ROME WAS! From Piranesi to the Present

Presented by Small Firms Forum – AIA East Bay Chapter

Thursday, August 1, 2019
12 – 1:30 PM
1405 Clay Street

Inspired by the extraordinary engravings of the ruins of Ancient Rome by Giambattista Piranesi, Langenbach has used digital photography to document the same views that Piranesi and other artists captured over a quarter of a millennium ago.  Langenbach will describe and show his work, which is featured in his newly published book Rome Was! The Eternal City from Piranesi to the Present, followed by his short film

Langenbach uses digital photography to document the same views in Rome that Giambattista Piranesi and other artists captured over a quarter of a millennium ago.  Langenbach will describe and show his work, which has just been published in the book Rome Was! The Eternal City from Piranesi to the Present, and show his short film, Rome Was! Ruins Eternal, made entirely from still images.  In both the book and the film, Langenbach demonstrates how his use of digital photography allowed him to explore the evolution of perspective in the art of the late Renaissance, and how photography of the same views that Piranesi did has offers insight into the differences between photographic and pre-photographic perspective.  In describing this exploration, Langenbach will also describe the importance of ‘foveal’ vs. peripheral vision in the original creative process in the use of perspective before the invention of photography. These digital images were created during a year-long National Endowment for the Arts ‘Rome Prize’ Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome in 2003.  More information can be found at www.piranesian.com

Speaker Bio:
Randolph Langenbach became known as a photographer from his documentation of the textile mills of New England and Great Britain. In 2002, he was awarded a Rome Prize Fellowship in Historic Preservation at the American Academy in Rome, and during that year, together with research on earthquakes, he began his photography of the same views that Piranesi had engraved in the 18th century, for which he received special recognition from the Department of City Planning of Rome.

Learning Objectives:

  1. A new approach to wide angle photography which makes it possible to document views up to 180 degrees in width without visual distortion.

  2. A new analysis of the uses of perspective in visual art, and the role of foveal vision in pre-photographic perspective.

  3. Visual documentation of changes and continuities in the Ancient Rome landscape over the last 250 years.
  1. Changes to the Roman Fora over the last 400 years and the controversies that have emerged on the different preservation philosophies that have affected this iconic landscape of ruins after the onset of the archeological diggings in the 19th century.