Pause

Architecture induces certain kinds of effects (and affects) on and in bodies so that we experience space temporally and through certain kinds of affective and cognitive responses. The layout of a gallery or a museum, for example, creates possible sequences for us to follow, so that bodies can be organised in particular ways as they pass through it. Spirals are a good example of this, designed to facilitate flows and circulation, as Le Corbusier quickly recognised. It’s always quite nice, then, when these artifical ways of organising space and managing bodies within space are undone; when the spiral staircase ceases to be concerned with a rational ordering that privileges movement, but instead becomes a meeting point as subjects occupying that space parody its layout and undo it, pausing the flow, halting the circulation to simply stand, smile, and talk, enjoying a moment of human time that disrupts rational organisation and induced effects on bodies by instead privileging human experience. Sudden moments of life that disrupt the patterns: a smile, words thrown and caught and then tossed back with a grin, all showing the limits of formal attempts to order not only space, but our responses to it. A triumph of the real, and a triumph of life itself, and if there’s any place you’d want that then it’s in the Louvre, a space devoted to aesthetic concerns, which is to say, a space devoted to how sensations are experienced, understood, and represented. I wonder what art they had seen that had so caught their imagination?

spiral

 

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