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Screenscape Aesthetics

Part 2 Project 1998
Indy Johar
University of Bath Bath UK
The Roman’s lived, moving in the layers of stratified centuries, like fish in water, in the depths and at the surface.


Screenscape Aesthetics

The Romans lived, moving in the layers of stratified centuries, like fish in water, in the depths and at the surface.

Giulio Carlo Argan, Mayor of Rome.

Rome was once a city whose physicality provided a record of cultural continuity that was tangible to the point of visionary. This simultaneous existence of past, present and future was its source of eternity: though it was interrupted with the birth of the 20th Century. In particular, Mussolini, through his promotion of the culture of the visual (where fragments of the past were framed, objectified and finally frozen in the light of archaeology) disregarded the multiplicity of the eternal past in favour of one Rome.


The Piazza Augusto Imperatore, sitting at the edge of Medieval and Renaissance Rome is typical of Mussolini’s Rome and its obsession with physical transparency. The site is open and stands in contrast to the traditional, narrow, deep-set streets nearby. It is like an open flat Campagna – a space of transience – within which sits the ruined and remote mausoleum of Emperor Augustus.


A quality of transience establishes the basic being of the site and makes it an ideal host for the ephemeral culture of the cinema screen. Screenscape provides not only for the fleeting drama on the Campagna but it also reintroduces a temporal plurality to place – this is a key to Rome’s eternity.


A tectonic for a Screenscape culture is a fundamental problem for our age, for no longer is architecture asked to deliver the communicative transparency of the modernist age (that burden is carried by the continuous time/place fusion). Liberated from visual transparency, this project thus seeks to re-explore the eternal beauty of opacity and the labyrinthine form within the architectonic: a technological Ariadne’s thread.

Indy Johar



1998
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