Encyclopedia Ichnographica




Envisioning the Past
2005.06.25 14:15

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.

Krautheimer and Johnson
2005.07.07 15:23

It just never occurred to him before that the Mausoleum of Romulus/Circus of Maxentius complex (which reenacts the almost two hundred years earlier Mausoleum of Hadrian/Circus of Hadrian complex) became the paradigm, albeit inverted, for all the Roman Christian "church" architecture immediately after the Basilica Constantiniani (St. John Lateran) and the Basilica San Pietro Vaticano. That aerial shot of the Mausoleum of Constantina (Santa Costanza) adjacent the circus-like dining hall first "basilica" of St. Agnes made it all so clear. If only the circus-like dining hall first "basilica" of Sts. Pietro and Marcellinus adjacent the Mausoleum of Helena were still to be seen from the air. How clever of Eutropia and Helena to invert the pagan 'munus' architecture into Christian 'munus' architecture, and how very clever of Piranesi to secretly hide all this architectural history information within the ever quaestio abstrusa Ichnographia Campi Martii.

Will Your Work Be Remembered?
2005.08.05 14:36

Since memory is really a mental reenactment, perhaps the better question is, "Will your work will be reenacted?"

Be careful though, because reenactment without giving credit to the source is plagiarism.

A bit of my work was 'remembered' by David R. Marshall in "Piranesi, Juvarra, and the Triumphal Bridge Tradition" (in The Art Bulletin, June 2003) when in footnote 155 Marshall states, "...but the Area Martis through to the Nympheum Neronis, including the Templum Martis is a hieroglyph of St. Peter's, to which it corresponds topographically." Marshall does not name the 1998.05.10 source of this information, however. Furthermore, Marshall's note is misinformation in that the Porticus Neroniani and not the Nympheum Neronis forms part of the 'hieroglyph'.

2005.10.10 09:30

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

It's all about the co-joining of memory (i.e., mental reenactment) and architecture.

I wonder if Robbe-Grillet began Jealousy with a floor plan because that's how the ancient Roman art of mnemonics was taught? The Ichnographia Campus Martius is certainly Piranesi's greatest mnemonic floor plan.

Are people without good memories instinctually jealous of those that have good memories?

Does having a good memory also make for having a better phenomenology?

2006.06.03 08:59

The genre enacted in One Hundred Years of Solitude is of course magic realism. The energies shaping that genre's procedures are no less political than aesthetic. Magic realism's swerve from realism operates, as Kumkum Sangari and others have argued, as a critical revision of realism. This is critically charged reseeing, not sentimental escape from seeing. "Metaphor is turned into event," Sangari writes, "precisely so that it will not be read as event, but folded back into metaphor as disturbing, resonant image." Metaphor shows, Utopianly, what is missing in the real. In Amaryll Canady's terms, magic realism "challenges realistic representation in order to introduce poiesis* into mimesis**." The correspondence model fueling both realism (positively) and modernism (negatively) is eclipsed.
--Philip Weinstein, Unknowing: The Work of Modern Fiction (2005), p. 241-2.

It could be said that Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius is precursive of the magic realism genre.

*It seems logical that no reenactment occurs without an enactment occurring first...
**reenactment's most inescapable limit is that it can never be as original as that which it reenacts.

Theory Part II - Doing What I Said I Would Do...
2007.03.27 13:25

Ever notice how much Stalinist Architecture reenacts Piranesi's architecture within the four aerial perspective views within Il Campo Marzio dell'Antica Romae?




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