Re: TX2/Plato's Spelunking
Last week I started reading Yates' The Art of Memory. The first chapter describes how the ancient Romans "taught" memory (now known as mnemonics). Briefly, there was/is this whole operation of setting up something like a (house) "plan" in your mind and then placing what you want to remember in designated "rooms". After somewhat understanding the principle, it dawned on me that the Ichnographia Campus Martius is very much such a "memory plan". I freely admit that my present retention of data relative to ancient Rome is greatly aided (if not in fact generated) by my "hands-on" knowledge of Piranesi's plan. It seems that I was actually practicing (albeit unwittingly) a type of mnemonics as I was CAD redrawing the Ichnographia.
This leads to wondering if there are other "memory places" being created out there.
Re: 'game over' design
I got a copy of Homo Ludens a few years ago, and so far I have really only read the introduction. Nonetheless, I still got much from the book so far. For example, I collected many passages that I feel relate to how Piranesi designed / 'played with' his reenactment of ancient Rome via the Ichnographia Campi Martii--indeed, reenactment itself is very much a "re-play", literally a playing / acting [even designing?] again.
I also most remember how Huizinga describes the role of the 'spoil sport', i.e., the one that doesn't want to play by the rules as most of the others have established them. Huizinga more than just hints that many times the contrariness of the 'spoil sport' in time becomes the newest set of rules--Piranesi also played a very sophisticated inversion game in his literal delineation of the Campo Marzio.
Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius is not really about fantasy, rather it is a reenactment of ancient Rome's history delineated via ancient Rome's architecture. The plans with their Latin labels within the large plan are all texts that together deliver the history of the city of Rome. Piranesi did a fantastic job of making a history lesson appear as fantasy.
Koolhaas versus the Actor
David R. Marshall in "Piranesi, Javarra, and the Triumphal Bridge Tradition" (The Art Bulletin, June 2003) also relates information regarding the Campo Marzio plan, that prior was only available at Quondam, without giving the reference a proper citing.
Krautheimer and Johnson
It just never occurred to him before that the Mausoleum of Romulus/Circus of Maxentius complex (which reenacts the almost two hundred years earlier Mausoleum of Hadrian/Circus of Hadrian complex) became the paradigm, albeit inverted, for all the Roman Christian "church" architecture immediately after the Basilica Constantiniani (St. John Lateran) and the Basilica San Pietro Vaticano. That aerial shot of the Mausoleum of Constantina (Santa Costanza) adjacent the circus-like dining hall first "basilica" of St. Agnes made it all so clear. If only the circus-like dining hall first "basilica" of Sts. Pietro and Marcellinus adjacent the Mausoleum of Helena were still to be seen from the air. How clever of Eutropia and Helena to invert the pagan 'munus' architecture into Christian 'munus' architecture, and how very clever of Piranesi to secretly hide all this architectural history information within the ever quaestio abstrusa Ichnographia Campi Martii.
It rocked Eisenman in his chair...
When I went to the Fine Arts Library of the University of Pennsylvania on 14 May 1999 it was to see an actual etching of the Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio for the first time. I felt sure I would see the Ichnographia at the Penn library because within the "Illustration Credits" of Jennifer Bloomer's Architecture and the Text (p. 215) it states:
"Giovanni Battista Piranesi, details from Il Campo Marzio dell'Antica Roma: Ichnographia. Etching, six plates. Used by permission of the Fine Arts Library of the University of Pennsylvania."
I asked at the reference desk about Il Campo Marzio..., and I was told there was no such holding in the catalogue. I mentioned the citing in Bloomer's book, and I even went into the book stacks and got Bloomer's book itself to show the librarian. The head librarian was called and he thought to look in the old card catalogue of the Rare Book Room--Penn was then still in the midst of filling data onto it's fairly new online book catalogue and the Rare Book Room holdings were not yet in the electronic catalogue. Sure enough, Penn does possess a 1762 edition of Il Campo Marzio..., but even that was hard to find because the call number on the card was a typographic error. Alas, I finally had an actual Ichnographia unfolded in front of me and within minutes I discovered that the plan I was now looking at was not entirely the same as the plan reproduction that I had up till then been used to looking at. And architectural history changed a little bit that day.
