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Anthropomorphism in Architectural Theory

Marco Frascari

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.




Published in the United States of America by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 8705 Bollman Place, Savage, Maryland 20763 Copyright

© 1991 by Rowman & Littlefield



All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. British Cataloging in Publication Information Available

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Frascari, Marco. Monsters of architecture : an th ropornorphisrn in architectural theory / Marco Frascari. p. em. Includes bibliographical references. l. Architecture-Philosophy. 2. Signs and symbols in architecture, I. Title. NA2500.F7:1 1990 720' .1--dc20 90-33555 CIT' ISBN 0-8476- 7648-X





in the United States of America




The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements American National Standard for Information Sciences=-Perrnanence Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1984.

of of

To the memory of my son Matteo

Illustrations Acknowledgments Chapter 1. Introduction: The Invisible Body Chapter 2. Monsters and Semiotics: A Teratology Chapter 3. A Cynic's View Chapter"4. Mostri Sacri Chapter 5. Demonstrations Marginalia Notes Bibliography Index

xi 1 13 33 51 89 III 123 131 139


1. Francesco di Giorgio Martini, human proportions in church facade. 2. Keystone, Portale Maggiore, Modena CathedraL 3a. Keystone, Pisani Palace, Venice. 3b. Keystone, Pisani Palace, Venice. 4. R. Boccioni, Fusione di una testa e di una finestra. 5. R. Boccioni, Testa + Casa + Luce. . 6. Portrait of Enrico Wanton. 7. Map, Country of the Cynocephals 8. Morning Makeup of the Monkey Lady. . 9. Scene in Country of the Cynocephals. .

10. Hypnoerotomachia
11. 12. 13a. 13b. 14a. 14b. 14c. 15. 16. 17. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23.


Corner of Palazzo Bocchi, Bologna. Leon Battista.Alberti, Tempio Malatestiano, Rimini Omaggio a Carlo Scarpa; interlocking rings. Carlo Scarpa, Entry IVAV Tolentini, Venice. Carlo Scarpa's sketches, Entry IVAV Tolentini, Venice Carlo Scarpa's sketch of instrumental representation of Entry IVAV Tolentini, Venice Carlo Scarpa's sketch of symbolic representation of Entry IVAV Tolentini, Venice. Giuseppe Samons, Banca d'Italia, Via Roma facade, Padua. Giuseppe Samona, Banca d'Italia, Riviera Tito Livia facade, Padua. S. Dali, Temptation of Saint Anthony S. Muratori, ENPAS office building, Bologna Metamorphosis - temple of the pseudo-architecture. C. Morpurgo, Villino Alatri, Rome. M. Ridolfi, addition to Villino Alatri, Rome. L. Magistretti and G. Veneziani, office building, Milan

3 19 20 21 36 37 39 40 41 43 44 48 52 55 56 57 58 59 63 64 65 66 67 69 70 71 72 ix

18. Omaggio a Giuseppe Samano



24. Passarelli Brothers, office and apartment building, Rome. 25. Paul Klee, The Serious Side. 26. J. Stirling, block model, New Staatsgallerie, Stuttgart. 27. 1. Stirling, sketch plan, New Staatsgallerie, Stuttgart. 28. 1. Stirling, central roofless rotunda, New Staatsgallerie, Stuttgart. 29. M. Scolari, exterior view of Hypnos: The Room oj the Collector, Milan. 30. M. Scolari, interior view, Hypnos: The Room oj the Collector, Milan. 31. M. Scolari, illustrations of monsters inside Hypnos: The Room oj the Collector, Milan. 32. F. Goya, Capricho 43. 33. D. Barbaro, ideas for a column. 34. Angelic thea ria. 35. M. Scolari, plan, section, and elevation of A Door for a Sea Town, Venice. 36. M. Scolari, constructed facade, A Door for a Sea Town, Venice. 37. Omaggio a Mario Ridolfi. 38. Tower of the Winds in Athens, with five of Paul Klee's angels


79 80 81
82 83

85 87 97 98 99 101


This work grew out of my interest in the education of the architect as an intellectual practicing architecture, rather than as a practitioner posing as an intellectual in order to compete in the marketplace. It is my opinion that it is necessary to foster a better understanding of the role of demonstration in the realm of architectural representation because this is the way the architect-as a mime-makes visible what is invisible. A considerable group of friends and associates have added importantly to this book in many ways and I am indebted to them for their invaluable advice and encouragement. I am grateful to Micha Bandini and David Leatherbarrow, and I am chiefly obliged to Angel Medina, who patiently and philosophically read an early draft written in a tortured English. I am also particularly indebted to Joan Williamson and Peggy Irish for their careful reading of parts of the final draft. Special thanks are due to Norma M. Karlin. Gratitude is also due to the Georgia Institute of Technology for a Research Fund grant during the summer of 1987 to study the role of demonstration in construction drawings. Fragments of this study were presented at the Space Society Symposium, Andros, Greece, August 1985; at the Special Session on Architectural Monsters, which I chaired at the Annual Meeting of the Semiotics Society of America, October 1985; and in a lecture given in 1985 at the Architectural Association in London, an excerpt of which was published in AA Files (14:987), under the title "Some Italian Mostri Sacri,"



When a man is about to build a hous_e,what a power of thinking he has to do before he can safely break ground! With what pains he has to excogitate the precise wants that are to be supplied! What a study to ascertain the most available and suitable materials, to determine the mode of construction to which those materials are best adapted, and answer a hundred such questions! Now without riding the metaphor too far, I think we may safely say that the studies preliminary to the building of a great theory should be at least as deliberate and as thorough as those that are preliminary to the building of a dwelling house. - Charles S. Peirce, "The Architecture of Theories"

This book is for the melancholic reader who is interested in an architectural theory that uses bodily and corporal tropes as key images of the essence of architecture. Just as we think architecture with our bodies. we think our bodies through architecture. The rhetoric embodied in the above sentence displays a monstrous chiasm that implies a radical anthropomorphism in the concerns of architectural representation. This anthropomorphism can be understood as the ascription of human characteristics and attributes to buildings and edifices and it has long been a part of architectural theory. Although the bodily chiasm has been in the realm of the constructed world since builders used the bodies of their victims and bloody rituals for inscribing their constructions with meanings,' the representation of architecture in bodies and of bodies in architecture began its theoretical development with the writing of Vitruvius, a rhapsodist architect in the first century B.C. In his treatise, Vitruvius recounts a medley of methods of anthropomorphic practice present in the Hellenistic-Roman tradition. This tradition suggested canons for the determination of measures and proportions, and for the imagery to be used during the project and construction of buildings." The anthropological imagery of the columns carried the human culture embodied in buildings. The use of Orders is "a hard spine through the soft flesh of European history" (Onians 1988, 4). Dur-


The Invisible Body

ing the Renaissance, a full theoretical development of the architectural embodiment was achieved by Leon Battista Alberti and Francesco di Giorgio Martini. In his book for architectural patrons, Alberti discusses the organization of the built bodies, speculating on a radical approach through a poetic of the human body," In his treatises, Francesco presents forceful graphic demonstrations of the processes of embodiment (Figure 1). Nowadays, Tadao Ando, a sensitive and sensible Japanese architect, conveys the same theoretical concern: What then does representation mean in terms of architecture? For me, it is architecture's physical or carnal quality, or to put it in another way, the labyrinthine quality of the body. I am reminded of the etchings of the imaginary prisons by Piranesi entitled Carceri. Their overwhelming power and extraordinary sense of space have long remained vivid in my memory. The oneiric and fictional prison of Piranesi, so like the trick pictures of Escher, are precisely what I imagine the maze of the body to be. (Ando 1988, 8) The labyrinthine quality of bodies and the practice of their representation in architecture is the theme developed in this book - a theoretical text on architectural corporeality. Architecture is a theoretical discipline based on auctoritas, that is, the authority of architects, who obtain their authority by implementing acts of demonstration. The theory of architecture then is established through demonstrations. Theory is an old trope that has recently been rediscovered both by the professors and the professionals of architecture, and new and old theories have been developed through the borrowing of metaphors. For this reason, theories not only should be introduced and explained, but also should be presented in an imaginative way in order to allow a construing of ideas within the present needs of practice. The theory presented here, however, does not derive from theories belonging to other fields, but comes from an understanding of the tradition of the intellectual discipline of architecture. This intellectual practice is based on processes of demonstration. Demonstrations occur both in the constructing of theoretical schemata and in the constructing of building plans; as both are forms of realization, every architectural demonstration is ontological. Dino Formaggio, a leading professor of aesthetic, stated in an interview: "I believe that an architectural revolution could only take place because of a new conception of corporeality. It is no more the Renaissance idea of body, neither the Modulor-body of Le Corbusier" (Formaggio 1986, 17). By placing the idea of corporeality as the central point of his theory of aesthetic, Formaggio is proposing a new architectural anthropomorphism: the image embodied in the solution of the architectural puzzle is no longer

The Invisible Body


Figure 1. Francesco di Giorgio Martini, human proportions in church facade.


The Invisible Body

metaphorical. Rather, it is based on an un(~~tanding of metonymic relations between built and human bodies. The image portrays a new construction resulting from a projection of corporeality, a new De Humani Corporis Fabrica. This Latin locution is borrowed from the title of an anatomical treatise written in 1543 by Andreas Vesalius, who taught anatomy at the University of Padua. Bending the grammatical structure of the Latin locution, it is possible to generate a new meaning - the edifice of the human body becomes the human body of a building - or, as Formaggie's powerful aphorism goes, "the arrow of possibility of the project is shot by the body" (Forrnaggio 1986, flap facing p. 17). The same idea of a direct participation of the body in the project is poetically expressed by Paul Valery through the words of the Greek architect Eupalinos: When I design a dwelling ... I confess ... it seems to me my body is playing its part in the game. (Valery 1956, 354) Architects can no longer do without the identification of the human body and its elements in the architectural body. This new anthropomorphic practice of the topology between body and building avoids the facile road of isomorphism, isotopy, and metaphoric representations of the past. Instead, using the body as a designated element for architectural metonymies, new kinds of instrumental and theoretical representations can be reached. Through embodiment, architecture becomes a perspicuous representation. This is a real human project, i.e., a representation given within a therapeutic dimension. In other words, architecture has to do with the reconciliation between the art of living well and the art of constructing well. Janus-like, its presence can be represented by an etymological chiasm-techne of logos and logos of techne-which have ruled insight into the nature of technology since the Greeks originated the compound word. From this point of view. technology is the richest resource for the architectural production of meaning because it deals with both the construction (the logos of techne) and the construing (the techne of logos) of a piece of architecture. Despite the present limitations on the use of the body in architectural projects, the process of embodiment takes place in both the constructed world and in the drawings that are necessary to accomplish the construction. The task of professors and professionals of architecture is to recognize these corporeal presences and make them tangible in their academic and professional works. Th rephrase this last observation within a mythic framework, it is possible to say that in his anthropometric practice, Daedalus made tangible the amazing dance of the geranos (cranes) in the mazes of the Labyrinth (Kern 1981, 44-47). The role of the architect is to make visible that which is invisible. In


The Invisible Body

At the beginning of the '80s, in "Mimesis," an editorial in Casabella, Vittorio Gregotti (1983a, 13~14)raised a question concerning one of the essential problems of architectural production. In this short but powerful piece, Gregotti examined the question of how architectural quality might be defined so that architects could discuss the concept with intellectuals from other fields of human inquiry." Gregotti used a seductive analogy to single out the method by which architectural expression, the warranty of architectural quality, can be revealed. He likened buildings to texts, a two-term proportional analogy derived from a traditional metaphor of architecture as a language expressed in built form." Gregotti used the notion of reading as the theoretical common denominator of the consolidation of built and written texts under the cultural fabric of language. The editorial concluded that both written and built texts have analogous processes of construction as both can be construed through a critical reading. For Gregotti, the understanding of architectural quality lies
in the "reading" of architectural specifics, which substantiate in the entirety of materials organized with the aim of being, in the first place, the constitution of that particular expression as the continuous re-founding of its own constitutional rules, and secondly, through this, the "subject" of technology, function, aesthetics, social aims and so on. (Gregotti 1983a, 13)

Gregotti's argument suggested as a plausible paradigm the interpretive procedure exemplified by Erich Auerbach's discussion of literary mimesis, presented as a representation of reality. By means of a critical reading of classical texts, Auerbach (1968) explains, through a retrospective search, how literary masterpieces were generated. He begins with the literary references derived from the reading of the text itself and then reconstructs, not its dependencies, but the complicated connection with the reality of the context. These texts then may be said to be embroidered on the fabric of culture. According to Gregotti, this procedure of critical reading also can be applied to an architectural text and to its "constitutional process, in its rules, difficulties, traditions, and deceits." As Gregotti pointed out, this is not intended as "a promotion of questionable interdisciplinary encounters" between literature and architecture, but rather as "a comparison of processes and origins, and a working from the specifics of our respective disciplines" (Gregotti 1983a, 13). A few months later, in another editorial, "The Exercise of Detailing," Gregotti (1983b, 10~11)reintroduced the discussion of the concept of architectural quality, and he again used the traditional "architecture as language" metaphor for deciphering the reasons for a nontrivial architecture. For Gregotti, "detailing, .. . one of the more revealing components

Monsters and Semiotics


Figure 2. Keystone, Portale Maggiore, Modena Cathedral.


Monsters and Semiotics

Monsters and Semiotics


Figure 3b. Keystone, Pisani Palace, Venice.

Above all we should show the naked wall in all its sleek beauty ... Pillars and columns should have no projecting capitals: the joint should be fused with the flat surface of the wall. (Berlage 1905, 52-53)

Located in an arch on the side facade of the Amsterdam stock exchange, Berlage's monstrous keystone reveals the character of a flat wall. A minuscule being that looks like a child squeezing his face against a glass to make a flattened expression is carved in the keystone. This enigmatic and minuscule monster manifests the abstract quality of an architecture generated out of the flush character of the wall, revealing the nature of the spatial understanding through the use of flat planes. In architecture, the margins of the built environment determine the phenomenon of the spatial environment, and they are the locus where the transformation of space takes place. Architecture is then a technological


Monsters and Semiotics

expression for the metamorphosis of signs that are understood as unique. Misplaceable free meanings constitute these unique signs, but architecture, by transforming them into a built framework of events and places, changes them into stable and unchangeable representations whose meanings are transmittable and assimilable. The transformations take place in spatial boundaries. It is in the margins or joints that the misplacing of meanings produced by the spatial measure of the existing constructions becomes a physical expression of metabasis, i,e., of a passage to the other in built form. In an essay entitled "Piranesi, or the Fluidity of Forms," Sergei M. Eistenstein discusses architecture as "a case of extreme obsession" (1987, 80) that transforms itself constantly. His comprehension of the metamorphic nature of architectural monstrosity evolves from a vision of Mexican and Indian architectural monsters. How easy it is to recover the whole form from this ornamental distribution done "by montage." And what dizziness actually overcomes you whena stone hook, protruding diagonally from a corner of the building, begins to read as a nose ... The dizziness is the result of the constant sliding from the prototype-face into this system of fragmented details that lose their human features, and back again into face, in an anguished attempt to reproduce the process through which one becomes the other, the initial one becomes the monstrous result and the monstrous result again - "in reverse" - becomes the initial one (without which it is impossible to "read" it, to understand, perceive, and include it into a system of representation peculiar to us). (Eisenstein 1987, 81) The process described by the Russian movie director deals with the monstrous idea of fragmentary architecture. A concrete case of fragmentary architecture is the architettura di spoglio (architecture of spoils). This is not an architecture of prefabricated romantic ruins, or of post-modem "instant history," but it is a way of producing architecture as the assimilation of prior architectural artifacts, Buildings are cultural texts that are generated by assembling fragments, excerpts, citations, passages, and quotations. Every building is then both assimilation and a transformation of other buildings. Every architectural piece echoes other pieces into infinity, weaving the fabric of the text of culture itself. The building elements are the joints of the construction of human culture; they are compelling demonstrations of how we inhabit the world. We assemble the tropes or building.elements in trophies. The Greek word trope means a turn, Or a twist, hence the twisting of words; it is also connected with trophy because trophies were built on the battlefield on the site where the tide of the battle turned in favor of the winner. Trophies were built using the spoils of the slain enemy; they were set up to appease their souls and prevent the gods' punishment


