Hadrian, Plotina, and Paulina Domitia, etc.
According to the biography of Hadrian, he was a favorite of Plotina. In fact, there is some cause to believe that it was Plotina that got Hadrian named as sucessor at Trajan's deathbed. ...more symbolism along the axis of life.
Hadrian's birth mother's name was Paulina Domitia, and this fact lead to further speculation as to the meaning of the Sepulchra Familiae Domitorum at the end of the axis of death--the counter point of Hadrian's tomb. There is reference to both Hadrian's real mother and to his adoptive mother within the axes of life and death.
...sheds light on Piranesi's overall intention in (re-)designing (not reconstructing) the Campo Marzio. Piranesi was redrawing/redesigning the Campo Marzio, a redesign not at all capricious, but one based wholeheartedly on a vast amouint of historical facts. That is to say, Piranesi set out to improve the ancient Campo Marzio's "urban plan" without changing the region's existing program.
...reminded of Stirling's notion of evolutionary designing, and his statements about what could or should be considered when designing a house for K.F. Schinkel 200 years after Schinkel's birth. I am also reminded of Tafuri's wrongness in calling the Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio an "experimental design and therefore an unknown."
Piranesi operated on a few planes when generating his plan of the Campo Marzio--there is the redesigned plane, the Pagan-Christian narrative plane, and the plane of (composite?) temporal palimpsest. To make matters difficult, however, none of these planes complies completely with the other two, nor can any of the planes be viewed completely independent of the other two. In essence, Piranesi's (design) methodology emulates the very nature of Rome itself. The Ichnographia is a plan of many layers of meanings and messages which ultimately aptly represents Rome the city of many physical and historical layers.
As an archeologist, Piranesi "redraws" all the layers of Rome's ancient past. As a well educated 18th century Roman Catholic, he "drafts" the narrative of Rome's Pagan to Christian inversion (conversion), and as a highly evolved architect-designer he displays the "Eternal City" with infinite virtuality.
phone conversation with Sue Dixon
I spoke with Sue last Tuesday night, and it was the first time in several months--the first time since I did all the Latin translating. I told her practically everything new that I found and/or figured out, and a few ideas came out of the conversation as well.
1. the notion that the moat around the Bustum Hadriani could represent the limits that Hadrian himself put upon the Empire.
2. where the Bustum Hadriani is within square precinct limits, the Bustum Caesaris Augusti is outside circular precinct limits. This is another example of the two Busti being inversions of each other.
4. Sue had a clear notion of what Tafuri means with regard to Piranesi's loss of language, in that [Tafuri thought] Piranesi was engrossed in mere words (the individual plans of the Ichnographia) and thereby lost or disregarded the notion of composing cohesive sentences, i.e., a workable and properly planned urban design. We agree that Tafuri's interpretation is indeed wrong because Piranesi's plan is a dense and complex narrative.
After an extended independent analysis of the Ichnographia Campus Martius, it becomes evident that Tafuri misreads Piranesi's large plan in most cases. Tafuri's text indicates no research of the plan beyond simply looking at it and subsequently offering a description of what Tafuri thinks he sees. (In fact, a careful reading of both Tafuri's texts and the text of Fasolo from 1956, clearly shows that Fasolo's text greatly influenced Tafuri's observations.) For example, in calling out the various axes of the Campo Marzio, Tafuri notes the axis running through Hadrian's Tomb, but he fails to recognize it's symbolic function as the Axis of Death; nor does he identify the Axis of Life that runs perpendicular to the Axis of Death. Moreover, Tafuri marginally notes the semblance of an axis within the northeast sector of the plan, yet he never mentions that Piranesi labeled this axis the Equiria, place of the annual horse races instituted by Romulus in honor of Mars.
These are just two examples which plainly demonstrate that Piranesi's plan holds significant and coherent symbolic content, however, recognition of Piranesi's "carved in stone" symbolism necessarily negates Tafuri's primary thesis that the Ichnographiam Campi Martii is utterly fragmented and devoid of "language." Ironically, had Tafuri not discounted the presence of language and instead actually translated the hundreds of Latin labels Piranesi applies throughout the plan, he would have concluded with a more accurate, if not also a more honest reading.
It is truly unfortunate that the subsequent 20th century Campo Marzio analyses of Allen, Bloomer, and Eisenman, build upon Tafuri's mistakes rather than correct them.
Eisenman should read this
Eisenman's reference/connection/interpretation of the interstitial within the Campo Marzio is a case of mis-identification. There is an interstitial within the Campo Marzio, but it is not the smaller (vernacular) non-descript buildings that Eisenman points to. The interstitial of the Campo Marzio are precisely the Latin labels that Piranesi intersperses throughout the large plan that holds the entire design of the large plan together.
It is ironic that Tafuri states that it is exactly language that is missing from the Campo Marzio, when, in fact, it is precisely language that congeals the large plan into a cohesive whole.
There is far more order than disorder within the Ichnographia.
