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Fictional space as a mediator between the unconscious spatial imagination and conscious signification process. The role of dissonance within kinaesthetic 'images' and visual images.

Lookup NU author(s): Kati Blom


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In studying the dissonance in the experience of some environments, like those around negative sublime monuments (Dominique Perrault’s French National Library) we can discover spatial imagination, which interacts with the cultural values as represented in the visual imagery of the built reality. As we see in the case of emotional uneasiness when confronted with overly representational constructions, the animated spatial imagery does not coincide with the visual imagery. Therefore the above mentioned perceptual dissonance activates the facets of imagination. To gain balance, the mind searches related culturally bound images, fictions, to signify the sublime experience. Fictional space creates a mediating system of interpretation, which relates both with the embodied knowledge system and the conscious culturally informed interpretation system. The former operates in architecture in the kinaesthetic systems of the haptic and orientation realms. According to Farnell (1999), the anthropological evidence suggests that bodily communication is a semiotic, independent system upon which the body alone can rely. The latter is closely related to the linguistic system, and uses rationalisation to give meaning to phenomena (Barthes). This paper sketches the theory of spatial imagination as a mediating system, that of chiasmatic intermingling of rationality and environmental engagement. It is not the ‘communication space’ of Vesely (2004), which does not include gestural reality. It is close to spatial catacheris (Shiff), and bears similarities to Böhme’s concept of atmosphere and Bachelard’s notion of poetic image. The paper utilises Kristeva’s idea of figures in artefacts being filters or covers for unsettling leaks from the unconscious. The leak also relates to embodied unconsciousness (Johnson & Lakoff).

Publication metadata

Author(s): Blom K

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: the Cultural Role of Architecture

Year of Conference: 2010