Archive for the ‘Alexandros Lagopoulos’ Category

Lagopoulos “From Stick to the Region”

Lagopoulos, Alexandros Ph. 1993. From the Stick to the Region: Space as a social instrument of semiosis. – Semiotica 96-1/2. 87-138

For Eco, the arhitectural object is, semiotially speaking, a sign-vehile, a signifier, denoting its ‚primary funtion’. Thus, the stick does not denote the space delimited by it, but in connection with it denotes the function performed by the stick (for example, to measure the position of the sun, to indicate a point of reference); this conceived function is cultural unit. (90)

It is on this spatial aspect of architectural meaning that Greimas, contrary to Eco and closer to the traditional architectural view, insists, arguing that the spatial signifiers have their own immediate signifieds, with whic they constitute the spatial language; the integration of these signifieds into new ones leads to autonomous discourses on space. (92)

[…] the architectural work may have elementary forms; that even restricted parts of an architectural whole may be endowedwith meaning; that the spatial signifier is not necessarily a well-formedshape, especially as we move from architectural to urban space; and that not only the connotations of space, but even the denotations may engage any possible cultural code. (93)

[…] the central ideological themes of a culture may appear at different scales, be incorporated in different semiotic systems, and be expressed through different morphological elements. (96)

The property signs [in Nicholas V time] thus functioned as metalinguistic signs pointing to the owner of a building. The result of this metalinguistic function was to create the architectural denotation of the owner of the building, and this denotation led to the insertion of the building in the connotative network discussed above. At this point, I would like to remind the reader of my view, presented in the theoretical introduction to this article, about the existence of non-functional denotative architectural signifieds; the denotation just examined belongs to a personal-legal code and constitutes a personal-legal space. (103)

[…] the location of the pope’s insignia in Rome create a semiotic system unfolding in urban space, anchored in architecture, and initiated by small-scale para-architectural signs. These signs are identical and repetitive, and thus the text they constitute, on their own level, does not emerge from their syntax; their function as a whole is to extend the patronage code from the individual structure of the whole of the city. (105)

[…] it is not the physical setting that ‚can furnish the raw material for the symbols and collective memories of group communication’ [Lynch]; on the contrary, space is at the service of meaning and spatial orientation a meaningful orientation. (105)

There is, thus, a continuous transmission of meaning between the two syntagmatically related elements: the city semantizes the threshold as its threshold, and the protection of the threshold semantizes the city as protected, as the threshold is. Sculpture, architecture, and urban space, viewed from the urban standpoint, are the nodes for the circulation of meaning. (106)

The Borgo plan is, as Constantinople, a new Rome and a condensed image of existing Rome. The symbolic unification of the city which it achieves finds its exact parallel in the unification of the Vatican and the Lateran, the two extremities of the axis urbis, through the multiple orientation pattern. We pass with this pattern from the general urban message of Nicholas’s insignia to the new messages added to it by the specific syntactic and semantic relations between the sites to which certain of these insignia are attached. Because of the identification of the axis urbis uniting these sites with a cosmicaxis, new messages emerge involving the city as a whole. In this manner, these latter messsages resemble the general message of the insignia in that both relate to the city as a whole. The two types of messages differ, however, in that the message of the insignia originates in an unstructured geographical reality, while the messages sent by the axes of the city are anchored in a structured pattern, which in itself generates meaning not simply through repetition, but through articulation. It goes without saying that these levels of meaning are only analytically discernible, since they are in practice interwoven. (116)

The planned quadripartite settlement was not uncommon in the medieval period, either as a strict geometric form os as a looser spatial organization, but what in the cities seems to have been mainly retained as the spatial expression of the cosmic heavenly Jerusalem are the radiating divine center and the outer limits dividing chaos from cosmos. (117)

I concluded earlier that the Vatican is a summit on the basis of the structural similarities betweeb the Borgo plan and the city of Rome. In both cases, which are related as part to whole, the same symbolic model was used. The same cosmic model is used irrespective of the urban scale, as was the case with urban and regional space […] a semiotic mechanism identical to that already studied of the incorporation of the same themes in different semiotic systems. It is not, then, strange in this context to find different points in space characterized by the same qualities – for example, centrality or extremity. This is a contradiction only for rational thought. Symbolic thought is qualitative, and the same qualities may be attached to quite different objects and spaces. The cosmic model is projected not only on the horizontal plane, but also on the vertical plane, absorbing in this manner all of three-dimensional space. (125-126)

[…] the radial pattern is interwoven with the concentric pattern. The twelve parts of Plato’s city follow from the subdivision of the four quarters of a circle defined by two perpendicular diameters. Plato explains in Timaeus how the universe was created through the bending of the two bars of a cross into two circles. The twelve parts of the ideal city correspond to the twelve months of the year (i.e one revolution of the universe). On the basis of our data, we may conclude that, in respect to the urban model, the passage from Middle Ages to the Renaissance, effected through the mediation of Greek and Roman antiquity, was founded on the cosmic cross. (130)

… aesthetization of a cosmological model in renaissance (architecture and art – perspective) (133)

Renaissance urban model:

1)      the denotative level, corresponding to the description of the elements of the urban form and expressed in the latter. (Metonymic)

2)      Connotative level – symbolic and aesthetic considerations, follow from metaphorical connections.

3)      Pragmatic: from the military point of view, the radial plan was a pragmatic adaptation to the physics of artillery. (134)