Monsters and Semiotics

whereas the client is the father. if they don't know each other, it is physically impossible to deliver the design in the constructed world (Filarete 1961, 29). During the architectural pregnancy, the mother/architect, using fantasy (fantasticare), grows the baby/building in his/her memory. After seven or nine months, the baby/building, a small wooden model, is born, and with proper constructional care it will grow into an adult/building.' For Filarete, fantasticare is a form of imaginative conception that complements and extends the rational procedures of thought. Filarete's chiasm between body and building shows the engendering nature of acts of architectural production based on a direct corporeal projection. In a dance treatise (ca. 1440), Domenico da Piacenza defines fantasy (jantasmata) as "a corporeal quickness (prestezza corporale) which is moved by the intellect" (quoted by Kemp 1978, 370). A few centuries later, in a discussion on the future style of Italian architecture, Camillo Boito (1988, 17) modified the analogy, making the role of the architect similar to that of a paranymphmidwife. He points out that "the marriages (connubii; between analogous architectures give birth to hybrids" and those "between diverse architectures generate aborts or monsters." The second passage is by Gianbattista Vico, an eighteenth-century Neapolitan philosopher. In The New Science, his major theoretical writing, at the end of his discussion of the corollaries concerning poetic tropes, Vico adds two new tropes to the four traditional rhetorical ones: Monsters and Metamorphoses. Vico shows that these new poetic tropes arose from the constraints of the first stages of human nature, i.e., the inability to abstract forms and properties from subjects. In order to put their forms together, subjects had to be constructed in a way that could separate their primary forms from the contrary forms that had been imposed upon them; they had to be destroyed. Joining these ideas leads to the most precise definition of monster, as contributing to the hermeneutical mediation between the factum, or the artifact, and the verum or the truth. In his discussion of the Greek origin of the Order, Hersey (1988, 4-10) reminds us of a forgotten way of producing meaningful architectural signs. Building elements are generated out of tropes, which result in a playful and storytelling nomenclature that is often etymologically incorrect, but anthropologically appropriate. Hersey delineates the classical way of conceiving the terms and elements of architecture as a personified expression of sacrifice. In classical architecture, "a house, a bridge, a dam, was only valid from the moment that a sacrificed life lay beneath it." The building is a personification of that life. Architecture is an embodiment of the tropes of sacrifice, and the powerful mental associations carried by the classical Orders are predicated on this topical thinking, a knowledge based on images and figures. A powerful conceptual tool, a trope is a playful inter-

Monsters and Semiotics


of the victors. The enemy casualties "were thus 'turned,' troped, from murders in sacrifices" (Hersey 1988, 9). The circumlocution architettura di spoglio refers to buildings partially or totally composed of elements and fragments taken, either actually or conceptually, from preexisting buildings produced in other times or by other cultures. This mode of architectural production is present in any architectural age. However, the climax of this phenomenon was reached during the Middle Ages. All around the Mediterranean basin, elements despoiled from many ancient buildings were used in complex architectural compositions. Salvaged from more than one building, columns, capitals, and architraves of dissimilar proportions and orders were used in the same construction. Too-long column shafts were cut down to dimension, and those too short were aligned on bases that perhaps were capitals or other building elements, sometimes placed upside down with an apparent total lack of stylistic unity. Neoclassical critics gave a negative connotation to this architecture, calling it fragmentary. San Salvatore in Spoleto is a masterpiece of this architecture of spoils. The church was reerected in its present form by the Benedictines during the ninth and tenth centuries; they used the salvaged fragments of the columns and the massive pilasters of the prior building, which was destroyed by a fire (Salmi 1951,24). Nothing is denoted in the building: all the architectural elements that make up the building already have their own meaning, and this meaning is directed toward another meaning, in some ways thrown beyond itself. The process of signification of the building rebuilt out of spoils in the fragmentary fashion is analogous to the process of signification used by Giuseppe Arcimboldo in his painting created to amuse the Prague courts of Ferdinand I, Maximilian II, and Rudolf II, in the early sixteenth century. The patrons of Prague did not ask Arcimboldo for paintings of historical and mythological constructions but rather for a production that could fit the Wunderkammer of the "magic semiotic" developed within the walls of their courts. In his painting, for the organic substance of the bodies, Arcimboldo substitutes other bodies taken from the organic world, or from inorganic everyday objects. In these visual riddles, Arcimboldo was
violating the pictorial system, improperly dividing in two, hypertrophying its signifying, analogical potentiality and thus producing a kind of structural monster, source of subtle (because intellectual) malaise that is still more penetrating than if the horror came from a simple exaggeration or mixture of elements: it is' because everything signifies at two levels that Arcimboldo's paintings function as a somewhat terrifying denial of pictorial language. (Barthes 1980, 26)


Monsters and Semiotics

Arcimboldo's paintings had their predecessors in earlier monsters devised as representations of canonical beauty and perfection and as memnotechnical images. Their architecture of improbable and misplaced elements and events ignites the understanding that leads to proper construction, that is, memory at the basis of fantasy. The illustrations of the Vir Bonus or of the femme parfaite are synoptical constructions organized within the body of a monster. Using an analogical game, they single out the monstrous structure of beauty" and perfection:
Femmes belles it merveilles, lesquelles avaint leurs cheveux de coulor d'or et Ions comme jusques it leur piez, lesquels piez estotient comme piez de cheval ... (Description of Janitres d'Inde by Jean Wauquelin, before 1440, quoted by Baltrusaitis 1969, 308-9).

The images devised for the Ars Memorandi are hybrids in which it is possible to summarize in one image only the totality, for instance of the New Testament (Baltrusaitis 1969, 311). From this point of view, the monster, a cultural trophy, becomes an edifying theatre of memory. Buildings signify the machine, theatre of memory, housing the never-ending representations of the drama and comedy of human life. Barbaro, in his commentary on Vitruvius's treatise (Book 10, 442), sees the force that makes a machine moving, analogous to imagination (fantasia), the force that moves the human mind. If we consider architecture to be a machine analogous to the human mind, then buildings, as the synoptical constructions embodied in the monster of the ars memorandi, exemplify and suggest rather than determine or impose. Edifices become expressions of intellectual pleasure and architecture manifests a reality that acts between sensory experiences and physical expressions. Andrea Palladia, Daniele Barbaro, Giovanni Antonio Rusconi, Vincenzo Scamozzi, Sebastiano Serlio, and many other architects and architectural theoreticians working in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Venice were interested in the embodiment of memory and corporeality in architectural constructs, and in the analogical and topical thinking associated with it. The power of this analogical structure is clearly presented by Scamozzi in a description of the structure selected for his own architectural treatise, Il Idea dell' architettura universale.t In the Introduction, Scamozzi states that his aim is to reduce to
a perspicuous and ordered body all the precepts of such a celebrated and illustrious faculty as architecture in such a way that anybody, located in the middle of it as if he were in a large theatre, by turning his eyes around within

Monsters and Semiotics


a handy range could descry and retrieve the majority of the most beautiful definitions and most real and sublime understandings which, until now, have been as if vanished and almost lost. (Scamozzi 1615, vii) What Scamozzi is describing is a memory device that should help architects to rediscover forgotten principles. Scamozzi's statement is a perspicuous reference to an intellectual framework dominant in the Veneto in that period, the memory theatre. Many contemporary Venetian architects and architectural scholars were under the influence of a man whose mastery of the art of memory was so great that he could not talk anymore, the "divine" Giulio Camillo, called Delminio, Camillo, a great rhetorician, spent his entire life trying to build a system of topical knowledge and construction of the memory theatre was the physical core of it. Camillo's Theatro della Memoria is one of the Veneto Renaissance's most fascinating adventures of the mind. During the Renaissance, the classical art of memory underwent a transformation at the hands of "occult" philosophers like Camillo, who spent his entire life and a fortune in building his mnemonic theatre. His aim was to develop a memory system that could embody the entire universe of human thought in an edifice/machine. This was a fabbrica, i.e., a theatre where the mnemonic powers of topical images would activate imagination and inspiration. 7 Camillo's theatre of memory was a kind of corporeal time machine where the past, the present, and the future were architecturally related through memory. An important statement about the corporeal nature of the theatre of Delrninio is made by Vigilius Zuichemus in a letter to Erasmus. [Delminio] calls this theatre of his by many names, saying now that it is a built or a constructed mind and soul, and now that it is a windowed one. He pretends that all the things the human mind can conceive and which it cannot see with the corporal eye, after being collected together by diligent meditation may be expressed by certain corporeal signs in such a way that the beholder may at once perceive with his eyes everything that is otherwise hidden in the depth of the human mind. And it is because of this corporeal looking that he calls it a theatre. (Erasmus, Epistolae, 10, 29-30, quoted by Yates 1966, 132) Camillo's basic idea, and the obsession of his life, was to organize an encyclopedia of human knowledge arranged like a human body within the analogous structure of a theatre, a small-scale imago mundi embodied in an imago corpori. This portable theatre, a monstrous combination of fortynine cabinets arranged on a heptagonal geometry, represented an anatomical projection of the construction of human memory, a corporeal tool for the topical imagining.


Monsters and Semiotics

The technique of anatomy was the method preferred by Camillo for the reading of classical texts (Stabile 1974, 220). The human body was the perfect model for any structure dealing with the imaginative use of knowledge and anatomical cutting was the original way of discovering wisdom. The body was considered a theatre of wisdom since it was a "divine image." Another name used by Camillo for his theatre was Theatro della Sapienza (theatre of wisdom) (Bologna 1988, 31). Dissected pieces of human writing were stored in the cabinets of Camillo's theatre. Writing is cutting; Galenus stresses this homology between dissection and writing in his mythological description of the origins of anatomy. Furthermore, he places the origin of medicine and philosophy in anatomy itself:
It was then superfluous to write a treatise like this one, because since their childhood from their parents the pupils had learned dissecting as they did for reading and writing. The ancients practiced adequately anatomy, not only the physicians, but also the philosophers. There was no need to worry that the procedures of dissection could be forgotten since they were learned during childhood as the art of writing. (Galenus, De anatomicis administrationibus, cited by Vegetti 1979, 41)

Dissection was the favorite procedure since Camillo saw an anatomist (Berengario da Carpi?) perform a public dissection while lecturing at the University of Bologna (Stabile 1974, 221). Dissection was also the favorite conceptual tool of many contemporary architects for dealing with the problem of architectural representation. For instance, the Venetian architect Giovanni Rusconi used Versalius's anatomical illustrations as a model for his wonderful architectural illustrations (Frascari 1988). Rusconi's drawings present the same demonstrational nature as Vesalius's anatomical illustrations. Vesalius's anatomical figures are not inert corpses - they move in a beautiful landscape, displaying a great dignity. They stroll at the feet of the Eugenial hills, located between Padua and Venice. Following an established tradition, the corpses are shown through successive stages of anatomical demonstration and ostension, and, as they become stripped of their musculature, the landscape shows a Mother Nature that is laid bare as the seasons pass from spring to winter. In Rusconi's drawings, we witness the same demonstrational procedure: the bodies of buildings are exposed through successivestages of dissection as tbey become stripped of their plastery skins to show the structural skeleton. Dealing with abdominal viscera in Book 5 of the Fabrica, Vesalius did not show his anatomical demonstration within real corpses. Instead, the anatomical demonstrations were represented within the remains and spoils of famous antique sculptures. Rusconi followed the same technique: he showed the

Monsters and Semiotics


pretation that relates forms that otherwise would never be associated. A trope is always based on rhetorical figures of signification. Achieving meaning through the translation of formal characteristics, a trope is a form of thinking which, with the help of cross-referenced images, generates an elemental architecture that establishes an eloquent and intelligible constructed environment for human life. Building elements then become like Leibniz's monads, through which it is possible to see the totality of an architectural reality by looking at a detail. Horns, hairs, and the decoration of capitals become meaningful monads of architectural imagination. The most human and also the most sacrificial part of a column is the capital. It is of course the column's head, the head of the personage whose feet, form, and throat stand below ... Ionic and Corinthian capitals have head Garlands, including blossoms, and also hair and horns .... Meanwhile the pulvinus, the coiled side of an Ionic volute is ... "a head protector." (Hersey 1988, 23-28) They are powerful tropes, since they are corporeal trophies. Expressing human feelings, these trophies transmute into physical supports, becoming meaningful building elements. The bodies of the victims of wars or sacrifices transubstantiate in the stones of which the building consists, reversing the direction of causality in time, as the hunters did in their rituals when they sought to annul the casualty by reconstituting the bodies of their victims. To explain the appropriateness of the names selected for the new poetic tropes, Vico points out the jurisprudential etymology of the word monster imonstrare == to show), explaining that in "Roman Law ... children born of prostitutes are called monsters, because their origin is in an uncertain union" (Vieo 1744, vi, 410).2 For Vico as for Filarete, the analogy between body and building is the most powerful tool in the processes of human signification. It is noteworthy that in all languages the greater part of the expressions relating to inanimate things are formed by metaphors from the human body and its parts and from human senses and passions. Thus, head for top and beginning; the brow and shoulders of a hill; the eyes of needles and of potatoes; mouth for any opening; the lip of a cup or pitcher; the teeth of rake, a saw, a comb; the beard of wheat; the tongue of a shoe, the gorge of a river; a neck of land; an ann of the sea; the hands of a clock; heart for center (the Latin used umbilicus, navel in this sense); the belly of a sail; foot for end or bottom. (Vico 1744,. 2:i, 405) In this determination of the real through the facts of the body, representation is at the basis of human understanding (Vico 1744, 405). The monster,


Monsters and Semiotics

a special case of human representation, is the special phenomenon that encourages metamorphosis and, through it, the merging of the signified with the signifier. The occurrence of this converging of signifier with the signified is clearly pointed out in the third passage, an enigmatic Vitruvian aphorism, declaring that:
Both in general and especially in architecture these two things are found; that which signifies and that which is signified. That which is signified is the thing proposed about which we speak; that which signifies is the demonstration unfolded in systems of precepts. (Vitruvius 1930, l:iii, 3)

This Vitruvian statement is based on Stoic semiotics, where the incorporeal is unified with the corporeal in a process of signification resulting from fantasy. In this sense, fantasy is a term of a productive philosophical language; it is a cognitive presentation (Long 1971, 89-90). In medieval Psalters, the monsters are not only inserted in the maps but also fill the margins of the text. Monsters are located at the margins or edges of the known world; in a map in a thirteenth-century Psalter in the British Library in London (Ms Add. 28681, fol, 9), a sequence of Plinian monsters fills the empty geographical space on the right edge of the map. They are the nonsensical marginalia of the text, a graphic confirmation of Edgar Allan Poe's belief that "nonsense is the essential sense of marginal notes" (Poe 1984, 1311).Omitted by Paul Valery in his clever translation of Poe's "Marginalia" in 1927, this sentence shows the role of monsters in the margins. There they transcend the text, first, by making the relationship between the part and the whole an enigma, and second, by placing events within our vision that are capable of putting our thought out of place, of determining a buried but real possibility of meaning." Architecture makes possible a total world orientation in a universe of constructed signs. Architectural arrangements of building elements in space are among the most fundamental signs of space. The signs of the built environment substantiate the human ekstasis, which is done by providing events in edifices; the taking place of events and the putting out of place of events generates a building. The edges of walls, the capitals, the keystones, and all the possible architectural elements that express the nature of constructional joints are the places that articulate these monstrous events. These events/joints are architectural monsters that make people think about their environment. As Walter Benjamin (1969, 240) has traced in his discussion of the role of a work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction, architecture is appropriated by habit in a twofold manner: by touch (use) and

Monsters and Semiotics


by vision (perception). Monsters are essential to this distracted perception of architecture. Giving guidance and demonstrating the best way to approach buildings, monsters emerge as the common characteristic in the theory and practice of buildings because they reveal the sign transformations implicit in architectural projects. Therefore, to repeat our main theme, monsters are hermeneutical because they unveil the chiasm ruling the things of architecture through the meaning embodied in architecture. Monsters are on the margins of written texts but they are also the marginalia of visual texts, such as in the borders devised by Giovanni da Udine for framing Raphael's paintings in the Logge Vaticane. The monsters in Giovanni's frame help us to make a transition between the reality of the supporting wall and the iconicity of the visually told story. They are the joint between physical reality and artistic expressions. Architecture is not an art but an understanding of arts that enables men to produce tangible expressions. Architecture is the monstrous frame of the "depiction" of life. Consequently, the architect addresses and produces the physical, and perhaps metaphysical, frameworks of any interart relationship; without architecture no interrelation can take place. A floor is necessary for dancing, or acting, or playing music; a wall for painting or writing; and a pedestal for sculpting, orating, or singing. If a dance must relate to a painting, and the reading of a stanza of a poem to both of them, it is necessary to have a floor, a wall, and a pedestal, and the result is a room. Of course, all of these arts can be performed or located in a landscape, or more philosophically, they can dwell in the clearing of a forest. However, as Heidegger (1954,319-40) has pointed out, building and dwelling are the same, especially in the clearing of a forest. The understanding of the arts is essential for the making of architecture. Knowing that what is invisible is the essence of dance, or painting, or oratory, we cannot design a nontrivial floor, or wall, or pedestal. Furthermore, although the pedestal devised for sculpting is completely different from the one for orating, it can be used for delivering a speech. The different arts may transcend the functional and pragmatic sides of architecture; they can define their interrelationship irrespective of this functionalism but they cannot transcend the phenomenon of the theatre of the constructed world. The constructed world is the physical embodiment of the art of living well and of all the arts - the fine arts as well as the trivial ones that make good living possible. This embodiment is brought about tbrough what can be called, using a Viconian terminology, a new science oj architecture, which deals with edification and culture. In its physical expression it is an incorporation of the history of the arts and their diverse relationship within time and space in a specific place. A historical clue to the notion that ar-


