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Manfredo Tafuri

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1998.04.29
Campo Marzio - new discoveries
...St. Peter's Basilica and Square match exactly the outline of the Porticus Neronianae and the Temple and Area of Mars complex. The piazza of St. Peter's matches the dimensions of the Area Martis, the Temple of Mars fits within the forecourt of St. Peter's, and the nave and transept crossing of the Neronian Porticus falls right in line with the crossing of St. Peter's. ...so exact, and unquestionably deliberate on Piranesi's part. ...firmly locks the analysis of the life and death axes.
The other discovery deals with the horti Luciliani and the horti Lucullani.
Piranesi places the fictitious horti Luciliani where the horti Lucullani ought to be, and places the horti Lucullani at a location further north.
It is the horti Lucullani that Messalena murdered for.
Lucilius is the father of Roman satire. Is there anything satirical in Piranesi's plan of the garden? Perhaps the answer has something to do with a 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. 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 literay 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 judgement involving condem-nation a : spiritual chastizement 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 ridiclous or absurd qualities of something
The notion of Piranesi being satirical himself throughout the Ichnographia is an intriguing idea.
...the various other gardens and buildings that Piranesi places on the same plateau as the horti Lucullani. Some of them, like the horti Narcissi, relate directly to the Messalena story since it is the freedman Narcissus that ultimately kills Messalena. There is also the horti Anteri--Anteros means "an avenger of slighted love," which describes both Messalena and her husband the emperor Claudius, although for different reasons.
...Tafuri could have said so much more about the horti Luciliani.


1998.06.02
Hadrian, Plotina, and Paulina Domitia, etc.
According to the biography of Hadrian, he was a favorite of Plotina. In fact, there is some cause to believe that it was Plotina that got Hadrian named as sucessor at Trajan's deathbed. ...more symbolism along the axis of life.
Hadrian's birth mother's name was Paulina Domitia, and this fact lead to further speculation as to the meaning of the Sepulchra Familiae Domitorum at the end of the axis of death--the counter point of Hadrian's tomb. There is reference to both Hadrian's real mother and to his adoptive mother within the axes of life and death.
...sheds light on Piranesi's overall intention in (re-)designing (not reconstructing) the Campo Marzio. Piranesi was redrawing/redesigning the Campo Marzio, a redesign not at all capricious, but one based wholeheartedly on a vast amouint of historical facts. That is to say, Piranesi set out to improve the ancient Campo Marzio's "urban plan" without changing the region's existing program.
...reminded of Stirling's notion of evolutionary designing, and his statements about what could or should be considered when designing a house for K.F. Schinkel 200 years after Schinkel's birth. I am also reminded of Tafuri's wrongness in calling the Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio an "experimental design and therefore an unknown."
Piranesi operated on a few planes when generating his plan of the Campo Marzio--there is the redesigned plane, the Pagan-Christian narrative plane, and the plane of (composite?) temporal palimpsest. To make matters difficult, however, none of these planes complies completely with the other two, nor can any of the planes be viewed completely independent of the other two. In essence, Piranesi's (design) methodology emulates the very nature of Rome itself. The Ichnographia is a plan of many layers of meanings and messages which ultimately aptly represents Rome the city of many physical and historical layers.
As an archeologist, Piranesi "redraws" all the layers of Rome's ancient past. As a well educated 18th century Roman Catholic, he "drafts" the narrative of Rome's Pagan to Christian inversion (conversion), and as a highly evolved architect-designer he displays the "Eternal City" with infinite virtuality.

1998.06.28
phone conversation with Sue Dixon
Sue had a clear notion of what Tafuri means with regard to Piranesi's loss of language, in that [Tafuri thought] Piranesi was engrossed in mere words (the individual plans of the Ichnographia) and thereby lost or disregarded the notion of composing cohesive sentences, i.e., a workable and properly planned urban design. We agree that Tafuri's interpretation is indeed wrong because Piranesi's plan is a dense and complex narrative.


