The Imperial Baths of Rome as a Paradigm of Heterochronic Space. Images and Space and their Influence on the Construction of Time
In every Culture there is a place outside of the dominating discourse – a space with inherent
logic. The conception of space and time as inseparable is popular since theory of relativity,
whereas Leibniz already originated a dialectical and relational conception. Though my
concern is to evoke, that our subjective perception of time does not merely depend on action
through space, but a lot more on the spatial atmosphere. Especially the medial representation
of time affects on our perception. The images inside and their outgoing atmosphere are able to
burst the linear arrow of time. Time becomes visible. However it’s not merely what we see
that matters, but the total amount of our sensual perception.
The imperial Baths in Rome should now be seen as the attempt to create a place beyond time. Their sculptural interior decoration combined with the lifestyle of otium evoke the shine of a realised utopian dream. On the other hand the images inside within their relational concept create an atmosphere of Heroes and Gods, by what the baths turn into a topos. They refer to the aetas aurea along with her specific quality and inherent logic of time and time perception. Therefore the individual perception does not longer focus on the action and movement within space, but rather on the visualised memories of a general past. This kind of visualisation and their exposition in form of free-standing mythological sculpture allow the viewer to participate in myth. Lifeworld and myth become blurred, the perception of image becomes one with reality with the result, that the human being indulges in the illusion of time. The “I” perceives the “self” in a recent place. That’s what mainly constitutes a Heterotopy: to combine the incompatibly.
From 2012 to 2015 Lukas Rathjen studied Classical Archaeology and History at the University of Hamburg. He passed his bachelor with a thesis about Aidos, gender discourses in the late classical period and the Aphrodite of Cnidos. He is currently studying for a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Anthropology at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. Moreover he is receiving a scholarship of the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes since 2015. His research interests are gender studies and history of the body in ancient culture as well as urban and spatial sociology.