Monsters and Semiotics

chitecture is not an art is that although the architectural profession was held in high esteem during the Middle Ages and the Early Renaissance, there was no guild or Arte of architecture. The guilds were always organized around the various artistic and building trades - masons, painters, smiths, and so on. Architects joined them according to their initial training. An amazing case is that of the Florentine architects and artists who joined the arte dei medici e degli apotecari (the guild of physicians and pharmacists) on the grounds of their common interest in anatomical drawings and demonstration (Frascari 1982).4The new science of architecture is interested in the understanding of joints, that is, the "articulation" of the constructed world. In architecture, monsters are always located in the joint between architectural elements. This use of monsters is clearly seen in Romanesque architecture, where many monstrous beings are squeezed between building elements. An instance is the smiling Sphinx of the cathedral of Civita Castellana, which is inserted in the joint between the bases and one of the columns holding the entry canopy. Like Edipo's Sphinx, these monstrous decorations set the enigma of the construction of a transition. The joints become the telltale details of the design and construction of architecture (Frascari 1982).Among the many construction joints celebrated in architecture, keystones are privileged (Guenon 1975). One intriguing keystone is set in the arch crowning the Portale Maggiore, the main door of the cathedral of Modena, a masterpiece of Romanesque sculpture carved by Wiligelmo (Figure 2). In the keystone, a double-headed being is represented and he is exhibiting his penis to signify the natura-naturans of the arch, a double element that becomes one because of the keystone. Remarkably, this figure is the only nude represented in the decoration of the arch (Castelnuovo 1984, 462). Two other monsters properly mark the springs of the arch. The Janus heads carved in the keystones of the side arches defining the stallage in front of Pisani Palace in Campo Santo Stefano in Venicepresent a different tale (Figure 3a). The focus is not at all on the construction of an arch, but on the construing of the ontological nature of a gate. The two heads are no longer unified in the front of the arch, but mark the front and back of the gate (Figure 3b). Here, the monstrous being embodied in the stone discloses the Janus-like tendency of any monstrous joint to present the enigma of past and future architectural artifacts. A keystone designed by Hendrik Pieter Berlage becomes the home of one of these Janus-like events, demonstrating "the way to follow."Thus Berlage's tell-the-tale detail reveals the possibility of conquering walls with flat surfaces. In writing on the modem style, Berlage explains his architectural aim:

Monsters and Semiotics


viscera of buildings within the fragmented ruins of antique edifices. These drawings were an attempt to elevate the role of construction documents into monuments of architectural science, just as Vesalius attempted to "elevate anatomical science above the word of objectified individual violation." In his Osservazioni, in the Socratic dialogue between Protopiro and Didascalo, Giambattista Piranesi, an eighteenth-centuryVenetian architect, criticizes the anatomical use of fantasy. A later pupil of Lodoli, Piranesi applies the classical topos of Zeuxis to architecture (Piranesi 1764, 6-25). Zeuxis painted an Aphrodite/Helen, collecting fragments of bodies selected from five Crotoan maidens. Unable to find a woman embodying his conception of ideal beauty, he assembled five beautiful virgins, each of whom showed to perfection one body feature; his job then was to integrate those beautiful fragments into a beautiful body. In Piranesi's dialogue, the annoying and negative Didascalo is the one who makes the point.
For example, it is pleasing to us when the poet talks of Cupid's feet, of Adonis' legs, Venus' countenance, Apollo's arms, Hercules' thorax, a giant, and many other things. But if you put all these different parts together, what will be the result? A ridiculous statue, a monster which will repulse you. These are the kind of methods that I disapprove of in architecture. (piranesi 1764, 22).

The issue is the chiasm between structure and ornament. Joseph Rykwert (1976, 2~3) observes that "the lineaments which are of the mind, had to be welded to brute matter by some third thing which makes the first comprehensible, or perceptible and that is ornament ... the corporeal or carnal part of the building." The rhetorical interpretation of the anatomical parts of the gods, a problem that is central in the conceiving of monsters, shows the decorative or monstrous conjunction of impossibilities, i.e., of the signifier (the whole) with the signified (the part), to achieve decorum-a dignifying presentation. The exercise of detailing is based on an act of reasoning, concerned with a production of the real (Vico's vernm) through the artifact (Vico'sjactum). This rhetorical procedure generates a new piece of writing, or painting, or building, using details selected from the realm of the real itself. In the fourth book of Gargantua and Pantagruei, Francois Rabelais describes the internal and external anatomy of the body of Lent. In addition to being a wonderful writer, Rabelais was a skillful physician, and in his listing of the parts of Lent, he gives us a careful and correct morphological description of the anatomical components of the male body of Lent, Using as images the most material, concrete, and common objects, Rabelais builds up an accurate but crude and vulgar body image. Lent's mesentery is ''like an abbot's mitre. His hunger-gut like a


Monsters and Semiotics

burglar's jemmy. His blind-gut like a breast plate. His colon like a drinking cup. His bum-gut like a monk's leather bottle. His kidneys like a trowel. His Iins like a padlock. His ureters like a pothook. His emulgent veins like a pair of squirts. His spermatic vessels like a puff-pastry cake." The body of Lent is a collection of mundane and sacred objects and the perception is of its being a thing among things. In the concluding chapter of the first book of his presentation and explanation of the architectural theory developed by Carlo Lodoli (d. 1761), a Socratic Franciscan friar," Andrea Memmo presents an apologue that he claims is modeled after the kind of apologues Lodoli used to give at his peripatetic school in Venice. Memrno tells us the story of a renowned sculptor who, because of his unrequited love for a lady and his violent temper, committed a homicide. The expected punishment for such a crime was death. However, the king, realizing that the sculptor was an internationally renowned artist, and, on the suggestion of one of his ministers, ruled that instead of being executed, the sculptor should be deported to a very peculiar island in the kingdom. All the inhabitants of this island were monsters, with every part of their bodies disproportioned or misplaced. To be condemned to live on that island was a very cruel punishment for the sculptor, who loved the beautiful details of the perfect body. Indeed, in the beginning of the exile, the punishment worked effectively. The artist began to think that the only possible way out was to terminate his life, which had become miserable in the continuous presence of those terrible human beings. But one day, in one of the dreadful women, he saw the most perfect eyebrow; in another monster, the most perfect heel, and so on for all the details of the female body. Bringing together those anatomical details with imagination or constructive fantasy, the sculptor was able to produce' a perfect whole body, which he then used as the model for his sculptures (Memmo 1833, 2: 123-24). The particular Lodolian twist to the story, with the details found in monstrous bodies, is an indication of the process of secularization in architecture. The traces and paradigms of its specifics perhaps are hidden or deformed, but they are nonetheless profoundly present in the constructed environment. The procedure indicated by Meromo in the Lodolian apologue postulates an understanding of an architecture produced by parts, an anatomical procedure that produces a construction through a construing of the environment. Antonio Conti, who was a good friend of many of the characters composing the Lodolian entourage, discusses the same procedure in his theoretical writings, using a peculiar metaphor to explain it. He describes the mental processes of an anatomist in his private room after performing a vivisection, reflecting upon his actions, and placing into a mental structure, a theatre of memory, the different parts of the analyzed

Monsters and Semiotics


corpse (Conti 1739-56, 1; 139). This mental work is a constructive fantasy. proceeding from a confused state to a clear idea or notion. The procedure, hinging on the division of a confused notion into many minute, clear notions, is called reflection, a technique of imagination and memory for directing the attention to the diverse parts of an object. For Conti, fantasy and memory are the guiding faculties of imagination. This concept derives from the interpretation of the idea of minute-notion (subnozione; developed by Girolamo Fracastoro, a Veronese physician who used decorated poetry to describe the ornament (soft symptoms) caused by diseases. He defines minute-notion as a mental procedure of interpretation based on
the simple and separate presentation of an object after the other and it is an orderly process in which the mind is always impelled by the desire to learn and phantasy undertakes to distinguish the similarities and differences in simple sensory images in respect to form, figure, location, and function. (Fracastoro, quoted by Conti 1739-56, 1: 139)

The most amazing physical expression of the power of architectural fantasy is a bizarre genre of representation, the Venetian capricci architettonici. In a beautiful essay on the imaginary Venice represented in the capricci devised by Antonio Canal (Canaletto), Andre Corboz (1985)makes it clear that there was no perceptible contrast between a veduta (a real representation) and a capriccio (an imaginary representation). This was a common base of wonder for the owners of capricci when, arriving for the first time in Venice,they began to discover the difference between the reality of Venetian architecture and the verisimilar representation of it in the capriccio La Venezia che fabbricar potrebbesi (the Venice that could be built): this short locution conceived by Canaletto himself, encapsulates the productive power of the exercise of detailing for imagining a possible Venice in a conditional tense (Puppi 1988). Canaletto's Venice is generated by Conti's third kind of imagining, the verisimilar fantasy, interacting with the second kind, the visific fantasy. Through a rigorous exerciseof detailing, done on the canvas of the capricci, the physical attributes are connected with the mental dimension in the represented objects. In a sequence of writing published posthumously, Conti develops his interpretation of the concept of fantasy proper to poets as well as to philosophers, scientists, mathematicians, architects, and so on. Conti sees fantasy as a principal element common to all the arts and the sciences, and he depicts three different kinds. The first, which Conti named sensific, is a sensual degeneration. It is the fantasy found in dreams and madness. The second kind, which he called visific, results from certain fix-


Monsters and Semiotics

ations of the mind, and generates visions. The third, verisimilar; arises out of the fact that "if the soul delights in the real, as in the good, it does not delight less in the appearance of the one and the other." To be productive, these three forms of fantasy must work in combination. Conti bases the production of a nontrivial work of art on two requirements: first, on the harmony between the details and the whole, and second, on the fitness of the details and the whole to the functions and the uses for which they are intended. Interpretation is the basic tool of this process. Conti calls interpretation color. Coloring is a hermeneutical procedure since to color is to intentionally conceal, a productive, mental process by which the details take place in the construction as well as in the construing of architecture (Conti 1739-1756, Hamm 1961). In his writings, Conti many times uses instances derived from the modes of architectural production to explain his concepts of the poetry produced through the process of hermeneutical coloring. A symptomatic use of Conti's understanding of architecture develops in an analogy between the making of garments and the making of buildings. Conti suggests that tailors, should follow the way of architects in devising garments, and that as the architect does in a building, they should change "the utility and the comfort of the body into ornament," and consequently produce "organic clothes" (Conti 1739-1756, 1:137). The idea of organic is understood to mean the same thing in this statement that is meant in Lodoli's "chair apologue" (Memmo 1833, 2:157). Lodoli compared a chair that he designed after a puzzling ergonomic analysis, with a typical baroque armchair, overloaded with decoration but completely unsuited for comfortable sitting. He saw the baroque armchair as an emblem of contemporary architectural production, buildings overloaded with decoration and ornament but unfit for comfortable human use, and he presented the chair he designed as the paradigm for the new organic architecture he advocated. This architecture is derived from an understanding of the dimensions of the human body as it relates to the forms and uses of buildings (Frascari 1982, 156-47). For Conti, architecture is the matrix of the logical, fantastic mechanism by which it is possible to connect attributes with their objects. In other words, architecture is the textual relationship that exists between details and wholes. An act of architectural reverie occurs in the connection between images and artifacts, between shadows and light, making a paradoxical inversion between the credible and wonder (mirabile). This is the architectural fantasy (fantasia architettonicai, which deals with the creative coordinates of reality (Conti 1739-1756, 1:20). One architectural quality is then the reasonable beauty (bello ragionevole), which is not an aesthetic order but a creative order (Conti 1739-1756, l:xi). In dealing with the second of two distinct characters of architecture, viz. "the image it (archi-

Monsters and Semiotics


tecture) hears to the natural creation," John Ruskin states that "Many forms of so-called decoration ... ought in truth be set down in the architect's contract, asjor Monstrification" (1849, 100, 102). From this point of view, architecture is not a specific body of works, or a sequence of aediculas or edifices; neither is it a collation of the products of a profession. Rather, it is an intellectual representation resulting from the traces of semiotic practices, i.e., the manipulation of signs in accordance with "cultural reasons." Such three-dimensional mosaics of fragments result from the manipulation of a plurality of meanings producing a physical and mental weaving of heterogeneous substances in the constructed environment. The majority of the professionals of our time don't bother themselves with thoughts about theories of architecture: they practice and they build buildings. If the dominant design mode or manner is effective as a marketable design for clothing, their standard structural skeleton, and if it does not pose an unacceptable risk, then the professionals prescribe it in their buildings. To carry this discussion of the practice of architecture further, it is necessary to make a distinction between the professionals and the professors of architecture in order to focus on the differences between the devising of architecture for delight and the professional devising of built environments for business. On the one hand, the professional is a businessman! architect who assumes that design is a service, a transitive activity supporting another, more important endeavor-the functioning of the building from the image to the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC). Architecture is then subordinate to a more important task for which is becomes the medium. On the other hand, the professor sees architecture as an intransitive mode constituting a primary activity that cannot be subordinated to another enterprise. For him the product is a project, not a design. For a professor, architecture exemplifies and suggests rather than determines or imposes. The professional carries out a duty, whereas the professor enjoys the pleasure of a demonstration. Generally, professionals do not theorize about the philosophical and humanistic implications of making a building or a set of drawings for its construction, except insofar as the verbalization of a theory helps or hinders their progress in acquiring a market for their services. The theory of architecture is not something to which the professional givesvery much thought. As the making of buildings has become increasingly a complex technical enterprise, professionals have become increasingly isolated in their designs, both from the bodily presence and the embodiment of human habits in edifices. They are interested only in what Benjamin called a tourist appreciation of architecture. Professionals are not interested in the tactile and invisible dimensions of architecture: for them, the visible range is dominant because it is the only one that can be photographed and used for increasing


Monsters and Semiotics

the range of their market ability; they forget that, as Loos pointed out, good architecture cannot be photographed (Loos 1985, 103). The photographic presentation of buildings on the pages of magazines and newspapers does indeed make the market for architectural services more effective. It would seem that this effectiveness is valid whether or not the professional knows anything about the theory of architecture, and even at times whether or not he/she knows why the designed solution works. The image of the buildings devised in the professional's practice of architecture is a finished image, like the current image of the human body. This image of the body does not have any ambiguity about it. The beginning is the beginning and the end is the end. No sign of the lower stratum or of the corporeal functions is visible in this deodorized and untouchable body image. The origin of this conception is in the neoclassical image of the body. It is like a sculpture of Canova, where no part or member is shown in its carnal nature, none of the excrescences and orifices are demonstrated on the finite surface of this absolute body, which can be nude but not naked. The image of the buildings devised by the professors in their practice of architecture is an unfinished image, like that of the grotesque body. At the basis of the grotesque imagery is a special concept of the body as a whole and of the limits of this whole. In grotesque architecture, the limina between bodies and buildings differ sharply from the neoclassical models as well as from the naturalistic picture of the human body, The grotesque body is a body in the act of becoming. It is never finished, never completed; it is continually built, continually created; and it is the principle of others' bodies. The logic of a grotesque image ignores the smooth and impenetrable surface of the neoclassical bodies, and magnifies only excrescences and orifices, which lead into the bodies' depths. The outward and inward details are merged. Moreover, the grotesque body swallows and is swallowed by the world. This takes place in the openings and the boundaries, and the beginning and end are closely linked and interwoven.


