Bernini's Due Teatri

1637 Bernini's Due Teatri
1758-62 Piranesi's Campo Marzio double theater

Re: the more real Piranesi-effect
Piranesi did not 'reconstruct' the Campo Marzio, rather Piranesi 'reenacted' the Campo Marzio. of the 40 odd engraved plates that make up the illustrative portion of the CM publication, no. 2 is the 'Scenographia', literally the empty stage set waiting for the reenACTment to be played upon it.
Piranesi's main theme within the reenactment is 'inversion', specifically ancient Rome's inversion from pagan capital to Christian capital. the last engraved plate of the CM holds three perspectives, one of which illustrates two theaters, double theaters each an inversion of the other--the history of ancient Rome at a glance.

homo ludens and the Ichnographia Campus Martius
There are certain passages within Homo Ludens that relate directly to Piranesi's "play" of the Ichnographia Campus Martius, especially with regard to reenactment, the Scenographia, and the double theater. There are also connections between ritual and play that relate to the Triumphal Way.
While reading the first chapter of Homo Ludens, it seemed like I could do an entire analysis on the Ichnographia in terms of "the play element in culture." Moreover, the element of play relates directly to the notion of reenactment architectures, particularly with regard to the tourist aspect of today's reenactment architectures.
In light of this new intellectual connection, I'm now also wondering if the element of play is within Vico's New Science.

2000.10.27 12:43
Baroque ending (for sure)
Although most of the current discussion at architecthetics deals more or less with theorizing of how 'style' (might) come to be, generally how things/styles emerge, I nonetheless offer the following as an example of how (a) style ends, in this particular case the Baroque style.
The following is a passage I first read over 23 years ago. It comes from Thomas K. Kitao, Circle and Oval in the Square of Saint Peter's: Bernini's Art of Planning (New York: New York University Press, 1974), pp.22-23. I was reminded of this passage after some reflection upon the recent bit of cyber theater that occurred here at design-l [i.e., the email list I first sent this post to on 16 October 2000--design-l and architecthetics are the double theaters I play in] a month and a half ago.
"In the well know production of the Due Teatri, first given in 1637, Bernini developed a simulated amphitheater of a very elaborate kind. This is, of course, the best known of Bernini's theatrical works, but a recapitulation is in order.
According to Massimiliano Montecuculi, who witnessed the performance, the stage was prepared with "a flock of people partly real and partly feigned" so arranged that, when the curtain had fallen for the opening of the play, the audience saw on the stage another large audience who had come to see the comedy. Two braggarts, played by Bernini himself and his brother Luigi, then appeared on the stage, one facing the real audience and the other the fictitious; and recognizing each other in no time, they went on to claim, each in turn, that what the other saw as real was actually illusory, each firmly convinced that there was no more than one theater with its audience in that half he was facing. The confusions of realities in mirror image thus heightened, the two firmly decided "that they would pull the curtain across the scene and arrange a performance each for his own audience alone." Then the play was performed to the real audience, that is, the main act to which that preceded was only a pleasant prelude. But through the play another performance was supposed to be taking place simultaneously on the second stage introduced by Luigi; the play was, in fact, interrupted at times by the laughter from those on the other side, as if something very pleasant had been seen or heard.
At the end of the play, the two braggarts reappeared on the stage together to reaffirm the "reality" of the illusion. Having asked each other how they fared, the impresario of the fictitious performance answered nonchalantly that he had not really shown anything but the audience getting up to leave "with their carriages and horses accompanied by a great number of lights and torches." Then, drawing the curtain, he displayed the scene he had just said he had shown to his audience, thus rendering complete the incredible reversal of reality and illusion to the confused amazement of the real spectators, who were now finding themselves ready to leave and caught in the enchanting act of feigning the feigned spectators."
Here's my analysis:
Of course, the Baroque style continued beyond Bernini--I believe even the double porticos of St. Peter's Square were done after the above performance. All the same, Bernini's theatrical performance manifests the Baroque's consummate ending. Within his double theater Bernini capsulized the beginning of Western culture's new bifurcation of the real and the illusory, introduced mirroring as a henceforth dominant Baroque (stylistic) theme, and, at base (or should I say at the ultimate end), inverted reality into a reenactment of its own illusory mirror (--is this perhaps also the genesis of historiography?).

