piranesi

1997

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1997.12.26
Ichnographia book - note 1
I came up with a whole scheme for my book: Redrawing the Ichnograhia of G.B. Piranesi's IL CAMPO MARZIO. The ideas are simple and few, but they add a new coherence (and finality) to the project that up to now was lacking.
The first idea centers on my writing an elaboration of my initial dedication of the redrawing to my father. Its title, "Death and the Triumphal Way" will also be the title of the extended dedication. The essay will simply start with a reiteration of my letter from the Director (of Quondam), and I will go on from there with regard to the issue of death and life and the triumphal way within the Ichnographia.
...my interpretations of the death-life axes and the triumphal way. I will first focus on the existence and meaning of the life and death axes (including a "reŽnactment" of the two Campo Marzio pages from Quondam's first exhibit). Furthermore, it will involve an exposition of the Bustum Hadriani (as both part of the main text and as a separate but linked web page.) The final note will be how the axis of death crosses the axis of life, part of which is colateral-colineal-synonymous with the initial stretch (path) of the Triumphal Way (procession route).
This then leads right into my analysis of the Triumphal Way, and here I will lay out my entire theory which culminates with the inherent symbolism of inversion that is found along the entire path. I have today reread the Plattus article, and it is even more helpful than I remembered, especially with regard to its view of the city itself as a stage set that is played upon. In many respects, this section will be an exposition of exactly what I have learned because of finding the Plattus article when I did. This section will end with the notion of the powerful and long-standing tradition of reŽnactment.
I will pick up the reŽnactment theme first with Piranesi as triumpator and the Ichnographia as one more Triumphal procession in the long history of the Roman reŽnactment. From here I will go into the reŽnactment vs. reconstruction theory, and therefore Vico will also come into play along with everything else involving reŽnactment.
I will end the dedication addressing my own reŽnactment-redrawing process, and here I will bring in the theories of Collingwood. In conclusion, I will explain how my initial dedication of the Campo Marzio web pages to my father became for me the cornerstone of my re-enactment, and I will finalize it all with mentioning the parallel-comparitive association father and son--Romulus and his father Mars.

1997.12.26
Ichnographia book - note 2
My second big idea re: Redrawing the Ichnographia is a more or less complete outline as to the nature of the second essay (chapter, whatever). It will be entitled: "from: Complete Puzzlement, to: Puzzle Complete re: a personal journey." It is here that I will tell my whole story--ending with the most current outline for the overall book project. Essentially, I will retrace all the steps in my life that have anything to do with either Piranesi and/or his Campo Marzio.
The first section of the essay will be entitled "my virtual graduate degree in architecture." It will begin with my recollection of the first time I learned of the Ichnographia and how it is inextricably linked to a story I learned about Louis Kahn. I will go through all the possible sources of the story, and thus call attention to all the Kahn disciples in charge of my education. I will bring up my second year bank design, the early Stewardson scheme, and last my thesis project (which is inspired by both Kahn and Stirling).
My story after graduation from Temple--CPV and my first CAD training, Carles and 3-D, my two years at Penn--is not Piranesi based, but it contains many Kahn connections. This is actually my virtual graduate degree. I will mention my construction of the 3-D model of Center City as my entre to Julia Converse and the Kahn Collection, and thus my first attempt to of a CAD construction of an unbuilt architectural design. (I can perhaps also mention here the unique patterning capabilities of Intergraph and my experimentation with the same.) I will end with my failed attempt at entering Penn's Graduate Program, my subsequent leaving of Penn when the Intergraph system was also leaving, and finally my uncanny meeting with Joseph Rykwert and his having worked on my drafting table.
Within months of leaving Penn I had my own CAD system, and that was when I began to redraw the Campo Marzio. As a very marginal member of the Philadelphia School, I don't see it as an unconnected avocation at all--more a kind of full circle scenerio. Well, from here I just retell the CAD redrawing and comcommitant research process.

