piranesi

1997

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1997.01.07
Quondam Reference
I gave some more thought to your comment last night making the distinction that Quondam is more directed toward the study of design rather than towards a study of history, and I now appreciate what you were saying. Moreover, what you were saying makes me now wonder whether a similar type of distinction can be made concerning the work of Piranesi, that is, would it be a worthwhile exercise to speculate whether Piranesi leaned more towards design or more towards history?


1997.01.15
new insights - material from Sue Dixon
After going through the material sent by Sue Dixon, I found some new insights concerning my interpretations of the Campo Marzio. Through Sue's glossary of Latin words I now know the program of the Bustum Hadriani (and likewise the Bustum Augusti) which is essentially one enormous "death machine"--it is an entire complex devoted to the logistics of passing from this life to the next. (Just now I thought of Rossi's original plan for the cemetery of Modena.) There are crematoriums and banquet halls and a stage (for viewing perhaps?), tombs galore for family and slaves--like one gigantic funeral home on an Imperial scale.
Of course, this reinforces my idea of the Bustum Hadriani as an axis of death which is 90 degrees perpendicular to what I believe is the axis of life. That Piranesi put such a large emphasis on death is not at all inappropriate, however, given the fact that the dead of Rome were buried outside the (old?) walls, i.e. most often/primarily in the Campo Marzio.


1997.01.15
triumphal way - new ideas
I also have new ideas concerning the "triumphal way." I now see that it starts at the temple and altar of Janus, and this is significant because of Janus' connection with Rome and war. Furthermore, the notion of Janus as beginning/ending is also significant, and the "way" beginning (and conversely ending) at Janus is complimented be the way ending (and conversely beginning) a the alter/temple of Mars.
As the route proceeds from the Janus sector, it makes its way through the Campo Marzio's "theater district"--in every way a "downtown," commercial/entertainment zone complete with shops, small baths, and brothels. I am very much reminded of New York's Time's Square and Broadway in its great mix of accommodation and "entertainment." The fact that the Triumphal Way weaves through this type of urban area makes Piranesi's plan/program of the Campo Marzio not at all unlike any major metropolis today. (I now have so much more to say about the "way.")
As the "way" proceeds further, it crosses the Tiber and into an area that is almost the antithesis of the "theater district," i.e., the Bustum Hadriani--one huge cemetery. Going from one extreme to another gives the "way" a potent symbolic nature, and I can elaborate on this in how even though the plan of the Campo Marzio is all drawn in the same manner, the actual character of the various sectors of the Campo Marzio are very varied and distinct, and the "way" symbolically calls out (calls precise attention to) the extreme cases.
I now have more of a case in making note of the extreme suburbs, as well.

1997.02.08
abstract to Acadia 97
Dear Professor Jordan:
Please consider the following abstract as a candidate for the papers to be presented at ACADIA's forthcoming meeting in Cincinnati. I have used CAD as an architect since 1983, and although I am not presently affiliated with any academic institution, I believe my continual "hands-on" experience utilizing CAD for both professional purposes and for free-spirited creativity provides me with the necessary credentials to qualify as a CAD expert. My most recent architecture/CAD project is Quondam - A Virtual Museum of Architecture.
I look forward to your reply.
Sincerely,
Stephen Lauf
Abstract -
Title: "Capturing more than meets the eye"
Given that CAD has enhanced the graphic dexterity of an architect in innumerable ways, the proposed paper will address how today's architect might best harness the new representational power now literally at his or her fingertips. Rather than lauding the virtues of only the latest advances in photo-realistic imaging and computer animation, attention will be given to CAD's role vis--vis traditional architectural drawing types, namely, plans, elevations, sections, axonometrics, and perspectives.
Starting from an historical perspective by quoting Piranesi and offering the background of his representational approach via Susan M. Dixon's doctoral dissertation entitled The Image and Historical Knowledge in mid-eighteenth-century Italy: Piranesi's archeological publications (Cornell, 1991), the proposed paper's first point will advocate a tromp l'oeil approach to the problem of presenting diverse graphical data through the combination of various drawing types. Next the paper will call out the uncanny similarity between many Piranesi engravings and the view of a computer screen when many "windows" are active and displayed simultaneously. Moreover, the comparison will allow the projection of the concepts underlying mid-eighteenth-century representations onto the multi-framed views so prevalent on computer screens today.
