Ichnographia Campus Martius plus ultra
me and Ichnographia
I thought of the phrase from, I think, one of my 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 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--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 a historical reenactment, and the difference between the two is as distinct as the difference between death and life, between something finished and something ongoing.
The Ichnographia is a powerful reenactment 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 reenacts the architectural 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 reenactment 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 reenactment: is he high-priest or the producer-director-playwright?
The opening stage for the reenactment 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 reenactment of the Forma Urbis--a virtual reenactment 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 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 [the architecture and urbanism of] Imperial Rome.
"There comes a moment (though not always) in research when all the pieces begin to fall into place, as in a jig-saw puzzle, where all the pieces are near at hand and only one figure can be assembled (and thus the correctness of each move be determined immediately), in research only some of the piece are available, and theoretically more than one figure can be made from them. In fact, there is always the risk of using, more or less consciously, the pieces of he jig-saw puzzle as blocks in a construction game. For this reason, the fact that everything falls into place is an ambiguous sign: either one is completely right or completely wrong. When wrong, we mistake for objective verification the selection and solicitation (more or less deliberate) of the evidence, which is forced to confirm the presuppositions (more or less explicit) of the research itself. The dog thinks it is biting the bone and is instead biting its own tail."
Carlo Ginzburg and Adriano Prosperi, Giochi di pazienza: Un seminario sul "Beneficio di Cristo" (Turin: Einuadi, 1975), p. 84.
Ichnographia book - note 2
From: Complete Puzzlement
To: Puzzlement Complete
Re: a personal journey.
...the first time I learned of the Ichnographia and how it is inextricably linked to a story I learned about Louis Kahn. ...call attention to all the Kahn disciples in charge of my education. ...my thesis project (which is inspired by both Kahn and Stirling).
Cooper, Pratt, Vallhonrat and my first CAD training, Carles and 3-D, my two years at Penn--is not Piranesi based, but it contains many Kahn connections. ...my construction of the 3-D model of Center City as my entrée to Julia Converse and the Kahn Collection, and thus my first attempt of a CAD construction of an unbuilt architectural design. ...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 scenario.
...discovery of the two states of the Ichnographia today at the Fine Arts Library of the University of Pennsylvania.
bibliography; process reenactment 2584
...the proposed annotated bibliography as producing a narrative text... ...actually a record of how the research process and my knowledge of the Campo Marzio grew, changed, and developed along the way. Nearly all the texts contributed major pieces of the puzzle, and, while it could be looked at as a grand collage, the final picture is nonetheless a strongly cohesive unit of data that points ostenibly to the fact that Piranesi knew virtually all there is to know about the ancient Roman Campo Marzio, and, moreover, the Ichnographia is the metabolic catharsis of Piranesi’s almost unfathomable assimilation of knowledge attained throughout the decade or so immediately prior to the drawing of the Ichnographia and the ultimate publication of Il Campo Marzio. Last night I thought of how Piranesi’s first mode of operation was assimilation of the data--this lead to years of more and more intense osmosis with the material as well--and finally the abundant assimilation and osmosis sparked a whole new metabolic catharsis which manifested itself as Il Campo Marzio.
...the notes comprise the narrative of the investigation and the coming together of the pieces of the puzzle.
...there came the realization that Le Antichità Romane begins with fragments of the Forma Urbis followed by displays of Rome’s city walls. This brings to mind the notion that Piranesi first presents the pieces of the puzzle followed by the edges of the puzzle. This is interesting in terms of the Il Campo Marzio then being the completion of the puzzle (and beyond), thus providing Hypersize Sagacity with its opening premise.
Quaestio Abstrusa 001
Quaestio abstrusa is the Latin for puzzle...
Re: quaestio abstrusa
I found the phrase in the English to Latin section of a pocket Latin/English dictionary. I was looking up the Latin word for puzzle and 'quaestio abstrusa' was the first entry. I wanted to verify the meaning by then looking up 'quaestio abstrusa' in the Latin to English section but the phrase was not listed, nor was the phrase in the large 1904 Latin to English dictionary I occassionally use.
Anyway, I very much like your translation--'a difficult quest' is indeed the nature of any worthwhile puzzle.