It is common usage to call "monsters" an unfamiliar concord of dissonant elements: the centaur, the chimera, are thus defined for those without understanding. I call "monster" all original inexhaustible beauty. =-Alfred larry, Les Monstres

Under the influence of Vico, Lodoli posed, in a Socratic way, one of the most challenging questions of architectural theory. The question built into his dictum "Funzione sia la rappresentazione." brings up the need to discuss the role of the live body in the constructing of architectural images. Indirectly, the dictum also defines the profession of architecture, suggesting that the pursuit of architecture is to make visible signs out of that which is invisible. Architecture is in the world oj the visible. This means that the bodies of architecture surround our bodies and architecture and the human body are one in front of the other and between the two there is "not a frontier, but a contact surface" (Merleau-Ponty 1968, 271). Focusing on the idea of function-the grammatical object of Lodoli's injunction - the above dictum has been interpreted in many different ways; for example, architectural elements must demonstrate their structural function (Rykwert 1976); or expanding the intended meaning to corroborate statements like "form follows function," the motto has been interpreted as protomodern propaganda for functional and rational architecture (Sartoris 1948). However, the motto has never been interpreted by focusing on the concept of representation - the grammatical subject of the maxim. Making architectural elements the basis of demonstrations of concepts rather than of being unrelated to concepts, the idea of representation embodied in the motto is an expression of a theory of image that enunciates that the monstrosity of functional representations, i.e., their deformation and distortion, should prevail over the sublime dimension of historical figures. To repeat, Lodoli's motto indicates that the role of the architect is to demonstrate through tangible signs the intangible that operates in the tangible. This demonstration is the setting of the enigma of the labor involved



A Cynic's View

in an architectural project that aims to achieve nontrivial designs. An architectural project is a continuous sign; it results from an uninterrupted act of design that is based on a continuous search for the human measure to bridge the past and the future of the constructed world. An architectural project is not just the designing of a specific building; rather it is a projection of a future constructed world based on the transformation of the past world of construction through a specific design." The genetic trope defined earlier, monstrosity, is the selected paradigm for this analysis of the labor necessary to initiate and carry on the architectural project. Because this trope addresses issues of representation through processes of metamorphosis, the proposed analysis is introduced as methodological innovation based on traditional practices within architectural design. Monstrous architecture and architectural monsters stand at the margin of consoiousness between the known and the unknown, the perceived and the unperceived, calling into question the adequacy of our ways of organizing rationally the world into determinable parts and details. "Monstrous" as an adjective has no precise value; its common purpose is to single out a loaded (caricatured) artifact, whereas "monster" as a noun suggests artifacts that either are beyond or between categories. Nevertheless, the idea of monster can be used as a genetic trope, a trope that deals with human creativity playing on the understanding of human reality as an artifact. In aesthetic theory, another word for monster is grotesque. The term emerged as a designation for a peculiar architectural production developed in sixteenth-century Italy, through the rediscovered frescoes and other architectural features in the grottoes around the Bath of Titus 4 in Rome (Barasch 1971, 17-19). The painting on the walls of those grottoes presents an unbelievable range of anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, and phytomorphic images within impossible architectural landscapes. In his treatise, Vitruvius bitterly criticized this architectural trompe l'oeil. He-complained that many architectural wall painters of his time had departed from "a reasoned scheme of decoration," and were painting "monsters rather than definite representations from definite things" (Vitruvius 1930, 7:v, 3). Those paintings were architectural representations "that neither are, nor can be, nor have been" (Vitruvius 1930, 7:v, 4). Many Renaissance, mannerist, and baroque architects disregarded this Vitruvian tirade. but it was used as an argument in the reformation led by neoclassical architects. Another disguised term for monster is fantasia. In a 1502 contract for the Piccolomini altar in Siena, reference is made to fantasie, mentioning that they also can be called grotteschi (Summers 1981, 103).'For instance, Michelangelo supports the use of fantasie in architecture, because of "the insatiable human desire which sometimes more abhors a building with its columns, windows and doors, than another feigned and jalse alia grot-

A Cynic's View


tesca, ... that seems impossible and irrational; yet it may be very great, if done by one who understands" (quoted by Summers 1981, 136). Fantasia results from a process of sign manipulation in agreement with human reason by which a decoration is achieved; that is, making visible the invisible body of our corporeal image. The hidden image becomes open. This invisible hidden image has two dimensions, the operational (functional) and the imaginative. Fantasia is the basis of the grotesque image of the body in metamorphosis. The grotesque body is a chiasm expressing two bodies in a single one: one is "giving birth and dying, the other conceived, generated, and born. '" From one body a new body always emerges in some form or other" (Bakhtin 1984, 26). In architecture the grotesque body is a body in a continuous metamorphosis, a body freed from the mirror of itself-freed from similar resemblance. The grotesque image is not the unique and finite image of the metaphorical body but rather it is a body that transforms itself continuously in the constructed world. The image of the grotesque body is unfinished and open and it is not separated from its surroundings by clearly defined boundaries (Bakhtin 1984, 26); its materialistic constitution blends with all the materials of the constructed world. The materialistic nature of the grotesque image becomes the way by which an understanding of the materialistic and the materials of construction is achieved. The undefined and unfinished boundaries of the grotesque body are an extraordjnary presence in the manneristic architecture or in the non-finito of the Slaves by Michelangelo, where the materials of the body and stone merge in a pathological unity. The non-finito quality of the grotesque is also present in the sculptures of the Futurista, Antonio Boccioni. Two of his sculptures - unfortunately, destroyed - demonstrate beautifully the undefined limits existing between the constructed world and the human body who inhabits it. One of these sculptures, Fusione di una testa e di una finestra (merging of a head and a window), is a bust where a body and a window frame are fused in a metonymic manner, designating the building element as the basis for a demonstration of a concept .(Figure 4). The second sculpture is entitIedTesta + Casa + Luce (Head + house + light), and it is another pronouncement of the importance of the grotesque body achieving the absolute and complete abolition of the finite line (Figure 5). In these sculptures "the human figure is open and the surrounding environment is closed in it" (Boccioni 1914, 403). Both sculptures are monsters where the operational (functional) and the imaginative dimension of the invisible are made visible. As can be easily understood, the monsters are presented above not in a modem sense of the term, but rather in the ancient sense of an enigmatic saying, extraordinary dicta. Since the time of the Counter-Reformation and with the advent of the paradigm of Reason, monsters have lost their


A Cynic's View

Figure 4. Boccioni, Fusione di una testa e di una finestra. signifying power. The monstrous became more than a deviation from the norm, and is to that extent the equivalent of the meaningless. According to present usage, monster is a term that removes meaning from the factual instances of building elements to file them under the general idea of abnormality. The monsters went from ubiquity to ubiety, from being the norm for the complete detailing of a Gothic edifice to being the critical classifica-

A Cynic's View


Figure 5. Boccioni, Testa





tion of abnormal architectural elements. However, in this metonymic role within the tradition, monsters are special kinds of representations: they are the enigmatic beasts of imagination, the polysemic ideograms of analogic or productive thinking. Initially without meaning, the signs of the metamorphosis of the constructed space acquire significance through convention, through an appeal


A Cynic's View

to the repertory, to the forerunners of the symbol that avoid similarity between signifier and signified. Architecture situates and solidifies these metamorphoses of space within events or places. Through their transformations, architectural monsters give guidance by demonstrating how architectural production should follow (moneo in the sense of monstrare) in making visible the invisible. In this sense, monstrous buildings become monuments (monea in the sense of memento). Thus the monsters remain enigmatic signs for the realization of space in the building elements. Historically, architectural monsters may be in the buildings, or may themselves be the buildings. This dual nature is revealed in myth: on the one hand, we have the Labyrinth, constructed to house an edifying monster, the Minotaur; on the other hand, we have the enigmatic edifice of the Sphinx in Egypt. The theoretical discourse around the enigmatic but powerful Lodolian maxim is known through versions handed down by a faithful pupil, the already mentioned Memmo, and an unfaithful one, Francesco Algarotti (d. 1764), and occasionally mentioned also in the distorted exposition of Francesco Milizia (d. 1796).5 Few scholars mention a third pupil, Zaccaria Seriman (d. 1708), who also presented his master's theory in a clever and caustic form that could be more congenial to the odd character of Lodoli, who delighted in the composition of witty and abrasive apologues," Serirnan, a member of a rich and noble Persian family who emigrated to Venice at the end of the sixteenth century, gave shape to his interpretation of the Lodolian theory of image in a literary capriccio, a philosophical novel entitled I Viaggi di Enrico Wanton (Enrico Wanton's travels). Written within the tradition of the anglomania veneta, Seriman's book echoes Swift's Gulliver's Travels, forebodes Voltaire's Candide, and has stylistic affinities with several collections of satirical and moral letters contemporarily published in Venice (pizzamiglio 1977, 7). I Viaggi is the story of a sea voyage undertaken by two young gentlemen, Enrico Wanton (Figure 6) and Roberto, who are shipwrecked at the edge of the known world. This fortuitous event forced the young travelers to journey through an exotic territory divided into two nations. The first nation visited by Enrico and Roberto is II Paese degli Scimii (The Country of the Monkeys), which is an ironic and satyric representation of the peculiarities of the life of Venetian aristocrats and intellectuals. The second nation visited is If Paese dei Cinocefali (The Country of the Cynocephals) (Figure 7). This is a group of provinces inhabited by a dogheaded people, a traditionally monstrous race. These Cynocephals and their different lifestyles depict a critical interpretation of the cultural environment of Veniceat the end of the eighteenth century. As the nation of the Monkeys was a sarcastic representation of the Venetian material life, this second nation is a Cynophania of

A Cynic's View


Figure 6. Portrait of Enrico Wanton.


A Cynic's View

Figure 7. Map,

Country of the Cynocephals.

the proper and improper ways of the Venetian intelligentsia in relation to the leading European cultural trends of the time. In one of the early chapters, an old Monkey, who inveighs against the architecture of the Scimii for being overornamented, meaningless, and irrational in the use of its fragmentary structural components, appears as a clownish personification of Lodoli's criticism of Venetian architecture," This chapter ends with a peculiar episode. We learn that the nonspeculative culture of the Scimii does not know the use of mirrors and that a lady living in that country in order to properly apply her morning makeup (toaletta), must have a very skillful maid in front of her who repeats exactly all the movements and actions made by her mistress. At the end of the description of the makeup, Enrico shows the lady a portable mirror that he had brought with him. The mirror presents the lady with her real, ugly aspect; at first she does not recognize her image in the mirror, but then when she realizes the truth about her ugliness and its representation in the mirror, she faints (Figure 8). In the country of the dogheaded people, the ghost of Lodoli appears several times under different names, and is always depicted as a mentor

A Cynic's View


Figure 8. Morning Makeup of the Monkey Lady.


A Cynic's View

for the young double figure Enrico/Zaccaria, and Roberto/Zaccaria." This recurring figure of a mentor is always presented positively and often becomes the catalyst of edifying fantasies displayed through the monstrous acts of the dogheaded people. One of the provinces of the Country of Cynocephals visited by Enrico and Roberto is called Campi della Miseria (Misery Fields), because its countryside is left uncultivated. The chapter describing this odd-looking province is crucial for the comprehension of the rooting of a theory of image in fantasy. The inhabitants of Campi della Miseria believe that wealth does not come from physical labor but from the work of fantasy; as a result nobody bothers to farm the fields. For the Cynocephals living in tbis province, riches are better imagined than owned because in this way they are intellectually enjoyable. In the text, to make clear that memory is the mother of fantasy, Enrico remarks tbat this section of the travels has been written from memory rather than from the records of his travel diary because the notes regarding this province were destroyed in a travel accident. He also points out that Misery Fields is the only province to which he returns quite often using his own fantasy. In tbis chapter, Enrico declares that fantasy is the human faculty that generates monsters (Seriman 1977, 2:401); this declaration is reversed by the testimony of a Cynocephalic lady living in the Fortezza dei Vf?nti (The Stronghold of the Winds, i.e., the domain of conceptual philosophy), who thinks that the smooth-skinned Enrico, a monster from her point of view, is the result of a fornication between a lady Monkey and a Cynocephalic philosopher (Seriman 1977, 1:376) (Figure 9). The monsters used in the narrative reveal the essence of Seriman's concern with the function of representation. In the Paese degli Scimii, the Monkeys are a visible enactment of the commonplace classical and neoclassical practice of mimesis, which is encapsulated in the Latin adage, ars simia naturae. Seriman employs the narration of events happening in the Country of the Monkeys to carry out a criticism of the representational theories that base artistic production on the imitation of objects rather than on the mimesis of procedures. In this he is restating one of the basic criticisms brought by Lodoli against contemporary art theories. The reasons for Seriman's selection of the dogheaded people for the second nation of I Viaggi are much more complicated. The Cynocephals are one ofthe traditional monstrous races listed by Pliny (Friedman 1981, 15), and probably the origin of this race is an interpretative memory of a sight of Certopitecha (Figure lO). The Cynocephals belong indirectly to the tradition of Venice; they have been seen by Marco Polo during his travels to the edge of the known world (Wittkower 1942). They were well known also through one of the most popular travel books, Mandeville's Travels.' However, these connections are not enought to explain why Seriman selected this kind of

A Cynic's View


Figure 9. Scene in Country of the Cynocephals.


A Cynic's View

Figure 10. Hypnoerotomachia cinocephala.

A Cynic's View


monster for his discussion of critical thinking and its deviations. In his commentary, Pizzamiglio suggests tht these dogheaded monsters are a visible image of cynic (kinikos=canine) thinking, a suggestion confirmed by the importance of Lodoli, a Cynic philosopher, as key mentor figure in the second part of the travel, but it still does not adequately explain Seriman's choice. 10 The solution of the enigma perhaps can be found in a piece of sculpture located in the utopian garden devised by the Venetian senator, Angelo Querini (d. 1795), for his villa in Altichiero, near Padua. Politically the boldest among the pupils of Lodoli (Torcellan 1963), Querini retired to this villa-inherited at the death of his brother Vincenzo in 1769-after a prison term for activities against the reactionaries in the Venetian government. The garden which was designed by the senator, perhaps with the help of a liberated woman, Countess Giustiniana Wynne Rosenberg, is something between an open air Wunderkammer and a theatre of memory. The villa and the garden are like a Lodolian museum and are visually organized like an antiquarian Capriccio with philosophical overtones." The garden itself is "a symbolic and moral poem," full of sculptures of mythological monsters, such as a Janus head or a Sphinx. rz The first piece met in the section of the garden called Canopo is important for understanding the role of Cynocephals in representation. The statue is the representation of an Anubis ou Cynocephale as was recorded in the label of one of the engravings by Giovanni Dal Pian illustrating the second edition ofthe booklet written by Countess Rosenberg to describe the villa and its garden. One can achieve a better grasp of the significance of this statute by looking further into its theoretical context. The configuration of Querini's philosophical garden suggests a critical approach to a theory of image that is a product of imaginative universals. This theory, advanced by Vico, was developed and supported by Lodoli and Conti in the Veneto. The theory assumes that cognitions derive from a system of representational knowledge that does not separate instrumental from symbolic representations. As with the hermetic visual tradition. this theory of cognition holds that images not only represent something but also capture something of (participate in the nature of) what is represented. Representation, then, is connected with the generation of images and ultimately is based on "recollective universals which generate philosophical understanding from the image, not from a rational category" (Verene 1981, 91). In connection with his theory of image construction, Vico also advocates the setting of a mental vocabulary of images (Vico 1744, 1, 9, 473-82), premising that human understanding needs human images to be developed, and abstract categories can be reached only through such representations. As Michelangelo and
13 14


A Cynic's View

many mannerists did in their theoretical writings, Conti locates these representations in fantasia. He utilizes the qualities of fantasy to probe physical reality and expand the potentialities of new knowledge. He sees the dream as a hypothetical design of the unknown; thus, it is an important tool for acquiring knowledge. The dream is seen as logos, a rhetorical procedure, within the labyrinth of the reflections about the physical and metaphysical possibilities of things. The locus of reflection is the place where geometry, philosophy, and science discover their common origin or "nature," i.e., their roots in imagination. A dream is a mode of production by which the images (subnotiom) can be manipulated through dimensional and scale changes iaumentazioni and diminuzionis, combinations and analogies (proporziom) resulting in the generation of new forms and understandings (Conti 1739-56, 1:25-27);15 this is a production of monsters. Alberti gives us an autobiographical example of how architectural imagination takes place. In a passage quoted by Girolamo Mancini, the Florentine architect explains that duringthe night,especially whenthe anxiety(stimali d'animo) keepsmerestless and awake,I am used to surveyand build in mymind an unheard-of machine ableto liftand carry, consolidateand erect(statuire) tremendousand inestimable things.Sometimesbeingdeprivedof theseimages,I createdor builtin mymind a few well-composededifices with their Orders arranged in severalcolumns with unusual capitals and bases, and with proper ties and a newgracein cornices and entablatures. (Mancini 1911,126)'· Being half asleep, in Latin sopor" in a dreamlike state, Alberti first designs tremendous machines and then unusual building details. This soporific mental work is a constructive fantasy that moves from a confused state of anxiety to a clear image of a construction that embodies the human condition in the monstrous expression of the building details. A latent theory embodied in the Albertian passage is that the dream of architecture produces monsters that are imaginative class concepts. Theoretical explanations belong to the realm of necessary fables, a group of imaginative class concepts (Vico's generi fantasticl) that are the measures for the production of significant expressions. To further explain the inclusion of the Cynocephalic figure within imaginative universals, an illustration from the fifteen folio volumes by Abbe Bernard Montfaucon (1719) can be helpful. In fact, this book was on the shelves of the Querini Villa. The illustration shows Anubis-Mercury as a dogheaded figure. The same image of a dogheaded figure is found in a book by Vincenzo Cartari published in Venice in the second half of the sixteenth century. Cartari collected the images of the ancient gods in this book and one of the il-

A Cynic's View


lustrations shows Mercury as a dogheaded figure among a collection of many possible personifications of the Greek god. In Hypnoerotomachia Poliphili, a book extremely popular among the Venetian intellectuals of Querini's entourage, 18 Hermes is depicted as a dogheaded figure in the illustrations showing the cult of Venus Physozoica, an orfic system developed to generate natural images. Dogheaded figures were also a standard presence in the medieval representation of Pentecost, such as in an Armenian Gospel Book (Taros Roslin, Baltimore, Walters Art Gallery MS 539, fol 379r, 1262), where one of the central images is a Cynocephalic being listening to the Apostles speaking in tongues. In the writings of the Church Fathers, Pentecost often is paired with the story of the Tower of Babel (Friedman 1981, 64-67). The Apostles' ability to speak many languages restores the unity of understanding lost with the construction of the Tower, which produced the diversity of languages and "many kinds of monstrous men," as Giacomo Filippo Foresti (b. 1434) narrates in his Supplementum Chronicarum (quoted by Friedman 1981, 64, 19). Seriman's Cynocephals are a personification of the concept embodied in Lodoli's motto where the Venetian friar advocates a design procedure based on the original meaning of mimesis rather than on the concept of imitation personified in the Monkeys. This procedure is related to our understanding of mimics whose technique is based on the power of simultaneously showing and not showing. In a pantomine, a mime shows us a door that is not there. This power of showing and of hiding the architectural enigma is explicitly evoked in the architecture of Palazzo Bacchi in Bologna. the first important work of Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola. On the right corner of the palazzo, there is the head of a monster carved in the torus crowning the scarp marking the base of the palace. It is perhaps the remains of a never-completed sculptural emblem devised to flag the angular view of the palace. As Daniela Manari (1979, 114) pointed out in a short essay, the whole organization of the plan of Bocchi's palace is subordinated to this angular vista as the most important view of the palace and the most eminent rooms are located in correspondence to this corner. In a 1555 engraving showing one design solution of the building, the monster head overlooks a herma representing Hermes dissimulated as a Satyr. In another drawing with the same date, an angular view of the palazzo shows two Hermae located above the torus. One represents Hermes, the other Athena; between them there is an angel- an offspring of the two divinities, as the finger pointing to the abdomen of Athena shows-who is holding the bridle of the bit of the subjugated monster. Incidentally, the same image of the corner is found in an illustration by Giulio Bosanone of one of the distiches in Symbolicarum Questionum de Universo Genere; Libri Quinque (1574), a book by Achille Bocchi, Vignola's client (Figure 11). This


A Cynic's View

Figure 11. Corner of Palazzo Bocchi, Bologna.

