‘Architecture is the first manifestation of man creating his own universe’ (Le Corbusier)
‘When the map covers the whole territory something like the principle of reality disappears.’ (Baudrillard)
Untitled, Pencil on paper, 2017
From past readings of Baudrillard’s writings, it is his thoughts on the ‘dematerialization of the real’, a reality that ‘no more exists outside than inside the artificial perimeter’ (Baudrillard, 1981) that continue to resonate. The notion of perimeter in this case could be seen to contain the studio, stage, fictitious worlds or imagination. Beyond that: the internet. In any case the spaces/places being created are environments that operate within their own internal logic. Illogical worlds that are mapped from the spaces and architecture within Kafka’s The Trial (1925) and the films of David Lynch. In both cases (Kafka and Lynch) the spaces and architecture appear to reflect the psychology and or consciousness of the protagonist, creating a psychogeography of internal spaces that are inherently fluid (or at times both fixed and fluid), disorientating and ambiguous. Physical boundaries are in flux. For example, in Kafka’s novel there is a ‘clear delineation between the two sides of the door that creates instead a space within a door’ (Auerbach, D 2011), a space where K. becomes trapped. Both Kafka’s and Lynch’s architectures are clearly controlled by external forces, prone to spatial anxiety, disturbance and interference. The author Richard Martin explains how Lynch’s films ‘repeatedly pivot on a single decisive room…a central chamber,’ that are ‘distinct interruptions in the flow of events around them’ (Martin, R 2014), where conventional expectations are being tampered with: portals appear, secret passageways threaten and boundaries lead to nowhere. From this, contradictions arise, such as: Absence (spaces) and Presence (traces), Restrictions and Infinity. Lynch ‘makes room for delineated spaces to create a struggle between the contained and the unlimited, the anxieties of claustrophobia, versus the threats of boundlessness’ (Martin, R 2014)
Untitled, Pencil on paper, 2017
Untitled, Ink on paper, 2017
Ultimately, if we pan out, it becomes clear that it is the authors of these in-between worlds who are the external forces in control here. As one of Tarkovsky’s characters points out with regard to the Zone in the 1979 film Stalker: ‘There’s no such thing as facts, especially here. Here everything has been fabricated by someone.’…’All this is someone’s idiotic invention. Can’t you tell?’ The director’s influence becomes omnipotent. It is I the artist then who becomes the external influence. The act driven by the drawing process, particularly evident in the analogue process of reworking, layering and reconfiguring.
‘The gap between the progressive ideals of modern architecture and the reality of human relations’ (Martin, R 2014)
Hisarligil’s article describes the process of taking a phenomenological approach to architecture where students were asked to create a Kafka museum after reading three Kafka novels. Ultimately it is realised that Kafka and the text became a ‘phenomenological experience that open up the design process to ‘new possibilities waiting for interpretations’ (Hisarligil, B 2012).
A number of provocative words and phrases (with regard to spaces and places within the text) were enthusiastically highlighted upon reading this illuminating article:
Hisarligil also alluded to a process of understanding achieved through ‘the fusion of horizons in the dialogue between reader and text, and in the dialogue between reader and text.’ (Hisarligil, B 2012). A pivotal point within the article deals with this process of interpretation. I got to thinking about my own interpretation of the text/film leading to the viewers interpretation of my work.
Author/Directors interpretation of an idea —> My interpretation of text/idea —> Viewers interpretation of my work
By taking a recognisable visual language such as architectural drawing and subverting the conventional structures and symbols I open up the possibilities of new levels of interpretation through a process of deconstruction and a disruption of the grid-like network.
There evolves something of an architectonic palimpsest (a counter-site that Foucalt refers to as a Hetrotopia: ‘a space of illusion that exposes every real space’) where time and space overlap (as in in Lynch’s Inland Empire) both through changing interpretations of ideas and through a history of marks, time and past accumulating.To reinterpret, imagine and create these labyrinthine worlds, these in-between places is to become a forensic of an unfathomable world. This seems apt in a world where the reality of time and space are uncertain and the real infrastructures are at breaking point.
Through considering these spaces as reflective of profound immeasurable and obscure geometries once again brings to mind the graphite drawings of artist Emma McNally and the boundless plotting of unseen, unknown worlds and pulsating patterns. Here too, the grid-like coded structures that appear to underpin much of her work could easily be interpreted as a complex network akin to the digital realm with its noise, errors and glitches.
Emma McNally Detail of Choral Fields 7 Graphite on paper
Emma McNally Detail of Choral Fields 8 Graphite on paper
I have come to believe that both Lynch and Kafka are describing a struggle within a false utopia (Josef K.’s trappings within a labyrinth of bureaucracy and Henry’s isolation and anxieties within the industrial machine in Eraserhead). There is however, in Henry’s case, though intermittent, a creative resistance and defiance of the seduction of the industrial machine through his imagination and visions.
If we consider digital technology as a version of this false utopia, an alternative to consciousness in the ‘form’ of virtual reality that is being offered, are we not ourselves liable to become disconnected from reality, disorientated in an illusory in-between space governed by external forces?
McNally successfully negotiates these ideas that ultimately offers a little positivity…
It leaves us in a stuttering, stammering, flailing place. Unmoored, disoriented, dislocated and – in the digital age – overwhelmed and urgently negotiating the blurred realm between the supposed free play of simulacra and the gravitational drag of representation. But it’s a place that’s not without great potential for generating new conditions for thinking differently. (McNally, E)
Some work in progress…Working on black-out lining (a lucky bargain) ideal for current thoughts on creating a more theatrical, immersive/interactive experience…
Untitled (2017) Ink, charcoal pencil & graphite on black-out lining
Untitled (2017) Ink, pencil & graphite on black-out lining
Baudrillard, J (1981) Simulacra and Simulation University of Michigan Press
Hisarligi, B, B (2012) Franz Kafka in the Design Studio: A Hermeneutic-Phenomenological Approach to Architectural Design Education iJade Volume 31, Issue 3
October 2012 Pages 256–264
Le Corbusier (1931) Towards A New Architecture J. Rodker
Martin, R (2014) The Architecture of David Lynch Bloomsbury Academic
Auerbach, D (2011) The Stasis of Spaces in Kafka’s Trial (http://www.waggish.org/2011/the-stasis-of-spaces-in-kafkas-trial/)