piranesi

1997

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1997.10.06
inversion
Interpretation of the Triumphal Way--my ideas re: the triumphal Way in the Campo Marzio are now as solid as they are going to get, therefore, it is now time for me to bring my ideas to some sort of conclusion in written and html form. Of primary importance is the theme of inversion that I now find throughout the Ichnographia. Just last night I thought how the linear sepulchers in the Bustum Hadriani and the plan of the Stadium (Trigaris) both offer examples of inversions in plan.


1997.10.27
more Campo Marzio notes
I went through the xerox copy of the Campo Marzio text that Sue Dixon sent me, and I have come up with some further ideas/enlightenments. First of all, I found new significance in the Scenographia because if the ruins that Piranesi calls out in the aerial perspective are actual (i.e., hold veracity), then there is more evidence against the notion of absolute fabrication in terms of the reconstructed plan. The Scenograpia also depicts actual ruins collaged in the foreground and border, and I will further investigate this in terms of possibly providing more evidence toward sound archeology/reconstruction.
Within the original text there is also a list of existing ruins from the site either in situ or in fragments. Again, this list offers the best possible source for veracity when it comes to establishing which buildings actually once existed vs. which were fabricated by Piranesi himself. I will use this list as part of the information that is presently available for each building. Furthermore, there is a "catalogo" which lists all the literary references available for the buildings that once existed within the Campo Marzio. I think it would be a wonderful project to collect the actual texts pertaining to each building, and then offer the text in conjunction with the plan of the building. This will greatly enhance the illustrated glossary, in fact, the final documents will be more like a Campo Marzio encyclopedia. I am going to start by translating (more like transcribing) the list, and at least apply that data to a web page for each list. The good thing about Piranesi's list is that it also gives me a ready made building list that I can already turm into a web page.
In addition to Piranesi's text, I have also done some recent reading from Krautheimer's Rome: Profile of a City, 312-1302. The first chapter in part I is pretty much the only material that relates to my Campo Marzio research, because it gives a fairly clear picture of the role of Constantine in the first Christian building projects of Rome. I am trying to determine the date in time that the Ichnographia represents. Right now the oldest building in the plan is the column of Marcus Aurelius (AD 174). I have to correct that last statement because there are buildings named for Emperor Alexander Severus (222-35). This leads to the question as to why Piranesi decided to omit (dash-in only) the Aureliam Wall. I don't have a definative answer except to say that Piranesi took Imperial (classical) Rome to what he himself saw (imagined) as its logical conclusion. (I read in Encyclopedia Britannica that Emp. Alex. Sev. may have wanted to include Jesus within the Roman pantheon of Gods.)
In any case, the Campo Marzio represents Rome within the 100 years before the Emp. Constantine and the beginning of Rome's Christianization. I find it interesting that Constantine's architecture is both Christian and (pagan) civic (old St. Peter's Basilica vs. the Arch of Constantine and the Arch of Janus). I find it particularly interesting that Constantine should erect an Arch to a pagan god, yet the god Janus could look in both a forward and backward direction, symbolically seeing both the past and the future, which describes exactly the situation that Constantine was in, i.e., between Rome's pagan past and its Christian future. This is all more relevant information for my inversion theory, and in particular with regard to the Triumphal Way.
Finally, I was surprised to find references in Allen's article to the notion of inversion. I have to wonder if there was some kind of subliminal thing going on in my mind (although it is probably a year since I last read the article). In any case, I will use the reference and then expound greatly upon it because inversion will be one of my main themes.
(1997.11.01) I have just discovered that the latest structures within the Ichnographia are the Arch and porticus of Gratius, Valentinus, and Theodosius, c.390s. This is the only exception to all the buildings in the Ichnographia being pre-Constantine. I'm not sure if this forces me to aboandon the notion of trans-temporal representation, but that would not explain the omission of the Aurelian Wall and old St. Peter's. I really don't know what to think exactly, except to say that i am not going to shy away from the information.