Just as Piranesi chose to include pertinent graphic data of varying types (in his representations) in order to successfully "portray" maximum information, the proposed paper's conclusion will demonstrate, through specially generated computer renderings, the various ways an architect can today likewise offer utmost information by simply maximizing what may be considered the more mundane capabilities of CAD and photo-publishing software packages. Specifically, the new renderings will illustrate how images that combine 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional drawings, along with the further combinational effect of displaying some drawings in black and white, some with color fill, and some as shaded renderings, not only make use of a variety of CAD and computer graphic techniques, but, furthermore, affords the possibility of a synergistic portraying of more than is actually represented.


1997.03.04
Campo Marzio database log
I started to draw the spiral colesseum today, and it is going much quicker than I imagined. Will very likely have it complete at the end of the next two hour session.
Over the last two day I have completed all the circuses in the Campo Marzio by merely adapting the Hadrian/Domitian circus.

(1997.02.05) 1997.03.20
Exhibit I notes and final texts
IV
1762
Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio and other projects by
Giovanni Battista Piranesi
What portion of the actual qualities of an 'architect', in the entire sense of the word, that is to say in the sense of a creator of ideal forms which have practical ends and the imagination of art, what portion of these characteristics are to be found in the figure and personality of G. B. Piranesi? Engraver, painter-engraver, architectural designer, scholar of Roman construction, in his own way an essayist and archeologist, scenographer, did he also strive for an active, militant role in architecture? In short, did he aspire to build as a participant in the architectural movements of his time, for clients who could furnish him themes and commissions equal to his high aspirations and inspirations? Or must his potent charge of architectural knowledge, of architectural dreams and visions, abounding in the immense production of his designs, engravings, and writing, be considered an immense potential which never found favorable conditions for its proper realization? And did he satisfy himself solely through his visions, his evocations, the world or universe which he discovered in his fascinating soul? Through that world which at that time was being revealed in a new light? Was he but the narrator of a poem about ancient history? These questions may seem superfluous, given the complexity of the Piranesian works, all directed to the study and representation of the architectural monuments of Rome, for which the designation of 'architect', beyond the of 'engraver', is implicit. ...
The measure of the potential 'architecture' in Piranesi is given to us by the great head-butt of the volume of engravings of the Campomarzio. The work is from the years 1761-62, contemporary, then, to the "Magnificence of the Architecture of the Romans", and follows the studies of Antiquity" from 1756. The large plate (open book dimensions of 1 meter by 1.5 meter) is examined with curiosity, and one is surprised by the complicated interlacing of singular buildings. It is a plan view of the reconstruction of the Campomarzio area.
Vincenzo Fasolo, "The 'Campo Marzio' of G. B. Piranesi," in -------
(The above excerpt is from an as yet unpublished translation, by Anthony D'Aulerio, of the entire Fasolo article.)
. . . . . . . .
When Piranesi decided to write and then illustrate his own archaeological tests in the 1760s, he used a wide variety of representational modes indigenous to his trade as graphic illustrator. There were vedute images of the ruins in the tradition of Ficoroni and other antiquarians; capricious compilations of artifacts in the mode of Bianchini; and maps, plans, sections, and other geometric drawings as employed by the many French and English architects and scholars compiling archaeological publications at the time, e.g., LeRoy and Stuart and Revett. To these, Piranesi added the engraved collage, a mixed bag of any variation of the above methods of representation.