1997.12.28
axes of life and death
As I was reading Dripp's The First House, p. 62, about the Roman cardo & decumanus, I began to wonder whether the life and death axes of the Campo Marzio are also a reŽnactment of the ancient town planning axes. Upon inspection of the Ichnographia, I found that the life and death axes are just a few degrees shy of being on the true cardinal points. Moreover, the cardo, the nort-south axis corresponds to the axis of death in the Ichnographia, and traditionally "refers to the axis around which the universe rotates." The Campo Marzio axis of life, the east-west axis, the decumanus, refers to the rising and setting of the sun. There is now much to think about with regard to further meaning of Piraneisi's axes, especially within the overriding history and tradition of Roman city planning.
I can already begin to speculate where the axis of life, which is the longest axis in the Ichnographia is purposefully disguised because, as the decumanus, it should be secondary to the cardo--in this case, the axis of life. Is Piranesi again playing with inversion? I also wonder if Rykwert has anything to say with regard to the apparent lack of a cardo and decumanus in ancient Rome's city plan.
Today it also dawned on me that the Arch of Theodosius et al is placed at the tip of the axis of death. In its smallness (and apparent insignigicance) it reminds me of the tiny unnamed intercourse building at the tip of the axis of life. What is of utmost significance, however, is that this particular Triumphal Arch is indeed the last (latest) building addition within the Ichnographia, and dates from anywhere between AD 367-395. There is no building within the Ichnographia that is named for a later Emperor [sic].
The placement of this arch at the tip of the axis of death is very symbolic in that it represents the very end--Theodosius was the last Emperor to rule over both the East and West Empire and it was he who instituted Christianity as the state religion--the end of the pagan empire and the end of any semblance of a totally unified empire. Thus, the intercourse building at the tip of the axis of life represents the very beginning (of life and quite possibly of the Ichnographia's plan formations, as well) and the Arch of Theodosius et al at the tip of the axis of death represents not only Rome's end as the sole capital of the civilized world, but also its end as capital of the pagan world.
It is through his plan of the city of Rome that Piranesi writes (and/or rights) the history of Rome itself. Through the Ichnographia Piranesi reŽnacts the history of the city.
This new information adds tremendously to the meaning of the life and death axes, and the overall symbolism or meaning of the plan as well. That Piranesi carefully focused on the inversion of Rome from ultimate pagan world capital to a Christian and only partial world capital falling into lesser and lesser significance is now completely obvious. In this sense, the Ichnographia represents Rome at its pagan zenith (acme, peak, summit), and it is metaphorically downhill from this point for Rome does not reach its zenith as "Christian world capital" until the Renaissance--Rome's rebirth.
The literary reference to the Arch of Gratian, Valentinian (II) and Theodosius (in the Campo Marzio text) is Dalle Rovine, e dall'incrizione, che secondo la tradizione del Marlini, e nel Nardini nel lib. 6, al cap 6.>> Si reportano nel cap. 6, art. 18.
Here is also an interseting citing from Encyclopedia Britannica 19-459d (Jocelyn Mary Catherine Toynbee):
"The last examples of Roman carving are the reliefs on the base of the obelisk of Theodosius in the Hippodrome at Constantinople, where the emperor and members of his court, ranged in rigid hieratic poses, watch the shows."
More from Encyclopedia Britannica 19-541b (Edward Arthur Thompson):
"After the death of Theodosius I in 395 the empire was never again ruled for any significant length of time by a single emperor. From 395 to 480 it was ruled by two or more colleagues, one in the east or one or more in the west, all with equal rights."

1997.12.29
symbolism of the Porticus Neronianae
I have always found the Porticus Neroniani to carry a significance in that it is an inverted basilica with respect to the basilica of St. Peter's, which it nearly mirrors. I now see its position directly behind the Area Martis (and thus also directly behind the beginning-ending of the Triumphal Way) as additionally symbolic of Nero's reputation as Antichrist.
From Encyclopedia Britannica 16-231d (Peter Astbury Brunt):
"The great fire at Rome illustrates how low his [Nero's] reputation had sunk in 64. He did what he could to relieve the homeless and initiated rebuilding on a much better plan. Yet it was believed, without warrent, that he had fired the city himself in order to indulge his aesthetic tastes in its reconstruction. Nero tried to shift the charge onto the Christians, who were commonly thought to practice all kinds of wickedness. Hitherto the government had not clearly distinguished Christians from Jews; almost by accident, Nero initiated the later policy of intermitent and half-hearted persecution and earned himself the reputation of Antichrist in the Christian tradition."


1997.12.29
program of the Area Martis
Piranesi seems to have designed the Area Martis with the writings of Josephus in mind (as cited in Plattus "Passage into the City"). Piranesi calls the immediate zone around the Templum Martis "apparatorium triumphatorium" - place of preparation for the triumphal procession, and the many "tabernae" surrounding the Area Martis seem to be there to accomodate the triumphator and his troops the night before the day of procession. See Plattus p.104-5.
The first arch the procession goes through (and actually the only arch the way goes through within the Ichnographia) is the arch of Trajan. Although there is nothing spectacular in terms of triumph per se that is associated with Trajan, I nevertheless offer the following from Encyclopedia Britannica 19-534 (Howard Hayes Scullard):
"This blunt soilder [Trajan] was later regarded as the most clement of all the emperors, while the title Optimus ("best"), used unofficially since 100 but modestly declined until 114, might then seem to have been won by his services to al sections of the Roman world."
The only other intentionality that I can find on Piranesi's part is the literally "planned" lineage (literally) going from Trajan to Hadrian to Antoninus Pius along the longest axis (of life)--from arch to tomb to arch--which corresponds with the historical lineage of imperial sucession. Moreover, with the exception of Nerva, all the emperors from Domitian to Antoninus Pius are clearly "marked throughout the Horti Domitiani (and the Bustum Hadriani). I just noticed that there is a statue of Nerva beside the Temple Plotinae in front of the nymphaeum behind which is the tiny intercourse building.

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