1998.09.24
dies sanquinis
It was throughout the month of April 1998 that I translated all the Latin labels that Piranesi positioned next to the hundreds of building plans within the Ichnographia Campus Martius, a large map/plan of ancient Rome's Campus Martius "reconstructed". I used E. A. Andrews' A New Latin Dictionary of 1907 (a book about one and a half times the size of Koolhaas' S,M,L,XL) to do the translating, and this exercise proved extremely fruitful because I am now wholly knowledgeable of, if not an expert on, the "program" of every building that Piranesi delineated within the plan that at least one scholar deemed incomprehensible.*
After learning the meanings of over four hundred Latin words, beginning with abeo:
- to go from, to go away, depart
- to pass away, so that no trace remains, to disappear, vanish, cease, of man: to die
- to be changed from one's own ways or nature into something else, to be transformed, metamorphosed
- to pass with their whole body into another
and ending with xystus:
- among the Romans, an open colonnade or portico, or a walk planted with trees, etc., for recreation, conversation, philosophical discussion, etc.,
there is one definition that stands out in my mind more than any other. To my surprise, I found out that the god Mars, for whom the Campus Martius is named, had a sister, and her name was Bellona:
the goddess of war, sister of Mars, whose temple, built by Appius Claudius Caesus in the ninth district of the city, was situated not far from the Circus Flaminius -- a place of assemblage for the Senate for proceedings with persons who were not allowed entrance into the city. Her priests, Bellonarii, and priestesses were accustomed, in their mystic festivals, especially on the 20th of March, (hence dies sanguinis), to gash their arms and shoulders with knives, and thus offer their blood.
* Manfredo Tafuri, in Architecture and Utopia (p. 15), states that "Piranesi's Campo Marzio . . . is an experimental design and the city, therefore, remains an unknown." Tafuri's conclusion of the large plan's "unknowability" is clearly an error.


1998.11.16
Tafuri, Manfredo
After an extended independent analysis of the Ichnographia Campus Martius, it becomes evident that Tafuri misreads Piranesi's large plan in most cases. Tafuri's text indicates no research of the plan beyond simply looking at it and subsequently offering a description of what Tafuri thinks he sees. (In fact, a careful reading of both Tafuri's texts and the text of Fasolo from 1956, clearly shows that Fasolo's text greatly influenced Tafuri's observations.) For example, in calling out the various axes of the Campo Marzio, Tafuri notes the axis running through Hadrian's Tomb, but he fails to recognize it's symbolic function as the Axis of Death; nor does he identify the Axis of Life that runs perpendicular to the Axis of Death. Moreover, Tafuri marginally notes the semblance of an axis within the northeast sector of the plan, yet he never mentions that Piranesi labeled this axis the Equiria, place of the annual horse races instituted by Romulus in honor of Mars.
These are just two examples which plainly demonstrate that Piranesi's plan holds significant and coherent symbolic content, however, recognition of Piranesi's "carved in stone" symbolism necessarily negates Tafuri's primary thesis that the Ichnographiam Campi Martii is utterly fragmented and devoid of "language." Ironically, had Tafuri not discounted the presence of language and instead actually translated the hundreds of Latin labels Piranesi applies throughout the plan, he would have concluded with a more accurate, if not also a more honest reading.
It is truly unfortunate that the subsequent 20th century Campo Marzio analyses of Allen, Bloomer, and Eisenman, build upon Tafuri's mistakes rather than correct them.

1998.11.23
Eisenman should read this
Eisenman's reference/connection/interpretation of the interstitial within the Campo Marzio is a case of mis-identification. There is an interstitial within the Campo Marzio, but it is not the smaller (vernacular) non-descript buildings that Eisenman points to. The interstitial of the Campo Marzio are precisely the Latin labels that Piranesi intersperses throughout the large plan that holds the entire design of the large plan together.
It is ironic that Tafuri states that it is exactly language that is missing from the Campo Marzio, when, in fact, it is precisely language that congeals the large plan into a cohesive whole.
There is far more order than disorder within the Ichnographia.


1998.12.01
Equiria
Fasolo (1956) mistakenly identifies the Equiria as a "minor river," and Tafuri sees the Equiria as a "second alignment, regulated by a rectilinear axis." Both Italian historians failed to recognized the Equiria's true symbolic and urban design significance.