A Cynic's View


book is a manifesto presenting a theory of representation, based on prudence and honest dissimulation, in 150 images and Latin distichs (Iafuri 1985, 97-101; see also Chap. 4, n. 10). In the engravings of Palazzo Bocchi, the two statues of Hermes and Athena represent the Hermathena, a monstrous symbol and the name of the Academy run by Bacchi in the palace. 19 The Hermathena is an icon showing the mental process or activity of representation that makes knowledge possible. In this corner emblem there is a recognition of decoration as "honest dissimulation," which is better than simulation because it suggests the relationship between a representation and its function. Under the angel of the emblem, the motto Sic Monstra Domatur is carved on the torus, under which there is another motto, Me Duce Perficies 1U Modo Progredere. The taming of monsters is shown not only on the corner of the palace, but it also is seen in its main door. The door is a tamed monster generated by dissimulation, that is the application of the ordine rustico. Monsters generated by collecting and composing antique fragments follow this order of conception, where the rustication dissimulates the improper sutures. The door of Palazzo Bacchi has its model in Sebastiana Serlio's Libro Extraordinario, a book added by the author to the plan of its treatise at a later date. The Libro Extraordinario is a collection of door designs in which the opera rustica enlarges the architectural fantasy to allow licenze (licence) through a metamorphosis of the classical orders. "The attention of Serlio is concentrated on the possibility of interweaving the opera rustica with the orders altering their image and meaning" (Belluzzi 1979, lll). The gate of a barchessa of the villa Garzoni di Ponte Casale" demonstrates how the opera rustica helps to assemble into a total significant image the fragments of the pediment and pillars composing the gate, operating on their margin to permit the merging of their spatial boundaries. The opera rustica is not merely a simulation of a natural look but becomes the dissimulation of the joints of the different parts composing the artifact. This is a dissimulation through a metonymic natural look that allows the assimilation of the parts a unity of meaning. Serlio's interweaving of the tactile and visual qualities in the opera rustica and classical orders is a representation of the visibility that is invisible, that is, of the chiasm "my body model of the things, and the things model of my body" (MerleauPanty 1968, 131). As Vico has pointed out in a rhetorical chiasm, the body is the highest order of representation, because man in his ignorance makes himself the ruler of the universe .... So that, as rational metaphysics teaches that man becomes all things by understanding them (homo intelligendo fit omnia), this imaginative metaphysics shows man becomes all things by not understanding them (homo non intelligendo fit

The Invisible Body


the present state of architectural production, too many anomalies in the relationship of theory and practice have obscured this fundamental role. The result is a vision of architecture as a corrupt, abstract art coping with technical and pragmatic requirements, whose theoretical basis depends for its formulation on theoretical and critical frameworks developed in other fields of human knowledge.4 Almost all architects play solitary games. They play with the puzzle of architecture without following the rules of the game, merely using pieces of the puzzle as construction blocks. Although architects can make the pieces fit together - indeed one of the requirements in the practice of the profession is that designed buildings must stand up when they are constructed - the results of solitary play are solipsistic compositions in which the image has been sacrificed to the concept." Current professional and academic interest focuses only on these solitary visual compositions. The traditional disembodied image present in the architectural puzzle is obscured by these new compositions, and there is no interest in the Janus-like image embodied in the pieces of the puzzle. The traditional solution of the puzzle - the representation of a body in a body, a perspicuous image of the facts of architecture - is completely disregarded. Traditionally, the theoretical image of a human body is incorporated in the constructed body of a specific architectural monument, the theatre. Both of these bodies are involved in the process of making meaningful architecture. Sometimes they are so near that they merge; at other times they are far apart. But the tension between them allows the elaboration of a meaningful constructed world. The theatre/body relation rules the constructing as well as the construing of architectural artifacts." The theatre/body solution of the puzzle tells us that architecture has its own class of reflective objects. Those architectural objects are not necessarily physical such as stone or cement, nor technical such as geometry or the science of construction, nor historical such as typology or decoration, nor literary such as composition or criticism." The objects proper to architecture result from a knowledge internal to architecture concerning human nature and its way of organizing time, space, and artifacts in a place. Physical, technical, historical, and literary objects are the necessary embodiment of true architectural objects. In many ancient architectural treatises, the writer or the commentator focuses on the meaning and the etymology of the words architecture and architect. The word architect is easily traced. It is a Greek compound word, chief (arkhe) builder (teklon), but for the word architecture, the solution is not as obvious; it requires a demonstration. The most illuminating of the many discussions of this matter was elaborated by Daniele Barbaro (1513-1570), the most learned of the patrons of Palladia. In his commentary on Vitruvius's De Architectura, facing a passage where the Roman architect states that architecture


A Cynic's View

omnia); and perhaps the latter proposition is truer than the former, for then when man understands, he extends his mind and takes in the things, but when he does not understand, he makes the things out of himself and becomes them by transforming himself into them. (Vico 1744, vi, 405)

In its present state, architecture is a Babel of simulations of past and contemporary architectural artifacts, and monsters again should be understood as extraordinary signs. They are enigmas, that is, interpretable signs that can give guidance. Enigmas are ways of saying what is necessary to say, combining impossible things." The enigma is a callida junctura that unifies an overturned perverse signifier with an improper and obscure signified, that is, a telling where the relationship between the details or elements of the told story are such that the conventional meaning hides the intended one. Its revelation is a monster, a sign that gives guidance. In architecture, where the detail tells the tale (Frascari 1984), this relationship results from a departure from the normal process of construction used to achieve a decorum; the conventional elements are used in a hermetic way and the outcome is extraordinary-that is, a monster.


through signs and similes, we therefore ascend by the means of visible things to those things invisible. -Camillo Delmino, L'ldea del theatro

In Italian, the locution mostri sacri originates in the Etruscan/Roman tradition of divination, which understood monsters as extraordinary events, celestial novelties, untouchable sacred signs of a possible future. They were interpreted as prophecies standing against the conventional criticism of a consecrated tradition. They were enigmas to be interpreted with vague precision. This oxymoron, a rhetorical monster, is the conceptual tool of an exactitude based on the more finite nature of things (Calvina 1988,

The unfinished architectures devised by Leon Battista Alberti, a lover of Etruscan culture, are enigmas of precision. The most amazing among them is the Tempio Malatestiano, designed around 1450, for the tyrant of Rimini, Sigismondo Malatesta, a monster of impiety. The Tempio, built by Matteo de Pasti under the direction of Alberti, is a remodel of the medieval church of San Francesco; the result is a monster. The architecture of the Tempio presents a well-proportioned classical body topped by a Gothic apse, and it is Alberti's raising of the enigma of remodeling, an enterprise of incompleteness. Alberti's design is a classical marble labyrinth encasing the Gothic bricks of the Malatesta family burial church (Figure 12).The design does not limit itself to cover and disguise the Gothic construction, but it appropriates the structure of the preexisting one, becoming a proper conception of it. The tripartite nature of the church is expressed in the facade, and the burial function is expressed on the sides. The building is a compound of building details expressing an incredible degree of excellence. Alberti's monster is the third classical monument possessed by the city of Rimini. A little bridge built by Tiberius to cross the Marecchia River, and the majestic triumphal arch erected in 27 B.C. to commemorate August are the other two monuments. In his design for the remodeling, Alberti incorporates elements derived from those monuments, an indirect 51


Mostri Sacri

Mostri Sacri


form of spoils architecture. In the Tempio, an incomplete remodeling became the actual construction: an incomplete monster of perfection, an enigma that expresses the precision requested by Alberti in his theoretical statement, where he cautions the architects of possible "errors of excess, so as to seem to have made a Monster with Limbs disproportionate" (Alberti 1755, 13-14). Another canonical monster is the basilica designed by Palladio in Vicenza, a colossal whale emerging over the crossing of the Cardus and the Decumanus of the urban fabric of Vicenza. It is a Minotaur enclosed by Palladia-Daedalus within a labyrinth of Serlio's windows. The models for this construction were the Doge Palace in Venice and the Palazzo della Ragione in Padua. The first step in the construction of this hybrid was done by Domenico Veneziano after a fire in 1444 destroyed the Palatium Vetus or Communis and the related Broletto. The design of Domenico incorporated on the ground floors the preexisting ruins of the palace and shops of the Broletto on both sides of the Cardus, solving and dignifying the double nature of the place in only one body (Barbieri 1970, 17-19). Toward the end of the century, Tommaso Formenton added a double loggia tpozzoli: poggiob) to Domenico's construction, with battlements similar to the ones used to top the Ca'Doro, The loggia was added to a building complete in itself, without troubling over either formal coherence, morphological connections, or structural necessities, a process of construction without preplanning, without an interpretation of the preexisting text. As a consequence, the construction was full of many technical defects and partially collapsed two years after its completion (Barbieri 1970, 30-33). After discussions and consultations with many well-recognized architects, the city fathers put Palladia in charge of the design. Faced with the problem, Palladia solved the structural and morphological problems by the repetition of a building element that absorbs in itself the dynamics of a loggia set without norms. The decoration, represented by the use of serlianas, with their tripartite structure, accommodates the facts of the preexisting collapsed and indecorous construction, transforming them into the reality of a decorous building type: a basilica. This operation of decoration has been so successful that the serliana is now better known as the Palladian window. The monsters of architecture are not only the buildings, but also the architects who successfully embody themselves in the constructed world. Palladio is the monster of Palladian architecture, the products of which can be found in Veneto, England, and the United States. The architectural products of a group of architects operating in Italy after World War II characteristically intend to be extraordinary events, sacred signs of the possible future of a new Italian architecture. This new architecture was advocated by Edoardo Persico, the charismatic co-director


Mostri Sacri

of Casabella before the war, in a lecture given January 21, 1934, in Turin (Persico 1947).The lecture, properly entitled "La profezia dell'architettura" (The prophecy of architecture), is a claim for a fundamental freedom of the mind from the paradigms of conventional criticism and a search for an architecture based on a productive interpretation of tradition. A case of the use of the paradigms of conventional criticism emerges in an article by Reyner Banham, dealing with a supposed Italian retreat from the modern movement (Banham 1959). In the article, Banham criticizes the attitudes embodied in the work of the contemporary generation of young Italian architects who, according to him, advocate "conventional attitudes" in their works, but he does not dare to comment on the architecture produced by the older, famous architects, the untouchable mostri sacri of Italian architecture. In fact, the designs devised by these mostri sacri were based on procedures that unified the realities of culturally oriented projects with the facts of building. The Viconian poetic union of the real with the artifact is at the base of many of those designs. Through his own sensibility to small facts, Carlo Scarpa (1906-1978), one of the most prodigious among the Venetian mostri sacri, presents the Viconian concept in an ironic way in the entry gate to the 'Iolentini building, the main seat of the Instituto Universitario d'Architettura di Venezia.' The entry place is enclosed by a shadowless wall and closed by a technical wonder, a stone-glass gate balanced on a track by a "solo" wheel (Figure 13a). On the stone slab, the famous Latin Viconian motto is carved, which encapsulated the concept of the reciprocation between artifact and the real, with a little Scarpian twist added: vervm I.psV.m fA.ctV.m The acronym of the school has been inserted in the Viconian dictum (Figure Bb). In the second line of the small Roman letters inscription, four letters - I.v.A.v.- the acronym of the school, are marked in capital letters enlightened in gold leaf." This inscription was conceived by Scarpa during the second design of the entry complex (Figure 14a). He was so fond of the idea of interweaving Vico's motto with the school acronym, that studies of the graphic form of the acrostic can be found not only in the drawing of the project of the entry but also as marginalia in the drawings of other contemporary projects." During Scarpa's appointment as director of the school, the project for the new entry of the Tolentini received city approval, but financial considerations prevented its construction. However, during his tenure as director of the school, Scarpa maneuvered to have the Viconian phrase with the acronym of the school inserted or, better, uncovered

Mostri Sacri





Figure 13a. Omaggio a Carlo Scarpa: interlocking rings.


Mostri Sacri

Figure 13b.

Scarpa, Entry IVAV Tolentini, Venice.

in the writing, printed as the impresa of the school in the degree diplomas in the hope that the gate would be built. The whole design of the entry gate to the Tolentini, a beautiful monastery designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi, is a monster in itself. On the right side of the opening leading to the main courtyard, a bronze cast replica of Le Corbusier's open hand stops you before entering. On the ground, a stone door frame, contemporary to the monastery, lies in a pool of water that reflects the sky. The acrostic devised by Scarpa is a poetic monster. It shows the nature of the school in an alphabetic form. The result of an uncertain union - the motto and the historical naming of the school- present a possible interpretation of the school from its historical origins" to the interpretation of urban metamorphosis analyzed by Saverio Muratori in his research on Venice. As has been said, the whole design of the entry place to the 'Iolentini is a poetic monster, a combination of subjects in order to achieve an understanding of the teaching and learning of architecture. Architectural

Mostri Sacri


Figure 14a. Scarpa, Entry IVAV Tolentini, Venice.


Mostri Sacri

monsters are built fantasies. This fantastic nature of monsters is at the root of Scarpa's poetic architecture. This architecture permits the understanding of urban and architectural changes through metamorphosis and memory. The monster, a poetic and genetic trope, is proposed in Scarpa's work as a renewed design paradigm. During the restorations and transformation of the monastery of the Tolentini as the new seat for the I.V.A.V., the stone frame of a monumental door was found in the big refectory hall. Daniele CaIabi, the architect in charge of the restoration, thought of using the architectural spoil as the focus for the new entry to the Institute; the basic concept was to insert the door as a gate in a wall to be built to enclose the Campiello dei Tolentini. Since then, up to the moment of construction, the frame of the door stood on the ground more or less in the same position where Scarpa located it in its design. Scarpa's project began with two sketches on the back of cigarette boxes. One of them shows the section of the wall and the other an assembly of compasses, squares, and other architectural paraphernalia in an emblematic composition (Figures 14b, c).

