Koolhaas versus the Actor
Tafuri's ultimate mistake appears on page 40 of The Sphere and the Labyrinth: "The swarm of theoretically equivalent forms--theorems constructed around a single thesis--makes it clear that Piranesi's intent in the Campo Marzio is to draw attention to the birth--necessary and terrifying--of an architecture bereft of the signified, split off from any symbolic system, from any "value" other than architecture itself."
Again, Tafuri is completely wrong because, in correct terms, Piranesi actually drew the birth of an architecture of reenactment.
i haven't studies the campo marzio drawings closely, it certainly looks like you have. do you have a digital copy of the campo marzio drawing in good resolution? could you post it in the image gallery? i don't have access to a good library here, and i'd like to be able to look at the drawings when reading your comments. you should probably write that and publish it, it's very interesting.
but. i'm not sure if your eventual conclusions altogether disqualify tafuri's bigger argument related to 'postmodern' [yes i know he doesn't use that word] architecture. the birth of the architecture bereft of the signified, split from any symbolic system... has a very parallel, almost identical meaning to 'the birth of the architecture of reenactment'. haven't you both arrived at the same point, both head and tail turning into each other?
but i admit i hadn't read through all your comments on tafuri vs piranesi before, and i've found them very enlightening- i would have liked to see some diagrams included, though.
aml, I do have a digital version of the Ichnographia in its second printed state, but it's in separate scanned pieces, and even each piece is a large file, so I won't be uploading anything to the image gallery just yet. What I can do is restore the Encyclopedia Ichnographica back to what it was at quondam 20 March 2000. Plus, "Inside the Density of Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius" (the paper written for the INSIDE DENSITY colloquium Brussels, Belgium 1999) will very soon be uploaded at museumpeace--there are lots of diagrams there.
Can you at least explain how "architecture bereft of the signified, split from any symbolic system... has a very parallel, almost identical meaning to 'the birth of the architecture of reenactment'?" I see lots of architecture of reenactment that's very much signifying and very much comingled with a symbolic system. Again, the Ichnographia Campi Martii is all signifiers and symbolic system which Tafuri missed entirely. Tafuri's take on the Campo Marzio is what's really bereft here, isn't it?
[5 May 1821 Napoleon died on St. Helena Island. There's a game of solitaire called Napoleon at St. Helena or 40 Thieves. I've known about the game since the summer of 1972, and have played several thousand games of it since. What's neat about this game is that a winning game is like an incredible good luck machine everytime. I don't know if there is actually any verification that Napoleon ever really played solitaire on St. Helena Island. He really wasn't in complete solitary exile, afterall.]
...i can try.
tafuri starts with the analysis of james stirling's leicester laboratory. initially it might be argued that this building is using a symbolic system [ships, machine aesthetic, other buildings], but tafuri argues the way this reenactment is being done [and one of the key points is reenacting other buildings, this second stage removement] splits it, removes it from the symbolic system... no longer a direct reference, architecture with stirling is referencing itself [i am oversimplifying- i haven't read this essay for about 1 1/2 years]
another way of looking at this is in general looking at the five architects. here again, we have an architecture of self-reference, the five architects referencing le corbusier's forms without a direct connection with the origin of the forms.
this self-referentiality problem brings about 2 choices for tafuri [i have afterwards split them into 4, but that's a whole paper], speak or be silent. silent like rossi, where you'll say more and be more powerful [he tacitly gives him this power] or speak like carlo aymonino [the 2 gallaratesses facing each other] arch-referentiality ending with a dismisal of the sign.
after reading the museumpeace piece, i agree that tafuri missed on 'the signifiers and symbolic system of the campo marzio.' i guess i'll have to read your paper to understand how this disqualifies the whole argument on l'architecture dans le boudoir. first, i don't think it's built on that stone, and second, it is the self-referentiality of architecture [piranesi, check] and the shifting of signifiers [piranesi, check, i would say, but still i'd had to read your paper] that tafuri is basing his argument on.
I have a very old xerox of "l'architecture dans le boudoir" and I'll re-read it now.
L'Architecture dans la Boudoir:
The language of criticism and the criticism of language
Translation by Victor Caliandro
One of the recent and serious developments of theoretical work--the Italian movements during the sixties--is paradoxically one of the least known in the States. OPPOSITIONS begins the presentation and discussion of this important body of ideas with the publication of "L'Architecture dans la Boudoir" by Manfredo Tafuri, one of the more representative figures of this period.
Tafuri's work, profoundly marked by his philosophical position within the dialectic materialist approach, has been developed by means of modern theoretical concepts drawn from French and Italian structuralism. With this basis he has developed a personal position which he calls a "productive criticism," which is rigorously grounded in history. Within his perspective, he is able to develp a critique of more traditional approaches to theory, this has led him from a central focus on a criticism of architecture to a criticism of ideology.
This initial presentation is important for the fact that it contains some of Tafuri's central ideas, discussed not only with respect to an Italian context but also in relation to the latest tendencies in American architecture. Tafuri develops and discusses a typology for different approaches to criticism, in which he distinguishes three possibilities for criticism. The first is the consideration of language as a technical neutrality; the second, the consideration of the dissolution of language, and the third is the consideration of architecture as irony and criticism. A fourth possibility which is in essence his own position, recognizes the importance of the attempts to organize intellectual work in general and "architecture" in particular within the social process of production. For Tafuri the "general organization of the building process" becomes then the olny valid object of analysis for a criticism that aims in this way to integrate itself within that process.
Manfredo Tafuri was born in Rome in 1935. He graduated in architecture in 1960, and has taught the history of architecture at the Universities of Rome, Milan and Palermo. Since 1968 he has been chairman of the Faculty of the History of Architecture and the Director of the Institute of History at the Architecture Insitiute in Venice. He is a member of the Scientific Council at the International Center of Studies of Architecture "Andrea Palladio" of Vicenza and on the committee of editors of the magazine Archithese. His published works include: Teorie e storia dell'architectura, Bari, 1968; L'Architettura dell'Umanesimo, Bari, 1969; Progetto e utopia, Bari, 1973; La cittą americana dalla guerra civile al New Deal (in collaboration), Bari, 1973. He is presently working on a book on the study of the relationship between the avant-garde and contemporary architecture.
This essay, published here for the first time, was originally a presentation in Italian, "L'Architecture dans le Boudoir: il linguaggio della critica e la critica del linguaggio," part of the lecture series "Practice, Theory and Politics in Architecture" held at Princeton University in April 1974.