When we consider Ludivico Muratori's assertion that maps or geometric drawings convey a wealth of sense impressions, as do vedute or perspectival drawings, each evoking more than what is actually present in the representation, and Francesco Bianchini's proposal that a "complete figure" of a compilation of fragments can do the same, Piranesi's images take on a great significance. In the artist's depiction of all of these types of representational modes, sometimes in conjunction with one another on the same sheet, one cannot but see a way of evoking more than is actually depicted. This is no small task as Piranesi managed to depict a great deal. Products of his fantasy, Piranesi's images are representative of how fantasy operates according to such contemporary thinkers and archaeologists as Muratori. As we have discussed above, fantasy was that selective operation on a wealth of visual evidence which eventually created a "complete figure" in the mind.
Piranesi often mentioned his own artistic intervention with the artifacts, his operation on the ancient fragments. In his archaeological texts, he did not define this intervention as the historic use of fantasy or the artistic creative impulses, although he had referred to this process in his Diverse maniere d'adornare i cammini (1769). Nonetheless, he surely understood that his input into the making of historically and archaeologically viable images was both justifiable and necessary.
Piranesi's comments on the assemblage of his archaeological images are interesting when considered in relation to Bianchini's. For example, in plate one of his Antichita d'Albano e di Castel Gandotfo, he depicted in the background a bird's eye view of "the site where [the temple of Giove Laziale] was, on the summit of Mount Albano, above the Lago Albano," and before this view, bracketed off in a frame, many ancient fragments -- both architectural and sculptural. Master of the dramatic perspective, and in the literature referred to as influenced or educated by the great illusionist Bibiena family, Piranesi arranged these pieces artfully before the far-reaching view, a composition which must have appealed to him, for it is formally akin to a plate in Il Campo Mazio. The artifacts depicted, he stated, were nearly all found outside the actual site of the temple of Giove Laziale, but within the area depicted in the view. In representing them, he "chose those that more than the others seemed [to him] to fulfill the common desire to know more than one [at present] is able" about both the temple and the region of Lazio. By his admission, then, his choice and compilation of artifacts into one image actually conveyed more about the past, and possibly new knowledge of that past, than that conveyed by the individual pieces in their respective sites.
Piranesi believed that maps conveyed a range of information for they were important recurring motifs in his oeuvre, as witnessed by his involvement with the Nolli Map of 1748, by his use of the Forma Urbis to situate the Roman monuments and organize their presentation in his Antichita Romane of 1756, and particularly by his illustration of the 1760s archaeological texts. Although he had stated that it mattered little if one knows exactly where the fragments were originally found, it was important that the site on which they were found was identified and then represented. For example, in Antichita d'Albano e Castel Gandolfo, he noted that fragments of architectural monument could tell "the form, then the type, the height and breadth," of the original building, but they could teach nothing without knowledge of the original site. Piranesi's inclusion of many maps in his archaeological texts was a reflection of a larger fascination in Rome at the time with maps and mapping. Symptomatic of this same trend was Muratori's statement that the workings of fantasy were somehow comparable to the process of map-making which abstracts information yet conveys more of that information by its diagrammatic representation. This way of perceiving maps, in combination with the importance Bianchini assigned to clarifying and then illustrating the archaeological site in a site plan or map, instilled in Piranesi the value of presenting archaeological material using mapping conventions.
Piranesi wrote in the preface of his Antichita Romane of 1756: "I have portrayed ... the ruins, representing of them more than their exterior facades, but also their plans, their interiors, distinguishing their parts in section and profile and indicating materials and manners of construction -- according to what I could derive in the course of many years of exact observation, excavation and research..." This was, in effect, a whole body of information that took him years to accumulate. The plan, section and elevation alone would not suffice.
. . . . .
Unlike contemporary French architects, Piranesi felt that the combination of geometrical with perspectival drawing was not condemnable, but necessary to "portray" the monuments with maximum information, in fact to portray more than what was actually represented.
In the archaeological plates of the 1760s (figs. 40 and 42), the artist combined different types of illustrations -- plans, sections, views and details -of different scales. He placed them on sheets of paper that were represented in trompe l'oeil fashion, and arranged the sheets in a collage assemblage, adhering them to the surface of the page by trompe l'oeil pins, brackets or ropes.