1997.11.02
Campo Marzio
Since Sue Dixon has made it now clear what it is that she intends to do with the Campo Marzio text, I am having to focus more sharply on my own work. I am now thinking of making the second issue of NOT THERE a special issue on the Campo Marzio. In this issue I will attempt to consolidate all the data and ideas regarding the Campo Marzio into a final form. I will self publish all of it.
I like this attitude of finality, and this also means that I should plan on getting the plan work done as well. If I succeed in these plans, I will then have the Campo Marzio out of my hair, and then be able to focus on a whole range of other projects.
I may indeed now take my idea of a personal document regarding the Campo Marzio and actually do it. I may in fact make it a difficult web document full of links in obscure places connecting to more obscure places. I'm sure I will find all kinds of ways to experiment, esp. with html once I start putting my mind to it. Right now I'm not sure where and how to start, but I should at least get the Triumphal Way essay outlined and somehow make a strong case for the notion of inversion. I have the opportunity to produce a document that is original to me.
I will take the approach that all I really want to do is create a document that will generate inspiration in innumerable ways. I just thought of putting together a "stream of consciousness" index that, rather than classifying aphabetically of by subject, will just employ provocative phrases that spur curiousity and connect to single "pages" with a short essay or observation or notes/quotes or whatever. In the end, I want to write every idea I ever had about the Campo Marzio and likewise present everything I have researched and learned about the Campo Marzio. Maybe the best way to proceed is to treat each subject/topic/idea as an individual web page, and once a number of pages are complete, I can then begin working on how the pages relate to each other, and then work on how all the pages can become a cohesive package.
Suddenly, this final (perhaps really initial) Campo Marzio is going to be something I produce; it will be as much about my work/research as about Piranesi. Perhaps in the way that each of Piranesi's plans evoke inspiration, I too will try to create many packages that also evoke inspiration.

1997.11.20
me and the Ichnographia
I have come up with a plan to write about the Ichnographia on a topic by topic basis. Whatever subject, topic, idea, or impression (etc.) I can think of will be addressed in some sort of article, essay, aphorism, whatever.
In sone ways this approach to writting about the subject will hopefully give me the same freedom I have in writing notes. I am hoping to achive a workable spontaniety that will give me the opportunity and power to get all that I want accomplished. This will indeed be the personal document that I have occassionally dreamed about. I am no longer looking to produce a totally dry academic work, but rather a loose and fluid impressionistic work. I am well capable of exhibiting a deep knowledge of the subject nonetheless, however.
I am going to write about everything, and in so doing I will create a totally unique document[ation]. Every piece/entry will be dated and time-stamped.
There will be no official beginning, and certainly no official end. My document[ation] will be as free and collage-like as the Ichnographia itself.
Today, I thought of the phrase from, I think, one of the square poems, "back to daddy's balls, architecture halls." I never imagined that I would today see a connection between this line and the Ichnographia. I already know that I am going to make a point about Mars being the father of Romulus--the founder of Rome--and the connection of sex and conception of the plans is already an idea well established in my head, and now I see the "testicles" of the Templum Martis as the generators of Piranesi's entire design of the Campo Marzio.
The specific design intention that Piranesi put directly into the plan with regard to the prominence of Mars, I believe, proves definitively that Piranesi was actively redesigning Imperial Rome as he came to understand it would best be. Piranesi assimilated all the knowledge about this part of the city that he could, and through that assimilation he ultimately arrived at a whole new synthesis. Piranesi's plan of the Campo Marzio is not an architectural reconstruction, but an archeological redesign. Piranesi's plan is not a rendition of what was, but rather a rendition of what could have been. Piranesi's plan is not a reconstruction, but an historical reŽnactment, and the difference between the two is as distinct as the difference between life and death, between something finished and something ongoing.
The Ichnographia is a powerful re-enactment of the architectural history of the Campo Marzio. The history, moreover, is not limited to Imperial Rome. Although the buildings are named for those primarily of the late Empire, Piranesi also very cleverly and extremely subtlely re-enacts the achitectural history of the Campo Marzio beyond the Imperial Age, specifically the inversion/conversion of Rome from pagan to Christian--and also some of Baroque Rome.
With the notion of re-enactment I can introduce that notion of ritual--this may get too complex, however. Yet the notion of ritual more or less has to come into play once I begin to consider the nature of Piranesi's role in the re-enactment: is he high-priest of the producer-director-playwright?
The opening stage for the re-enactment is the Scenographia (whose very title has obvious theatrical connotations), and on the stage are the primal players, the only vestiges of Imperial Rome. The remains are like great aged actors whose talents have reached the stage of being something unsurpassable--they are also like the Titans--the primordial gods who quickly give way to an ever expanding drama with a vast multitude of characters.
I also have some thoughts regarding the Ichnographia as a stone fragment: this presentation on Piranesi's part could also be considered a re-enactment of the Forma Urbis--a virtual re-enactment of discovering the great missing piece of the "puzzle" that will bring all the other pieces to a grand cohesion. (I am here reminded of Tafuri's opening comments to The Sphere and the Labyrinth, and I'm sure I can now make a good valid connection and elaborate on how the fragment stone map of the Ichnographia represents a kind of "missing link," a piece that will explain all there is to explain about the "real" nature of Imperial Rome.