1998.12.01
Officinae machinarum militarium

The military machine complex of the Aedes Vulcani, the Officinae Armorum, and the Officinae Machinarum Militarium, which Piranesi postions near the north end of the Equiria, is both literally and figuratively the star of the Equiria's overall military program. This group of buildings represents the manufacturing headquarter's of ancient Rome's armed forces. It is thus a center of civic pride as well as a tribute to Mars, and its placement along the Equiria is entirely fitting, even though the whole design is without historical or archeological substantiality.
Tafuri, a late 20th century Italian architectural historian, describes the Officinae machinarum militarium as a "clockwork mechanism, in which, however, there is an independence of the parts and a lack of interest in formal qualities." Unfortunately, he failed to recognized the overriding "martian" theme of Piranesi's Equiria design, and only scrutinized the geometry of the military factories. Even more disappointing is the fact that Tafuri did not seize upon the appropriateness of associating "clockwork" with factories. In Piranesi's defense, the spatial layout of the Officinae machinarum militarium and the Officinae Armorum is extremely connective because of the many door openings throughout the complex, a quality completely suitable for manufacturing and assembledge processes.
On a purely figurative level, the complex's plan resembles a military insignia of honor.

1999.01.09
Re: Quondam's agenda
2. Is the real mission of schizophrenia + architectures then to unfold and disclose a "limited functional post-(traumatic)lobotomy architecture"? We shall have to wait and see.
3. ...the more significant challenge within the realm of architecture is the acceptance and design of "real" virtual buildings. For example, is Quondam "real" virtual architecture?
4. Quondam began because of a substantial collection of computer models of significant architectural designs that were never built. Quondam is thus primarily a museum that is "not there" about architecture that is "not there", and the key to its "existence" is precisely the internet/world wide web. Quondam is well aware of the technological and electronic medium within which it builds and designs, and, almost ironically, chooses to remain fairly "low-tech" in its web page designs for the very reason of sustainability. Simply put, Quondam is concerned with uncovering those natures of architecture that already exist but are nonetheless mostly unseen.
5. Regarding archeology and archeological reconstructions, Quondam is already doing the architectural community a huge service in presenting the first full scale analysis of Piranesi's Ichnographia Campi Martii, a plan that unfortunately most of the architectural and art historical world today believes to be, because of the writings and teaching of Tafuri, a fragmentary cacophony of architectural meaninglessness. It turns out that Tafuri was, as far as the Campo Marzio is concerned, almost entirely wrong, and therefore much of his polemic, which fuels a large portion of today's architectural theory and higher education, is seriously questionable.
Quondam's agenda is already very full, but it still only addresses a fraction of architecture's multitudinous issues. There should be many, many other virtual museums of architecture.


1999.01.16
Life and Death (Eros & Thanatos) in the Ichnographia
After searching my Timepiece notes for something on metabolism, I (re)found Freudís quotations from Civilization and its Discontents which names eros and thanatos (the life and death instincts) as the basic operations of life. The whole notion is great for my idea of a metabolic imagination and it didnít take me long to make the connection to the Life and Death axes of the Campo Marzio. Oddly enough, it came as a revelation for me to see these cross axes as a manifestation of the metabolic process. Nonetheless, this connection is exactly what ties the two axes story together -- this connection provides the ultimate outline and full meaning of Piranesiís design which is now undisputedly metabolic.
Of course, this story reinforces the metabolic imagination theory as well, and suddenly I have a connetion to the TPH, the BIA, and to the actual history of Berlin (and here Speerís plan is incredibly poignant!).
I will develop this whole analysis (story) in gallery 1999, starting with a link from the Freud quotation. I will include everything--life, death, sex, Rossi, Nero/St. Peterís, the Triumphal Way back and forth, City of God (new life), inside-outside, Tafuri wrong, cardo & decumanus, inversion, (schizophrenia


