other extremes in architecture
Extremes in architecture are not limited to the chronosomatic years below the testicles. I can immediately think of St.Peter's Basilica in Rome and its extreme size, plus the extreme heights of todays skyscrapers, and also the extremes of Piranesi's Campo Marzio and even the latest architecture of Frank Gehry. What other chronosomatic force besides the legs is connected with these extreme examples?
In the case of St.Peter's, perhaps its chronosomatic coincidence with the naval as an extreme corporal singularity is part of the answer. I must also note that it is the foremost "temple" of Christianity, which itself is a religion of extreme extremes (see subsequent TPH note). The umbilical cord might also represent an extreme extremity-a sort of beginning/ending, alpha/omega extremity/manifestation.
All the other examples that I mentioned fall within recent times and right off I really don't know what to say yet regarding the tallness of skyscrapers--perhaps they are a product of the metabolic nature of capitalism. It is not easy for me to make a creative/destructive connection, however. But this is not the case with Piranesi and perhaps also Gehry.
Piranesi's metabolic extremism is most evident in the Prisons, in how he both destroys and creates space. The extremes are also found in the Campo Marzio--my life and death example fits perfectly with the idea of extremes and even the small intercourse building versus the great halls of the Bustum Hadriani. (So now I also have the use of "extremity" when speaking about the various plan types used throughout the Campo Marzio.) I already see Piranesi as metabolic because of his chronosomatic coincidence with the kidneys. So now I have to wonder what is extreme about the kidneys. Well, the answer seems almost obvious now that I am thinking about it--the kidneys perform the last metabolic process with regard to the blood and they are also an organ of excretion--a purge and a finality. This may be enough to justify my ideas, but I also want to add the notion that the kidneys may be extreme because of their being the sole dual metabolic organ.
I don't know if that means enough or anything at all, but it might prove significant down the road. Perhaps it is best for now to say that the kidneys may be the body's most extreme internal duality.
So why is Frank Gehry so extreme?--and he is extreme in his whole process. I can off-hand think of his extreme (metabolic?) use of chain link fencing, the extremes of his own house design, and his notion of going way back in "history", all the way back (in extreme) to the fish. Does the reason for extremism come from his being a first. And, if so, what first is going on chronosomatically? There is, of course, the first appearance of the rib cage (which strangely may relate to fish), but perhaps it the start of all the plurality of metabolic organs in the abdomenal cavity. This is the beginning (and beginnings are as extreme as endings) of the body's most plural stage (section). Besides metabolism, plurality is beginning to dominate as well.
I just realized that the extremities of the developing fetus may play a role in all this as well, and if that is the case, then perhaps examples of extreme architecture that relate to the fetal extremities also represent the foundation of a "new order" architecture come the "second birth".
A lot of ideas have been put on the table here, and I am so far satisfied with the train of thought that runs through and connects all these ideas. I will probably find myself soon doing more research into fetal/embryonic development, because it is more than likely becoming much more part of the story all around. I especially have to find out again when the fetus turns head down.
philosophy of history
In particualr, I have to call out the reference to Vico because it sheds some light on Piranesi's Campo Marzio (and how he may have approached designing it).
Vico and the Campo Marzio
from: Patrick L. Gardiner, "Philosophy of history" in Encyclopedia Britannica (Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1969), vol. 11, p. 543.
