, usually connoting the unexpected or apt turn of phrase or idea and often suggesting a certain brittle unfeelingness
satire can apply to any criticism or censure relying on exposure, often by irony and often subtle, of the ridiculous or absurd qualities of something
The notion of Piranesi being satirical himself throughout the Ichnographia is also a very intriguing idea, and I can at least apply it to what Piranesi does in and around the horti Luculliani. First of all, the garden buildings do exhibit various phallic shapes in their plans, but none of them are obvious, so I won't make a big deal out of this one aspect. What is more interesting are the various other gardens and buildings that Piranesi places on the same plateau as the horti Luculliani. Some of them, like the horti Narcissus, relate directly to the Messalena story since it is the freedman Narcissus that ultimately has Messalena killed. There is also the horti Anteri, a name that does not show up in the dictionary, but the word Anteros means "an avenger of slighted love," which describes both Messalena and her husband the emperor Claudius, although for different reasons. There are still other aspects worth elaborating on, but I need the exact definition of the plan labels and the plans themselves in front of me for further explanation of the other numerous word plays with plans that Piranesi executes near the garden Luculliani.
In any case, I am thinking of composing an essay entitled "Piranesi's Gardens of Satirical delight or Move over Tafuri et al." I mention Tafuri because he initially brought my attention to the horti Luciliani, and now I know he could have said so much more. Moreover, I now wonder if I could write my own satire regarding all the mistakes that the Ichnographia seems to generate, including my own.
What is encouraging above all is that as I learn the details of more sections of the Ichnographia, the more of Piranesi's narrative is disclosed. It really is now getting down to having no stone unturned.

1998.07.28
mistakes
...Piranesi actually made a few delineation mistakes, e.g., the late(?) inclusion of the Circus of Caligula and Nero and the patch of grass between two of the plates.


1998.07.29
reading about Piranesi in Scott
I read today about Piranesiís spelling and textual mistakes in Chapter 2 (around footnote 4, p. 17). I have to make further note of this and see where it fits within the Encyclopedia. I also read the Piranesi moved to the top of the Spanish Steps the year the Campo Marzio was published (beginning of chapter VII, p. 163).


1998.12.01
Porticus Vipsania
The Porticus Vipsania, like the Porticus Alexandri Severi and the Naumachia Domitiani, is one of the buildings along the Ichnographia's Equiria that represents an actual ancient Roman building, however Piranesi situates the Porticus Vipsania further north than its true historical location. The real Porticus Vipsania was within the Campus Agrippae along the Via Lati, close to the Pantheon, and not within the northern region beyond the Aurelian Wall as Piranesi shows it. For modern archeologists, the Porticus Vipsania is interchangeable with the Porticus Polae, and, adding further to the confusion, Piranesi delineates a separate Porticus Polae directly in front of the Pantheon. Needless to say, the inaccuracy of Piranesi's portrayal of the Porticus Vipsania is just one example of why the Ichnographia was never taken seriously as an valid archeological reconstruction.
Piranesi's Porticus Vipsania does follow an internal logic within the overall scheme of the Ichnographia Campus Martius, however. It is situated alongside the Equiria, together with the Porticus a S.P.Q.R. Amoenitati Dicata and the Porticus Alexandri Severi, to accommodate the many spectators of the Equiria, the annual horse races in honor of Mars. Furthermore, the Porticus Vipsania sits at the head of a valley which contains the Sepulchrum Julii Caesaris et Drusi and the Sepulchrum Agrippae, thus adding still more to the porticus' civic importance. Even though Piranesi dislocates the Porticus Vipsania, he nonetheless positions it within a fitting symbolic context, and this wilfullness on Piranesi's part, moreover, is indicative of the widespread pattern throughout the Ichnographia whereby Piranesi's archeological mistakes are simultaneously discerning symbolic acts often with narrative intentions.