Figure 14b. Scarpa, Entry IVA Tolentini, Venice. V

Mostri Sacri



The Invisible Body

is "a knowledge of many doctrines, adorned by several teachings, and ail the works accomplished by the other arts are approved by her judgment" (Vitruvius 1584, 7, 1.56-57). Barbaro (Vitruvius 1584, 7, 1.58) discusses the "power of the compound name" before demonstrating what architecture is:
He who wants to express the power of the said name in the vernacular, will say chief-mistress ... the dignity of architecture is close to wisdom: and as heroic virtue she dwells among all the arts ... seeing architecture being such, Vitruvius says that is science and by science he means cognition. (Vitruvius
1584, 7, 1.60-67)

Architecture is a chief/mistress who lives among the arts and knows how to judge and arrange them in an eloquent and sensible environment. A vignette marking the opening of the first chapter of the first book of the treatise written by Vincenzo Scamozzi (1552-1616), a Palladian pupil who completed many of the buildings of his master, is a clear representation of this image of architecture as chief/mistress." In the vignette, Lady Architecture is sitting enthroned among the arts-s-three on her right and four on her left-and the title Domi[naj Artium (Lady of the Arts) is carved on the predella (Scamozzi 1615, 9). The iconographical composition of the vignette presents the traditional representation of Mnemosyne, the mother of the Muses, sitting among her daughters (the result of nine nights the goddess spent in the bed of Zeus). The theatre of the muses is the Museum, an architectural monster that immortalizes and glorifies the human production of things and thoughts. In a play called Momus, Alberti evokes the tradition of the theatre as the central paradigm of architecture. Alberti began writing this play in 1540, the same year he started to work on his major architectural text, De Re Aedificatoria. Momus is a comedy with a complicated plot based on a set of philosophical and practical jokes organized by the god of mockery, Momus, during the search for a Golden Book. In regard to the theatre and the role of architects, the key statement is formulated by Jove after a major event toward the end of the play. Looking over a Roman theatre after having asked who devised such a wonderful piece of architecture, Jove regrets that he did not give the commission for the construction of the world to the architects rather than to the philosophers (Alberti 1986). This statement fails within the tradition of the theatrum mundi, the embodiment of human corporeality and memory in the theatrical machine of the world (Bernheimer 1956). The theory of architecture is embodied in a theatre of architectural monsters. In Metaphors We Live By, Mark Johnson and George Lakoff give


Mostri Sacri

To these two genetic sketches should be added a third on letterhead paper showing the stone door frame located in a pool of water. These three sketches contain the principal elements of the design of the gate, which would further unfold in the different versions of the project. For the solution of the entry to the Tolentini, Scarpa elaborated three different design proposals during the time span of a, decade. The first was conceived and elaborated in 1968 (see Figure Bb). The second is a modification and reelaboration of the key themes of the first design, and it was developed to the point of having a set of the drawings submitted to the city design commission, by which it was approved. The third design, a more advanced reflection on the juxtaposition of the elements in the other two, was never completely unfolded; as a consequence, the second version was the one that was built. 6 In the first design, Scarpa attempted a representation of the unity of arts in architecture. One of the early sketches shows a statue on the top of the wall symbolizing the role of sculpture in architecture, whereas the wall itself becomes a support for the art of painting. This traditional concept, however, was soon abandoned. The gate and the section of the wall became architectural elaborations of the hieroglyphs and emblems presented by the early visual thoughts unfolded on the back of cigarette boxes. The dominant geometrical theme is the 45-degree triangle. The drawing triangle is also intertwined with the compass legs. The section is also the geometrical representation of light through the conventional use of 4S-degree shadows. These triangles are the divination tools of architects within the forest of images of the traditional constructed world. The entry knot in the wall is the representation of the altar of the sacred space of architecture, marking its beginning. The small enclosed campo is a fanum, the city of Venice is a pro-fanum, and the altar is in the gate between the profane city of the professionals and the sacred space of the professors. This metaphorical relationship, a Viconian fable, becomes more evident in the second design when the surface of the campo is raised as in a campo dei morti, the dramatic Venetian sacred burial ground utilized during the plagues. To solve the problem of too many infected corpses and no ground to inter them, the solution devised by the Venetian government was to lay the corpses on the ground, a small campo, where they werethen covered with quicklime and dirt. The completion of this procedure was to apply a new stone paving over it, making the final surface of the campo higher than the surrounding area, Twolong prestressed beams mark the sides of the space in the first design. They are oversized flower containers or elongated urns for remembering, . or prefiguring, the role of the science of construction in the making of and contemplation of architecture. In the second version of the project, they are replaced by an already mentioned urban metamorphosis, the raised

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campo dei morti. In this second design, the geometry of the section of the wall holding the canopy becomes the template for the design of the sliding gate, which becomes a heroic architect's square, moving along the parallel bar of the sliding track. This gate is a hieroglyphic inscription that is the "lituus" of architectural divination. By using the square, architects build and survey architecture, and holding the square/lituus as augurs, they project a future architecture, reading their auspices and auguries from the constructed word. Architecture is a kind of corporeal time machine where the past, the present, and the future are related architecturally through memory. Scarpa's design functions like a 'pataphysical time machine devised by Alfred larry, in which the view of "the Past lies beyond the Future" (Jarry 1965, 115). The technological figure in the Jarry machine is based on a contrasting and ironic use of materials, and metonymic use of shapes. Cheap materials are mated with expensive ones, the traditional with the unusual; ebony and ivory are coupled with nickel, quartz, and copper. A bicycle frame is the support for gyroscopes. This is a machine whose function is to nudge the visitor's thought processes to locate the past beyond the future in a theatre of memory. In his design, Scarpa is also following the clues given in the protosurrealist Raymond Roussel's novels. One of these deals with the complex chiastic nature of technology in an imaginary museum set in the outskirts of Paris. The novel is entitled Locus Solus (A Place Apart), and is the formal and conceptual key to understanding Scarpa's technology. The narrative framework of Locus Solus is a visit paid by an unidentified group of people to the ingenious marvels and machines visible on an estate at Montmorency, about twelve miles outside of Paris. The estate is owned by Martial Cantarel, a very rich scientist, magician, and illusionist. The novel's theme is the restoration of things from the past, a reintegratio in pristinum, using a technology similar to the one known by the Greeks and the Romans, who knew the power of steam for making meaningful toys, but were not interested in labor-saving devices such as the steam engine. It is a technology of approximation instead of precision, a technology that enriches the perception of reality by making room for the play between objects and the parts of construction, rather than limiting the design by defining the tolerances among its parts. In Cantarel's estate, iron gates have golden hinges, an expression of the power of this technology of play. The power of the technology of play is in a surrealist relationship set up among the materials, which indicate and select possible realities, discovering the intangible through the use of tangible objects. The details are pristine and allotropic realities, with the materials assuming meanings through metaphoric and metonymic games. Within the surrealistic light of the sky reflected in water, a stone frame on the ground bounded by


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Scarpa's entry wall at the Tolentini shows the ironic nature of architecture, its origin in spoils, in the fragments of antiquity. This fragment, an anatomical piece lying on the dissecting table of reflecting water becomes an entry gate to the realm of images within the architecture of spoils. This stone frame is a sacred spoil stolen from the building just as the body of Saint Mark is a sacred spoil stolen from Alexandria. The Venetians built their city by pilfering stones and saints. The Ducal Chapel- the Basilica Marciana - and many buildings of the profane city were made by using the collection of spoils carried as ballasts by the Venetian merchants in their return trips. The architecture devised by Giuseppe Samona (1902-1984), the charismatic director of the Venetian School for three decades after World War Ildemonstrates the complex nature of his enigmatic sayings. A 1929 statement, supporting traditionalist architects against internationalists, is one of the most powerful among Samona's sayings. The internationalists are countered by the traditionalists, a group of calmer and measured architects, who consider life as it is, accept its obstacles, and try to overcome them in art .... The modern traditionalist architect looks to the past for the concrete expression of a particular state of mind and takes it whenever he finds it ... this is a sort of new eclecticism, quite distinct from academic eclecticism with its pre-established forms. From this point of view the traditionalists are perhaps more daring vis-a-vis tradition than are the internationalists. (Samons 1929) Samona's design for the Banca d'Italia-a daring statement vis-a-vis tradition - is a hybrid architectural body located in Padua between the Via Roma and the Riviera Tito Livia (Figures 15, 16). In this design, as Manfredo Tafuri has pointed out, "the act of composition shows its own limits, meeting the art of de-composing" (Thfuri 1986, 143). The Viconian construction of poetic monsters, as an application of the art of decomposing, is proved by Samona's design, which shows an architecture of spoils with the consequent inability to derive forms from the elements of construction through the use of composition. Instead of assembling building elements to achieve a formal result, Samona destroys the existing building forms and disassembles the elements in his architecture. In this way he separates the original elements from the conventional meanings that had been imposed upon them. The facade on the Via Roma is an example of decomposition; it is composed of a sequence of elongated Ghibelline battlements topped by a roof, a metamorphosis of a typical assemblage of many medieval constructions. The same is true for the bottom of the facade, where overstretched arches

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Figure 15. Giuseppe Samona, Banca d'Italia, Via Roma facade, Padua.

generate a counterpoint to the Paduan arcade running on the other side of the street. On the side of the Riviera Tito Livio, the facade is composed of "neutral fields tormented by surrealistically isolated objects" (Tafuri 1986, 144). A surrealistic approach is also the basis of a design developed by Samona for the competition for an addition to the offices of Montecitorio in Rome (1967),designed in collaboration with his son, Alberto. The bodies resulting from the process of decomposition are assembled and located on elongated quadripartite legs (overstretched Le Corbusian pilotis grouped in units of four). These very thin legs have the same evocative power of the monstrous legs devised by Salvador Dali for the animals carrying monumental building elements in his painting, the Temptation oj Saint


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Figure 16. Giuseppe Samona, Banca d'Italia, Riviera Tito Livio facade, Padua.

Anthony (Figure 17). In Sarnona's design, Dali's obelisk has been transformed into Le Corbusier's open hand (Figure IS). The processes of transformation of the reality of built environment into the architectural and urban artifact is the constant motif of the work of Saverio Muratori (1910-1973), who held the chair of Caratteri Distributivi, (Characters of Compartition: i.e., typology) in Venice from 1950 to 1955. His teaching aimed to prove that the core of his subject matter was not arid functional procedures, but rather the identification of the real essence of the urban/architectural relationship. An influential book on the study of the nature of architecture in an urban form was the product of his five years of teaching in Venice. Entitled Per una storia operante di Venezia (for a working history of Venice), the book is a philological survey of

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Figure 18. Omaggio a Giuseppe Samona.

twelve urban knots of the Venetian urban fabric. The first chapter, properly titled in a Viconian fashion "Scuola sul vero" (Schooling on the real), is a call for teaching based on a philological method of research into the poetic dimensions of artifacts in an attempt to reach their nature and to reconstruct the violated nature (l'infranto) of cities. The result of Muratori's research was presented in a sequence of monstrous designs for the "CEP: Barene San Giuliano," a competition for a subsidized housing complex to be built on the northern edge of the Venetian Lagoon. Muratori proposed three different designs based on the morphology of the Venetian urban fabric. In his third design, Muratori proposed the poetic morphology of the urban facts of the Calli Corte (streets-courtyards) of the Venetian medieval fabric as the possible solution to the problem of a lagoon settlement that needs access from both water and land. The Calle Corte, because of its compound nature of courtyard and street thoroughfare, is the solution to the compound problem of water and land of a barena (lagoon sandbank). The same poetic procedure of invention through an anatomical and philological decomposition of historical structures, followed by a herrneneu-

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Figure 19. S. Muratori, ENPAS office building, Bologna.


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tical reconstruction, is used by Muratori in many of his buildings. The most successful of these designs is the ENPAS office building in Bologna (1952-57; see Figure 19). In this building, the revival of the medieval Bolognese brick and frame constructions metamorphose and become, in a modem technological union, the elements of a new architecture (Muratori 1984). Vico equates monsters with metamorphosis, and an anatomical drawing by Leonardo at the Windsor Royal Library (n. 12, 372 Quad, Anat. V) is a perfect visual expression of the concept (Figure 20). The drawing is a silverpoint representation of the dissection of a foot and the lower part of a leg. The muscles and tendons are represented with anatomical precision. However, in the foot, the poetic power of metamorphosis is in action; the toes and their nails are changed into something in between claws and talons, a callida junctura of anatomical ideas in a constructive manner to generate a fantastic mon-ster. The designs developed by Mario Ridolfi (1904-1984) belong to the same class of fantastic compound monsters. He is not part of the Venetian school because he worked mostly in Rome and in Terni, his hometown, and taught in Rome and Pescara. However, Ridolfi does not belong to the Roman school either. He devised his architecture in direct "neorealistic" reference to local realities and constructive facts and, like Scarpa, Ridolfi was an Eupalinos of simultaneous presences of unities: the rough, concrete, plastic, dominant individuality of building elements. In the Ridolfi design for an addition to Villino Alatri in Via Paisiello in Rome (1948-49), the fantastic and compound nature of architectural monsters becomes evident. The two-story Villino was designed (1920) in Barocchetto style by Vittorio Morpurgo, and it was topped by Ridolfi with an addition of three stories (Figures 21, 22). As in Leonardo's drawing, the anatomical continuity is preserved in this fantastic construction, but the parts belong to two different kinds of "animals." The Villino, after Ridolfi's addition, becomes a mixed-use building, an enigmatic monster. Through the Ridolfi addition, the Villino becomes an extraordinary sign, which envisions a possible future for that kind of edifice. Edifices of this compound nature have been replicated in many similar buildings such as in the offices and flats designed by Ludovico Magistretti and Guido Veneziani in Milan (1959; Figure 23), or in a building of the same typology designed by the Passarelli brothers in Rome (1963-65; Figure 24). To further develop this discussion of the role of the mostri sacri and their monstrous production, it is necessary to recaIl another traditional use of monsters in architecture: the placing of their stone simulacra as warning signs. For example, Gorgon heads were placed over the thresholds of workshops where the techniques of production were protected by guilds, or over oven mouths to warn novices not to disturb the bread baking within. The necessary presence of monsters in schools was beautifully acknowl-

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Figure 20. Metamorphosis-temple

of the pseudo-architecture.

The Invisible Body


evidence for the existence of underlying structures of understanding that are metaphorical and unify large clusters of literal expression.
Is that the foundation for your theory? So far we have only put together the framework of the theory. He buttressed his theory with solid arguments. (Johnson & Lakoff 1987, 105)

Furthermore, Johnson and Lakoff show that the conventional metaphor can be extended to achieve imaginative expression of architectural schemata:
His theories are a Bauhaus in their pseudo-functional simplicity. Complex theories usually have problems with the plumbing. (Johnson & Lakoff 1987, 106)

The extension of the metaphor elevates the expression, granting the possibility of a creative interpretation of the concept through an ornate image. However, this use of the architectural metaphor to explain the content of theories raises a major problem for architectural theory. To what extent is it legitimate to use these imaginative expressions in the rigorous exposition of architectural theory? Can we find a sure answer to this problem? We cannot satisfactorily say: "Both Guarini's and Vittone's theories are a Bauhaus in their pseudo-functional simplicity." Neither can we say: "The foundation of your theory of foundation does not hold." In architectural theory, the metaphorical schema "theories are buildings" cannot be used in its imaginative dimension because it can generate major confusion. The role of radical anthropormorphism is to introduce another fertile procedure for the making of architecture. The trope principally used in anthropomorphism is metonymy, a unity of contrasting elements that forms a conventional sequence through which sense is displaced or deferred. Metonymy was commonly used within the tradition of architectural practice; indeed, its remains are still present in the commonplace of everyday architectural office talk: "The footprint of my baby does not fit the geometry of the new site." In the above expression, the human body is the appropriate creative expression for the development of an architectural form. In this way, we acquire a useful tool for activating the imagination and applying the meanings and reasons that are necessary in architectural production. The aim of this book is to present the bodily basis of architectural production as it develops from the secularization of the myth of the body in architectural demonstrations. In architecture, the use of myth cannot be founded upon an essential or metaphysical definition of the myth itself. No satisfactory theory of myth exists in the contemporary critical practice


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Figure 21. C. Morpurgo, Villino Alatri, Rome.

edged by an invitation card created by Paul Klee for the 1923 Bauhaus Exhibition (Figure 25). It is the sketch of an architectural monster, a cyclopean structure with a blue door for a mouth. The drawing is symptomatically and ironically entitled, The Serious Side. Within institutional settings, architectural monsters, although real, never become facts, i.e., a setting of enigmas that cannot be properly solved but generate educational enigmatic maxims. Beyond this metaphorical image of the facts produced by the mostri sacri, emerges the need for a sign marking the gates leading to the places where architecture is conceived. Tbe warning signs should be Janus heads like the ones embodied in the keystones of the already mentioned side gates of Ca' Pisani in Venice. This monstrous Roman god is a daring traditionalist able to see the future through the use of the signs of the past; he announces the use of phantasia. In 1946,Scarpa marked the end of the dominant museographic paradigm and the beginning of a new one with his first major professional work, the rearrangement of the Gallerie deIl'Accademia in Venice.The paradigm contested by Scarpa had, with very rare exceptions, dominated the museum

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Figure 22. M. Ridolfi, addition to Villino Alatri, Rome.


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Figure 23. L Magistretti and G. Veneziani, office building, Milan.

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Figure 24. Passarelli Brothers, office and apartment building, Rome.


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Figure 25. Paul Klee, The Serious Side.

