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Manfredo Tafuri

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1996.09.03
introduction - personal motivation
... start with a written description (and maybe even a 3-dimensional rendidtion) of the whole Triumphal Way.
...describe the procession as an eyewitness. Perhaps the triumphal route was used in a repeated (annual, etc.) time frame.
I want to speak of removing the archeological mask as well as the polemical and dialectical masks that have bee applied since Piranesi (Tafuri and Bloomer particularly), and look at the Campo Marzio as phenomenonal architectural creation by an individual.
...my personal motavations in studying the Campo Marzio. The Scully reference of the map hanging over Kahn's desk made me want to seek the same inspiration that Kahn sought. I wanted to learn how to manipulate geometry the way Kahn and Giurgola did it, and I thought learning the Campo Marzio might be a part of the learning process.
...[having] learned CAD, I saw the possibility of actually redrawing the Campo Marzio, especially because of the mirror copy and rotate copy drawing commands. ...a CAD database, would be many times more than just a single tracing of the original plan . . . numerous copies at a variety of scales, geometric analysis, typological analysis, aerial perspective views.
...the possibility of presenting my analysis as a modern version of how Piranesi presented his work, i.e., the juxtaposition and overlay of a variety of graphics and texts.


"The Campo Marzio of G. B. Piranesi" by Vincenzo Fasolo first appeared in Quaderni dell'Instituto di Storia dell'Architecttura, n.15 - 1956, published by the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Rome.
Fasolo's essay on Piranesi's Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio is relatively rare among Campo Marzio literature in that it presents a straightforward description and analysis of Piranesi's urban design, yet it nonetheless harbors factual errors and misinterpretations. This essay also formed the groundwork of Tafuri's later interpretation of Piranesi's large plan. This essay is here translated from Italian into English by Anthony D'Aulerio, and accompanied with corrections and critical annotations by Stephen Lauf. (1997.04.15)


Comments on Vincenzo Fasolo, "The Campo Marzio of G. B. Piranesi."     2691c


1997.08.08
Redrawing the Campo Marzio
After rereading some of Tafuri's text on the Campo Marzio, for some reason it occurred to me that my redrawing of the Campo Marzio is an attempt to "walk in Piranesi's footsteps," meaning, I am trying to learn how Piranesi's imagination operated by doing the same thing he did--literally (re)drawing the plan. I am trying to get as close to Piranesi's own drawing/designing procedure as possible.
I then thought of what Collingwood said about not being able to truly learn from history because we are not able to actually experience history. In this sense, I am trying to re-experience a specific historic occurrence, albeit over 200 years later and with a different drawing technology. Besides the use of CAD, which is actually related to engraving in that it is a type of "drawing" that is readily reproducible, the major difference between what Piranesi did and what I am doing is that Piranesi was designing the plan(s) as he was drawing them, he was producing with his imagination and with his graphic dexterity. Whereas I am only measuring his work and then digitally inputting the data. I am learning through osmosis, however.
"Redrawing History: G.B.Piranesi's Campo Marzio in the Present"
...the opportunity to delve into the virtual realm and how reality and the virtual very much cross paths in the Campo Marzio.

1997.08.10
comments on Tafuri     3016   a
pullulate 1 a : to send out shoots or show signs of growth : BUD, GEMINATE b : to breed rapidly : produce abundantly 2 a : to increase rapidly : become abundant : MULTIPLY b : SWARM, TEEM
The definition of pullulation goes hand in hand with the notion of a fertilized architecture. I can now more confidently speak of the Campo Marzio as perhaps the ultimate fertilization of Roman architecture. The well established fertility of Roman architecture has finally become actually fertilized, and this notion can be specifically illustrated in my "hierarchy of the plans."
Perhaps a better interpretation is that Piranesi's Campo Marzio is a "new reality," namely the realm of the virtual. Piranesi is here taking "history" down a totally new path. By "redrawing" history he is, in fact, "writing" a new history.
Piranesi does not reject historical and archeological reality as much as he "redraws" it. He re-presents ancient Rome in its ultimate fertilized state.