1999.01.19 10:58
Re: virtual (muesum) dialogue
Brian asks:
such as: architecturally, in retrospect, what is the difference between a virtual- and a real-world architectural model, in terms of preserving these buildings for architectural analysis of form/space/light/massing/materiality... if 'unbuilt' architecture is included in the repertoire of architectures documented/preserved by an architecture museum, does not the architecture of the virtual but unbuilt buildings contend in some ways within the grand narrative of the story of architecture?
Steve replies:
I'm not entirely sure what your question here fully entails, but I will nonetheless address how virtual/unbuilt buildings are dealt with at Quondam and how they thus contend within the "grand narrative" of architecture. Quondam's collection of 3d cad models is more than an act of documentation and/or preservation in that a cad model facilitates literally infinite illustrative and investigative possibilities, therefore a virtual museum like Quondam offers a wholly new paradigm in terms of establishing a truly unlimited collection. Admittedly, Quondam's display of its collection thus far is not all that it could be--there are currently many still and animated images, but no VMRL files available for 3d venturing -- however, Quondam's present position/goal is to fully investigate the 2d possibilities of an electronic museum before it offers "3d" presentations. As to the question of how unbuilt architecture contends within architecture's grand narrative, Quondam is glad to be a forerunner in more completely engaging such designs into architecture's historical discourse, as well as setting an example of how to best approach the subject. For example, architectural (educational) courses that deal with constructing computer models of architectural designs should focus almost exclusively on the construction of unexecuted designs because the model construction of actual buildings is undeniably redundant. Unexecuted architectural designs offer multitudinous "untapped veins" of architectural history, and it is precisely 3d cad that facilitates the "mining" of such virtual architectures.
Brian asks:
such as: architecturally, in retrospect, what is the difference between a virtual- and a real-world architectural model, in terms of preserving these buildings for architectural analysis of form /space /light /massing /materiality... if 'unbuilt' architecture is included in the repertoire of architectures documented/preserved by an architecture museum, does not the architecture of the virtual but unbuilt buildings contend in some ways within the grand narrative of the story of architecture?
Steve replies:
What I gleam from contemporary texts regarding architecture and the virtual realm is that all of today's "virtual" designers /thinkers /critics are oblivious to the long history of architecture's relationship with the virtual. My personal favorite example of an architectural/virtual environment is the emperor Hadrian's villa at Tivoli built in the early 2nd century -- different sections of the villa were designed to evoke Hadrian's favorite places within the Roman Empire -- a true virtual reality in the making. There is no question that today's computer /electronic technology is rightly responsible for bringing virtual architecture to the fore, but it is also a serious mistake for architects and designers to remain unmindful of the virtual realities of architecture that have absolutely nothing to do with computers. As to the potential similarity between a video game experience and a virtual tour of a computer model, yes the two experiences are probably very close indeed, but I would caution that the two experiences also serve too very different purposes, and thus their comparison is limited. Moreover, in the same way that I think constructing models of actual buildings is redundant, I feel that video games would be more exemplary if they rendered whole new environmental paradigms rather than the mostly overly romanticized architectural settings they offer.
Brian asks:
what i wonder is if Quondam will ever build a virtual museum, visually, in 3d, for its collection, including hallways, stairs, exhibit paintings, maps, rooms, curators, staff, or the illusion of it. experientially that is what i imagine a museum to be, a place with a space.
Steve replies:
I have already from time to time entertained the idea of "building" a 3d model of/for Quondam, and the truth of the matter is that I am nowhere near convinced that the creation of an illusory museum is necessary for Quondam to fulfill its museum operations. Furthermore, and on the other hand, Quondam can already stand firm in the conviction that each of the "buildings" in its collection represents a virtual museum of architecture, and thus sets forth the notion that a truly virtual museum is indeed an institution that can readily be any building and/or any number of buildings. In either case, the illusion /incorporation of halls, stairs, rooms, etc. would demonstrate an "untruthfulness to materials" because Quondam utilizes the structural system of HTML and web browsers rather than architecture's traditional "building blocks".
Lastly, I want to comment on 2d and 3d representation /visualization. Architectural drawing in its true sense is a 2-dimensional entity, and it is the technical ability of architectural drawings to convey 3-dimensional space that gives the genre its unique representational power, indeed its virtuality (i.e., potential). Computer graphics has greatly enhanced an architect's graphic dexterity, and 3-d modeling specifically gives architects the unprecedented ability to construct 3-dimensionally within a 2-dimensional realm. Advances in computer rendering also play a negative /destructive role within the history of architectural drawing, however. Many, if not most, architects today view a computer generated photo-realistic rendering, the so-called high resolution image, as the ultimate architectural representation. I personally take a contrary point of view because I see high resolution images as a kind of "dead end after taking the wrong fork in the road." In other words, setting photo-realistic representation as the preferred goal tends to ignore, if not altogether eliminate, the literal infinitude of the other means of spatial representation that computer graphics afford. Essentially, as a representation becomes more real it simultaneously becomes less virtual.

