Piranesi's Campo Marzio plan : the palimpsest of interpretive memory
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This paper examines Piranesi's use of imagination in the ichnographic reconstruction of the Campo Mania area of Ancient Rome. This plan was issued in 1762, but as the structures in the plan appear non-Roman and without apparent historical evidence, this work is termed non archaeological. Piranesi's polemical activities in the pan-Grecian debate between 1758-1765 appear to confirm such readings. By 1765, Piranesi stated an argument against rigid rules in architecture. The Campo Mania plan is seen as a precursor to these later critiques against rules, and hence the product of a free run of imagination. This study reveals that some of the imaginative forms of the plan was shown by Piranesi in other plans issued before 1756. It is possible that in 1748 Piranesi aimed at an overall plan of Rome, which was later abandoned. The Campo Mania plan evolved from this endeavor. This paper also shows the extensive use of historic and literary sources in the Campo Mania plan. This use, and the continuous development of the plan from before 1756 renders a polemical reading of the plan untenable. In the eighteenth century, the scientific objectivity of archeology was not codified. The Renaissance's objective of urban reconstruction was to provide an 'image' of ancient Rome, and thus imagination had a role in urban reconstruction. Piranesi's aim in Campo Mania was thus to provide an 'image' of ancient Rome. The main sources of imagination in the Campo Mania plan were the images of ancient Rome provoked by the existing ruins. As most of these ruins were incomplete, they gave Piranesi only fragmented images. Piranesi's memory fragments are not unique; Montano, Peruzzi, Ligorio, and even Palladio's study of antiquity shows similar collection of images. Hence there was a similar image of ancient Rome in the historic consciousness of the Renaissance and the Baroque. In the use of these memory fragments, Piranesi employed the inference that innovation within rules was a trait of the ancient Roman architecture. This inference stemmed from Lodoli's critique of Vitruvius and the Baroque use of ancient models considered not confirming to the Vitruvian rules. Thus Piranesi's argument against rules in the pan-Grecian debate stemmed from similar convictions. Hence for Piranesi, the memory fragments became malleable, to be extended and interpreted within the innovative boundaries of the rules of the ancients. The underlay of Campo Marzio's forms is platonic geometry, primarily due to the iconographic format of the plan. The Campo Mania plan is then the ichonographic geometric iterations of the transformation and collaging of memory fragments, similar to other works in other genres. As the culmination of Piranesi's study of the Marble Plan and antiquarian work in Antichita Romane, for an overall plan of Rome, Campo Mania plan can be termed as the palimpsest of Piranesi's interpretive memory.
Thesis (M.S.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 1996.Includes bibliographical references (p. 117-127).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology