Seeing impossible bodies: fascination as a spatial experience

Pringle, P 2004, 'Seeing impossible bodies: fascination as a spatial experience', Scan Online Journal, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 1-14.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Seeing impossible bodies: fascination as a spatial experience
Author(s) Pringle, P
Year 2004
Journal name Scan Online Journal
Volume number 1
Issue number 2
Start page 1
End page 14
Total pages 13
Publisher Macquarie University
Abstract The focus of my study here is that of magical and transformative performances and entertainments from another era. My larger project is to identify their continued resonance today, most particularly in our experience of spatial pleasure. Spatial experience is fascinating in the original sense of the word `fascinate¿, meaning to bewitch or enchant. Its connotations of delight and attraction are part of modern usage. I have argued elsewhere that a new sense of pleasure in the manipulation of space contributed to an explosion in popularity of magic as a theatrical entertainment in the 19 th century, and that this fascination with spatial transformation is still being worked through in the spatial disciplines of the 20/21st centuries. Artists and designers are still engaged in working formally through the spatial changes of the previous century. We are prepared today to feel ourselves stretched, opened, compressed, relaxed, shocked or moved emotionally by spatial experience. An empathy with space that is both imaginative and visceral has become a characteristic of modernity. We know space through our knowledge of our bodies, but since that knowledge is itself uncertain, space too is uncertain, subjective, and contingent. I want to discuss these ideas further by speculating on possible inward sensations induced by three acclaimed magical entertainments from the decades between the 1890s and the 1920s, bringing my modern eye to each. I select this period as one that bridged the inarticulate spatial dreamings of the 19 th century and the popular acceptance of ¿space¿ as the explicit material of architecture in the 20th century (van de Ven, 1974).
Subject Interior Design
Copyright notice © Macquarie University
ISSN 1449-1818
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