1997.08.16
Redrawing History - fertilized architecture
...begin the analysis of the Campo Marzio as fertilized architecture with the Porticus Neronianae. The plan itself is like the proverbial missing link because it has both the traditional and the new geometric state all in one design. There is also the solid/void issue which leads directly to the intercourse building in terms of inside/outside, figure ground, penis/vagina, male/female.
...there are references to fecundity in Tafuri, Wilton-Ely, and Fasolo.
Did Piranesi's own imagination itself reach a new "fertilized" state--a state where creative manifestation began to occur exponentially rather that merely linearly?
genetic 1 a : relating to or determined by the origin, development, prior history, or causal antecedents of some phenomenon : CAUSAL, HISTORICAL, EVOLUTIONARY b : based on or determined by evolution from a common source -- used esp. of relations among languages or among words and grammatical forms of languages c : concerned with or seeking to explain, interpret, or understand (as a literary or psychological phenomenon) in terms of its origin and development or of its causal antecedents 2 : of or relating to genetics : characterized or produced by processes of genetics
genetic 1 a : a branch of biology that deals with the heredity and variation or organisms and with the mechanisms by which these are effected 3 : GENESIS


1997.08.25
Campo Marzio - book outline redux
The story of my own incentive will be combined with the reenactment theories of Collingwood. It makes sense because my initial incentive was to fathom the unfathomable, and this became possible because of CAD, and thus through CAD I began to redraw/reenact Piranesi's process.
Combining Piranesi's "reenactment," his "redrawing" of history with the nature of his archeological "accuracy" makes more sense than having the two sections separate. I will start with Vico's "philosophy" and this blends very well with the previous chapter's ending with Collingwood. And this will lead into the issue of archeological accuracy. I will give a brief account of how Piranesi seems to sometimes deliberately confuse the issue. And from here I can address the plan on a case by case basis. I will conclude with the authenticity vs. veracity issue, and also suggest that perhaps Piranesi altogether entered virgin territory. I like the notion of ending with the idea of a new virgin territory because it leads perfectly to the next section which focuses on "Piranesi's Imagination and the Fertility of Roman Architecture."
I will start the imagination/fertility section stating the case for the multivalance of Piranesi's imagination and how all aspects of his imagination are evident in the Campo Marzio. I will list the operational modes and then correlate them to his entire oeuvre, and then to the Campo Marzio specifically. I would like to follow up with a concise explanation of the "fertility" of Roman architecture. I will follow this up with the Tafuri, Fasolo, and Wilton-Ely quotes. Finally, I will deliver my analysis of the hierarchy of the plans.
Staying with this section a bit more, I can call in Eisenman's comments about Piranesi from the Charlie Rose Show, and I should re-read Wilton-Ely's chapter "Fever of the Imagination." After just going through my notes, I think this will be the easier sample chapter for me to do. I have lots of material and I also have most of the drawings that I need to do for the analysis. I just thought that I could also include the contiguous/generative element analysis to this section as well.
I am now combining the former last two sections, and again this also makes sense. My notes so far on these sections are very sketchy, and most no longer even apply. The topics covered will center on the overall virtuality of Piranesi's work, which includes the type of spaces (environment) he designed as well as the way he depicted them (his "documentation"). This will lead to the Campo Marzio in the computer and how the new possibility of 3-D. I have experimented a little with generating aerial perspectives of the Campo Marzio plan, and this is just one example of representation ("documentation") that is now only available because of CAD technology. I would like to see this section end with an exploration of the Campo Marzio as a 3-D extrusion of the plan itself.

1997.11.20
sex, Mars, reenactment
...the phrase, "back to daddy's balls, architecture halls"... ...a connection between this line and the Ichnographia. ...Mars being the father of Romulus--the founder of Rome, and the connection of sex and conception within Templum Martis as generators...
...the prominence of Mars... ...Piranesi actively redesigned Imperial Rome as he came to understand it. Piranesi assimilated all the knowledge about this part of the city, and through that assimilation he delineated an optimal synthesis. Piranesi's plan of the Campo Marzio is not an architectural reconstruction, but an archeological redesign. Piranesi's plan is not a rendition of what was, rather a rendition of what could have been. Piranesi's plan is not a reconstruction, but an historical reenactment.
The Ichnographia is a powerful reenactment of the architectural history of the Campo Marzio. The history, moreover, is not limited to Imperial Rome. Although the buildings are named for those primarily of the late Empire, Piranesi also very cleverly and extremely subtlely reenacts the architectural history of the Campo Marzio beyond the Imperial Age, specifically the inversion/conversion of Rome from pagan state to Christian state.
The opening stage for the reenactment is the Scenographia (whose very title has obvious theatrical connotations)...
...regarding the Ichnographia as a stone fragment: a reenactment of the Forma Urbis--a virtual reenactment of discovering the great missing piece of the "puzzle" that will bring all the other piece to a grand cohesion. (...here reminded of Tafuri's opening comments to The Sphere and the Labyrinth: "There comes a moment (though not always) in research when all the pieces begin to fall into place, as in a jig-saw puzzle, where all the pieces are near at hand and only one figure can be assembled (and thus the correctness of each move be determined immediately)..."


