quondam piranesi

Stephen Lauf

Inside the Density of G. B. Piranesi's Ichnographia Campi Martii

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reenactment architectures 10.0

From: Stephen Lauf
To: design-l
Subject: Encyclopedia Ichnographica
Date: 1999.11.07 20:43


Thanks all around for your comments and questions regarding the Encyclopedia Ichnographica project, and for your Rowe/Oppositions synopsis, which is an interesting bit of late 20th century architectural (theory/criticism) history I did not know.

You ask if I have plans for the Campo Marzio and the simple answer is yes, I do have plans for my Ichnographia work. My redrawing of the Campo Marzio began as a CAD hobby in 1987--I just got my own cad system at the time and I liked how you could easily mirror copy and rotate pieces of Piranesi's typologies to come up with complete plans; I used to seriously wonder what Piranesi would have done if he had CAD at his finger tips.

It's also interesting that you speculate about a possible "Roma Interruptus (interrumpere)" Since I have so many of the plans already input as CAD data, there is indeed the possibility of a Campo Marzio redux, actually lots and lots of redux redux.

As it stands now, my ongoing investigation and redrawing of the Ichnographia has led to the 'discovery' of a whole new aspect of Piranesi's work that so far no one else has found, namely that the large plan of the Campo Marzio is a readable narrative of Ancient Rome's political and architectural history--but in order to grasp this delineated 'text' one must 'read' in unison the individual plans, the plans in relationship to each other, the plans in relation to where the actual buildings really were, and (this is perhaps the most important) the Latin labels Piranesi gives to each plan. A paper I'm just now completing will be delivered the end of this month at the INSIDE DENSITY colloquium in Brussels, Belgium.

When I read your list of the five types of design, I immediately wondered if the notion of reenactment architectures may engender a sixth category. I know that reenactment is very much related to Mimetics and even Anthropomorphics, but I also see an important distinction between the latter two and the notion of reenactment, in that reenactments are not exactly copies, nor are they reconstructions, rather they are repeated rituals that have a core essence/event that is continual but also slightly changed over time and according to present circumstances. For example, Hadrian's Villa is perhaps the first (virtual) museum of architecture and the first reenactment 'theme park', the reign of Ludwig II of Bavaria was nothing less than a reenactment of previous European absolute monarchies, Disney's Cinderella castle/Magic Kingdom (modeled after Ludwig II's Neuschwanstein Castle) is then a reenactment of a reenactment (deluxe redux redux), Princess Diana's funeral reenacted Ancient Rome's Triumphal Way in every single detail including the massive (global) crowds that watched, and Las Vegas is undoubtedly today's world capital of reenactment architectures, even to the point of synthesizing a new reenactment urbanism. Moreover, now that I think of it, Rowe and Koetter's Collage City in part very much purports reenactment architectures/urbanisms although I believe the word reenactment is never used. Even if reenactment architectures are only a subset of Mimetics, I believe that reenactment architectures will nonetheless become a predominant design methodology throughout the coming millennium. It is then towards the notion of understanding and formulating a theory of reenactment architectures that I plan to further use what Piranesi's Ichnographia Campi Martii teaches me.


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