QA002: the PSA of CRI
The architectures of the Roman Empire executed from the reign of Diocletian through to the reign of Julian come to represent the extraordinary transition of a Pagan architecture into a Christian architecture. That this enormous transformation occurred within the rule of one family only further compounds the large scale historicity of the event. Both the Constantinian dynasty and the architecture it produced present a gigantic puzzle with many diverse pieces, some of which fit nicely together, some of which fit strangely together, and some of which are missing entirely. The last piece of the puzzle is also no doubt the most ironic. Julian (the Apostate), who reigned as emperor from 361 to 363, renounced his Christianity and briefly revived imperial Paganism. Moreover, Julian is the last ruler in history to attempt a rebuilding of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.
Sagacity Virtually Carved in Stone
The whole approach will be one of serendipity, and indeed pieces of a puzzle.
5. The double theater of the TYPE--an almost unbelievable find; a completely unforeseen piece of the puzzle.
10. “piecing together some of architecture’s pivotal puzzles”
Unthinking an Architecture... ...as a kind of fragmented puzzle.
...and speaking of random tangents
"Thus the book is a puzzled book, just as it deals with a puzzling character in a changing and puzzling world."
Tacet - Silence in Architecture
You'll have to provide some examples, because I don't fully agree with your 'of course' assessment. I can see what you say being true in terms of how a night sky completely devoid of man-made light literally offers the universe, but there's also the joy of exercising focus while searching through a thousand puzzle pieces (all the stars) to find the ones you want (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn).
Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are relatively easy to find on a clear night in the city (where you don't see all the stars), because, after the Moon and Venus, they are brighter than the rest of the heavenly bodies.
from "The Idea of Time in the Work of James Joyce"
"If time remains external to Proust, if he gives it an existence apart, isolated from his characters, for Joyce, on the
contrary, it remains the inseparable factor, the primary element at the base of his work.
This is why he creates his own time, as he creates his vocabulary and his characters. He soon elaborates what he
receives from reality by a mysterious chemistry into new elements bearing the marks of this personality. But even as
he metamorphoses the countryside, the streets of Dublin, the beach, the monuments, he mixes all this into what appears to us at first sight as a chaos. This chaos is the condition necessary to all creation. The cards are shuffled to begin a new game and all the elements of a universe are mingled before a new world is made, in order that new forms may be given birth. A total refutation of man and his milieu, a rejection of combinations already used, a need of fine new instruments. Joyce dashes the scenes of the world down pellmell to find an unhackneyed meaning and a law that is not outdated in the arrangement he is afterward to give them. To do this it is fitting that he should at the outset break through the too-narrow restraints of time and space; he must have an individual conception of these dimensions and adopt them to the necessities of his creation. In Ulysses, and still more in Work in Progress [ultimately Finnegans Wake], we seem to be present at the birth of a world. In this apparent chaos we are conscious of a creative purpose, constructive and architectural, which has razed every conventional dimension, concept and vocabulary, and selected from their scattered material the elements of a new structure. Joyce has created his language, either by writing words phonetically--and Heaven knows such a method is enough to discipline English--or by introducing foreign words and dialect forms, or finally by the wholesale manufacture of words which he requires and which are not to be had at second hand. And it is all done with an unprecedented. creayve power, with an almost unique fertility of imagtnation, inexhaustibly reinforced by the incredible extent of his culture. In the field of verbal richness Joyce has annexed the seemingly impregnable position of Rabelais; but whereas in Rabelais, form was under no direction other than that of an amused fantasy, in Joyce it is the handmaid of a philosophy. Work in Progress seems to be based on the historical theory of Vico--an actual recreation of the world its ideas and its forms.
Mr. Elliot Paul well demonstrated recently how Joyce in his composition of Work in Progress revealed an entirely individual conception of time and space.
Marcel Brion, "The Idea of Time in the Work of James Joyce" in Our Exagmination Round His Factification for Incamination of Work in Progress (1929), pp. 28-30.
It is somewhat surprising that Jennifer Bloomer, in Architecture and the Text: The (S)crypys of Jouce and Piranesi, does not relate Joyce's "idea of time" to Piranesi's delineation of the Ichnographia Campus Martius, especially since she already acknowledges Becket's "Dante... Bruno. Vico.. Joyce" which is another text within Our Exagmination Round His Factification for Incamination of Work in Progress. In any case, Brion's description (above) of Joyce's "idea of time" also describes, in many similar ways, how Piranesi seems to have composed the Ichnographia.