Notes on the First International Symposium

Printed-and-Built Skilling The Printed and the Built project held its first international symposium in Oslo, 23–25 October 2014. In addition to the local project team, the scholars invited were Caroline van Eck (University of Leiden), Adrian Forty (University College London), Richard Wittman (University of California, Santa Barbara) and Wallis Miller (University of Kentucky). See programme here: Printed & Built symposium 2014_program Mari Hvattum introduced the project, reflecting on the lack of scholarship on 19th-century architectural publications and text cultures. While early modern publication culture has been subject to groundbreaking research in recent years, and while 20th-century architectural publications are currently being investigated with much enthusiasm, the 19th century has received far less attention. Given the dramatic expansion of architectural publications in this period – publications directed to the profession as well as to the public – the neglect is curious. The Printed and the Built project aims at filling this gap, contributing to the understanding of the entangled relationship between architecture, print culture and public debate in modern Europe. The invited speakers approached this relationship from many different angles. Drawing on examples from Christopher Wren and Inigo Jones to Henri Labrouste and Gottfried Semper, Caroline van Eck reflected on how the material presence of architecture was brought out on paper. Wren’s hermeneutic approach to Roman architecture, beginning with a seemingly unimportant detail such as missing corona, in order to understand the whole, aimed at precisely this: to recreate the material presence of the building  – a building which Wren had in fact never seen. van Eck then turned her attention to the French polychromy debate of the 1830s, and particularly the writing of Quatremère de Quincy and Gottfried Semper. Arguing that polychromy is key to understanding the new modes of architectural perception and representation that emerged in the 19th century, van Eck framed polychromy itself as a representational device, for instance in the sense of Semper’s ‘Bekleidung’. Richard Wittman spoke of the way print culture transformed temporal and spatial imagination, giving rise to an immaterial network of circulation. With the example of the 1830s reconstruction after fire of San Paolo fuori le mura in Rome, he explored historicism’s global aspirations and its dependence on printed matter. Presenting the stringently organised global fundraising campaign reliant on massprinted letters describing the faithfully historicist reconstruction project, Wittman posited print as a disembodied discourse that introduces one of modernity’s greatest abstraction technologies. Wallis Miller started with an ontological question: what is architecture in the modern period? One way of answering this question is to look at how architecture was classified in exhibition catalogues from German academies throughout the 19th and early 20th century. Moving from Karl Friedrich Schinkel to Albert Hoffman, Miller traced the shifting taxonomies of architecture on display. Using Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida as his point of departure, Adrian Forty probed the fictional nature of language that is evident in its inability to verify its truthfulness. He also, however, pointed out the capacity of lanugage to shift between truthful, imagined and anticipated modes, thus creating a tension between truth-telling and make-believe. Based on these observations, Forty drew up a taxonomy of genres of architectural writing, pleading for a more differentiated understanding of the architectural text. The most prolific – and neglected – architectural mass media of the 19th century is perhaps the plaster cast. Presenting her forthcoming book Monuments in Flux, Mari Lending discussed the hectic circulation of plaster monuments in the 19th and early 20th century and the vibrant print culture following in its wake. Victor Plahte Tschudi presented his research project Topos and Topography, focussing particularly on guidebooks to Rome in the 16th and 17th centuries. Following the guide book genres through various permutations, Tschudi ended with Goethe’s Italian Journey. Goethe, he proposed, used prints as a mnemonic devices, not only for recalling, but indeed constructing, the Rome he encountered in his youth. Concluding the symposium, Helge Jordheim pointed our three strands in which the printed and the built had been linked during this symposium: the public, or the emergence of a public discoure; materiality, or the relationship between ephemeral news and the permanence of stone; and temporality, both in regards to architectural styles and to the accelerating speed of the printing press. Jordheim reflected on the curious demise of the Habermas’ian discourse on the public sphere over the last decades. Could it be, he asked, that this debate ran out of steam because it failed to engage with material culture – and with print culture in particular? If so, The Printed and the Built project may contribute in valuable ways. Reflecting on the convoluted and contradictory relationship between materiality and temporality in the 19th century, Jordheim outlined a period in which the printed text took on much the same role as the monument, and when buildings borrowed their public significance from texts. The Printed and the Built project sets out to explore this entanglement from many different perspectives. By Léa-Catherine Szacka, Mari Hvattum and Anne Hultzsch


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