Guillerme Archaeology of the Section.pdf

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  Yale School of Architecture The Archaeology of SectionAuthor(s): Jacques Guillerme, Hélène Vérin , Stephen SartarelliReviewed work(s):Source: Perspecta, Vol. 25 (1989), pp. 226-257Published by: The MIT Press  on behalf of Perspecta.Stable URL: . Accessed: 27/12/2011 17:07 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at  . is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Yale School of Architecture  and The MIT Press  are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extendaccess to Perspecta.  The Archaeology f Section Jacques Guillerme nd Helene Verin Originally, the Lacanian mythologists tell us, there was lack, whence arose representation, which is the germinal form and precondition of all activity of knowledge and planning.' In the beginning, as concerns the architec- tural section, was the ruin, more specifically, the Roman ruin: the ensemble of the ruins of the Urbs which displays to the magnetized gaze of humanist nostalgia all the stages of the vestiges' decline and all the breaches that time has wrought on the outer shells of edifices extolled by scholars. Ruins are, in short, the traces of decay's ravages and lack on the resistant mass, and hence the contours and aspect of structures which constitute the very bodies of monuments. It is to the hands of time that we owe the bringing to light of the frameworks that architectural techne conceived, worked, erected and finally dissimulated in the temporarily completed appearance of perfect construction. The problem we would like to address here is that of retracing the steps by which inventive citizens, from the reasoning artisan to the curious philologist, were able to translate the natural images of breaks in ancient ruins into stable schemata of sectional contours in the documents made by the traveler as well as the projects made by the artist. To put it another way, we would like to glimpse the many stages where the acute and questioning gaze of technicians paused to contemplate in order to transform the observation of archaeological remains (traces) nto the observance of architectural diagrams (traces) Of the countless but often unrecognizable vestiges of ancient Rome, three stand out for the charismatic effect they have on the minds of archaeologists; these are three monuments which have particularly ostered the objectification of sections. On the one hand, we have the amphitheater of Flavius, better known as the Coliseum, and the baths of Caracalla; on the other, the rotunda of the Pantheon. All were abundantly contem- plated, admired, observed and drawn. The first two greeted one's eyes with the gaping breaks in their structures and with the semi-preserved arrangement of their vaulting systems. The Pantheon, on the other hand, had come down through the centuries nearly intact, with its interior disposition visible and easily represented but its internal structure remaining hidden. Its constructional apparatus remained hypothetical and pro- voked a vast range of divergent conjectures. The joining of the orthogonal structure of the peristyle with the incurvation of the main body was especially titillating to the imagina- tions of archaeologists. Already in Leonardo's work a hastily executed sketch poses this question without insisting on one particular solution; hesitation is a meaningful symptom of this visionary who nevertheless worked rigorously and carefully at outlining the details of arches (as in the tiburio of the Milan cathedral).2 226 1. The term lack or manque in Lacanian mythology refers to a presence made of absence. Jacques Lacan, Ecrits: A Selection, translated by A. Sheridan (New York: Norton, 1977), p. 65. 2. Codex Atlanticus Milan: Biblioteca Ambrosiana), folio 850, previously 310 recto, b.  1. Attributed o Bramante, heet of drawings of ancient ruins. 2. Anonymous, artial view of the Roman Coliseum, ate 15th century. 3. Sangallo l Gobbo, xternal truc- ture of the amphitheater f Verona. 4. Leonardo a Vinci, ketch of the tiburio at the Milan Cathedral. F,. . *.*I-*-- - - ....: ....... : *- '*y :t' ', . . ' . . -' \~~~~~~~~~~~~~1 r\--i ^i. ^S. ? ^ 2 227  5 3. Codex Chlumizanskl (Prague: Library of Czech National Museum), folio 71; W Jufen, in the manuscript Memoires t monuments Piot, vol. 68 (Paris: 1987), p. 161, points out that the two views... are copies, probably the only ones, of a lost model that probably dates from the same period as Giuliano's drawings and comes from his entourage ; he refers to folios 37 recto and 38 recto of the odex Barberini, Lat. 4424. 4. Among the many examples, see folio F3 recto of the Grant Kalendrier t compost es begiers published at Troves in 1529 by Nicolas Le Rouge. It is, of course, but one example; the artifice of representing the break in a wall can be found as early as in the deco- rations adorning Greek vases when they illustrate an episode taking place inside a dwelling or cave. 5. Often cited in this connection is the convention whereby the Nativity is represented in Renaissance art within a decor of ruins. 6. ... today, under the round machine / New lands and diverse peoples / have been found by dint of great effort, one reads in the Foreword of the Description f Geography ttributed to Marco Polo and published in Paris in 1556. 7. Aristotle referred to the hand as the instrument of instruments in Parts of Animals, 687 a-sq. The fact is that the rotunda is the emblem- atic monument on which speculators in matters of architectonics have long and insistently expended their energies. They go so far as to impose on its form the imaginary and vivid breaking up of the outside onto the inside, and thereby contribute to the teaching and justification of the art of spaccato, or vertical section. One of the most note- worthy of such examples is found in the Chlumczansky Codex, which presents side by side two drawings by the same anonymous hand, dated circa 1500.3 The first is a simple and crude elevation; the second one looks like a primitive spaccato. he positioning and stroke of the spaccato re rather awkward com- pared to current standards. Yet its merit, indeed its purpose, lies in presenting a draw- ing of the mental operation which embraces, all at once, the interior and exterior of the edifice as well as the thickness that separates them. Here we have indeed a tectonic cut-out whose pattern seeks to show the structure or inner workings. It is thus a diagram (trace) more thought-out and more elaborate than the traditional images of breaches which give a glimpse of scenes belonging to such unusual compartments of the universe as Hell or the Empyrean.4 The elaborated type exemplified in this drawing from the Chlumczansky Codex also stands apart from such imagery which revives mystical fables and whose figurative means, whether naive or mannered, tend to express an encounter between Revelation and History. 5 But here one must recall one of the most audacious strokes of genius of the Renais- sance, that of representing the cosmos through the double correlation of the con- cave and the convex by the use of globes. Compared to this, the twofold figuration of the Pantheon seems little more than a timid application of the same principle. Imagining the antipodes was an act of conceptual invention that made it possible to represent the earth as a distinct object of our sensible, immediately intuitive rootedness.6 It was also the condition for being able to configure, in plastically identical and similarly manipulable ball-shapes, the miniaturization of the two spheres of the natural macrocosm, the globe of the earth and that of the concave celestial sphere. Thus one became accustomed to con- sidering side by side, as it were, simultane- ously, the inside and outside of things, within hand's reach; within the reach of that instru- ment of instruments, the sign and means of a rationality that analyzes and synthesizes, breaks down and reassembles modifications of scale. The cosmological artifice of the spheres of the world was de jure the expression of a conceptual bravado that henceforth autho- rized the enterprising advancement of the artifices of architectural graphic figuration. o 228 The Archaeology f Section
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