Essentially, beyond the Baroque (and still often in our own modern times) architecture at its best is very sophisticated theater, keeping in mind that theater is one of the earliest forms of (man made) reenactment.

2000.11.07 09:07
Baroque Intuition?
Alex states:
When I in my previous post I rhetorically asked who had 'invented' or 'designed' the Baroque, I was somewhat shocked to see candidates actually being proposed for this mythical position.
Steve replies:
When I proposed Michelangelo as a place to look for the 'beginnings' [Alex's original rhetorical only asked about who 'designed'], I also particularly called out Michelangelo's fortification designs for Florence. In the almost two weeks since then I did some further reading/research on the fortifications. I read what Ackerman and Argan/Contradi offer, and I was surprised to learn that fortifications by Michelangelo were indeed executed, but in an impermanent fashion--packed dirt and straw--and did not stand up well to attack. Their only record today are Michelangelo's design sketches. Also surprising were the dates of the designs: 1528-29, i.e., before Michelangelo's mature works in Rome. I was surprised because of the relative earliness within the 16th century--"is it possible that there were Baroque 'beginnings' so early in the 16th century?"
I also took a more careful look at Michelangelo's fortification designs, of which there are several dozen drawings, and, in purely design terms, they are indeed extremely (i.e., at the beginning of a alpha-omega polarity) Baroque.
I then looked through The Timetables of History, a reference book that chronologically lists events year by year. There I found that the Sack of Rome occurred in 1527 and "referred to as 'End of the Renaissance'." Now I was very intrigued by what was going on politically and socially in Italy at that time, and did further reading throughout Encyclopedia Britannica. For example, the Marxist view of the end of the Renaissance calls out Luther's "protests" of 1517. In any case, very unstable times for the Roman Catholic Church, 'the' Establishment.
History is both a collective and an individual collection of occurrences, especially in terms of design.
On 27 October 2000, I posted a "Baroque ending"--a double play by Bernini first performed in 1637, again a very early date and closer to what is generally termed the beginning of the Baroque. In The Timetables of History, I found that Poussin painted The Arcadian Shepherds (Et In Arcadia Ego) in 1638 and in Rome! This surprised me because I always viewed that particular painting as holding strong Romantic and Neo-Calssical evocations--again a date much earlier than I expected.
I stated that Bernini's play capsulized Western cultures new bifurcation, so what was this new split? The fact that the Roman Catholic Church was no longer 'believed' to be the harbinger of the 'true' reality throughout Europe is now on one side and the Roman Catholic Church's now mostly violent (albeit sanctimonious) insistence that they were still the 'true' reality is on the other side. Europe, between roughly 1528 and 1637 was very much a bloody double theater.
The above is only a very basic outline of a (new) thesis (for me) that the essential Baroque occurred between 1528 and 1637. There are many more factors to consider and research, e.g., the rise of French political and cultural 'power' during the same period. I realize that the [so-called?] Mannerist period occurred within the early half of what I now propose as the Baroque's essential 'period', but I also propose that architecture after 1637 is Reenactionary, specifically reenacting the Baroque 'play'.
Does it help to be 'baroque' when analyzing the Baroque?

diversity and entropy
I agree with you that Baroque architecture is not a product of 17th century politics, because Baroque architecture is more the product of 16th century politics (especially politics outside Italy that destabilized Italy). The Baroque of the 17th century is really just a reenactment of its illusory 16th century self, meaning the 17th century Baroque mirrors the 16th century Baroque. To understand the Baroque fully, you must learn to recognize both the illusory self of the Baroque and the Baroque's mirrored reenactment of its illusory self. For reflection of the Baroque to be true requires the Baroque's reflection to be Baroque as well.