Then knowing that the Ichnographia exists in two versions, I went back to Bloomer's Architecture and the Text to see which version of the Ichnographia are reproduced in detail there. Strangely enough, the details of the Ichnographia reproduced in Architecture and the Text DO NOT match the 1762 Ichnographia at the Fine Arts Library of the University of Pennsylvania.
But Piranesi... ...drew a whole city and delivered an astounding narrative within said drawing of a whole city--yes, drawing a whole city and 'writing' a story at the same time. It's called Ichnographia Campus Martius.
The genre enacted in One Hundred Years of Solitude is of course magic realism. The energies shaping that genre's procedures are no less political than aesthetic. Magic realism's swerve from realism operates, as Kumkum Sangari and others have argued, as a critical revision of realism. This is critically charged reseeing, not sentimental escape from seeing. "Metaphor is turned into event," Sangari writes, "precisely so that it will not be read as event, but folded back into metaphor as disturbing, resonant image." Metaphor shows, Utopianly, what is missing in the real. In Amaryll Canady's terms, magic realism "challenges realistic representation in order to introduce poiesis* into mimesis**." The correspondence model fueling both realism (positively) and modernism (negatively) is eclipsed.
--Philip Weinstein, Unknowing: The Work of Modern Fiction (2005), p. 241-2.
It could be said that Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius is precursive of the magic realism genre.
*It seems logical that no reenactment occurs without an enactment occurring first...
**reenactment's most inescapable limit is that it can never be as original as that which it reenacts.
meaning of labyrinth, etc.
...recently read a good explanation of labyrinth (vis-à-vis architecture) and then thought how it relates to Piranesi's Campo Marzio plan, or at least how the labyrinth relates to some of the interpretations of the Ichnographia. ...the passages are within L.B. Alberti's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili.
"Along with incomprehensible epigrams and inscriptions, unknowable animals and humans, the Hypnerotomachia is full of obscure, dark, intractable places: forests, veiled entrances, labyrints. Indeed, the labyrinth--a kind of emblem of hermetic difficulty, the symbol par excellence of search and the abstract model for most kinds of problem-solving activities--marks almost every step of the hero's wanderings as he makes his way through the story. As early as the first chapter, the reader follows the hero through a forest as he exclaims, "I had as my only recourse to implore the pity of the Cretan Ariadne, who gave the thread to Theseus to get out of the difficult labyrinth." Readers are constantly finding themselves within labyrinths: one inside the viscera of the temple at the base of the pyramid; an aquatic one in the form of a circular, maze-like pool; the concentric-patterned garden on the island of Cythera; and the subterranean spaces under a landscape of ruins."
"The book itself is a labyrinth, a series of veils, a cryptic epigram."
Liane Lefaivre, LeonBattista Alberti's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, pp. 90, 91.
For Piranesi, Imagination Trumps Classical Boundaries
But the etchings help forge a broader philosophical argument. Piranesi's eccentric fantasies were intended as a challenge to the inflexible formal and social hierarchies embraced by most architects of his time. In his world the irrational and the arbitrary triumph over rational order. Architecture becomes a tool for visualizing a world filled with contradictions, not for resolving them.
That vision is summed up in his "Campo Marzio dell'Antica Roma," a series of plates in which he creates an imaginary map of Rome. The map is a virtual catalog of architectural styles and forms. There is no logic to it over all, only a collection of seemingly unrelated fragments. The imagination is unleashed on the city with terrifying force, with the few real temples, like the Pantheon and Colosseum, swallowed up in the anarchic disorder.
For the architectural historian Manfredo Tafuri these engravings offer a "painful journey into the labyrinth of history." Generations of architects followed Piranesi on that trip. While Sir John Soane, for one, may have warned his colleagues about the dangers of Piranesian excesses, his 1800 drawing of the vaulted chambers of his Bank of England building--heavy, somber, serious--owes much to Piranesi's influence.
The best is Mr. Eisenman, because his perspective seems the freshest and his reading of Piranesi is less literal. Rather than dwell on history, he snaps Piranesi into the present by focusing on his desire to break down the classical notion that the architectural parts must somehow add up to a cohesive whole. Some 250 years after Piranesi's engravings and sketches, it's remarkable how close his sensibility seems to that of Mr. Eisenman's contemporaries, who also struggled to break free of orthodoxies--in their case, Modernism and postmodernist classicism.