"Giambattista Vico's Scieza nuova (1744) was a work whose importance remained for a long time unrecognized, partly, no doubt, because of the obscure and scholasic manner in which the Italian philosopher expressed his ideas. Central to the book is the contention that the kind of knowledge which men can achieve of their own actions, creations, and institutions--the material of history--is of a radically different kind from the knowledge that is acquired by the observation and investigation of the nonhuman or "natural" world: indeed, knowledge of the former type is of a superior or "more certain" character. In order truly to know something it is necessary in some sense o have made it, and where as the reality which the physical scientist studies is the creation of God and therefore only properly known to him, "the world of nations" that forms the subject matter of history is the creation of men and is therefore something that men can "hope to know." Thus Vico was led to stress the differences rather that the analogies between historical and other forms of inquiry and laid emphasis upon the need for the historian to recreate imaginatively the spirit of the past ages and the outlook and attitudes of mind possessed by the men who lived in them, instead of trying to impose upon them inappropriate interpretive models--"Pseudomyths"--suggested by ways of thinking and feeling current in his own time. It is true that Vico pronounced a cyclical theory of human history, according to which "nations" or cultures pass through determinate stages: he employed it, however, in a manner that underlined man's nature as a historical being, whose powers and capacities do not conform to a fixed and static pattern but are subject to change and development in the course of time: it is not through a priori intuition ot through attention to the subjective findings of introspective self-consciousness that we can acquire the depest insight into what we are (as so many of his contemporaries assumed), but through a critical and sympathetic interpretation of the evidence provided by historical research.
I copied this quote because it immediately brought to mind Piranesi's Campo Marzio as an imaginative recreation of the spirit of past Roman ages. In reading the above quote thoroughly, however, it seems that relating it to Piranesi is like being on a double-edged sword--a thin line between being too imaginative and going so beyond contemporary modes of interpretation. An interesting question at this point is whether Piranesi did avoid totally interpretive methods that were current in his time.
In any case, I now have my own copy of The New Science and hopefully I will be able to draw some of my own conclusions while I'm reading it and when I'm finished it. I also now wonder whether Aitken's thesis is something along these lines.
philosophy of history - initial thoughts
After some initial reading re: the philosophy of history (Collingwood and Foucault), I am seeing what may be interpretated as a metabolic procedure. Both authors stress the negation of times past because we can no longer learn from them through direct experience. So far there is the destruction half of metabolism in the historian's process, but I'm not yet sure how to explain the creative process. I guess I have to reread and read further to surmize how the historian then "creates" history. Perhaps what each author is saying is that histor[iography] itself is a "destructive/creative" process.
This is still very preliminary, but I hope that a set of more substantial ideas come out of all my planned reading.
new dexterity - further thinking
All kinds of crazy and easy ideas are going through my head right now. I'm thinking of doing much more investigating with Arris patterning (especially with screen capture and color fill). I'm thinking of how I might be able to pattern square symmetrical plan formations, and then see what other architectural plans develop. I might find it very interesting to use plan examples from the Campo Marzio.
I am also thinking of just plain doing different x&y scale changes to the Campo Marzio plans.
Campo Marzio index
The following projects are to be included on the Piranesi/Campo Marzio index:
1. book proposal
2. piranesi/cm notes:
it is from these notes that much of the index is derived
I will also start commenting on the notes
3. the Campo Marzio @ Quondam - this will be a link to all the pages @ Quondam that offer material on the Campo Marzio.
4. the glossary - I will first create a page with the terms and their translations, and the terms will also eventually all be hyperlinks to pages that illustrate and better define the terms. I will use both captured and scanned images. (search online for latin translation help)
this is somewhat different than the glossary in that it will be an orthogonal presentation of the plans displayed by type and at the same scale.
I will start with the most abundant, but also with the "vernacular" buildings as well.
6. contiguous elements - I have many notes pertaining to the subject. My plan of action is to create a database of a selected area of the Campo Marzio and experiment within the area. The set up of the database is just as important as anything else.
7. Piranesi's imagination - this may be best presented as a loose collection of quotations and ideas. I will be as inclusive as possible, and hopefully as creatively spontaneous as possible.
8. existing texts - I already have many existing texts as data; now I should do a comparison side by side analysis/critique
9. Mars / the long axis / life & death / thriumphal way:
If I begin with Mars in my analysis of the Campo Marzio, this will lead me directly to discussing the triumphal way and the long axis, hence the architectural promenade and life and death. From there I will then discuss the equirria and the military axis.
Beyond this analysis, I culd discuss tombs.burial as the other great program of the Campo Marzio (i.e., its historical program).
10. hierarchy of the plans - once I begin to document the glossary and the typologies, I will then be more readily able to address the heirarchy of the plans. I can already start with my initial idea, however.
