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2005.04.17 11:29
lebbeus woods and Piranesi
db, please indicate where Tafuri is right about the Ichnographia Campus Martius. Of course, Tafuri didn't even know Piranesi printed two different versions of the Ichnographia Campus Martius, but why should that mean anything?
At the very beginning of The Sphere and the Labyrinth, Tafuri quotes from a text by Carlo Ginzburg and Adriano Prosperi: "There comes a moment (though not always) in research when all the pieces begin to fall into place, as in a jig-saw puzzle, where all the pieces are near at hand and only one figure can be assembled (and thus the correctness of each move be determined immediately), in research only some of the pieces are available, and theoretically more than one figure can be made from them. In fact, there is always the risk of using, more or less consciously, the pieces of the jig-saw puzzle as blocks in a construction game. For this reason, the fact that everything falls into place is an ambiguous sign: either one is completely right or completely wrong. When wrong, we mistake for objective verification the selection and solicitation (more or less deliberate) of the evidence, which is forced to confirm the presuppositions (more or less explicit) of the research itself. The dog thinks it is biting the bone and is instead biting its own tail."
"So where is Tafuri now?"
"Why he's in the ether playground, just where he's always been."

2005.05.09 09:45
Koolhaas versus the Actor
I too am interested in this discussion. In fact, you're the first person to discuss Tafuri vis-a-vis the Campo Marzio with me online, and I appreciate your knowledge of the subject.
For the sake of clarity, I wish to restate my argument(s).
1. Manfredo Tafuri is no authority when it comes to Piranesi's Ichnographia Campi Martii.
2. Tafuri no where demonstrates an understanding of reenactment as it relates to the generation and history of architectural design.
3. It is many times more valuable to reenact architectures than it is to reenact architectural critics/historians.
Yesterday, I re-read Eisenman's "The Wicked Critic" (in ANY 26, February 2000), and as far as Piranesi's Campo Marzio is concerned, Eisenman only continues to reiterate Tafuri's mistakes. Eisenman does, however, mention that Piranesi moved some building locations within the Campo Marzio plan, and up to that point I/Quondam are the only published sources of that type of information, so Eisenman is not altogether disclosing of where he gets some of his information. This relates to the issue of texts/data published online in that such publications should rightly be referenced (at least footnoted).
David R. Marshall in "Piranesi, Javarra, and the Triumphal Bridge Tradition" (The Art Bulletin, June 2003) also relates information regarding the Campo Marzio plan, that prior was only available at Quondam, without giving the reference a proper citing.
Hani Rashid is likewise guilty of the same inaction...
As far as I'm concerned, architectural academia isn't necessarily all that trustworthy.

2005.06.25 14:15
Envisioning the Past
Sam Smiles and Stephanie Moser, editors, Envisioning the Past: Archaeology and the Image (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005).
I've been looking forward to getting/reading this book for almost a year now because of Susan M. Dixon's "Illustrating Ancient Rome, or the Ichnographia as Uchronis and Other Time Warps in Piranesi's Il Campo Marzio." therein.
I've known Sue Dixon since 1975, as we started architecture school together. Sue and I had many phone conversations regarding Piranesi and the Campo Marzio from 1994 to 1997. We hardly communicate at all anymore, and that's mostly because Sue sees my Campo Marzio work as too outside the realm of academia and also somewhat infringing upon the work that she herself wanted/wants to do. In her last email to me (of almost two years ago) she actually suggested that "publishing via the web is not copyrighted." Of course, I immediately informed her that her supposition was completely bogus, and it is indeed unfortunate that such a notion is indicative of how academia chooses to view any kind of publishing that is outside of academia's own control.
I still like Sue, but I don't like the academic mold that she and all others like her have to conform to. I particularly dislike how my unprecedented Campo Marzio work remains academically unrecognized. Granted, I was surprised to find Sue actually mentioned me in a footnote within her essay above, but all that really does is point to a rather large lacunae in her references. I'll be "de-constructing" "Illustrating Ancient Rome..." in a series of subsequent posts... Here's something for starters:
The whole point of Dixon's "Illustrating Ancient Rome..." occurs in one sentence on page 121:
"In this sense, the Ichnographia reads as a memory of an ancient Roman past rather than a historical reconstruction of it."
This passage is remarkably similary to a sentence within the abstract to "Inside the Density of G.B Piranesi's Ichnographia Campi Martii" which I wrote in 1999:
"The hundreds of individual building plans and their Latin labels within the Campo Marzio do not "reconstruct" ancient Rome as much as they "reenact" it."
It looks like Sue hasn't realized that human memory itself is nothing but a reenactment.
...footnote 16 of "Illustrating Ancient Rome..." reads:
I thank Stephen Lauf for pointing out this late fourth-century monument. It is situated on the right bank of the Tiber, just south of the bridge leading to the Mausoleum of Hadrian.
The monument Dixon notes is the Arch of Gratian and Valentinian II, but the arch that Piranesi delineates within the Ichnographia is the Arch of Gratian, Valentinian and Theodosius, so I'm not really sure what Sue is thanking me for (and I certainly hope that she is not somehow covertly implicating me as to making a mistaking identification). There are a couple of possibilities as to what really happened here:
1. Sue could be recalling some long ago phone conversation that we had. I doubt this though.
2. Sue is referencing (albeit incorrectly) page 6.1 of "Inside the Density...". If this is the case, then she should certainly have provided the full bibliographical reference.
3. Sue could be referencing the "Honorius, Flavius" entry of Encyclopedia Ichnographica that was published at Quondam in 1998. The Arch of Gratian, Valentinian and Theodosius is indicated there as well.

