1 obs : of, relating to, or possessing a power of acting without the agency of matter 2 : notably effective 3 : being functionally or effectively but not formally of its kind
The Ichnographia Campi Martii was originally an etched metallic plate, but has since come down to us as a printed plan carved in virtual stone. Piranesi's plan of the Campo Marzio evokes the Forma urbis as if it too were a genuine piece of archaeological evidence. As a veritable document, however, the Ichnographia Campi Martii lacks authenticity -- the stones are not real, the carving is not real, and the plans within the plan are by and large inaccurate if not altogether fantastic. Moreover, this overall self-evident fraudulence is unquestionably why most historians and theorists of architecture unanimously concur (with Tafuri) that the Ichnographia Campi Martii is a "formless heap of fragments colliding one against the other . . . represented according to a method of arbitrary associations." The error of this interpretation lies in its failure to recognize that through the Ichnographiam Piranesi lifts a dense chunk of historical data out of history and then scrupulously deposits the lot within a virtual realm where all data then delineates an inversion of itself. Bear in mind that this virtual realm, where in simple terms the negative becomes the positive and the positive becomes the negative, precisely defines the working realm of an engraver.
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