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Peter Eisenman: Moving Arrows, Eros, Other Errors

Peter Eisenman Mover arrows eros and other errors

Eisenman, Peter. “Moving arrows, eros.” Architecture Theory Since 1968. 1st pbk. ed. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 2000. 582 – 585. Print.

The Romeo and Juliet project by Peter Eisenman is trying to expose the narrow and reductive ways in which the world is made known to us through architecture, arguing that more complex and less literal forms of architectural representation should be made manifest within the culture. Eisenman wanted to debunk the false assumption that architecture must be anthropocentric, especially in this more traditional forms of a codified anthropomorphism, and attacks traditional modes of anthropocentric representation as its core inspiration. Eisenman considers his work as an attempt to move beyond the purely formalist projects of negation in art. At the same time he is trying to avoid falling back into traditional or less critical ways of thinking. This project breaks new ground in pushing beond the worn out and mystifying cant of the practices of negation in art.

In this project, Ensenman used the method of “scaling”, by which certain properties of an object are selected or isolated from their context and transposed to a different location and represented at a different scale in juxtaposition with things in its new context. Scaling is not a measuring device which identifies any representation in relation to a fixed and identifiable reality. The Romeo and Juliet scheme is interesting precisely because it achieves a positive advance regarding this question of the limits of architectural sense. By switching scales and by introducing fiction into real life through the device of scaling. Eisenman has achieved a series of juxtapositions which, if built, would serve as gentle reminders in a city.

The issues of presence and origin are central to the question of anthropocentrism, and in destabilizing presence and origin, scaling in this context proposes three destabilizing agents: discontinuity, which confronts the methaphysics of presence; recursivity, which confronts origin; and self-similarity, which confronts representation and the aesthetic object.

Discontinuity is that aspect of scaling which disrupt and thus criticizes the status of presence. In scaling discontinuity differentiates absence from void. Absence is either the trace of a previous presence.

Recursivity is the elaboration of self-same forms. Recursivity confronts origin only when it is in a condition of self-similarity.

Self-similarity refers to analogic repetition and not to the geometric mimesis usually found in an aesthetic object. Rather than being an aethetic object, the object becomes a text, a structure of its own being.

Discontinuity, recursivity, and self-similarity confront presence, origin, and the aesthetic object in three aspects of the architectural discourse: site, programme, and representation.The quality of spaces in those two cities are juxtaposed with the fictional story of Romeo and Juliet, and by treating “the site” not simple as presence but as both a palimpset and a quarry, containing traces of both memory and immanence, “the site” can be thought of as non-static. The second aspect which is confronted is the idea that the programme in the architecture of the early twentiety century is a source of originary value.The original story of Romeo and Juliet, by Da Porto, was inspired by two towers in Montecchio but was set in Verona. The “site” in the story is therefore fictional, not only because it is in a story, but also because it is ambiguous –  it refers to two real places.




The first superposition reveals the idea of division found in the three texts. When the walls of the castle of romeo are superposed on the walls of the old city of Verona, the three elements of the site of Montecchio fall in a divided relation to the walls of the real castle of Juliet; a simulated castle of Juliet falls inside the real castle f Juliet, a simulated church falls within the wall of the real castle, and a simulated castle of Romeo falls outside of the walls of the real castle of Juliet, hence the idea of division.The first scaling involves the transposition of place and superposition of scale sin time to reveal aspects of the structure of the textural narrative.




The second superposition reveals the idea of union found in the three texts. Here the castle of Juliet, which appeared as a passive trace in the actual castle of Romeo, now appears as an active trace at the actual church of Montecchio. The tower of the castle surrounds the church. Superposed over the tower of Juliet is the tower of an active trace of the castle of Romeo.The church of Montecchio is an active presence registering the idea of union.


The third superposition reveals the idea of dialectical relationship between union and division operating in the texts. Now the castle of Juliet is registered as an active presence over the tomb which is in the cemetery in the city of Verona. Representation refers outside itself to an origin; text does not. Text refers inward to its own structure. Text has the capacity for an infinite combination of previous texts into new text; the three-dimensional experience yields open-ended readings. This introduces the possibility of error, of a text not leading to a truth or a valued conclusion, but rather to a sequential tissue of misreading.


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