1997.11.20
me and Ichnographia
I thought of the phrase from, I think, one of my square poems, "back to daddy's balls, architecture halls." I never imagined that I would today see a connection between this line and the Ichnographia. I already know that I am going to make a point about Mars being the father of Romulus--the founder of Rome, and the connection of sex and conception of the plans is already an idea well established in my head, and now I see the "testicles" of the Templum Martis as the generators of Piranesi's entire design of the Campo Marzio.
The specific design intention that Piranesi put directly into the plan with regard to the prominence of Mars, I believe, proves definitively that Piranesi was actively redesigning Imperial Rome as he came to understand it would best be. Piranesi assimilated all the knowledge about this part of the city that he could, and through that assimilation he ultimately arrived at a whole new synthesis. Piranesi's plan of the Campo Marzio is not an architectural reconstruction, but an archeological redesign. Piranesi's plan is not a rendition of what was, but rather a rendition of what could have been. Piranesi's plan is not a reconstruction, but a historical reenactment, and the difference between the two is as distance as the difference between life and death, between something finished and something ongoing.
The Ichnographia is a powerful reenactment of the architectural history of the Campo Marzio. The history, moreover, is not limited to Imperial Rome. Although the buildings are named for those primarily of the late Empire, Piranesi also very cleverly and extremely subtlely reenacts the architectural history of the Campo Marzio beyond the Imperial Age, specifically the inversion/conversion of Rome from pagan to Christian--and also some of Baroque Rome.
With the notion of reenactment I can introduce that notion of ritual--this may get too complex, however. Yet the notion of ritual more or less has to come into play once I begin to consider the nature of Piranesi's role in the reenactment: is he high-priest or the producer-director-playwright?
The opening stage for the reenactment is the Scenographia (whose very title has obvious theatrical connotations), and on the stage are the primal players, the only vestiges of Imperial Rome. The remains are like great aged actors whose talents have reached the stage of being something unsurpassable--they are also like the Titans--the primordial gods who quickly give way to an ever expanding drama with a vast multitude of characters.
I also have some thoughts regarding the Ichnographia as a stone fragment: this presentation on Piranesi's part could also be considered a reenactment of the Forma Urbis--a virtual reenactment of discovering the great missing piece of the "puzzle" that will bring all the other piece to a grand cohesion. I am here reminded of Tafuri's opening comments to The Sphere and the Labyrinth, and I'm sure I can now make a good valid connection and elaborate on how the fragment stone map of the Ichnographia represents a kind of "missing link," a piece that will explain all there is to explain about the "real" nature of Imperial Rome.

1998.01.04
notation of existing Campo Marzio texts - Tafuri 1
Tafuri gives Piranesi's Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio a number of descriptions:
1. an ambitious evocation (def.: 2 : the act or an instance of artistic imaginative re-creation or portrayal (as of a mood, time, place ,or personality) especially in such a manner as to produce a compelling expression of reality or authenticity) -- the graphic monument of that tentative opening of late baroque culture to revolutionary ideas.
2. Roman antiquity is a recollection embued with nostalgic ideologies and revolutionary expectations.
3. Roman antiquity is also a myth to be contested.
4. the Campo Marzio's classical derivations are mere fragment.
5. the Campo Marzio's classical derivations are deformed symbols.
6. the Campo Marzio's classical derivations are organisms of an order in a state of decay.
7. the order in the details creates a monstrous pullulation of symbols devoid of significance.
8. "forest"
9. an epic representation of the battle of architecture waged against itself.
10. [a] paradoxical rejection of historical, archeological reality [that]makes the civic potential of the total image very doubtful.
11. a sort of gigantic useless machine.
12 it is an experimental design and the city, therefore, remains an unknown,
13. a colossal piece of bricolage.
14. conveys nothing but a self evident truth: irrational and rational are no longer to be mutually exclusive.
15. [the Campo Marzio demonstrates] the struggle between architecture and the city, between the demand for order and the will to formlessness.
[Here are more Tafuri descriptions of the Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio as found in The Sphere and the Labyrinth:
16. a fully developed and articulated metaphor of the machine-universe.
17. polemical and self-critical.
18. a formless heap of fragments colliding one against another.
19. a formless tangle of spurious organism.
20. a homogeneous magnetic field jammed with objects having nothing to do with each other.
21. a kind of typological negation.
22. an "architectural banquet of nausea."
23. a sematic void created by an excess of visual noise.
24. a virtual catalogue
25. a typological sample book.]
The majority of Tafuri's descriptions (definitions?) of the Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio point towards the metabolic process. I did not expect to see this overriding theme, however, since it is here, I will make it the larger issue of my criticism (of this particular text). This emphasis now aims my comments more towards the BIA and Piranesi's imagination than towards an analysis of the Campo Marzio itself. (It all works hand-in-hand, nonetheless).
The secondary theme to come out of Tafuri's descriptions of the Campo Marzio is the notion of unknowability, insignificance, and the "archeological mask." It is these ideas that I will refute and subsequently correct. I can speculate that Tafuri believed the "archeological mask" covered a historical-polemical agenda on Piranesi's part, and, if so, Tafuri disclosed his own prejudices. Had he immersed himself more fully into the Ichnographia by "reenacting" Piranesi's work (and perhaps also imaginative process), Tafuri may have reached less negative conclusions. I suspect that Tafuri's own historicist-polemical agenda got in the way of an objective analysis-disclosure of Piranesi's true intentions as portrayed by the Campo Marzio. (I may have to describe what Tafuri's agenda is.) This reinforces the case for "reenactment" as a potentially more correct means of understanding history.

