...and speaking of random tangents
the next four-five months
The work on the Ichnographia is well on its way... Besides the actual work on this project, it is becoming more and more clear that the methodology behind Piranesi's plan is very applicable to a rethinking of my own neighborhood. By that I mean that the Ashdale Valley, Rising Sun & Tabor, Cedar Grove, Tacony Creek, etc. all add up to a stimulating narrative, and can well be "drawn up" as an Ichnographia. This is where my Campo Marzio work and my Tacony Creek Park work overlap intellectually, and I will elaborate on how this relates to Tacony Creek/Cedar Grove in a subsequent note.
the Ichnographia as "theme park"
Because of my potential trip to Rome in June, I have mentally played with the notion of the Ichnographia being used (perhaps for the first time) as a "guide map." Using the Ichnographia as a guide would seem ridiculous to most because the large plan has always been dismissed as a pure fantasy. It can act as a guide, however, especially if one is aware of the textual background of the plan, meaning the historical texts which describe ancient Rome.
Along these lines, I came up with the idea of looking at the Ichnographia as a ancient Roman theme park--a virtual place where one can vicariously experience the ancient city as well as learn about the history of the city. I am not at all a fan of late 20th century theme parks, but their "virtuality" has not escaped me. Judging by what is created today in terms of simulacra and mass entertainment, it is as if the Ichnographia is like their uncanny prototype.
The themes Piranesi uses are numerous:
a. the Imperial genealogy of both the Bustum Augustii and the Bustum Hadriani.
b. the forward and backward "ride" of the Triumphal Way.
c. the military themes along the Equirius.
d. the numerous garden designs
e. the Nemus Caesaris and the Bustum Hadriani
In a way, the whole typological catalogue is nothing but one variation on a theme after another.
In no way do I want to cheapen my interpretation of the Campo Marzio by relating it to modern theme parks, but the fact remains that there are similarities. Does this mean that Piranesi is yet again (200) years ahead of his time in terms of planning? Does this correlation shed new light on the present relevance of the Ichnographia as a planning paradigm that prophetically explains architecture's state as well as shed light on the future? These are certainly questions that I never expected to be asking myself, yet I have thought about the possible urban design relevance of the Ichnographia for today, but not from the point of view of modern theme parks.
I guess this is just another issue to consider, but it is also a very far reaching one because of the implications toward a possible understanding of the future of architecture.
there's a movie in there somewhere
Ever since learning about Helen Gregoroffsky Fisher, I've wanted to see The Europeans again (a movie I haven't seen in almost 30 years, and little did I know I was a Merchant/Ivory fan way back then). Henry James wrote the novel, and I want to read that soon, although Miers' journals probably draw a better picture. Anyway, I finally saw The Europeans again last night, and yes it all relates quite well. Now I envision a new movie, Learning from Helen Gregoroffsky Fisher.