Books by Juhani Pallasmaa. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Existential Space in Cinema. The Architecture of Image — Existential Space in Cinema : Juhani Pallasmaa : Thomas Tumelty rated it it was amazing Dec 29, In our logo-centric Western philosophy dominated by scientific thought educational thinking has denied the imagination of thought in everyday life. He uses quotes from Bachelard as well as contemporary knowledge from the architefture to make this argument convincing. Hosna rated it liked it Oct 14, Anonymous Tuesday, April 08, 8: In a world of simulacra, simulation and virtuality, the ethical task of architects and artists?

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Inspiration for breaking through the prevailing paradigm of architecture, petrified by quasi-modernist professional praxis, has been sought in painting and sculpture, as well as in literature and music.

This frantic interest in expanding the scope of architectural thought clearly indicates that the art of architecture has become uncertain of its essence and future course. In all fields of art, the breakdown of the unified modernist world view has, in fact, created a distinct panic of representation. In architecture, the modernist, postmodern and deconstructionist views of representation coexist simultaneously, and the spectrum of architectural style is more colorful than ever before with the exception of, perhaps, the first half of the s when a single architect, like Leo von Klenze, could build a palace and a university in Renaissance style, a museum in Greek style, a parliament building in Neo-Hellenic style, a church based on Capella Palatina in Palermo, a Hall of Fame in the antique idiom, an official residence in Roman Baroque, and a coffee-house or synagogue with Moorish features.

Films are studied for the purpose of discovering a more subtle and responsive architecture. Also some of the most esteemed representatives of the architectural avant-garde of today, like Bernard Tschumi, Rem Koolhaas, Coop Himmelb l au and Jean Nouvel have admitted the significance of cinema in the formation of their approach to architecture.

Cinema is, however, even closer to architecture than music, not solely because of its temporal and spatial structure, but fundamentally because both architecture and cinema articulate lived space. These two art forms create and mediate comprehensive images of life.

In the same way that buildings and cities create and preserve images of culture and a particular way of life, cinema illuminates the cultural archeology of both the time of its making and the era that it depicts. Both forms of art define the dimensions and essence of existential space; they both create experiential scenes of life situations. Like Jean Renoir and Robert Bresson, who make music.

Like Sergei Eisenstein, who paints. Like Stroheim, who wrote sound novels in silent days. Like Alain Resnais, who sculpts.

Like Socrates, Rossellini I mean, who creates philosophy. The cinema, in other words, can be everything at once, both judge and litigant. The interaction of cinema and architecture - the inherent architecture of cinematic expression, and the cinematic essence of architectural experience - is equally many- sided.

Both are art forms brought about with the help of a host of specialists, assistants and co-workers. Regardless of their unavoidable nature as the products of collective effort, both film and architecture are arts of the auteur, of the individual artistic creator. The relations of the two art forms could, for instance, be studied from a multitude of viewpoints: how different directors depict a city, as Walter Ruttman in Berlin, der Sinfonie der Grossstadt or Fritz Lang in Metropolis ; how buildings or rooms are presented, as in German Expressionist films with their fantasy architecture suspended between reality and dream; over the real architectural projects of these architects of notable buildings.

An architect who made superb projects both as a designer of buildings and set designer was Paul Nelson. His project Maison Suspendue , a house in which individual rooms are suspended withing a steel-and-glass cage like bird nests, is as fantastic as any of the ideas expressed through the art form of projected illusion. Vice versa, one could speculate on the kind of buildings the wizards of cinema architecture would have built had they not decided to devote their architectural talent to the service of the illusory art of cinema.

The thematized architecture produced by the Walt Disney Corporation during the past decade with the help of a host of international star architects, also reverts to the strategy of illusion and seduction familiar from film. But even artistically more serious architecture today often seeks its inspiration and visual strategy from the language of movies. Jean Nouvel, for instance, declares cinematic imagery and experience as a significant inspiration for his architectural work: Architecture exists, like cinema, in the dimension of time and movement.

One conceives and reads a building in terms of sequences. To erect a building is to predict and seek effects of contrast and linkage through which one passes I like to work with a depth of field, reading space in terms of its thickness, hence the superimposition of different screens, planes legible from obligatory joints of passage which are to be found in all my buildings I am interested in the ways cinema constructs spaces in the mind, creates mind-spaces, reflecting thus the inherent ephemeral architecture of human mind, thought and emotion.

The mental task of buildings and cities is to structure our being-in-the-world and to articulate the surface between the experiencing self and the world. Houses are built in the world of Euclidian geometry, but lived space always transcends the rules of geometry. Lived space resembles the structures of dream and the unconscious, organized independently of the boundaries of physical space and time.

Lived space is always a combination of external space and inner mental space, actuality and mental projection. In experiencing lived space, memory and dream, fear and desire, value and meaning, fuse with the actual perception. We do not live separately in material and mental worlds; these experiential dimensions are fully intertwined. Neither do we live in an objective world. We live in mental worlds, in which the experienced, remembered and imagined, as well as the past, present and future are inseparably intermixed.

Even in the art of architecture, a mental image is transferred from the experiential realm of the architect to the mental world of the observer, and the material building is a mere mediating object, an image object. Both art forms define frames of life, situations of human interaction and horizons of understanding the world. Somewhat surprisingly he suggests that, regardless of their apparent visuality, the two art forms are, in fact, tactile arts.

