Invited Distinguished Professor:
Gabriel Esquivel, Studio Professor
Stephen Caffey, Assistant Professor of Art and Architecture History and Theory Texas A&M University
Team: Matt West, Sophia Kountakis, Erin Biedeger, Reuben Posada, Brooks Van Essen
Our project is a Piranesian object developed with Mannerist operations like disjunction, striation and overlap, and generated by the Stamp.
The team began with an interest in three canonical churches (Il Redentore, San Giorgio Maggiore, and Rainaldi’s Santa Maria in Campitelli) and observed how these ideas of insertion, intersection, and interaction of spaces in plan revealed or concealed themselves. This led to their dismantling and compilation into a historical data set of objects, and a reconstruction of a new plan-object that blurs the line between figure and ground.
The items in Piranesi’s Campo Marzio are classified as either Autonomous Infill or Architectural Infill. But we see the plan-object as being both, as each part within the model was placed there intentionally just as Architectural infill is, yet at times these elements combine with others to generate secondary forms with a scalar hierarchy, or are subservient to another such piece in the vicinity. Just like the churches we studied, placed these objects offset from each other to create the same overlapping of spaces that we are interested in. In this way the plan-object creates its own ontology as it has no anthropocentric quality or use that can be perceived by a viewer.
This brings us to the notion of the Stamp. In our project it takes the form of Boolean operations of varying severity acting on extrusions of our plan. Stamps are exhibited as shallow indentations resembling a bas relief, and deep gouges that are more similar to a die punch. It was these deep stamps that generated some of the strange intersections that have become such a central idea in our project. As two parts intersect, the resultant geometry carries a resemblance to the original part, yet at the moment of the intersection, that legibility is somewhat lost. This creates the blurring of the stamp that reinforces the object’s autonomy.
The plan-object became the epicenter of our object, first as the stamp operating upon a cube, then as the interior to a more subtle object with similar ideas of stamping (in the bas relief), and then a skeleton on which new sub-objects and elements of that plan can be placed (or stamped) again and again, duo-mining the precedent materiel and creating a labyrinthine object which calls to mind Piranesi’s Carceri. The plan-object, with its offsets and intersections with the cube, or with other iterations of itself, generates strange spaces as well as new poche that echoes source objects. So the exterior of the object that we see is the reverberation of the interactions of the object at its innermost. Yet the objects interactions and its results do not necessarily inform the overall nature of the object. As Jonah Rowen states “Theseus may be able to use the trick of the thread to find his way around the labyrinth, but the omniscient view is reserved for the architect.”
The idea of the Labyrinthine Object is that spaces are created by the Stamp that cannot immediately be identified, and there is no real way to perceive the object’s interior and its progression. Yve-Alain Bois writes that “The elevation cannot provide the plan [and vice versa], for as one walks around it, one finds no element that has maintained a relation of identity with the others.” Like the Carceri engravings, the object is composed of recognizable canonical architectural elements, yet the composition itself is strange in terms of its mereology and organization. The stamping in from the exterior generates unfamiliar relationships between familiar objects. In this way the Stamp acts as a force estranging the interior of the object from the plan-objects that created it.
The surface articulation itself is the result of our study into ideas of positive and negative stamping - that is stamping in from the outside and out from the inside. As well as the notion of the field, and investigations into the formal stamp vs the pixel stamp. Where the formal stamp is the actual moves and modifications we’ve made to the object’s geometry, and the pixel stamp is the post-production process we used to create the field of stamps, or Stamps in the Extended field. Meaning that the stamps function on all levels of the object; bilaterally but asymmetrically. In this way an infinite field of stamps is created at random. Despite its repetition it maintains uniqueness and difference. This field of stamps becomes, in part, the new object; the coalescence of the surface conditions of its predecessors, draped over a form generated by the plan-object.
As we moved forward into studying the color and material logic of our object, we looked to the sort of strange brutalist nature of the form, heavy orthogonal elements articulating new corners and new scalar relationships. So in order for the material brutality to follow the formal brutality, we’ve imagined our object as having this sort of lithic quality of striated, colored marble, that a form which is such a synthesis of its own precedent necessitates a material that is similarly unlikely.
Our object is a thing which is totally removed from its source data, yet has a similar nature; a series of objects overlapped to create a new space. Operations of the Stamp act upon surfaces to create new conditions, on that surface and beneath it. And a space that is thoroughly labyrinthine, a strange extension of the disjunction of the source objects, where only a viewer of each plan and section could even hope to grasp it’s whole complexity. This hermitry of the object affirms its Architecture and its Autonomy while denying the metaphysics of presence.