1999.03.06 09:00
epic architectural past
Brian writes:
i wonder (without answer) what caused architectural students to protest and stage demonstrations in the 1960s...
was it all larger concerns, or were there some "local" issues, of an architectural nature, of which debate was not enough, but instead, battles of free speech over the silence of authority...
what happened at Columbia, Kent State, Chicago, Berkeley...
why does it seem like a different, other world from today's student concerns...
Steve replies:
Brian, it is necessary to remember that being (involuntarily) drafted into the military was a distinct reality throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. I remember having to register for the draft when I was a senior in high school in 1974 -- all males had to do it when they turned 18 years old. Luckily the war in Vietnam ended soon after that and the draft then also ended -- I never had to find out what it was like to have a low number which definitely meant being drafted and more than likely sent to war.
Yes, there were student rebellions in 1968 in Europe as well as here in the States, and since I was only 12 years old at the time, I naturally wasn't any part of that. I can't say what caused all the rebellion on a global level, but it seems that at base the powers at the time were making some very serious governing mistakes that often included senseless war and unnecessary death to many.
General apathy, it seems then, is a much more favorable alternative when compared to death and war, however, in metabolic terms, perhaps the late 1970s and early 1980s were far more creative (on a local and global scale) than we today give that (slice of) time credit for.


1999.05.17
Piranesi
As far as what he says about (interpretes) Piraneis's Campo Marzio, Tafuri is just plain wrong. No one should agree with what Tafuri says about the Campo Marzio unless they like to be misguided and mistaken. I feel very strongly about this because I have proof positive that what Tafuri says about the Campo Marzio has already led various (and even prominent) architects astray. I believe it is wrong to perpetuate incorrectness. My "disagreement" with Tafuri stems only from my desire and quest to see things correctly.
What's even worse in the Tafuri/Campo Marzio case is that practically the whole rest of Sphere and the Labyrinth is based on what he says in the beginning. Since what he says in the beginning is wrong, it seems logically that what follows is likely to be wrong as well.
I know for certain that at this point no one else alive today (or perhaps even ever) has studied Piranesi's Campo Marzio as much as I have, with the exception of Piranesi himself. As far as the Piraensi's Campo Marzio is concerned I am now the world's authority, and if I say Tafuri is wrong about the Campo Marzio, believe it.


1999.05.17
mistake     3016c 4711y

1999.05.19
Piranesi
Thanks for taking the time to read my observations. your suggestion of writing a full-bodied critical review is encouraging, however, my intention at this point is to focus more on Piranesi's work rather than Tafuri's. my anger stems from being passionate about the Campo Marzio, and I dislike seeing the plan given such short shrift by a prominant architectural historian/theorist that should have known better. additionally, after one reads what Stan Allen, Jennifer Bloomer and Peter Eisenman have said/written about the Campo Marzio it is obvious that they followed Tafuri's lead, therefore the mistakes become compounded, and in the end architecture theory suffers as well as Piranesi's meaning. I just don't want Tafuri's mistakes regarding the Campo Marzio to continue growing. the other reason for my anger is how Tafuri (mis)uses the Campo Marzio to support his own theoretical agenda. i wouldn't care at all what Tafuri says/writes were it not for the fact that he (perhaps more than any other architectural theorist) is extremely influential still within the whole architectural debate. i'm angry because no one else sees where he is just plain wrong. i don't like to see "architecture" so misguided. since the "myth" Tafuri created about the Campo Marzio is so big, anger seems to be the only emotion that can attempt to match the existing scale.
Considering that my "spot" observations are within schizophrenia + architectures, anger isn't altogether inappropriate, either.


