"Rome Was! Ruins Eternal" is a work that lies between still photography and film. This film is entirely made from still photographs taken of the same views of Rome documented by Giambattista Piranesi and other artists in the 18th Century, and then merged together with these celebrated engravings and paintings to form a single animated work. It departs from a conventional narrative story-line by approaching the subject as art, and in the process reveals both the continuity and the changes to the iconic archaeological landscapes of Rome over a quarter of a millennium. Ultimately, this project also serves as a commentary on how we preserve and interpret the relics of the past in the midst of a living city. Part of the power of the Piranesi images is how they show ancient Rome as a mysterious memory - abused and in ruins - evocative of time and decay, and yet an eternal survival of the memory of a great civilization. As John Ruskin in "The Seven Lamps of Architecture" had so aptly put it in 1849: "It is in that golden stain of time, that we are to look for the real light, the color, and the preciousness of architecture." Today, the preserved scene is now fenced and protected, but it is one where the hand of the conservator is now more evident than the hand of time. In "Rome Was!" both the 18th century appreciation for the ruins and their transformation over the past quarter of a millennium is revealed - and embraced.
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