1997.11.24
Promenade Architecturale documentary
The documentation will conclude with my discovery of the link betweeen the promenade architecturale and the transition from profane to sacred as exhibited by Terragini's Danteum, and then back in time through architectural history: the Altes Museum, the reverse of the Triumphal Way in the Ichnographia, and finally the Pantheon.


1997.12.22
web pages on the Bustum Hadriani
After seeing Tony's geometric analysis of the Bustum Hadriani, I now envision a display of the complex at Quondam. This would be a comprehensive documentation of all the data pertaining to the complex. Presently available is: any textual references (ancient or modern), a detailed rendering of the program (labeled plan), references to the Dixon pages, the life vs. death axes, 3-D rendition, contiguous elements rendition, and, of course, Tony's analysis.
I see this page as a prototype of the future (similar) Campo Marzio displays at Quondam. For example, I could see the second such display featuring the Bustum Augustii.

1997.12.23
Campo Marzio introduction
The introduction will focus on the personal journey of my quest for discovery--I wanted to discover the secret of Piranesi's geometric planning dexterity--I wanted to find out how it could be possible to be as architecturally inventive as Piranesi. I also wanted to find out what Kahn learned form Piranesi.
The idea of just redrawing the plan via CAD, however, more or less became my modus operandi, and thus the intial quest developed into a general quest to find out as much about the Ichnographia as possible. There was always book research going on while I redrew the plan, yet I was unwittingly learning more about the plans actual nature and structure by simply redrawing it than by the literary research. The literary knowledge did supplement the drawing, and in combination, a far richer understanding of the meaning and symbolism of the Ichnographia manifested itself.
I can here discuss how the orthagonality of the longerst axis was discovered because of CAD, and how the tiny intercourse building opened up a huge possible source for the planimetric symbolism of the various building plans. I should also go through all my notes to recall each breakthrough as it happened.
The final events where my learning of the reŽnactment theory within the philosophy of history and that then gave me a better understanding of what I was doing. Then came the deaths in September 1997, ending with the death of my father, and the dedication of my redrawing to my father brought my re-enactment to a full fruition.
Within a month or so of my father's death, I then came to the conclusion that Piranesi himself was performing a re-enactment rather than a re-construction. Piranesi was re-enacting the ancient Roman Campo Marzio. He was re-enacting the planning of the Campo Marzio (and the Scenographia is the empty stage set upon which the re-enactment is played out.
Here is a quotation from the notes of The First House: myth, paradigm, and the task of architecture (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1997), 177 n24.
"Modern man though regarding himself as the result of Universal History does not feel obliged to know the whole of it, the man of the archaic societies is not only obliged to remember mythological history but also to re-enact a large part of it periodically." --Mircea Eliade, Myth and Reality, trans Willard R. Trask (New York: Harper and Rowe, 1963), 13.
This quotation seems almost a capstone to my whole Ichnographia as re-enactment conclusion and I assume I may find even more to reinforce my thesis as I read more of The First House and Myth and Reality.
My latest thought re: my introductory essay of the Campo Marzio is for me to reconstruct (and perhaps even "re-enact") all the steps along my journey. I can basically just use my notes to retrace all the events, drawings and thoughts that I encountered and accumulated and came up with myself over the last eleven years. If I actually include my notes and all the drawings produced along the way, then this introductory document will indeed be lengthy "chapter". I will indeed pursue this documentation, and I feel assured it will come together because I will continually work towards the re-enactment, and the documentation will also be a re-enactment of my learning process, although I will not ever mention that under-riding motif except perhaps if I have already brought the re-enactment issue to the fore.
As a text, the introduction will double as the table of contents and index and notes.
I quess my first task is to chronologically order all the notes and drawings I have of the Campo Marzio. I will also try my best at creating a chronological bibliography to try and establish a record of what I knew when. Above all, I must continue to date and record all my work from here on out.

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