It was throughout the month of April 1998 that I translated all the Latin labels that Piranesi positioned next to the hundreds of building plans within the Ichnographia Campus Martius, a large map/plan of ancient Rome's Campus Martius "reconstructed". I used E. A. Andrews' A New Latin Dictionary of 1907 (a book about one and a half times the size of Koolhaas' S,M,L,XL) to do the translating, and this exercise proved extremely fruitful because I am now wholly knowledgeable of, if not an expert on, the "program" of every building that Piranesi delineated within the plan that at least one scholar deemed incomprehensible.*
After learning the meanings of over four hundred Latin words, beginning with abeo:
- to go from, to go away, depart
- to pass away, so that no trace remains, to disappear, vanish, cease, of man: to die
- to be changed from one's own ways or nature into something else, to be transformed, metamorphosed
- to pass with their whole body into another
and ending with xystus:
- among the Romans, an open colonnade or portico, or a walk planted with trees, etc., for recreation, conversation, philosophical discussion, etc.,
there is one definition that stands out in my mind more than any other. To my surprise, I found out that the god Mars, for whom the Campus Martius is named, had a sister, and her name was Bellona:
the goddess of war, sister of Mars, whose temple, built by Appius Claudius Caesus in the ninth district of the city, was situated not far from the Circus Flaminius -- a place of assemblage for the Senate for proceedings with persons who were not allowed entrance into the city. Her priests, Bellonarii, and priestesses were accustomed, in their mystic festivals, especially on the 20th of March, (hence dies sanguinis), to gash their arms and shoulders with knives, and thus offer their blood.
* Manfredo Tafuri, in Architecture and Utopia (p. 15), states that "Piranesi's Campo Marzio . . . is an experimental design and the city, therefore, remains an unknown." Tafuri's conclusion of the large plan's "unknowability" is clearly an error.
Portrayed as both the home of Rome's military operations and the site of Rome's oldest annual festivity, Piranesi's Equiria takes on a symbolic significance beyond just the honoring Mars. Within its overall Campo Marzio context, the Equiria, as both age-old secular/equestrian axis and axis of war, represents the backbone of ancient Rome's civic and martial pride.
Fasolo (1956) mistakenly identifies the Equiria as a "minor river," and Tafuri sees the Equiria as a "second alignment, regulated by a rectilinear axis." Both Italian historians failed to recognized the Equiria's true symbolic and urban design significance.
Officinae machinarum militarium
Tafuri, a late 20th century Italian architectural historian, describes the Officinae machinarum militarium as a "clockwork mechanism, in which, however, there is an independence of the parts and a lack of interest in formal qualities." Unfortunately, he failed to recognized the overriding "martian" theme of Piranesi's Equiria design, and only scrutinized the geometry of the military factories. Even more disappointing is the fact that Tafuri did not seize upon the appropriateness of associating "clockwork" with factories. In Piranesi's defense, the spaial layout of the Officinae machinarum militarium and the Officinae Armorum is extremely connective because of the many door openings throughout the complex, a quality completely suitable for manufacturing and assembledge processes.
eros et thanatos
Re: irrational architecture
...with regard to contemporary architecture's relationship with the rational and the irrational. The vital, albeit still largely missing, ingredient of this analysis/phenomenon, however, is the creative-destructive nature of the metabolic (imagination). To reinforce my "theories" here, I offer the following quotation, along with some further analysis/explanation.
from: Manfredo Tafuri, Architecture and Utopia - Design and Capitalist Development (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1976), pp. 15-16.
"Rationalism would seem thus to reveal its own irrationality. In the attempt to absorb all its own contradictions, architectural "reasoning" applies the technique of shock to its very foundations. Individual architectural fragments push one against the other, each indifferent to jolts, while as an accumulation they demonstrate the uselessness of the inventive effort expended on their formal definition.
The archeological mask of Piranesi's Campo Marzio fools no one: this is an experimental design and the city, therefore, remains an unknown. Nor is the act of designing capable of defining new constants of order. This colossal piece of bricolage conveys nothing but a self-evident truth: irrational and rational are no longer to be mutually exclusive. Piranesi did not possess the means for translating the dynamic interrelationships of this contradiction into form. He had, therefore, to limit himself to enunciating emphatically that the great new problem was that of the equilibrium of opposites, which in the city find its appointed place: failure to resolve this problem would mean the destruction of the very concept of architecture."
Tafuri must here be taken to task because he comes extremely close to the truth about Piranesi and his large plan of the Campo Marzio, but he then falls fatally short of seeing the truth. Tafuri is absolutely wrong when he states, "Piranesi did not possess the means for translating the dynamic interrelationships of this contradiction into form." In truth, Piranesi worked very hard to "translate" the opposite yet necessarily linked notions of life and death (rational and irrational) within his great plan, and I have substantially documented Piranesi's (metabolic operations) in "Eros et Thanatos Ichnographia Campi Martii". Stated briefly, Eros names the life instinct and Thanatos names the death instinct, and Piranesi carefully delineates (between 1758-1762) both these "instincts" within the ancient city of Rome.
It is becoming more and more clear to me that any discussion of the rational and the irrational (in design and capitalism) tends to lead toward confusions unless they acceptingly incorporate the over riding creative-destructive nature of the metabolic (imagination).