model / misbehavior

not playing "tricky precedent," just jpg du jour

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Piranesi's imagination
On the second night of my conversation with Sue Dixon we talked mainly about Piranesi, and especially his role as a proto-metabolic thinker/designer/etc. In the previous nights conversation we discussed the plurality and the assimilation/metabolism mix of our present time. While thinking during the day between our two conversations, it dawned on me more clearly that some physical manifestation of metabolism has been around since the appearance of the kidneys (from 1700 to 1800). It also dawned on me that Piranesi spans exactly the same period as the beginning of metabolism.
I asked Sue if she would agree that what Piranesi did (especially) in the Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio was to metabolize Roman architecture. After Sue asked me to again define metabolism, she then wholeheartedly agreed that metabolizing was exactly what Piranesi was doing, but not only in the Campo Marzio. Sue immediately talked about Piranesi's chimney pieces and candelabra as designs composed through a breaking down and re-combination of many disparate historical elements.
To further the discussion, and as an aside, I mentioned that I believe that the early modern movement in architecture falls much more in the camp of assimilation (absorption and purging), and that only in some (perhaps rare) cases did modern architecture reach the metabolic camp, e.g. I believe Le Corbusier's late architecture is a prime example of how an architect can make the transition from assimilation to metabolism.
Sue then brought up some of Piranesi's other works, namely the Prisons, and I said I thought they were Piranesi's good-bye to assimilation. Sue talked about how there is no clear source of patronage for the Prisons, and how that may suggest a more personal involvement on Piranesi's part, and then by extension the Prisons may carry a personal/specific message. Sue also made the point that there are two Prison series (something like 20 years apart), and that they are different in execution, and she was therefore led to question again if there is a very personal message to be gotten for the two series.



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