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2001.07.25 16:09
playing hooky
...didn't get much sleep Monday night... ...Tuesday morning. Anna... ...we played hooky Tuesday afternoon.
It was already clear to both of us that Wednesday (today, 25 July) is the anniversary of Constantine's imperial Roman rulership... "the ghost of Crispus party"
...all Crispus said was "With the Cross comes three deaths."
...a 'Cedar Grove' tour.
...Roosevelt Boulevard, a 12 lane super-street (actually a product of the 1920s Beaux Arts City Beautiful Movement... ...three spontaneous shrines... ...we are driving through 'holy land'.
...Roosevelt Expressway... I commented that all that is exactly how legends start, and is, moreover, a prime example of where and how history and what really happened start to part ways.
...finally arrive at Cedar Grove. ...a full Chippendale dinning room and a full Sheraton living room and more.
...Memorial Hall, one of the few remaining buildings of the 1876 Centennial Exposition, and Philadelphia's quondam Museum of Art as well...
...the Japanese House... ...had to wear cheap brown paper slippers--no shoes or bare feet allowed inside the house...
...the Philadelphia Museum of Art... ...have to relate something that happened toward the end of our museum visit. I have visited the Philadelphia museum since I was a teenager in 1972. I think it's safe to say that I've been to the museum somewhere 50 and 100 times so far, but not until yesterday did I find that depictions of Constantine, Fausta, Helena, and very likely Eutropia have been hanging on the walls of the museum's grand stair hall all these years. In doing other research on the outside decoration of the PMA this past Spring, I found reference to the tapestries and their Constantinian subject matter. Although I've been to the museum three times since then, I was primarily there to see the Venturi Scott Brown Architecture exhibit, and never thought to go upstairs. This may all seem a bit hard to believe, but in the past all I ever saw were these enormous tapestries hanging there, and they never, ever interested me. In fact, I've lately been of the opinion that the museum should take them down, and hang big modern art there instead.
There are a dozen or so of these tapestries, which are designs by Rubens and Cortona and depict scenes from the life of Constantine. Not all the scenes, like the baptism of Constantine by Pope Sylvester, are historically true, but one scene in particular wins the prize, The Marriage of Constantine and Fausta. After some careful consideration, Anna and I agree on who Fausta and Constantine are, but who exactly are all the other people depicted. It makes sense that the man presenting Fausta should be the emperor Maximian, Fausta's father, [it is actually Maxentius, Fausta's brother] but who is the man in the background between Fausta and Maximian? Could it be Fausta's brother Maxentius, who Constantine would soon enough kill in battle (and just for the record, Constantine also even sooner made sure Maximian was also dead). Could the woman behind Fausta be Eutropia? And finally, is the woman holding Constantine's hand between Maximian and Constantine actually Helena?
Even though I didn't say it yesterday, I'm going to say it now, "You know, Anna, that tapestry could just as easily be called The Ghost of Crispus Party."

