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Inside the Density of G. B. Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius

reenactment architectures 10.3

reenact   2 : to act or perform again

1999.03.26-31
reenactment architecture
In conjunction with my "Inside the Density..." paper for Belgium, I will compile a list that further reflects my thinking vis-ŗ-vis the next urban (architectural) paradigm being cities (and architecture) as reŽnactments (sometimes even of themselves):

1. Schinkel's Altes Museum

2. Le Corbusier's Palais des CongrŤs ŗ Strasbourg as reenactment of the Villa Savoye

3. Philadelphia's museum complex atop Fairmount as a reenactment of the Athenian Acropolis

4. Philadelphia's Logan Circle as a reenactment of the Place de la Concorde, Paris

5. Hadrian's Villa

6. Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown's Franklin Court and Welcome Park, Philadelphia

7. Louis Kahn's reenactment of the Ichnographia Campus Martius

8. Las Vegas

9. the Disney Lands

10. Ludwig II of Bavaria's Neuschwanstein and Herrenchiemsee

11. James Stirling's reenactments of Schinkel's Altes Museum

12. New Urbanism's reenactment of Fascist town planning

13. Collage City

14. "The Arbors of Arbor Street"

15. Ichnographia Ottopia

16. India as a reŽnactment of Africa

1999.12.29 22:30
as dense as architecture can get?
The last paper of the "Thinking Density" session at Inside Density was presented by Kai Vöckler (a kind of new universal man from Berlin -- architect, painter, writer, publisher) and entitled "Monument of density: Albert Speer's 'Grosbelastungskörper'". This Grossbelastungskörper was the punctuation point for both of Inside Density's days--Kai's presentation was the last on Thursday, and Mark Wigley incorporated the Grossbelastungskörper into the conclusion of his keynote address which ended the colloquium on Friday.

The Grossbelastungkörper is this enormous solid concrete cylinder about 4 stories high with a diameter about four times its height. It sits in Berlin along the middle of what was to be the great north-south axis of Speer's Third Reich plan for Berlin. The Grossbelastungkörper was actually a 'structural' test to see if the ground in that part of Berlin could withstand the weight of the enormous triumphal arch proposed for the midpoint of the grand axis. This thing, which is best described in terms of its present context as something that is just there without being able to be gotten rid of, weighs 152,000 tons, and, albeit only slightly, measurably sinks as each year goes by. When all the presenters of "Thinking Density" were together on stage, I referred to the Grossbelastungskörper as this great inverted monument, in that, as big and impossible to remove as it is, it's now just a big nothing representing an even bigger [architectural] non-event.

That night I found my self wondering, given it current rate of sinkage, how many years it would take this thing to reach the Earth's core. Of course, I quickly realized that the geological/physical changes this thing would go through as it sunk deeper over time meant it would never actually reach the core in one piece, if at all. So I limited my speculating to wondering how many years it would take for the top of the Grossbelastungskörper to become even with Berlin's ground plane.

Perhaps the Grossbelastungskörper is precisely the design that proves something in that it is a big something that proves the eventual existence of the big nothing.



2002.11.30 13:36
Re: positioning Etant Donnes [wavelengths]
I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) Library two Tuesdays ago, but alas that is not the place to conduct research regarding Duchamp's involvement vis-a-vis the Arensberg collection and its ultimate residing within the PMA. The Museum Archives is the place to do the research, but it just so happens that the Museum Archives have just begun the large project of organizing all the Arensberg/Duchamp archived material. [Do some people at the PMA read the Duchamp online bulletin board? I know that at last d'Harnoncourt reads Tout Fait.] Nonetheless, I did find out that the rooms that now contain Etant Donnes and the visitors/viewers quarters were storage rooms before--at least that's what an older librarian(?) at the PMA remembers.

At this point, for me at least, it seems reasonable to believe that Duchamp was well aware of the (future Etant Donnes) space at the PMA while he was secretly working on Etant Donnes in NY, and that quite possibly this knowledge made it easier to work "underground" since what he was doing was already going to be a museum piece.

If Etant Donnes is Duchamp's great underground work, is his activity at the PMA, especially his organizing of his own works within the museum, Duchamp's great above-ground work of the same period?

The original printing of the PMA Bulletin of 1969 that introduced Etant Donnes contains a forward where "Dr. Evan Turner described the long relationship between Marcel Duchamp and the PMA..." [I have yet to read this text.]

Chapter 18 of Triumph on Fairmount: Fiske Kimball and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (1959) is entitled "The Arensbergs" and comprises a series of letters by Kimball that describe each of his visits with the Arensbergs in Los Angeles.

Entertaining anecdote from Triumph on Fairmount, p. 299: The next day, Ingersoll was in the Arensberg galleries when Fiske came in with Perry Rathbone, the new director of the Boston Museum.
This is the 'big glass,'" he said, pointing to a large shattered pane of glass decorated with oil paint and lead wi re in abstract patterns, which was mounted on a stand in front of the window looking out on the courtyard. "Duchamp called it The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even." He laughed and went on in a loud voice to make several vulgar remarks.
"Fiske, you cannot talk like that here. Remember you are in a public place." "I'll talk as I please," said Fiske. "You aren't my boss any more."
Rathbone did not know what to make of this passage, for it was not until the following Tuesday, January 25, 1955 that Fiske's resignation was published.

Museum Study 6.2: on any given January 19 go stand in front of The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even and laugh and make several vulgar remarks.

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