1999.02.23 12:44
Re: irrational architecture
...with regard to contemporary architecture's relationship with the rational and the irrational. The vital, albeit still largely missing, ingredient of this analysis/phenomenon, however, is the creative-destructive nature of the metabolic (imagination). To reinforce my "theories" here, I offer the following quotation, along with some further analysis/explanation.
from: Manfredo Tafuri, Architecture and Utopia - Design and Capitalist Development (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1976), pp. 15-16.
"Rationalism would seem thus to reveal its own irrationality. In the attempt to absorb all its own contradictions, architectural "reasoning" applies the technique of shock to its very foundations. Individual architectural fragments push one against the other, each indifferent to jolts, while as an accumulation they demonstrate the uselessness of the inventive effort expended on their formal definition.
The archeological mask of Piranesi's Campo Marzio fools no one: this is an experimental design and the city, therefore, remains an unknown. Nor is the act of designing capable of defining new constants of order. This colossal piece of bricolage conveys nothing but a self-evident truth: irrational and rational are no longer to be mutually exclusive. Piranesi did not possess the means for translating the dynamic interrelationships of this contradiction into form. He had, therefore, to limit himself to enunciating emphatically that the great new problem was that of the equilibrium of opposites, which in the city find its appointed place: failure to resolve this problem would mean the destruction of the very concept of architecture."
Tafuri must here be taken to task because he comes extremely close to the truth about Piranesi and his large plan of the Campo Marzio, but he then falls fatally short of seeing the truth. Tafuri is absolutely wrong when he states, "Piranesi did not possess the means for translating the dynamic interrelationships of this contradiction into form." In truth, Piranesi worked very hard to "translate" the opposite yet necessarily linked notions of life and death (rational and irrational) within his great plan, and I have substantially documented Piranesi's (metabolic operations) in "Eros et Thanatos Ichnographia Campi Martii". Stated briefly, Eros names the life instinct and Thanatos names the death instinct, and Piranesi carefully delineates (between 1758-1762) both these "instincts" within the ancient city of Rome.
It is becoming more and more clear to me that any discussion of the rational and the irrational (in design and capitalism) tends to lead toward confusions unless they acceptingly incorporate the over riding creative-destructive nature of the metabolic (imagination).

1999.03.30 12:50
architects/philosophers?
I spent the better part of this last weekend reading extensively from three books: Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture (1996), The Architect: Reconstructing Her Practice (1996), and Architecture of the Everyday (1997). Each book is an anthology, and, in the process, I read (so far) the texts of almost 20 architects/authors: Venturi, Scott Brown, Eisenman, Tschumi, Koolhaas, Rossi, Tafuri, Rowe, as well as Ingraham, Fausch, Ruddick, McLeod, Bennett and others. For the most part, I'd say that none of what I read was philosophy, but a lot of it was theory. Moreover, I feel secure believing the notion that architects (at least those that write) are very capable of relating theory through text (and here I want to distinguish that relating theory through the practice of designing and building is a whole other situation beyond what I am writing about here).
The primary reason for my doing all this reading is to come out of it with a greater understanding. So far, I fortunately understand most of what I've read, but, of course, that does not mean that I agree with all the theories. In fact, my agreeing or disagreeing with a theory is secondary to my thorough understanding of a theory. Overall, I want to be careful not to (pre)judge a given theory until I understand the theory--a practice, I fear, many architects do not engage in. For example, G. adds Holl, Tschumi, Hejduk, and Koolhaas as architects whose works intertwine heavily with philosophy. For me, this is not an accurate assessment because: Holl (in text and building) is not particularly theoretical or philosophical -- a good look at Le Corbusier's Ronchamp clarifies much of Holl's work; Tschumi is (ironically) a decent theorist especially when he writes about pleasure and its decadence relative to architecture; Hejduk is above all a poetic and artistic architect; and Koolhaas in his writings (which are very readable and easily comprehended) is insightfully observant in his scope of the current (global) situation of the built environment, and his buildings/designs well reflect "modernism" at one of its furthest points of evolution thus far.
If I were to offer any advise to architects regarding theory (and/or philosophy) it is that open-mindedness and understanding presents an extremely broad path of exploration and discovery, whereas close-mindedness is often a sign of small-mindedness. That said, I found the essays/theories within Architecture of the Everyday the most refreshing (and insightful and meaningful) of my recent readings. The essays within The Architect: Reconstructing Her Practice were also poignant, however, I must admit I am not yet in total understanding of all that is related therein. Finally, I found much within Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture faded with age--many of the architectural theories from the latter part of the 20th century appear to be of their time, but not much beyond it.


1999.05.17
mistake     3016c 4711y


1999.05.17 12:14
Re: Piranesi
As far as his interpretation of Piranesi's Ichnographia of the 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 logical 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.
[Note: The above was written three days after making the discovery of the Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio existing in two separate printed states.]

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