2001.10.08 10:23
Re: reenactment and its [un]limits
The theory of reenactment is foremost a theory of history, specifically a theory of history espoused by Collingwood. I see relating this theory to architectural design more as ascribing a name to a practice within architecture design that continually [re]occurs, albeit a practice heretofore (conveniently?) unrecognized.
In all my writing on reenactment so far, I have never made the suggestion or issued a dictum whereby architects should design with reenactment in mind. My objective is to demonstrate how reenactment already works with many cases of design methodology.
Perhaps now I can answer your question. Taking the example of Ludwig II of Bavaria's palace Herrenchiemsee as a prime example of reenactionary architecture (a real reenactment of the Palace of Versailles), we have here a building that was built to be a royal palace, but was never actually lived in by any royals, and is now-a-days a prime tourist attraction within Bavaria--surely a building that manifests "permeable socially constructed use-value". This building is today largely considered kitsch by the architectural/aesthetic community, yet the quality of the craftsmanship within the building is of the highest standard. My guess is that the building is considered kitsch simply because it is not an 'original'. Yet the case can be made that Herrencheimsee is quite an original reenactment!
Like Ludwig II's other castles, Herrencheimsee was paid for by Ludwig himself (i.e., privy purse), and not by the Bavarian state treasury. Furthermore, the castles and palaces were built during the time of the Franco-Prussian War, a largely Prussian/Bismarkian objective which Bavarian Ludwig did not support--rather than send his subjects to war and probable death, Ludwig employed his people at home instead, particularly Bavaria's creative/artistic citizenry. What Ludwig indeed did was to spread his own wealth* into the Bavarian economy via fantastic building programs, buildings, moreover, that today still generate much 'wealth' for the Bavarian people. Was Ludwig II actually a very wise king rather than a mad king?
So, to answer your question, reenactionary architecture can indeed remain reenactionary overtime and throughout changes in use. What Herrencheimsee continues to reenact is Ludwig II's 'mad' fiscal generosity toward his realm. And in the case of Ludwig II's castle Neuschwanstein (which reenacts royal Germanic architecture from the days of Medieval knighthood), it is worth noting that it has become the foremost icon of contemporary tourism, both figuratively in travel posters, and 'literally' via its reenactments at all the Disney Lands.
Perhaps a better question is: why is it that reenactionary architecture is extremely capable of generating 'wealth' for those that build it?
* The Wittelsbach's were among the wealthiest royals in Europe, and, to this day, the Wittelsbach Royal Treasury within the Residenz in Munich, i.e., crowns, jewels and such, is still the most valuable in Europe.



2001.12.05 20:03
virtual Gerusalemme
Images derived from a 3d computer model of the Basilica Hierusalem, the original Santa Croce in Gerusalemme are now available at Quondam.
The model is based on a plan of the basilica as featured in the Corpus basilicarum Christianarum Romae, and on a schematic reconstruction featured in Krautheimer's Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture.
Recently, architectural historian Joseph Rykwert made (at least) one factual error within The Seduction of Place (2000). On page 150, Rykwert states:
"The attempt to provide a mimetic "condensation" of another place and time is not new. Centuries ago pilgrimages to remote and sacred places were replicated for those who could not afford to leave home. The fourteen [S]tations of the [C]ross, which you may find in any Roman Catholic church, are a miniaturized and atrophied version of the pilgrimage around holy places in Jerusalem."
The above is complete misinformation. The Stations of the Cross do not represent a "pilgrimage around holy places in Jerusalem." The Stations of the Cross are a ritual reenactment of what Christ experienced on the day of His crucifixion.
Ironically, the example that Rykwert should have put forth is that of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, the church in Rome built within the Sessorian Palace, the imperial home of Helena Augusta, which today houses Christianity's most valuable relics (of the "Stations of the Cross"). Additionally, Santa Croce (which means Holy Cross) is built upon ground brought back by Helena from Golgotha, site of Christ's crucifixion. Santa Croce is indeed Rome's primal pilgrimage church.
Seeing how Santa Croce is indeed a "mimetic 'condensation' of another place and time," I am now curious if there are other earlier examples of such "reenactionary" buildings/places. Or does the Basilica Hierusalem actually set the precedent for this type of building in Western civilizations? Any clarifications or suggestions would be most appreciated.
ps
You will note that I have dated the Basilica Hierusalem as circa late 326. This indicates my contention that the basilica came into being after Helena's death (circa 1 August 326), and that the basilica was constructed (perhaps under the guidance of Eutropia) to both honor Helena as well as the relics she (Helena) had just brought to Rome. This thinking coincides with what happened at the "the house of Crispus" in Trier after his murder/death. The Imperial house at Trier was demolished, and an enormous double basilica was erected in its place (and there are still today two churches at Trier on the double basilica site).
In terms of design, the double columns of the Basilica Hierusalem seem to have been "reenacted" at the mausoleum of Constantina (today's Santa Costanza, Rome). Constantina was one of the daughters of Constantine, and the grand-daughter of both Helena and Eutropia. Continuing with the double theme, the typology of double basilicas in Christian architecture is extremely rare, and those that exist(ed) appear to have been first constructed within the decade or so before and after 326.