This method of assembling with framing devices, playful as it was, was mindful of the new theories of vision which addressed the disjuncture between the object in the tangible world and the subject in the mental world of the perceiver. Various philosophers on art have considered the frame as that which links the world of the subject to that of the object, yet belongs to neither." The role the frame plays is as some kind of link between irresolvable worlds of existence. It is in this vein that Piranesi made use of the frame as a way to meld, while preserving the integrity of, different ways of considering the monument, different types of information. And of course, he added whimsy to the task by playing with the represented frame. Now he showed its edge, now he obscured it by overlapping the sheets, sometimes considerably, sometimes only marginally. In essence, he juxtaposed the sheets to engage the reader in an attempt to sort through the information, and when the feat could not be accomplished, to have him/her accept the piecemeal presentation as a totality, much like the viewer sorts through piecemeal visual information to read the world as a connected entity. This assemblage, while visually different, is in the same spirit as Bianchini's compilations of artifacts, especially those in which the joints between artifacts are depicted, in his 'complete figures."
Piranesi had certainly not originated the method of composing a page using the trompe l'oeil framing device. He had significant sources. For example, Filippo Juvarra (1678 - 1736) whom Piranesi admired, used it lavishly, especially early in his career (fig. 25). If not the inventor, then Juvarra was the popularizer of this means of presenting various architectural projects in the concorsi, or competition designs, of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome.' Piranesi used this device repeatedly and playfully in his archaeological illustrations.
Moreover, the frame's use in archaeological publications, or publications on monuments of the past, was established long before Piranesi. Pietro Santi Bartoli, and most blatantly, Johann Fisher von Erlach, used the trompe l'oeil framing device to present archaeological information in their Gli antichi sepolcri ovvero mausolei romani et etruschi... (1697) and Entwurff einer historischen Architektur (1721), respectively (figs. 26 and 27). The shared source of the trompe l'oeil device to frame both verbal and visual information was the mapping tradition.
In the cartographic tradition, a supplemental key helped to explain the base map. The key was usually represented in a separate frame, sometimes on a sheet of paper shown as adhered to the surface of the map as in Giambattista Falda's seventeenth-century "II Nuovo Teatro di Roma."" The sixteenth-century fresco map series in the Galleria delle Carte Geografiche in the Vatican displayed supplementary views in place of verbal or symbolic information in their keys.' Piranesi would have known these frescoes, and they would have supplied a precedent for the use of framed perspective views which, like information in keys, supplied further understanding of the of the image onto which it was represented as attached. Conscious of the current concern about the validity of any image to convey truthfully the world as perceived, Piranesi saw the trompe l'oeil framing device as a useful tool to enhance the image, one more means to compile a "complete figure" to
In reaction to the stilted images in French archaeological texts, and aware of the work of such thinkers as Muratori and Bianchini regarding how various ways of representation can encapsulate and then convey a wealth of knowledge about the past, Piranesi juxtaposed different types of images, relating them playfully to one another by means of trompe l'oeil framing devices assembled in complex yet complete compositions.
Susan M. Dixon, "The Image and Historical Knowledge: a cultural context for Piranesi's archaeological publications," Doctoral dissertation, Cornell University, Jan. 1991.
reasons for inclusion:
Piranesi as virtual architect and the Campo Marzio as a virtual city
Campo Marzio as a vast (virtual museum) collection of architectural plans
virtual museum of roman architecture
virtual museum of building types (esp., portici, horti, sepulchers)
tromp l'oeil as virtual representation - simulacra
carceri as cyberspace and ultimate video game - true precursor of virtual architecture as it is most envisioned today
Inspiration: The primary inspiration here is the connection of how data is used and manipulated today relative to Piranesi's use of tromp l'oeil and computer windows. I am not going to include much more. The main point being that our perception of data and information is very akin to Piranesi's perception and this connection is significant in that it provides a fuller understanding for both the past and present example, and heightens the whole notion of potentiality (virtuality) and visual presentation. Sue's thesis may offer good words to use here.
So, the bottom line is that I have to create an image file depicting many computer windows depicting Piranesi's images--a new Piranesian collage.
