The Villa of Mysteries is located little away from the city walls of the Ancient City of Pompeii and was built around the beginning of second century B. C. It involves at least 60 rooms and is around 40,000 square feet in area. This example of a Roman villa is one of the most prominent cases of it in terms of its scale and the extraordinary decorations that it contains.1 There is a mix of spaces that act as dining and entertaining areas and also different spaces for the production of resources such as wine. The materials that were used in the construction was similar to the typical Roman Villas and was consisting of mostly stone and bricks(pilae). As mentioned in the website of the Bradford on Avon Museum in Wiltshire, “The bathhouse of the Roman Villa, built with coursed limestone blocks that have been trimmed all round except at the back”, describes the variety of building elements that were available by the large trade routes that enable different materials to circulate. The Murals on the walls were mostly constructed using plaster because it had a quick drying time and shaping it was rather easy. The bath spaces and the dining spaces were covered with these relics. In the villa, the design of the function patterns of the rooms shares a striking similarity with another roman domestic building which is the Domus. A similar use of the names of the rooms translates also into the villa medium from the Domus like the term Triclinium which is being used to mean the room where three couches are used for the act of dining in social gatherings. This space, in particular, reference to the Villa of Mysteries, has a shifting relationship with the exterior spaces. The big openings offer a direct relationship with the outside garden (Viridarium) and the distant sea view and make space have an open and permeable state of transparency. But during the nighttime, these big openings are covered with opaque wooden elements to fully isolate the space and make the Triclinium have a private, more well-defined quality to it. The light condition is now shifted from having a relationship with a naturally lit open space with having a mutualistic way through the transfer of light and visuality, to the self-lit isolated condition of having the sources of light inside this dining space. The private condition is the result of a lack of light in terms of the exterior spaces which evidently weaken the relationship of it with the interior causing this space react by exemplifying this condition. The function of the villa is the fact that the social dining is a very big part of the way Romans live in those times. Therefore the rhythmic rituality that governs the circulation path is inverted compared with the Roman Domus.2 The way of circulation through the Villa is now Vestibulum (the entrance) than the big Peristylium (the colonnaded garden), the Atrium (the transitional hall) and then the Triclinium. This shows the axiality factor of the villa governed by this ritualistic approach to the social dining. This is also reflected on to the wall paintings that are on the walls, that do not have openings, of the Triclinium. These paintings depict life-sized human figures that dance and dwell in an illusion of architecture. The Murals are a representation of the function of that space and are a projection of the life in that space.
In the case study of the Villa of Mysteries, the occurrence of the wall paintings that show a three dimensional organic experience that is projected onto a two dimensional surface to imitate that experience in a visual manner, inspired me to mention the architectural concept of designing a perspective experience that is accomplished by the perception of a two dimensional visual as a three dimensional visual present in space. This application is commonly used to give the visual experience without producing the actual architecture. The result is a static representation of what is real and reflects the ideology behind it. The relationship between form and function is that the form solely stands for the visual experience of the viewer and therefore decorative. The experience is captured onto a surface and its only focus is the observer. The spaces are formed as relating visually to the actual space. The three-dimensional qualities that govern a space or an object are now frozen in time and projected in a decrease in information.
A relating example of this concept can be the Trompe L`Oeil`s in the Michelangelo Sistine Chapel`s ceiling designs. These paintings are distorted according to giving the impression of three-dimensional arches and columns along with the addition of human-like figures. Some of the surfaces of the ceiling has curved surfaces in a result of the construction techniques present in that times and this three-dimensional quality is being eliminated by the distortion of the figures to fit the perspective of the observer. In this case, the experience of these fake visuals distorts the experience of a spatiality architecturally. What is different in the Michelangelo Sistine Chapel compared to the Villa of mysteries is that the projected surface is also three dimensional resulting in the change of experience as one moves inside the space. But the visual experience is optimized in only in one position. The condition is the same projection method in this context but the visual is now more fluid in the sense that the canvas is also three dimensional. The focus is directly on the viewer and their experience of it. In the Chapel, this is used to promote a spiritual notion that comes from sensing an extraordinary situation. The condition of losing the usual information that helps us to recognize a curved surface is now altered to give the sense of another form while still containing its real structure. Shifting from an everyday life to give a different sense of space is being used in all sorts of religious buildings all throughout history.
A contemporary example in relation to this concept can be the works of Felice Varini, a contemporary artist that projects abstract shapes onto architectural spaces. In his paintings, the canvas is not flat and consist of a space which a person can move and experience in an infinite number of ways. The variations are depicted to the various positions a viewer can take inside the installation and therefore the experience is fluid. In this case, there is a contrast with my concept and the projecting element is flat while the projection is applied to a three-dimensional space. The different kinds of light conditions and perspectives change the visual and in only in one position the visual becomes two dimensional while still coming from a three-dimensional surface. I think giving this contemporary example is important because it is the same ideology of visually projecting onto something but very different in terms of function. While in the ancient example the aim is to have a decorative sense of space that tries to elevate a two-dimensional surface, in the modern example, the aim is to fragment the flat shape that has only two dimensions and create a dynamic immersive look to it in terms of spatial organization.