Today many architects seem trapped in another cage: the pull of international fame, wealthy clients and ever bigger commissions. Piranesi shows us that fantasy can have a more lasting impact than a concrete monument to the ego.
I now suspect, after seeing the third episode of Lost season 5 last night, that Lost will end with all of its original cast alive and together. This is how I see the current time traveling coming to a conclusion. It will be like Finnegans Wake and like Il Campo Marzio. Too bad Bloomer didn't make this vital connection.
So now it's exploration of the possibilities of the space-time continuum. Like Proust was a neuroscientist, was Piranesi, with the Ichnographia Campus Martius, a scientist of the fourth dimension? (Here is where I have to review Dixon's "Ichnographia as Uchronia".) Is Ichnographia Quondam also a study/experiment of architecture (and urbanism) in the fourth dimension? For IQ the time continuum connection is the Axis of Life/Parkway connection, which comes after Piranesi's own Porticus Neronianus/St. Peter's connection.
Piranesi acquired a detailed knowledge of Bufalini's Ichnographia Urbis of 1551 via his direct involvement with Nolli's Pianta Grande di Roma of 1748. A decade later, in 1758, Piranesi began his Ichnographia Campus Martius where, in some instances, he utilized Bufalini's map/plan as source material for the redrawing of ancient Rome's urban plan. Bufalini's plan, especially in the open areas all around the built-up section of Medieval and Renaissance Rome, includes 'reconstructions' of the larger ancient edifices like the imperial baths and stadiums, and some temple complexes. There are also near countless unnamed, fragmentary plans of ancient remains; remains, moreover, that, after consulting Nolli's plan, appear to no longer exist in Piranesi's time. It is from a select group of plan fragments on the Mons Pinicus or Collis Hortulorum of the Ichnographia Urbis that Piranesi imaginatively redraws the Horti Luciliani, the Sepulchrum Neronis, a Basilica along the Via Flaminia, the Horti Pincii, and the Monumentum Comitis Herculis.
Piranesi's resultant redrawn plans suggest a methodology whereby the fragmentary plans of Bufalini were used as kernels of ancient fact that, in turn, galvanized newly interpreted redrawings of what once was. As suggested by Dixon, "as there were great gaps in the knowledge of the past, great leaps were then needed to supply the holistic vision of the past which was the aim of scholars--archaeologists and historians--like Piranesi. In the Ichnographia, Piranesi filled the gaps..." Futhermore, from a strictly design point of view, Piranesi used some the fragmentary plans of Bufalini as contiguous elements which, when mirror-copied and multiplied, manifest the beginnings of the new plans.
Besides Bufalini's plan delineations, Piranesi also makes use of Bufalini's labelings. Bufalini labels all his full plan reconstructions of ancient buildings, often labels the fragmentary plans, and even labels blank locations (indicating the spot of an ancient edifice although actual remains no longer then existed). In utilizing the labels within the area of the Mons Pinicus or Collis Hortulorum, however, Piranesi hardly remains faithful to Bulafini's data. For example, where Bufalini positions the Horti Salustiani and Domus Pincii, Piranesi places the Horti Luciliani and, in turn, places the Horti Salustiani and Domus Pincii further east; the street Bufalini labels Via Conlatina, Piranesi labels Via Flamina; where Bufalini positions the Sepulcr. Neronis, Piranesi places the Bustum Caesaris Augusti and, in turn, labels an unnamed fragment along his Via Flaminia Sepulchrum Neronis; a small round structure Bufalini labels T. Solis, Piranesi labels Aula within the Horti Luciliani and, in turn, labels a newly imagined round building further south Delubrum Solis. It is honestly difficult to discern whether Piranesi is here playfully inverting Bufalini's data or actually rectifying Bufalini's "facts" with advanced knowledge of the past. Like Bufalini, Piranesi groups the Domus Martialis, Ludus Florae and the Templum Florae together, but he positions the group further west and moves the Domus Martialis south rather than north of the Ludus Florae. And where Bufalini locates the Sepulch. Falimiae Domiciarum, Piranesi places a very small Sepulcr. Familiae Aenobarb. and a very large Sep. Cnei Domitii Calvini whose plan Piranesi bases on an unrelated fragment of the Forma urbis.