2001.12.15 14:14
ROME
Actually, see if there are any remains left of the Baths of Constantine. The baths were just south of the where the statues of Castor and Pollux at the Quirinale Palace are today. There might be some remains (or maybe a plaque on some wall) within one of the villa gardens on the site now. Likewise, see if you can find that big "bouncing" ball that was originally atop the obelisk of St. Peter's before it (the obelisk) was moved to the piazza. I think the ball is in one of the museum at the Campidoglio.
I don't know if any such thing exists, but if you're ever around a lot of ancient Roman portrait busts, be on the look out for one of Eutropia (c.250-c.329), the wife of Maximian and the mother-in-law of Constantine. It would be great to see what this Empress (and latter day architect) looked like.
And if you go the Sistine chapel, look for the one ignudi that is not all there now. Apparently two big chunks of the ceiling came falling down after a cannon was shot off at the Castle Sant'Angelo sometime in the 18th century. These lacunae of the ceiling are today patched with blank spots that actually blend in with their context. I think the damaged ignudi is one the pairs second in front the wall opposite the altar.


2002.01.19 11:46
Re: lack of life
Sometime in the early 1970s I heard that the first friend of my life went missing, and then a month or so later her body was found in some South Carolina woods near where she and her family had moved to. Janet married quite young (I heard), and also divorced quite young. Her ex-husband was high on the suspect list.
While spending the summer of 1981 in Washington DC, I learned that Jim Williams shot Danny H. and that Jim was accused of murder. Here I knew (or at least met a few times) both the killed and the killer. You too might know the story by having either read or seen Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. In the years after jail in the early 1980s, Jim and I shared the same best friend, and thus I then had a closer than usual but still literally distant friendship with Jim. With all the stuff that I (and very few others) know, why aren't I busy trying to write the next record breaking best-seller? I even have copies of letters that Jim wrote while he was in jail, but somehow "laws of silence" unwittingly prevail. [One of Jim's favorite phrases was "You don't know a thing." As far as I know, I'm the only person to have said "You don't know a thing" to Jim in the same way he used to say it to others. Another thing that is not generally known is that one of Jim's strongest motivations was to continually "Piss off the right people."]
And then in (I think) 1986 Ismael Faruqi and his wife were brutally murdered in their Philadelphia suburban home. I was good friends with their architect-student niece, and even dated one of their daughters a couple of times (I know we at least saw Saturday Night Fever together). Faruqi was the last Palestinian governor of Galilee, and then head of the Religion Department at Temple U. I only learned of Faruqi's past political position after his death; I certainly didn't know it the night he drove me home after a late night charrette.
["And we become these human jukeboxes. Spitting out these anecdotes!" -- Six Degrees of Separation]
Meanwhile (kind of) Theodosius is still lying in state at Milan, and "he's" going to be there for 38 more days. I have no idea why the laying is state is to take so long except that the total forty days may be some kind of reenactment of the forty days Christ spent in the desert, which is today reenacted annually via Lent. Perhaps this was somehow Ambrose's design, because it is interesting that after forty days, Ambrose should then deliver an obituary within which is the story of how the True Cross was found. [Get it? First Lent and then the Crucifixion.]
So, now that you have a fairly good idea of who Ambrose and Theodosius are, it is time to learn more of Honorius (the younger son of Theodosius who is now Emperor of the West) and his wife Maria. Honorius was the last ancient ruler to [re]build the walls of Rome (because of the "Gothic Wars"--Christian "Goths," that is) and he also built an imperial mausoleum attached to the original Basilica of St. Peter's. Sometime in the 1500s the sarcophagus of Maria was discovered (very likely while the old basilica was being demolished to make way for the new/present one). The sarcophagus of Maria may well be the last substantial imperial artifact of (the city of) Rome, and after an illustrious title page and a frontispiece, it is an image of the sarcophagus of Maria that Piranesi uses to begin his Campo Marzio publication. In a most elegantly covert way, Piranesi began the 'history' of the Campo Marzio with what is really it's ending, and what is probably the world's greatest designed architectural inversionary double theater goes on from there.