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architectural scene since the beginning of the ninteenth century, creating overcrowded rooms arranged with positivistic criteria of orderingchronological, typological, or school taxonomies-in an atmosphere of late-romantic historical reconstructions. 7 Scarpa's detailing produces a rhetoric in built form. His techne of the logos refused the metaphors and similes of traditional nineteenth-century museography, and Scarpa's technological figures are based on metonymy and irony. Museum design is characterized by a semantic and referential relation to causality made possible by the presence of the semantic and syntactical cause (the mental and physical materials selected). Museography then becomes a science of possible solutions of the different kinds of interpretation and time frameworks established by the collective memory in the artifacts preserved in a museum. In describing Scarpa's most successful museum design, the Castelvecchio in Verona, Tafuri points out the surrealist nature of museum design: There is undeniably something "surreal" in the apparition of Cangrande to the visitor of Castelvecchio in Verona whether be reaches it along a catwalk, crossing a sheer drop, or views it from below or from one of the many other angles available. The passage to the other reality is simultaneously mediated by materials and forms. The same thing happens, work by work, with the sculptures installed at the Palazzo Abatellis, the pieces displayed at the Galleria dell'Accademia .... In some way, the works Scarpa installed seem liberated: liberated from traditional bonds, set free for new interpretations, liberated as problematic images stimulating us to wonder about their meaning. (Thfnri 1985,79) The surrealist character of Scarpa's museographic works could earn him an honorary membership in the Great College of 'Pataphysique, an institution celebrated through the pages of Gestes et opinions du Docteur Faustroll, a surrealist cultural invention devised by Alfred Jarry. Scarpa's design is based on an accumulation of signs that are in turn based on a multiplicity of inventions, and "the proliferation of individual elements introduce tension which are resolved in favor of details, of the exceptional and singular" (Tafuri 1985, 77). As Jarry has stated "'pataphysics will be above all the science of the particular [detail], despite the common opinion that the only science is that of the general" (larry 1965, 192). Scarpa's museography is a branch of 'pataphysics that "is the science of imaginary solutions which symbolically attributes the property of objects described by their virtually, to their lineaments" (larry 1965, 193). 'Pataphysics is an epiphenomenon. "An epiphenomenon is that which is superinduced upon a phenomenon" (larry 1965, 192). As in the principles


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of 'pataphysics, time in Scarpa's museums can be defined as "the locus of events," and "space the locus of bodies" (larry 1965, 114). In the Scarpa design, the locus of bodies generates the locus of the event as it is shown in his drawings, according to the techniques of development of his surrealist thought. Figures of women predominate in Scarpa's drawings: stupendous nudes formed of contours and lines in constant dialogue with the architectural artifacts proposed in the drawings. For Scarpa, architecture is undoubtedly a woman, but not a prosaic middle-aged woman with nude arms and an iridescent dress as in the baroque iconological representation developed by Carlo Ripa (1764, 115). For Scarpa the image is poetic; his architecture, like his figures of women, is a continuous research into a beauty not canonical and abstract, but real. Scarpa announced this poetic relationship between the body of a woman and architecture in a lecture given at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna: "We can say that the architecture we would like to be poetry should be called harmonious, like the beautiful face of a woman" (Scarpa, quoted in Dal Co 1986, 283). The most significant expression of Scarpa's surrealism is the design of the pedestals and supports for the exhibited works of art. They are comments on the object, but at the same time they are tools for the immersion of the object in a distant time and space. They develop a silent dialogue, becoming mediation devices for suggesting and explaining the museographic path. They accelerate or slow down the visitor's perception of the stereographic reality of the exhibition. In the Museum Correr at the Procuratie Nuove in San Marco Square in Venice, a dominant figure of technology is the kneeling figure of a Venetian Doge-a small statue of Tommaso Mocenigo by Jacobello della Mesegne. First, the statue is seen in the visual line opened by the doors of the enfiladed rooms. The room in which the statue is located goes across the width of the building and is crossed twice during the circuit of the museum. The doge will be seen a second time, through a translucent screen and beyond a couple of fragments of a stone balustrade set in a metal frame that recreates the original dimension of the complete balustrade that separates the two paths. From the far side of the room, the kneeling doge acts as a reminder of the previous passage and suggests one position in the sequence of rooms, a technique similar to that used in a poem where the same line appears in two different stanzas." The statue rests on a stone support shaped in . crystalline geometry, a comment on the geometric composition of the kneeling figure. The stone is slotted over on an inverted kneeling iron support, which thrusts the stone forward in a ritual and human offering position, a metonymical anamnesis of the original votive function of the minuscule statue, with a. slight ironic overtone. The concluding statement in an essay by Vincent Scully on the relation-

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ship between Scarpa and Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis I. Kahn synthesizes perfectly the surreal dimension of Scarpa's approach.
How beautifully intricately, always everything is fitted together. In some realm beyond space Scarpa seems to find his deepest love, in the obsessive joining of physical elements and their silent unlocking, suggesting something taking place in one of his haunted museums at night when all the people have gone. (Scully 1985, 267)

This passage suggests that in the museums designed by Scarpa the reconciliation of dream and reality sought by the surrealists is achieved - The Museum at Four A.M. Scarpa's architecture results from a surreal sum of events. The details and devices created by him are a playful concretization of these events in a constructed time machine, a theatre of memory, an understanding of the building as a machine for engaging through the body, the mind of the user or visitor of museums in the corporeal construing of place. Architecture cannot be shown in museums. Exhibitions of architecture cannot exist because true architecture is monstrous and museums are architectural monsters that successfully house any other kind of monsters except monsters of their own kind. Metonyrnically speaking, a labyrinth cannot conceal another labyrinth within itself because persons lost in the maze will never realize when they are leaving the meanders of the containerlabyrinth for the maze of the contained-labyrinth. In museum drawings, models or photos of architecture can be shown and appreciated for their own intrinsic qualities as agents and vehicles for architecture. These are the Minotaurs within the labyrinth of architecture; these visual means connote architecture, but the architectural qualities and properties cannot be directly denoted. In many Renaissance and manneristic palaces. large and long rooms are labeled stanze or gallerie della mostra. These were the spaces where the wealthy owners of the palaces ordered and exhibited their family collections. These rooms were the architectural places for proto-exhibitions, a collection of artistic fragments glorifying in the mostra the family who owned the palace. The Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, a member of a wealthy family searching for glorification in architectural pieces, has stated "architecture immortalizes and glorifies something. Hence, there can be no architecture where there is nothing to glorify" (Wittgenstein 1980, 69). The mostra is then the highest. expression of architecture because it glorifies who owns it. In Italian, mostra is a false feminine form of mostro, and it shows clearly the same beauteous Latin nudity of the common etymology, a sigh the stands for itself. Exhibitions are off-


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spring of this act of glorification and nowadays the architecture of museums still is under the spell of this monstrous origin. The gallery designed by James Stirling for Stuttgart is without doubt a mostro sacro, a masterpiece that Germans and tourists worship by the bus load. In his critical review of this New Staatsgallerie, Giacomo Pollini (1984, 38) describes the building as a "monster of a thousand heads." A similar indication of monstrosity is given by John Summerson in his analysis of Stirling's architecture. Presented as the result of an attitude that can be labeled "Vitruvius Ludens," the playful architecture of Stirling is considered an analogue to the "monstrously ingenuous 'Queen Anne' play" (Summerson 1983, 19). The French. not to be outdone, see in the New Staatsgallerie a "radical cannibal" (Ibos 1984, x). The Americans see the building as a "faceless" monster, and compare the edifice to a camel, a grotesque exotic animal (Doubilet 1984, 74). The site of the New Staatsgallerie is in Stuttgart's cultural core (Figure 26). It is located on a slope facing the eight lanes of Konrad Adenauer Strasse, The other sides are residential and institutional in character, and are full of historical precedents. By generating a monster, Stirling has in fact succeeded in resolving the dilemma of a construction in a historical setting that does not overpower the neighboring architecture of the preexisting Staatsgallerie. The building is a monster in and of itself; it is an enigma of the eye for the mind. On the one hand, impossible things have been unified in a whole: classical stone stereotomy has been combined with Pop steel elements, and with brutalistic concrete mushroom columns. On the other hand, the building is a summa of typological and iconographical references over whose deciphering whole generations of architectural historians will have to labor. The monstrous nature of the building evokes association with Egyptian temples, with the aedicular design of the Roman temple of Praeneste, Russian Constructivism, Gilly's detailing. The plan of the new Staatsgallerie, the building generator, works like the monster devised by Rafael to carry out the metamorphosis of the incomplete Villa Madama in Rome, which in itself was a reflection on the anatomical ruins of Nero's Golden House, the utmost of classical architectural monsters (Figure 27). In the new Staatsgallerie there are parts of the Boulle's megalomaniac project of a museum, Schinkel's AItes Museum in Berlin, and Asplund's Museum of Books, the city library in Stockholm. In this design, Stirling works like the sculptor of Memmo's Lodolian apologue. The exterior of the building is from many illicit fathers, whereas the interior is the result of a hermaphroditic union (Figure 28). Outside. one meets among others, Aalto's finishing, Wright's museum spiral, Mies's steel profiles, Kahn's stone stereo to my, and an overdimensioned version of Le Corbusier's guiderails. Inside, we see traces of Stirling's designs of com-

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The Invisible Body

of architecture, but the word and the notion have a wide currency in the theoretical writings of architects who reject the metaphysics that nurtured the modern theory of myth (Perez-Gomez 1983, Intro.), Gianni Vattimo, a contemporary Italian philosopher, sees three different tendencies or points of view in the current thinking on myth, which he names (1) archaism, (2) cultural relativism, and (3) limited rationality (Vattimo 1985, 30). Vattimo explains that archaism originates from a skepticism toward scientific and technological cultures. In architecture this tendency is typified by focusing on the study of primitive myths such as Laugier's hut. From this renewed contact with the original myths, archaism hopes to find a way out of the technological condition created by the modern movement, turning away from the myth of progress toward a myth of origin. The second tendency, cultural relativism, refuses to put scientific knowledge in opposition to mythical knowledge because the latter is undemonstrable knowledge conceived within a practice. Cultural relativism characterizes arcbitects who are sensitive to the mythological dimension of mass cultures. Examples can be found in works such as Robert Venturi's Learning from Las Vegas or the never-published Learning from Levittown. The third tendency singled out by Vattimo is limited rationality, In this approach a special meaning is assigned to the word myth; it is linked to its etymological roots of storytelling. Here myths are approached as anecdotes that are perceived as more efficient forms of thought than abstract notions. Architectural knowledge is a way of thinking that cannot be explained either by demonstrative reasoning or by the scientific method. It requires explanations fostered by the telling of bistories that do not distinguish between artistic and scientific rationality, or in other words, between mythos and logos. For instance, John Hejduk's Masks are obviously a demythization of the scientific process of demythization. Through the use of emblematic constructions Hejduk seeks to regain for the "things" of architecture the lost power of the mystery of appearance, where the functioning thing in its many forms stands as both thing and thought. 10 Vattimo mentions that to demythize demythization does not restore the privileges of myth. He uses a compelling allusion from one of Nietzsche's aphorisms, which states that to go on dreaming that you are dreaming is not the same thing as pure and simple dreaming (Nietzsche 1974, pf. 54). Vattirno suggests that the proper mode for dealing with myth is the process of secularization (Vattimo 1985, 34). This process recognizes its own mythical past, so that myth itself recovers its own legitimacy, rediscovering the truth in the mythopoetic, preserving "the universality of dreaming ... and the continuation of the dream" (Nietzsche 1974, 116).The secularization of architecture over the last three centuries is the result not only of the errors of traditional practices, but also of the survival of these errors


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petition for museums that did not get built: the Kunstsammlung in Dusseldorf (1975), and the Museum in Cologne (1975), for example. The self-plagiarism is done ad libitum; the exhibition of mostri sacri is outside, whereas the Minotaur, the monster of the relation with our animal self, is inside. " Architectural exhibitions such as the Triennale in Milan are the ideal ground for discussing the use of monsters. In these exhibitions, memory and enigma are unified in a vision. In 1986, for the XVII Triennale di Milano, Massimo Scolari designed Hypnos: The Room of the Collector, a huge scientific cabinet within the tradition of the Wunderkammern. The building, a scale anamorphosis of Noah's Ark, is a monster containing monsters." On the outside is a model of a reconstruction of the Ark in 115 scale, whereas on the inside is a 1:1reconstruction of a section of the room housing the well of the knell (Figures 29, 30). As Scolari points out, this monstrous interlocking of scales, a play of a giant body within the body of a pygmy has been done "to gain access to the real through the fiction of the model. On the inside, the trusses sink into walls that have the same inclination as the model (10degrees): the oblique thus symbolically marks the boundary between the actual construction and its representa-

Figure 29. M. Scolari, exterior view of Hypnos: The Room of the Collector; Milan.

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Figure 30. M. Scolari, interior view,Hypnos: The Room 0/ the Collector, Milan.

tion" (Scolari 1987, 72). The inner framework between them unifies this demonstrative artifact in a project. Within the demonstrative power of monstrous archi tectural artifacts, scale is of paramount importance. Scale is a projective notion by means of which it is possible to imagine being in the model itself in such a way that the representations within different scales are different visual pictures and "reality is their inner framework (membrure) ... the real is between them" (Merleau-Ponty 1968,226). Inside the model, within a 1:1 scale, on top of the knell well there is the winged bronze head of Hypnos, a reconstruction after a beautiful bronze of the third century B.C., and on the walls of the well hang twenty watercolors of monsters; four of those are images of the Ark and the Flood, the other




sixteen are drawings of monsters that superimpose the mythological images on the crude anatomical reality (Figure 31). Scolari's explanation is that ''these [monsters] do not appear in the Biblical record out were undoubtedly collected in Noah's Memory" (Scolari 1987, 72). This representation of monsters under the aegis of Hypnos recalls Francisco Goya's Capricho 43, El suetio de ta razon produces monstruos (The sleep dream oj reason produces monsters). to There are no physical representations of monsters in the Capricho; the idea of monstrosity itself is explored and portrayed by Goya. His concern is with the origin of monstrosity and the difference between possible monsters and impossible ones (Figure 32). A few animals surround the central image of the sleeping man. On the left is a feline, perhaps a lynx, which would represent the supernatural penetration of the moral eye of fantasia, perhaps a figure of Hennes. The terrifying flight of owls in the background allegorizes wisdom, because the owl is the sacred animal of Athena. Goya's Capricho is a Hermathena and presents an indirect representation of monsters demonstrating that reality itself is at the feet of fantasy. This is a fantasy that dictates that monstrosity shall prevail over the sublime. There are three versions of tbe Capricho and the second one carries a different title, Idioma Universal. This is a further clue about the character of a theory of images based on monstrosity. Monsters make up a universal language because they are images in which the coupling of fantasy and wisdom generates meaning. An instance of the Idioma Universal of monstrous images, the same monstrous wooden box devised as Noah's Ark is used by Scolari for the stage set he designed for Roberto Cacciapaglia's opera, Generations of the Sky, presented in the Teatro Comunale Metastasio in Prato during the 1986 season. In introducing this work of Scolari, Franco Rella suggests that in Scolari's oeuvre, ''the architectonic objects bend sinuously, in pursuit of a secret movement of the world from which emerge the form of a dreadful (tremenda) teratology" (Rella 1987, 10).The architecture is then an instance of the Mysterium Tremendum, a forgotten dimension of Western thought, the sacred space of the active imagination; a space of extraordinary fantasy that is different from the space of ordinary fantasy and imagination. This is what Henry Corbin (1983,57) defines as mundus immaginalis, an intermondo, which is a space where fantasy establishes true and real thoughts: an imaginative perception and knowledge that is an imaginative consciousness. Architectural monsters belong to this intermondo because they are the extraordinary signs of an imaginative production based on perception and knowledge. The highest function of the poet in any productive domain is the invention of monsters. A piece of architecture that merely copies what already exists has little chance of becoming classic, however impeccable its technique. In search of his own interpretation, an architect must

Mostri Sacri



Mostri Sacri

subject the reality proposed by nature to a host of legitimate deformations and "unnatural relationships" between the facts of construction to produce monsters that are "enigmas which express precisions" (Scolari, quoted by Rella 1987, 14).

Mostri Sacri


Figure 32. F. Goya, Capricho 43.