1998.01.07
more texts from Tafuri 2
"And thus the cause of the "decline and fall" is one alone--the loss of republican freedoms and the advent of a laxist aristocracy. The Piranesian "labyrinth" begins to give itself a political significance, cleverly disguised.
The ambiguity of the Campo Marzio now becomes evident; it is at once a "project" and a denunciation. As a disenchanted documentation of the impossibility of an unambiguous definition of language, it--projecting this situation into the past--sounds like a merciless satire of the infinite capacity of late-baroque typology to reproduce itself metamorphically. (The fact that in the Campo Marzio the allusion to baroque typologies is filtered through a classicist geometrism fools no one; it is simply a means of rendering metahistorical and universal the polemic already begun.) Inasmuch as it is--despite everything--an affirmation of a world of forms, the Campo Marzio, precisely because of the absurdity of its horror vacui, becomes a demand for language, a paradoxical revelation of its absence.
Negation and affirmation cannot split apart. The "na´ve dialectic" of the Enlightenment is already superseded.
The "great absentee" from the Campo Marzio, then, is language.
The absolute disintegration of formal order, of what remained of the huminist Stimmung, of its sacred and symbolic values--and, above all, of perspective as a symbolic instrument for the quantitative control of space--logically also affects the subject of Piranesi's work: the relationship between history and the present. On one side, there is painstaking , scientific study of archeological findings; on the other, the most absolute arbitrariness in their resolution. (In this respect, after all, the Campo Marzio is anything but an exception in Piranesi's work.) History no longer offers values as such. Subjected to a merciless inspection, it is revealed as a new principle of authority, which as such must be disputed. It is the experience of the subject that establishes values; in this, already lies all the aspiration to the negative polemic of romanticism. Is Piranesi the "archeologist" interested in caves, underground passages, and substructures purely by chance, then? Rather, cannot this interest in "what is hidden" in ancient architecture be interpreted as a metaphor for the search for a place in which the exploration of the "roots" of the monuments meets with the exploration of the depths of the subject?
Manfredo Tafuri, The Sphere and the Labyrinth - Avant-Gardes and Architecture from Piranesi to the 1970s (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1987), p. 38.


1998.01.07
Points of Departure
I have decided to put together a critical essay regarding my interpretations and disputations of the contemporary existing texts on the Ichnographia. It will be called "Points of Departure"...
...this combined presentation technique may also follow Piranesi's methodology, thus offering the possibility of a further "re-enactment".
In thinking of the typologies... ...regard to Tafuri's comments of the Ichnographia being a sample book and something unknowable. ...the [scale] comparison between St. Peter's and the Bustum Hadriani is a perfect place to start, although I could also compare the Ichnographia plans to other ancient Roman plans, particularly the large baths. Such drawings would refute Tafuri's and Bloomer's statements regarding the smallness (and seemingly insignificantly treated Pantheon and tomb of Hadrian).
...Piranesi's cribbing of the Porticus Aemilia for the Septa Julia may actually represent Piranesi's scale for the entire Ichnographia. It could be that Piranesi very purposefully installed the Forma Urbis fragment of the Porticus Aemilia into the Ichnographia for the precise purpose of demonstrating more of the actual scale (and gigantism) of ancient Rome (--it is as if Piranesi is here illustrating his own quote about how one just has to look around at Rome and Hadrian's Villa to see the examples he emulates.) Piranesi was not being deceptive or misleading, nor was he acting out of ignorance of the fragment's true identity. Piranesi used the Porticus Aemilia as evidence and example.

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