2002.10.17 18:17
reenacting Primarily Not Duchamp
Primarily Not Duchamp, an exhibit at Venue (a quondam art gallery in Philadelphia) November 1993, is presently reenacted at wireframe/VENUE at xxx.htm.
Follow the links at the bottom of each page's entry and you will then eventually have seen all the works currently available for viewing. When you reach the list of works page note that the blank titles are actually hyperlinks that appear when the cursor hovers over them.
The title of the exhibit derives from the cracks of The Large Glass being "primarily not Duchamp." There are other clues within certain works as to how the exhibits fits together, and these will be explained when each work is more fully explained (maybe within the next couple of weeks).


2003.02.12 12:33
Re: plagiarism
Regarding architecture and plagiarism here's a short exchange from DESIGN-L 3 August 2001:
lauf-s wrote:
See how the Frank Lloyd Wright's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of New York reenacts Giuseppe Momo's 1932 entrance hall with double-helix ramps of the Vatican Museum.
[MK replied:]
Isn't the word 'plagiarism'? Even the dome is the same configuration. I noticed that when I visited the Vatican museum in 1966.
[to which lauf-s replied:]
I believe you are correct about Wright plagiarizing Momo, in that plagiarize means: to steal or pass off as one's own (the ideas or words of another); use (a created production) without crediting the source; to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source. But the buildings themselves do not plagiarize each other, rather they manifest reenactment. For example, if Wright had acknowledged Momo's design, then Wright would no longer be guilty of plagiarism, but the Guggenheim as a building wouldn't actually change because of the acknowledgment.
ps 12 February 2003
Simply put, if sources are acknowledged, then plagiarism does not exist. Furthermore, reenactment exists whether a source is acknowledged or not.
Tomorrow, 13 February, is the feast of St. Catherine de Ricci, whose name some may recognize from the Dominican Motherhouse of St. Catherine de Ricci, an unexecuted design by Louis I. Kahn. St. Catherine was indeed a 'reenactor' in that she for twelve years reenacted the events leading up the Crucifixion, beginning Holy Thursday and ending Good Friday afternoon, even including the appearance of stigmata.
I have to wonder whether Kahn ever took the time to research St. Catherine de Ricci while designing the Motherhouse dedicated to the Saint. Are there perhaps clues within the convent design that may suggest Kahn was aware of the Saint? Honestly, who knows. All the same, Kahn for sure did some reenacting himself with the design.
pss from DESIGN-L 2003.01.10
Check out Le Corbusier's plan for rebuilding Berlin (1961, i.e., just before the Wall) at the end of volume 7 of the Oeuvre Complete. In retrospect, it is almost bizarre in its intentions. Note the reenactment of Chandigarh's Great Assembly next to the Reichstag! And the gigantic pronged towers shattered in the east. Urbanism, architecturism and spacism all in one plan.
It's funny. I really like this plan, and would love to see it executed, but not at the cost of losing Berlin in the process. If Disney, for example, ever wants to (again) do a great thematic 'FutureTown' (they actually called it TomorrowLand, didn't they?) they should simply enact this plan, and maybe put a big wall around it. I think I'd even like to live there. A kind of beyond virtual Berlin, like a new double Berlin, again.
[And here's something that's really interesting in its obscurity. Remember all those little sketches depicting bad modern building design that Leon Krier used to draw as contrast to his 'good' designs? I'm betting big money that Krier actually used the axonometric of Le Corbusier's Berlin plan (OC, vol. 7, p.234) as 'inspiration'. The 'lightening-bolt buildings just south of the Tiergarten are a dead give-a-way. Now I know why I always thought those sketches were actually the best buildings Krier ever designed.]
Here are some digital snapshots of Le Corbusier's plan for Berlin, 1961, plus a sketch by Krier and a project by Stirling/Wilford.
Chandigarh and Reichstag
gigantic towers in the east
jpg lightening-bolt buildings at bottom
lightning-bolt building at bottom
1988: Seville: Stadium Development lightening-bolt buildings

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