2002.04.18 12:49
Re: venturi and koolhaas
Yes, yes, yes I'm all for the naughty aesthetic, even in its present breaking the silence state. Wunderbar!
Was watching the noon news on TV--plane crashes into Milan skyscraper--SOS was sent first--hopefully really an accident.
18 April 1999 I sent tsPOWa to design-l and quite a few other email lists.
Those naughty, naughty sometimes calendrical coincidental double theatric reenactments!
Professor Aplomb

2004.06.11 10:38
life imitates art?
If memory itself is humanity's primal manifestation of reenactment, and ritual is humanity's second manifestation of reenactment, is theater like number three?
"So what's double theater?"
"That's mostly baroque."

2006.05.19 17:48
Rem=Renaissance Greg Lynn=Baroque
Try my patented Baroque Pregnancy test. If you fulfill all of the following requirements, then you are "bestimmt Barock".
1. does your work manifest a bifurcation of the real and the illusory?
2. does your work introduce mirroring as a henceforth dominant theme?
3. does your work invert reality into a reenactment of its own illusory mirror?
If you cannot answer yes to any of the above questions, then you are unfortunately not Baroque, however, you can now try my new patented fertility pills.

2007.11.09 10:56
It rocked Eisenman on his chair...
Giovanni Battista Piranesi died today in 1778, on the feast of the dedication of the Basilica Constantiniani (known today as the Basilica of St. John Lateran), the first Christian basilica in Rome.
"Piranesi uses the Rome that was extent in the eighteenth century as a starting point, but that possesses no original value; it is merely a being in the present. From this existential moment of being, he takes buildings that existed in the first and second centuries, in Imperial Rome, and places them in the same framework of time and space as the eighteenth-century city."
--Peter Eisenman, "Notations of Affect. An Architecture of Memory" in Pathos, Affect, Gefühl (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter GmbH, 2004), pp.504-11.
If you actually study the Campo Marzio you'll find the starting point, framework and the millennium's worth of buildings that Piranesi utilized. First there are the altar and race course dedicated to Mars by Romulus in the mid-eighth century BC. Incidentally, this is how the Campo Marzio received its name--the fields of Mars. And to manifest the framework there is the last Imperial artifact of the Campo Marzio, the sepulcher of Empress Maria, wife of Honorius, from the early 5th century AD. Indeed the sarcophagus of Empress Maria] holds a key position within the Il Campo Marzio publication. And to complete the framework, the last page of Il Campo Marzio depicts a double theater.
"reenacting forgetfulness"
how ironic
and there's
more more more
Nolli Schmolli
and windless
Tafuri fury

2008.09.05 08:43
MVRDV masterplan in Tirana
It's not geo-mimicry, it's jury-mimicry!

"Hey, let's design a reenactment of this painting."
"Yeah, we'll do it like abstractly, and when other architects see the scheme they'll start reenacting a design jury."
--excerpt from "Scalping Double Theater Tickets" in The Further Adventures of the Broke Baroque Style.

2009.06.03 09:50
Developing a thesis (and metathesis?) - brainstorming help!
And it's not even Reenactment Season yet!
double your theatrics, double your fun
read this morning:
"When the Convention moved from Versailles to Paris, it reopened in a new hemicycle built into the old palace theatre, the Salle des Machines of the Tuileries, designed by the revolutionary Jacques-Pierre Gisors, even if the semicircular layout, the high colonnade and zenital lighting followed the model of the sober, neo-antique anatomy theatre in the Ecole de la Chirurgie. Although the assembly hall was a bit makeshift (the statues which ornamented its walls were all painted simulations), the hemicycle found favour and was copied when the chamber was enlarged and rebuilt in the Palais-Bourbon. Two centuries later it still serves the Chamber of Deputies. With its obvious division into left and right, it became the model for many parliamentary chambers all over the world--a curious fate for an emulation of an anatomy theatre."
For sure a significant note within "Surgical Double Theater".
now playing:
Siamese, wo bist du, too




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