2005.07.26 11:24
architectural language
A lot of it is a house of cards. Those that warm up to it are just not smart enough to find the real faults, and believe me they are there, (for example--link to mp/15/1426). Worst of all, most are now afraid to admit the mistakes (just like US Catholic Bishops) because the power and control will be revealed for the myth it really is.

2005.08.08 15:58
"How Did This Happen Revisited"
Last Friday I read about Vitruvius Britannicus in Architectural Theory: from the Renaissance to the Present (Taschen, 2003) and was surprised to learn:
"For Campbell St. Peter's is by no means merely an especially striking expression of architectural abuses on the Continent: it also stands for Italy's cultural decline. As such he emphasizes in his foreword that in the post-Palladian era Italy had not only become estranged from the true "taste of building," but also from the roots of its culture, the Latin language. From this perspective, Italy could no longer be the destination of the Grand Tour. Campbell considers such understandings to be "Mistakes in Education." As the Vitruvius Britannicus is intended to demonstrate, it is now the architects and artists of England who are to take Italy's place as the preservers of timeless, classical taste."
I cannot recall having ever read that Piranesi's [mid-life] oeuvre is in some ways a reaction to Vitruvius Britannicus, but I certainly see [that it coluld be] that way now.

2005.08.22 16:26
"dead wrong" annexed
Maybe the USA should now change it's Constitution so that all President's have to actually pay for their mistakes.

2005.11.10 13:30
It rocked Eisenman in his chair...
When I went to the Fine Arts Library of the University of Pennsylvania on 14 May 1999 it was to see an actual etching of the Ichnographia of the Campo Marzio for the first time. I felt sure I would see the Ichnographia at the Penn library because within the "Illustration Credits" of Jennifer Bloomer's Architecture and the Text (p. 215) it states:
"Giovanni Battista Piranesi, details from Il Campo Marzio dell'Antica Roma: Ichnographia. Etching, six plates. Used by permission of the Fine Arts Library of the University of Pennsylvania."
I asked at the reference desk about Il Campo Marzio..., and I was told there was no such holding in the catalogue. I mentioned the citing in Bloomer's book, and I even went into the book stacks and got Bloomer's book itself to show the librarian. The head librarian was called and he thought to look in the old card catalogue of the Rare Book Room--Penn was then still in the midst of filling data onto it's fairly new online book catalogue and the Rare Book Room holdings were not yet in the electronic catalogue. Sure enough, Penn does possess a 1762 edition of Il Campo Marzio..., but even that was hard to find because the call number on the card was a typographic error. Alas, I finally had an actual Ichnographia unfolded in front of me and within minutes I discovered that the plan I was now looking at was not entirely the same as the plan reproduction that I had up till then been used to looking at. And architectural history changed a little bit that day.
Then knowing that the Ichnographia exists in two versions, I went back to Bloomer's Architecture and the Text to see which version of the Ichnographia are reproduced in detail there. Strangely enough, the details of the Ichnographia reproduced in Architecture and the Text DO NOT match the 1762 Ichnographia at the Fine Arts Library of the University of Pennsylvania.