I still have much to write (maybe), but I will wait till I have a quote from Sue.
Piranesi as Master of the Virtual Realm
Inspiration: The primary inspiration here is to demonstrate how Piranesi is essentially the first architect to fully exploit the realm of virtual architecture, and a description of the operation of Piranesi's imagination processes will be introducted here, to make the connection between the imagination and the virtual realm (and, hence, its visual imaging).
The Campo Marzio is the foremost example of the architectural virtuality, and it will be displayed as a virtual city, virtual archeology, and as a virtual museum of architecture. (Admittedly, there is much more thinking that I have to do here, and I think it will go hand in hand with my thinking of what the overall graphic presentation of this inspiration is going to entail. See graphic ideas below.)
Furthermore, the connection will be made to show how graphic data is used and manipulated today relative to Piranesi's use of trompl'oeil and computer windows. The point being that our perception of data and information is very akin to Piranesi's perception and this connection is significant in that it provides a fuller understanding for both the past and present example, and heightens the whole notion of potentiality (virtuality) and visual perception.
graphic ideas: windows framing - rather than just rehashing the existing Piranesi data in frames on the computer screen, I should concentrate on the Campo Marzio showing one or two specific areas in plans, elevations, sections, axons, and rendered perspectives of the place--(like the north swimming place because it has depth and straight lines)--and I could also do the gymnasium because it has repeated items, and, therefore, easy to do. The gymnasium will also afford the possibility of generating interior, or at least cut-away perspectives.
I never imagined that I would be doing this kind of work related to the Campo Marzio, but I really think it is the right thing to do
.... Genealogical Position .....
Not only is practically everything in Piranesi's immense oeuvre "virtual," but the degrees to which he both created "virtual place" and utilized "virtual" representations suggests the concept of virtuality pervaded his whole methodology as well. As a consummate engraver, Piranesi practiced "virtual architecture" designing "magnificent" buildings and an extraordinary city, filled volumes with "virtual archeology," and manifested "virtual environments" that torture perception.
Viewed as a whole, Piranesi's creative output is nothing less than an enormous museum of the virtual realm.
Inspiration IV 1997
Life and Death within Piranesi's Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio
With a consistent dashed line, Piranesi demarcates the Triumphal Way through the Campo Marzio. The processional route begins, with historical and archeological accuracy, at the Temple of Janus, which is situated at the bottom of the Ichnographia. The victor's march weaves through Rome's "theater district"--past small baths, shops, and brothels--and then continues on a long straight course towards the Tiber. Across the river, the procession turns behind Hadrian's Tomb and approaches its end at the Temple of Mars, the god of War and for whom the Campo Marzio is named. As the ultimate destination of the Triumphal Way, the Temple of Mars is clearly among the most sacred, if not the most sacred, of places within the Campo Marzio, and, therefore, perhaps offers a key that lifts the Campo Marzio's "mask."
The Temple of Mars fittingly promulgates overt manliness. Male genitalia boldly inform the Temple's plan, and the linear projection of the Temple's "endowment" manifests the Campo Marzio's longest straight axis.
As the axis of Mars spans from the Vatican Hill to the bend in the Tiber, it intersects the Campo Marzio's second longest straight axis, which bisects Hadrian's Tomb and the Bustum Hadriani. The perpendicular crossing of the two axes naturally creates a diametrical opposition. Geometry alone, however, does not represent the depth of their oppositeness.
The axis of Mars terminates at either end with a nymphaeum, while the axis through the Bustum Hadriani terminates at either end with an Imperial Tomb. The antithesis of nymphaeums and tombs is self-evident, and, therefore, attests to the axis of Mars representing life and the Bustum axis representing death.
The Bustum Hadriani with its crematoriums and funereal banqueting halls, moreover, is nothing less that a gigantic "machine" to facilitate the passage from this life to the next. Yet, for all its architectural bombast, the Bustum Hadriani can in no way compete with the exalted simplicity of the tiny unnamed structure, which is behind the nymphaeum on the bank of the Tiber and at the very tip of the axis of life.

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