It is one thing ... to apprehend directly an image as an image, and another thing

to shape ideas regarding the nature of images in general. -Jean Paul Sartre, Imagination, 1962

The purpose of monsters in architecture can be examined further by an analysis of the emergence of their space from the built world. This can be achieved by analyzing them in the space of the graphic representation in which architectural objects are envisioned before and after construction. J caprice; di natura architettonica by Canaletto can be a fruitful beginning for this discussion. These capricci are analogous representations carrying in themselves the idea of something out of the ordinary, with an undertone of the irrational. The term capriccio is derived from caporiccio, a visual human expression meaning fright, and it seems to have been connected with the idea of magic. It was used first for musical and dance compositions, frightful drawings - Goya's Caprichos belong to this tradition - and then for a painting genre in which an architecture of spoils is located in landscapes of fantasy. These capricci di natura architettonica confront the idea of architectural representation by posing the question of the problem of representation in itself. In the capricci, the presence of architectural form has become accidental, but the space of representation has not been separated from the representation of space. For example, in Canaletto's capricci or vedute di fantasia located in Venice, an imaginary new Venice is envisioned on top of the old one. This is a Venice emerging from a metamorphosis, and its visual construing takes place through the assembly of built and unbuilt designs, on invented and Teal things, a genetic and most remarkable collage of architectural quotations, suggesting a way for a possible reality. Analyzing a Canaletto capriccio representing a fantastic view combining Palladio's Rialto Bridge and a Basilica di Vicenza in the Venetian environment, Aldo Rossi, a fashionable architect of the Milanese intelligentsia, remarks that this painting
has a major historical and political significance, and it is a progressive signficance. ... Everybody can rediscover himself in the fixed and rational


The Invisible Body


in degraded forms in modern practices. A secularized architecture has not left the contents of its tradition behind. Rather, it is an architecture that incorporates them as traces and paradigms that are hidden perhaps, or deformed, but nonetheless profoundly present, embodying in itself the narration of the sequence of the symbolic and practical uses of its parts. In his work on myth, Hans Blumenberg (1985) suggests that instead of .interpreting myth in terms of what was before (terminus ad quem), the interpretation of the myth should occur at its point of departure (terminus a quo). The process of demythization in architecture, which began during the Enlightenment, refuses the corporeal nature of building and focuses on the limited, functional view of the dimension of the constructed environment. The embodiment of myth in architecture serves to reduce what Blumenberg (1985)calls the absolutism of reality, creating a breathing space, making a symbolic niche that protects the human animal symbolicus from the fundamental anxiety activated by the relationship between his biological nature and the natural environment. This demythization robbed architectural knowledge of the possibility of even a secular narration because "the kernel of knowledge is constantly enveloped by myth and the myth is ceaselessly generated with the theatre of representation" (Serres 1982, 95). Consequently, deposing the myth, architectural demythization has removed the kernel of architectural knowledge, and perhaps a rereading of the relationship between representation and function in architecture's beginnings can bring a new insight into architectural quality and its human - perhaps too human-dimension of corporeal presences. For architecture, the body is Il Mostrousissimo Mostruo (The utter monster). This locution is borrowed from the title of a book by Giovanni Rinaldi, published in Venicein 1599.The hyperbolic character of this locution hides the power of a chiasm in conceiving a theoretical statement. "A chiasm is an exchange between the phenomenal body and the 'objective' body, between the perceiving and the perceived" (Merleau-Ponty 1968, 215). This is the hidden power of the grotesque image, which always crosses its own boundaries and blends with its own settings. In the search for this hidden power, a discussion of the teratology of the "nightmarish columns" of the Vitruvius Teutsh and parallel works developed by George Hersey in his study of the Orders, reveals that "the tropes of monster are there all present to make the point: mostranda sunt, demonstrant, demonstratur [they are to be demonstrated, they demonstrate and they are demonstrated]" (Hersey 1988, 132). The main focus of this book is its discussion of proper demonstration in architecture. It is an imaginative demonstration that rules the construction of buildings as well as the construing of functional representations and representational functions. As such, it constitutes the search for architectural quality.



elements,in his own history,and accentuatethe peculiarcharacterof II place, a landscape and a moment. (Rossi 1976,5) This conception of monsters-the conjunction of two impossibilities, the signifier and the signified, the verum and the factum, is achieved as an architectural aporia, a conceptual representation that uses representations of fantasia. This is the result of posing the enigma of nontrivial design by forcing three-dimensional objects into two-dimensional representations while using the surgical knife of semiotics (Bunn 1981, 65~75). The architectural demonstration of a single protean idea that is capable of assuming a multitude of aspects might be considered a new methodological hypothesis for the architectural project. To repeat, "the enigma of the constructed world" is solved by understanding and interpreting architectural monsters. Using demonstration as a design procedure is the same as using fantasy to predict the built results of an architectural project. Monstrous signsfantasies - are at the essence of architectural creativity; the phantasmal and compound nature of monsters is at the beginning of the architectural practice of signification, which translates interpretations of construction events into architectural events. Thus, as was established in Chapter 2, architecture can be understood as a built representation of the changes in the constructed context, an environment of signs. It is a use of the irrational for relocating architecture within the theme: making visible the invisible. It works with a plurality of meanings that are the results of the physical and mental weaving of heterogeneous substances in the constructed environment. Such meanings amount to a physical construction of knowledge. Since it is based on a practice resulting from the use of the marginal elements of space, monstrous architecture produces cultural texts that are three-dimensional mosaics of fragments played out in the twofold technology of conceiving and constructing. In architectural demonstrations, the function of representation has not been separated from the representation of function. Drawings, as semiotic tools and models of architectural representations, range from surveyor measured drawings, which interpret the reality of the constructed world, to construction and design drawings, which are to be interpreted for the construction of the world. Together with the constructed world itself these drawings constitute the architectural project. The art of architecture is based on imaginative representation. As Franceso di Giorgio Martini has pointed out: There have often been worthy authors who havewritten at length about the art of architecture,but they haveused charactersand lettersand not represen-



tational drawings (figurato disegno) and so, although to the writers themselves it seems that they have elucidated their design according to their intentions, to us it seems that through lack of drawings there are few who can understand them. For following the imaginative capacity each person makes different compositions, which are often as different from the reality (vero) of the first idea as day is from the darkness of night; as a result, the readers are not a little confused, because as it is said, "so many readers, so many diverse interpreters.". But if such writers had matched their writings with drawings, it would be possible to react to them much more directly, seeing at the same time both the signifier and the signified, and so every obscurity would be removed. (Martini
1967, 489)

Francesco is asking for drawings that are powerful demonstrations of the architectural project. The nature of an architectural project can be understood by developing an analogy with what Charles S. Peirce, an American pragmatist, calls a theorem and paraphrasing his definitions, we can say that an architectural project is an iconic conception based on inference obtained from constructive architectural drawings (Peirce 1976, 238). The latter are diagrams devised according to the general precepts of architectural theory and modified as design ingenuity may dictate, observing in them certain relationships, and showing what may subsist in every case of translation into a built form. These are the constructive drawings and they are demonstrations of construction. As Peirce points-out in the fifth article of his definition of a theorem, a demonstration is what «traces out the reasons why a certain relationship should always subsist between the parts of a diagram." These embodiments of demonstration are the place where a theory is unified with a practice. They are the signs of architectural abduction, since abduction has an iconic nature and it consists of a thetic positing of icons (Bonfantini & Grazia 1976, 1-15). In their project drawings, architects act as Janus-like presences. On the one hand, or rather, on one face they are observers of the physical world of human constructions. On the other face, they observe their own hypothetical internal world of envisioning. The former experimentation takes place between the site of a construction and its visualization on the drawing board of an architectural survey: the latter takes place only on the drawing board where the architects are expressing diagrams and graphic constructions of their own. These are what Peirce calls "mental imagines" (Peirce 1976, 4.219n), which represent the imaginary objects of the hypothetical states under study. These drawings are the product of what Peirce calls "theoretic (or theoremic) and corollary (or corollarial) reasoning" (Levy 1982).Theoretic reasoning, he states, introduces a new idea into the argument; architecturally speaking this is a new idea not explicitly



presented in the architectural program or, in brief, the architectural hypothesis at hand. Corollary reasoning draws its conclusion from explicitly stated ideas in the building program (i.e., the shape of a plan determined by the boundary lines).
Of the two great tasks of humanity, Theory and Practice, the former sets out from a sign of a real object with which it is acquainted, passing from this, as its matter, to successive interpretants embodying more and more fully its form, wishing ultimately to reach a direct perception of the entelechy; while the latter, setting out from a sign signifying a character of which it has an idea, passes from this, as its form, to successive interpretants realizing more and more precisely its matter, hoping ultimately to be able to make a direct effort, producing the entelechy. (Peirce 1976, 235-63)

Paraphrasing a statement by Umberto Eco, who is paraphrasing Peirce, it is possible to affirm that in architecture "the principle of interpretation says that a de-sign is something by knowing which we know something more." Rafael Moneo, a Spanish architect in love with Roman bricks, proposes the same concept stating ''that drawing is knowledge. Therefore, there exists no better demonstration of our knowledge of the external world than the ability of drawing it [sic]. Through drawings we strive to possess the world that exists outside us and to make it part of ourselves" (Moneo 1987). Peirce has singled out that "the only way of directly communicating an idea is by the means of an icon and everyindirect method of communicating ideas must depend for its establishment upon the use of icons" (Peirce
1931-58, 2:278). In his/her drawings, the architect's pursuit in conceiving and constructing

architecture is to make visible what is invisible. Through these drawings, the architect's objective is the defmition of quantities and functional denotations in order to determine the qualities and connotations of past, present, and future buildings. Architectural drawings are semiotic tools that make tangible what is intangible. In any edifice, the substance and the form of the contents and physical expressions are not two separate dimensions, but they are embodied in the built object. Any edifice is a Peircian "dynamic object" that motivates signs: de-signs are motivated signs expressed in draw. ings, In drawings, "a sign is not only something which stands for something else; it is also something that can and must be interpreted" (Eco 1984, 46). An edifice, a nontrivial building, is the physical result of this process of interpretation. The Peircian concept of semiosis is the notion of infinite process of interpretation (Eco 1984, 2). The semiosis of any architectural project is also based on an infinite process of interpretation achieved with graphic signs



by which architects remember the past, experience the present, and anticipate the future experience of the constructed reality. The hexad of the architectural graphic texts - survey, design, presentation, construction, shop, and publication drawings - is the graphic expressions and records of this infinite process. The process does not end with construction of the building and its modification and restoration, but, in its cyclical practice, the survey drawings, i,e., the measured drawings of previously built or merely imaged buildings, become the basis for new designs that then produce new presentation, construction, shop, and publication drawings. Each one of the components of the graphic hexad can be the beginning step of a new cycle of this infinite process of architectural semiosis. The architectural project is based on the processes of sign transformation taking place in the translation of a building into a drawing and, vice versa, in the translation of a drawing into a building. The traditional interpretation of this translation is that an architectural drawing is a graphic representation of an existing, or a future building. The present modem and post-modern condition of the understanding of the actors in these translations is that buildings are representations of the drawings that preceded them. In other words, in the past, architectural projects were always pre-posterous, where nowadays projects are intentionally pro-sperous. My perception of this aporia began with the reading of Boudon; he made the statement that "the edifice is the representation of the project which preceded it" (Boudon 1980, 91), originating this thought in a semiotic analysis of Viollet-Le-Duc's Dictionary. The fulcrum of Boudon's argument is Viollet-Le-Duc's bold statement that the "execution is the stamp of ... conception" (Boudon 1980, 90). In other words, a drawing is a pre-posterous piece of architecture. My perception of the aporia was strengthened by reading Antonio Gramsci's article in Quaderni dal Carcere. In this piece, the Italian Marxist philosopher suggests that the work of art of the architect is in the project, not in the building, just as the real work of art of the writer is in the manuscript, not in the printed book (Gramsci 1985, 131).A clear sign of this inverted relationship between drawings and building is that nowadays many preservation designs are done first on the existing working drawings rather than on the survey of the building. Within the traditional interpretation of the translation of drawings into buildings, the formal and the instrumental representations are unified in the building, and the drawings are merely instrumental representations, whereas in the present reality, the union of the formal and instrumental representations in the building depends on their presence and union in the drawing. A powerful complaint by Adolf Loos, an architect in Wittgenstein's Vienna, indicates what happens when the drawings produced by architects are not demonstrations of construction.



The art of architecture has been degraded by the architect into a graphic art. The greatest number of jobs does not go to the person who is the builder, but to him whose work cuts the best figure on paper. And these two are opposites. . .. But, it is the dashing draughtsman who rules today. It is no longer the craftsman's tools that create the forms but the pencil. On the basis of a building's profile and decorative manner an observer can judge whether the architect uses a number one lead or a number five lead. . .. hatching with the draughting pen has produced the epidemic of the grid. No window frame, no marble slab remains without mark, at the scale of 1:100, and bricklayers and masons have to scratch out and retouch this graphic nonsense with their own painstaking efforts. (Laos 1985, 105-6)

The nature of the traditional interpretation of the translation from drawings to buildings can be understood through the myths of the origin of drawing and of the construction of the Temple. For the construction of the Temple on Mount Sinai, Jehovah, the divine architect, shows Moses, the mortal builder, the designs of the future sanctuary to be built and warns him" ... and look thou make them after their patterns which was shew thee in the mount" (Exod, 25:9, 40). The myth of the origin of drawing, as it was handed down to posterity by Pliny the Elder, tells us the story of Diboutades tracing the shadow of her departing lovers on a wall. These traditional drawings are merely jigs and templates; they are an intermediary step of a design projection, where the interpreter is the architect. Drawings are then pre-posterous tools. In the present situation, the drawings must become demonstrations of architecture; they have to be pro-sperous tools for the builder, not a prescription. These graphic demonstrations are monsters within the labyrinth of the building trade, showing the nature of construction. They are the documents out of which the builders, the building management, and all the other trades related to the making of buildings derive their interpretation in the making of the templates and jigs necessary for construction. The drawings demonstrate the technological icon. This icon is a palimpsest displaying three overlapping semiotic relationships. The first relationship is between a real architectural artifact and a reflected or projected icon of it, a signification socially determined in the "right understanding of the sign" (Peirce 4:536). This sign is the immediate interpretant (Bonfantini & Grazia 1976, 10). The second relationship is between a real artifact and the instrumental icon in the mind of someone involved in a building trade related to its construction. This sign is the dynamic interpretant (Bonfantini & Grazia 1976, 10). The third relationship is between the instrumental icon and the formal icon within a culture, which is the final logical interpretant (Bonfantini & Grazia 1976, 10).



Displayed as whole, the palimpsest of the technological icons is the matrix of the representational theories of the constructed world. This palimpsest is a technography, an act of projection, a casting forward that becomes a point of projection itself. With the term technography, I am reviving, in anglicized form, tecnografia, a term devised by Lodoli to define a correct use of representation in the practice of architectural technology. The origin of drawings as demonstration of construction is embodied in Vitruvius's description of the concept of arrangement.

[Alrrangernent is the fit assemblage of details and arising from this assemblage, the elegant construction (operis) of the work and its ornament (jigurae) along with a certain quality (Vitruvius 1930, l.ii, 2)

Three kinds of arrangement are listed by Vitruvius, who also points out that the Greeks call them ideal (indexical and symbolic icons in the Peircian sense), that is, architectural drawings. The first idea is ichnography, which depends on a competent use of compass and ruler; the second is orthography, which is the vertical presentation of a future building; the third is scenography, which is the presentation of the front and the side, with all the lines resting in the center of a circle. The three kinds of ideai are born from a consideration (cogitatio) of all the parts and are found (inventio reperta) through a techne. Thus, architectural drawings are based on cognitive representations or known objectivity. A circular procedure is involved here; understanding the parts is accomplished by considering the whole, and understanding the whole is achieved by considering the parts. The first technography required by an architectural project is ichnography, and it is based on demonstration by laying out the plan of a future edifice with ropes and boards on the grounds of the selected site. In his commentary of the first Italian translation of Vitruvius's treatise, Cesare Cesariano, a Gothic architect interested in the secularization of Vitruvian knowledge, talks about the pazzezare del circino, the walking of the compass.' For Cesariano, drawing the plan is a graphic demonstration analogous to the demonstration of the future construction given by the architect to the builder when he/she paces through the site pointing out the features of the building. An example of demonstrative pacing is when the architect steps in the mud to demonstrate to the builder with his/her foot the corners of the footing of a building. Orthography is the demonstration of the vertical raising of the building. This demonstration is embodied in the structure of the scaffolding. An understanding of the procedure of this demonstration can be gained by looking at the brick facade of any medieval construction that is marked



by many holes. Those are indexical signs that allow us to reconstruct how the scaffolding interacted with the edifice during its construction. Scenography is the most difficult item to explain because of the misleading notion generated by the homophonous and homographic term that in many languages means stage design. As a result, it has almost always been interpreted as perspective. In his commentary, Daniele Barbaro, the most intellectually powerful among the partrons of Palladia, calls this third kind of arrangement profilo, a cut feature showing the building during its construction.' The third idea is called scenography (sciograjia), from which great utility is derived, because through the description in the profile we understand the thickness of walls, the projections of every element (membro) and in this, the architect is like a physician that demonstrates all the interior and exterior parts of works. (Vitruvius 1584, 30) A profile is the demonstration of the stereotomy of the building parts, an anatomical representation of building elements. As Kenneth Frampton (1986) has pointed out, stereotomy, a Gothic graphic demonstration devised to avoid the labor generated by the several presentations of the stone required for cutting it properly, is the beginning of the conception of the architectural project as imaginative representation (Figure 33). A series of drawings and an aphorism by Scolari can help us in our discussion of the nature of technography in light of the aporiai of architectural drawings and the idea that the enigma is solved in the construction (Figure 34). The series of drawings was done for the construction of one of the twenty facades designed by fashionable architects and constituted the acme of the architectural section of the 1980 Venice Biennale, which sanctioned the official presence of post-modernity in architecture. The drawing that generated the facade, A Door for a Sea Town, is a little more than a drawing; it is, in fact, an oil painting. The painting shows a gate inserted in a rock barrier that separates the sea from a lagoon; the reference to Venice is clear. The gate is represented as a masonry construction with impossible cantilevers. The painting is based on a multiple-stations perspective, and the gate is demonstrated through the use of an inverted central perspective, with the front of the figure represented smaller than its back. Two sets of orthogonal drawings - one rendered and one measuredtranslate the gate into the reality of the site, a bay of the colonnade of the Corderie of the Arsenale in Venice, the location of the Biennale (Figure 35). The graphic translation, however, does not follow the construction rules of an inverted perspective; instead this new representation surveys