1999.06.21 21:24
Re: Response: to lauf-s (i/ii)
As to my faulting Tafuri, remember that I only do this relative to Piranesi's Campo Marzio plan, and I fully outlined Tafuri's mistakes on the Campo Marzio within a set of web pages (which I don't know if you have read or not). What Tafuri writes about the Campo Marzio are not mistakes because of my own interpretation of the Campo Marzio, but they are mistakes because of what Piranesi actually delineated and labeled in his plan. Tafuri clearly misrepresents what Piranesi did, and all you have to do is look at Piranesi's plan to see where and how Tafuri is wrong there. Scott, have you looked at Piranesi's plan to verify whether what I say about Tafuri on the Campo Marzio is true? Generally, when it comes to Piranesi's Campo Marzio, modern architects seem to avoid looking at the primary source. [And just for a moment imagine what it will be like when it is broadly recognized that what I come to say about Piranesi's Campo Marzio is correct and proof that Tafuri is here wrong. Judging by your reaction thus far, not only will there be war, but revolution as well. Perhaps you are angry at the prospect of your own architectural education losing some of its (costly) value.]


1999.06.07 23:49
the more real Piranesi-effect
The more real 'Piranesi-effect' of our time is the continual confusion and misinterpretation of Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius by architects, architectural historians, and architectural theorists over the last forty-three years.
Beginning with major factual errors within Vicenzo Fasolo's "The CAMPOMARZIO of G.B. Piranesi," which first appeared in Quaderni dell'Instituto di Storia dell'Architettura, n.15, 1956, Piranesi's large plan of the Campo Marzio has received one misinterpretation after another.
After Fasolo, the Campo Marzio's greatest misinterpreter is Manfredo Tafuri, who wrote eloquently, albeit incorrectly, about the Campo Marzio in both Architecture and Utopia - Design and Capitalist Development, 1976 and The Sphere and the Labyrinth - Avant-Gardes and Architecture from Piranesi to the 1970s, 1987. Outside of the strictly historical accounts of Piranesi's Campo Marzio printing by John Wilton-Ely in The Mind and Art of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, 1978 and by Jonathan Scott in Piranesi, 1975, Tafuri's texts were the only written interpretations of the Campo Marzio readily available to architectural thinkers throughout most of the [20th] century's last quarter. Tafuri's well respected position as the Director of the Department of History of Architecture at the Instituto Universitario di Architettura in Venice led to an unquestioned acceptance of Tafuri's words regarding the Campo Marzio.
Taking Tafuri's false lead, a string of contemporary architects and/or architectural theorists consistently paraphrase Tafuri's texts, thus further procreating subsequent generations of ill-bred Campo Marzio interpretations. The (architectural) authors and texts are:
Stanley Allen, "Piranesi's Campo Marzio: An Experimental Design" in Assemblage (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press Journals, December, 1989), pp. 71-109.
Jennifer Bloomer, Architecture and the text: the (s)crypts of Joyce and Piranesi (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993).
Peter Eisenman, "Autonomy and the Avant-Garde" in Autonomy and Ideology: positioning the avant-garde in America (New York: Monacelli Press, 1997), pp. 70-9.
Alex Kreiger, "Between The Cursader's Jerusalem and Piranesi's Rome" in Form, Modernism, and History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Graduate School of Design, 1996), pp. 151-164.
Rafael Moneo, "Recent Architectural Paradigms and a Personal Alternative" in Harvard Design Magazine (Summer 1998).
Sanford Kwinter, "Can One Go Beyond Piranesi?" in Eleven Authors in Search of a Building (New York: The Monicelli Press, 1996).
Using the Kwinter quotation, "the effect of unforeseeable complexity that arises from multiple interfering structures blindly pursuing their own clockwork logic," as a case in point, one only has to compare it to the following Tafuri quotation, "The clash of the formal organisms, immersed in a sea of formal fragments, dissolves even the remotest memory of the city as a place of Form," and "the whole organism seems to be a clockwork mechanism," to see that Tafuri's misinterpretations of the Campo Marzio still guide those that do not know better.
Perhaps the Kwinter quotation really defines the 'Tafuri misinterpretation of Piranesi-effect.'

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