A film is viewed with the muscles and skin as much as by the eyes. Both architecture and cinema imply a kinesthetic way of experiencing space, and images stored in our memory are embodied and haptic images as much as retinal pictures. Analyzing the difference between painting and film, Benjamin gives a provocative metaphor: he compares the painter to the magician and the cameraman to the surgeon. The film director is the magician who evokes a lived situation from a distance through the illusory narrative of projected images, whereas the architect operates with the physical reality itself in the very intestines of the building which we inhabit.

Jung, for instance, saw a strong association between the human body and our unconscious imagery of the house; this identity gives further justification to see an architect in the role of a surgeon. The Architecture of Cinema There are hardly any films which do not include images of architecture. This statement holds true regardless of whether buildings are actually shown in the film or not, because already the framing of an image, or the definition of scale or illumination, implies the establishment of a distinct place.

As Martin Heidegger expresses it, we are thrown into the world. Through architecture we transform our experience of outsideness and estrangement into the positive feeling of domicile. The structuring of place, space, situation, scale, illumination, etc, characteristic to architecture - the framing of human existence - seeps unavoidably into every cinematic expression. In the same way that architecture articulates space, it also manipulates time. The language of beauty is essentially the language of timeless reality.

Lived space is not uniform, valueless space. One and the same event - a kiss or a murder - is an entirely different story depending on whether it takes place in a bedroom, bathroom, library, elevator or gazebo.

An event obtains its particular meaning through the time of the day, illumination, weather and soundscape. In addition, every place has its history and symbolic connotations which merge into the incident. Presentation of a cinematic event is, thus, totally inseparable from the architecture of space, place and time, and a film director is bound to create architecture, although often unknowingly. It is exactly this innocence and independence from the professional discipline of architecture that makes the architecture of cinema so subtle and revealing.

All artists, including film directors, are phenomenologists in the sense that they present things as if they were objects of human observation for the first time. Architecture re-mythologizes space and gives back its pantheistic and animistic essence. Poetry returns the reader back to an oral reality, in which words are still seeking their meanings.

Art articulates the boundary surface between the mind and the world. How could the architect or film director do otherwise, we might ask further. We have to acknowledge that all artists - writers, painters, photographers, dancers - unknowingly step into the territory of architecture as they create the context of the event which they are depicting and define its setting.

These urban scenes, buildings and rooms, projected by artists, are experientially real. These images of places, created by the reader, are not detached pictorial images, they are experiences of embodied and lived space. They are mental and embodied images, not visual pictures. These spaces have their specific temperature and odor, we can sense the texture and echo of these walls.

The city is a phenomenon that exceeds all our capacity of description, representation and recording and, consequently, it is always experientially infinite. A street in a film does not end at the edge of the screen; it expands all around the viewer as a network of streets, buildings and life situations.

Exactly this activation of the imagination is the invaluable function of literature and all art, contrary to the images produced by consciousness industry which are experienced passively and externally.

The Realities of Image and Imagination The essence of architectural space as determined by an artist, is free of the functional requirements, technical restrictions and limitations of the professional conventions of architects. The architecture conceived by artists is a direct reflection of mental images, memories and dreams; the artist creates an architecture of the mind. Yet, even the works of architects, built in matter, obtain their psychic content and echo from the very same existential experiences and images accumulated in the human mental constitution.

Even real architecture can affect our soul only if it can touch the datum of forgotten memories and feelings. Imagination is usually attached to the specific creative capacity of the artist, but the faculty of imagination is the foundation of our very mental existence, as well as of our way of dealing with stimuli and information.

Recent research by brain physiologists and psychologists at Harvard University shows that images take place in the same zones of the brain as visual perceptions, and that the first are equally as real as the latter. This affinity or sameness of the external and internal experience is, of course, self-evident for any genuine artist without the scientific proof of psychological research. The artist has always known, that the encountered, remembered and imagined are equal experiences in our consciousness; we may be equally moved by something evoked by the imagined as by the actually encountered.

Art creates images and emotions that are equally true as the actual situations of life. Many of us can never mourn our personal tragedy with the intensity we can suffer the fate of the fictitious figures of literature, theater and film, distilled through the existential experience of a great artist. Fundamentally, in a work of art we encounter ourselves and our own being-in-the-world in an intensified manner.

Art offers us alternative identities and life situations, and this is the great task of art. Great art gives us the possibility of experiencing our very existence through the existential experience of some of the most refined individuals of the humankind.

The Mental Reality of Place Place and event, space and mind, are not outside of each other. Mutually defining each other, they fuse unavoidably into a singular experience; the mind is in the world, and the world exists through the mind.

Experiencing a space is a dialogue, a kind of exchange - I place myself in the space and the space settles in me.

Today more than ever I feel like a bird that has swallowed his cage. Architecture gives the cinematic episode its ambience, and the meanings of the event are projected on architecture. The realities of material and lived image are fused.

Stages for Fear The task of architecture, as a resonator or amplifier of mental impact, is clearly reflected in the cinematic architectures of two directors with opposite emotional aspirations. These two directors survey the architectural metaphysics of fear and melancholy respectively.

Hitchcock is indeed very conscious of the mental workings and meanings of architecture. Characteristically, his films start off in an idyllic and relaxed atmosphere. Scenes and buildings reflect a somewhat naive and amusing balance of bourgeois life. As the story begins, however, a sense of foreboding begins to convey a negative content to the buildings.

The very same architecture turns gradually into a generator and container of fear, and in the end, terror seems to have poisoned space itself. The comfortable flat in Rope slowly makes its hidden dreadful side visible.


Juhani Pallasmaa



Inseminations: Seeds for Architectural Thought




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