2006.01.18 17:39
what is the good source to study folding architecture?
MMatt wrote:
"What French is trying to make sure everyone understands here is that "folding" isn't a technique or a style, it's an entire school of thought (philosophically) with just as much theory and thick readings to defend/quantify it as any decon or other pomo sub-strands."
Personally, I've lost most of the confidence I've ever had in this type of sentiment/position as it relates to architectural design. Nonetheless, what MMatt wrote does reflect how most student architects are now trained to think about design, technique or style.
Yet, when it really comes down to an architectural design, folding architecture really does boil down to what it looks like. So, as far as I'm concerned, folding architecture is just another form, in the long history of forms, that architecture can take on, and, like jlxarchitect says, "if it can solve my office project's problem, then it is Ok to use."
Otherwise, the notion of "an entire school of [failed?] thought" is stillborn, rather than being something within the evolutionary continuum of architectural design. And just because it's what is taught in school doesn't necessarily make it the truth. For example, the "Metabolist" architects of Japan talked a lot about architecture reflecting "life giving" forms, while at the same time appearing oblivious to the fact that metabolism as an operation is a creative/destructive duality. Likewise, everything Tafuri and Eisenman said/say about Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius is just plain incorrect, yet their mistakes are taught and published over and over again.
I hope you all now understand what I mean by saying that I've lost confidence...

2006.01.25 11:44
To err is ummm eh Human?
4. Rosa
4. gardens of satire
4. saintly email bombs
4. mnemonics
4. all the errors that remain herein
--dedication of A Quondam Banquet of Virtual Sachlichkeit: Part II
Thinking that others will actually get it might even be a perpetual mistake.

2006.03.07 09:18
Iconography, or the problem of representation
jump, when you write, "it would be a mistake to stop with thinking that once the surface/imagery is done the architecture is too. which is what venturi does so often," it is obvious that you really don't know the work and practice of VSBA. Plus, what you've written overall is a mish-mash of subjectivity mixed with very little objectivity--I'd sort that out before I'd make any sweeping conclusions.

2006.04.01 14:24
Why does much 'avant-garde' design these days look straight out of the Sixties?
In reading your first post here, I was reminded of being in a local 1960s RC church for the first time a few years ago. I was actually quite surprised by it's "radical-ness". I mean, it was the first time I've ever seen a completely black altar in my life. There was indeed something radical about a lot of 60s and 70s architecture. (You'll see that most of Quondam's collecton of unexecuted designs come from 1964-1977.)
Regarding my work involving Piranesi's Ichnographia (starting 1987), it was done completely independent of Eisenman. Back in the early 1990s I was aware of Tafuri's and Bloomer's work, and that's when I started to find thier mistakes. Then, by the end of the 1990s till now, you have Eisenman touting himself as the great understander of the Piranesi's Ichnographia, and, quite frankly, it makes me sick to see such a fraud.

2006.04.04 12:15
Re: Constantine and Christians
Here's Chapter 55 of Book III of Eusebius' Life of Constantine from :
THE emperor's next care was to kindle, as it were, a brilliant torch, by the light of which he directed his imperial gaze around, to see if any hidden vestiges of error might still exist. And as the keen-sighted eagle in its heavenward flight is able to descry from its lofty height the most distant objects on the earth, so did he, while residing in the imperial palace of his own fair city, discover as from a watch-tower a hidden and fatal snare of souls in the province of Phoenicia. This was a grove and temple, not situated in the midst of any city, nor in any public place, as for splendor of effect is generally the case, but apart from the beaten and frequented road, at Aphaca, on part of the summit of Mount Lebanon, and dedicated to the foul demon known by the name of Venus. It was a school of wickedness for all the votaries of impurity, and such as destroyed their bodies with effeminacy. Here men undeserving of the name forgot the dignity of their sex, and propitiated the demon by their effeminate conduct; here too unlawful commerce of women and adulterous intercourse, with other horrible and infamous practices, were perpetrated in this temple as in a place beyond the scope and restraint of law. Meantime these evils remained unchecked by the presence of any observer, since no one of fair character ventured to visit such scenes. These proceedings, however, could not escape the vigilance of our august emperor, who, having himself inspected them with characteristic forethought, and judging that such a temple was unfit for the light of heaven, gave orders that the building with its offerings should be utterly destroyed. Accordingly, in obedience to the imperial command, these engines of an impure superstition were immediately abolished, and the hand of military force was made instrumental in purging the place. And now those who had heretofore lived without restraint learned self-control through the emperor's threat of punishment, as likewise those superstitious Gentiles wise in their own conceit, who now obtained experimental proof of their own folly.



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