Driven by an intrigue in the ruination of Roman architecture, Brazilian architect, and photographer Olympio Augusto Ribeiro has undertaken a fascinating comparative analysis of Giovanni Battista Piranesi's architectural etchings and the scenes as they stand today. Travelling to each of the Italian sites brought to life in Piranesi's drawings, Ribeiro has managed to recreate the original angle and shot, eventually compositing them together to create collages which cross time periods.
Piranesi's drawings show different architectural styles side by side, and it was this coexistence that urged Ribeiro to investigate what has changed in Rome and Tivoli since their conception. The project, officially dubbed "Piranesi Project (In search of Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s Rome, 1720-1778)" took Ribeiro two months to photograph, meticulously recreating the images across Rome, Villa Adriana, and Tivoli.
Ribeiro explains in the project bio that history was always the most intriguing part of architecture school, allowing him to further expand on his existing fascination with the renovation of Roman ruins.
The history lessons stimulated my curiosity about the transformations undergone by the ancient Roman Empire, and its transmutation into a new reality in which the old aesthetic glory had to live within the dark ages. During my studies in restoration I began to understand the process of their dilapidation, the history of their reconstruction, and how the ruins came to be in our time. However, I lacked the understand of how these 2000 years of transformations resulted in this mixture of styles and overlapping - said Ribeiro.
Piranesi created The Piranesi Prints some 1500 years after the fall of the Roman Empire. They illustrate the coexistence of medieval villages, baroque architecture, and Roman ruins, and are commonly heralded as a strong influence to neoclassicism. Piranesi's poetic and artistic flair allowed him to portray the buildings in a kind of "ruin fantasy," and the expressiveness of the etchings make them all the more fantastic.
Upon returning to Brazil, Ribeiro began to compose the collages, merging Piranesi's mid-18th-century drawings with his digital, color photographs. He said that "I allowed myself my artistic freedom, but worked carefully to respect the original Piranesi work."
Check out the full gallery below for the exhaustive photograph analysis, and see for yourself how the sites have evolved.
News via Olympio Augusto Ribeiro.