11. personal document - I may just begin this as an experiment, and my main objective is to include all the marginal ideas that have come out of my drawing and research thus far.
12. key plan - I may eventually experiment with creating a key plan with the intention of creating a set of pages that allow the user to click on any image to find imformation about the plan(s) and more graphic details of the Ichnographia.
13. list of Campo Marzio plates - I will make a page list of the plates of the Campo Marzio and there will be links to the images that I have digital copies of. I would like to eventually have all the images scanned.
14. text of the Campo Marzio.
15. Ichnographia / Nolli plan comparison / overlay - I have to experiment with this and start documenting the results.
I just recognized that I have yet to write down the full extent of the new ideas re: the architectural promenade that developed because of the Danteum. Essentially, the Danteum has the same sequential series of architectural "events" as the formula for the architectural promenade that I have extracted from Le Corbusier and Stirling. The Danteum, however, adds the element of a journey from the profane to the sacred, and this addition significantly opens up the interpretive field and the buildings that can now be included as exhibiting the architectural promenade formula.
Because of the profane/scared aspect, I now see the triumphal way within Piranesi's Campo Marzio as exhibiting the same sequence. The procession (promenade) begins at the arch of Janus, a tetrahedron, which is the forest, the pilotis that raise the box. From there the route jaggedly marches through the "theater district" (downtown)--this is hell, the profane, the lower level. Just as the "way" approaches the banks of the Tiber for the first time, the procession becomes straight and passes repetitive/monotonous buildings. The way remains perfectly straight except for two 90 degree turns, and this course comprises the greatest length of the promenade. (The straight portion of the procession passes, in sequential order, the Hecatonstylon and the outer niched wall of the Horti prius Pompejani dein Marci Antonii; then the long portico of the Stadiun opposite the Domus Alexandri Severi; and across the river between the Porticus Hadriani and the Sepulchrum Libertorum et Servorum of the Bustum Hadriani. I could very well make the case that this buildings very well exemplify the notion of inside/outside, thus tying the triumphal way more closely to the architectural promenade formula.) In the course of this long march, the procession crosses over from the area (of the Campo Marzio) that primarily represents life (inside/outside--osmosis connection?) into the area that is primarily of death (the Bustum Hadriani). This is the same transition as in the Danteum's Purgatory, and the middle inside/outside level of the Villa Savoye (etc.). Ultimately, the Triumphal way ends at the Alter and Temple of Mars, easily the most sacred place/space of the Campo Marzio. This culmination to the triumphal procession is analogous to the Paradiso of the Danteum, and to the solarium of the Villa Savoye (etc.). Of course, this has major implications towards my previous analysis of the Triumphal Way, and this new layer of meaning will be incorporated into the overall analysis.
What is most interesting about this new discovery of the architectural promenade in the Campo Marzio is that it predates Le Corbusier, and this is what led me to wonder if the formula can be found in Dante's Divine Comedy. Piranesi's example is not the only pre-Corbusian example I have found, however.
A good portion of the architectural promenade formula can also be found in the entry sequence of Schinkel's Altes Museum. The facade/colonnade is the forest, and again the pilotis holding up the box. The dark portal under the stairs is the journey into hell. The ascension of the stairs is the inside/outside experience of purgatory, the middle level. And the museum's central pantheon is paradise, heaven, and the solarium. This interpretation of the Altes Museum, furthermore, sheds new light on Stirling's Dusseldorf and Stuttgart museums. (The sequence of both at this point is obvious for me so I am not going to write it down here.)
Finally, the oldest example of the architectural promenade I have found thus far is the Pantheon in Rome itself. It is a very compacted version of the forest, hell, purgatory (inside/outside), and paradise.
This is a major thesis and deserving of much of my attention. Perhaps the best way for me to approach this is to do separate essays that will all fall into place when I bring them together. This very well could be a full book when you consider all of the above together with the Le Corbusier/Stirling stuff, my collection of the architectural promenade in existing literature, and the analysis of Dante's Divine Comedy.