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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/18280

Title: Spatial epiphanies and exercises of character
Authors: Pint, Kris
ROES, Remco
Issue Date: 2013
Citation: 2nd international conference: Writing Place, Delft, 25/11/2013
Abstract: “What is character but the determination of incident? What is incident but the illustration of character?” (James 1988, 19) In our presentation, we want to take as a starting point this rhetorical question of Henry James in ‘The art of fiction’ (1884). We want to explore the use of fictional characters as a tool in the analysis of architectural places. While (auto-)ethnography allows for the registration and analysis of everyday situations in a specific site, the use of fictional characters reveals unexpected qualities of a specific place and time, both on a conceptual and perceptual level. In interaction with an environment, a character is forced to act, perceive and think, and precisely these actions, perceptions and thoughts can open up a Lebenswelt in an unexpected, compelling way. In our presentation, we will illustrate this concept by elaborating on an artistic/literary project entitled 'exercises of the man'. This series of exercises explores the interaction between a character and its surroundings, using a Zen inspired approach - to blur the distinction between the two. We will discuss two exercises that illustrate the use of fictional characters as a supplement to more traditional forms of architectural criticism. The first exercise is the transferral of characters from their fictional world onto actual architectural sites, and reflect upon the ‘incidents’ that would occur if we experience architectural space through their idiosyncratic individuality. We will discuss the protagonists of ‘Corona’ (1952), a poem by Celan and of ‘Bamboo Voice Peach Blossom’ (1970), a short story by Kawabata. By using them as a kind of relay, these characters reveal dimensions of the experience of architectural spaces that remain invisible in a normal, straightforward interpretation of these spaces. The second exercise involves the reification of a fictitious character that intervenes in an actual architectural setting. In this case the architectural setting is a historic shopping passage in the centre of Brussels, now used as an art gallery. The basic character of this exercise is the anonymous, generic Everyman known from medieval morality plays. By linking this Everyman to different, incidentally found ‘incarnations’ of a character - (a random person appearing on film footage or a porcelain statue found at a flea market) - this generic character gets individualized in relation to the unique spatial conditions of the gallery. Within this ‘incidental’ constellation the generic character becomes specific – an individuation that turns the architectural setting into an epiphany of the ‘everyday sublime’.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/18280
Category: C2
Type: Conference Material
Appears in Collections: Research publications

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