The Concealed Human Element: The Need for Contact in the Urban Environment Lauren Gardner Honors Thesis April 19, 2013
background, there is Bernard T schumi 1 There is something concealed in all of us a mood, a narrative a judgment, an emotion, anticipation. It can be pushed out of its invisible boundary and into the world only thro ugh the environment. Therefore it can be coerced out of our minds and bodies though the experience of architecture. I mmediate surroundings will, subconsciously or not, dictate what is felt perceived, and communicated This project explores the hidden element within the human realm, and how the inner self is manipulated, both natural and urban environment. The inability for the concealed to be spoken of it is a difficulty th at is often confusing to understand. I t is not kept inside because of a conscious choice; rather the element comes with a sense of uncertainty. T he act of concealment bring s along with it a silenced pain, and it is not decisive at all but rather indicates an uncomfortable and hesitative vague ness it is a tightened blood ve ssel in a lung or brain 1 Bernard Tschumi, Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture: An Anthology of Architectural Theory ( Princeton Architectural Press, 1996 ) 536.
a fear of the dark, a conviction that arms will come out of the walls if one does not watch very 2 The project revolves around the notion of a drawing that works as a series of fragments as well as a n expressive itinerary. The itinerary can, in its most basic application, serve as a visual pathway from an urban setting to a natural landscape However in its least simpl e interpretation, the drawing becomes a vehicle of human emotion where moods are conveyed as physical fragments moving across the page, as if the drawi ng is hiding specific events, re interpreting them into spaces that convey an inhabitant impressions in their deepest meditations To the left side, the scale is monumental, and the event is one of intensity. The actors roaming the space in this moment are involved with the activity of contact improvisation. The idea of this program is one that will actively communicate the e motion involved with the event of the urban atmosphere. The act of contact improvisation is non exclusive; the spectator and the actor are blurred, creating a place that can be completely free of separation. Drawing from the Japanese art of Aikido, the imp rov allows for flexibility and endurance, as the motion between each person is a collision that redirects an intrinsic 2 Janice McLane, Hypatia vol. 1 1, no. 4 (Wiley, 1996), 108.
force. The force in this c ontext is an attempt for escape, and subsequently, the bodies inside the space are moving into the external rea lm; they are simultaneously gathering new energy while disintegrating edge s of static boundaries that have kept their concealments in place. The circumstance that it is improv indicates that time moves quickly, but anticipation is heightened, because while an actor is participating in the event, the weight of their body and the effect of their limbs on others is something more unexpected; the goal is for pressure to be equalized within every pair of individuals, however, in most instances, pressure can be traced more strongly on one partner compared to another, so anticipation is thus a fluid device --a split second prediction phase that continuously crosses from one second to the next. I t is also how a pedestrian anticipates the next move in the denseness of the cityscape. Nothing is planned, yet everything is planned. The reiteration of schedule inflexibility of blocks and lines, the patterns in behavior all remain the same, but smaller inconsist encies, moods, and the inner psyche they are all continuously changing. The same in the improv; techniques are stable, but specific outcomes are not, and interactions lead to the actors needing more. This is the programmatic strength of contact
in the city atmosphere; the actors, in their attempts build up the urge to break away from the predictability and density of urban life and subsequently, the need to conceal : opportunity to build a kinesthetic repertoire of spatial experiences. It would appear that many people are kinesthetica lly 3 I n their experience with a socially radical improv the actors become the sources of physically crush ing and dissolving the claustrophobic conditions around them ; the power of being human enables them to induce a transformation 4 As the desire to transform is heightened through the physical ity of the event, it can also owe itself to interaction and collaboration (even silently) between the people involved. In even a mundane, day to day routine, there are infinite perspectives the eye encounters perspective is amplified as they are more aware of tactile interactions with the pe rson they are interacting with. They are no longer walking along the street, passively interacting with crowds of unidentifiable people. Ins tead they are fo rcefully engaging with each other, and in doing so, creating an entirely new sense of social u nderstanding. 3 Edward T. Hall, The Hidden Dimension (Random House Inc, New York, 1990), 62. 4 Gunn Engelsrud, Teaching Styles in Contact Improvisation: An Explicit Discourse with Implicit Meaning, Dance Research Journal, Vol. 39, No. 2 (Congress on Research in Dance, 2007), 58 73.
we must learn to find the communication between one consciousness and another in one and the same world, because this perspective i tself has no definite limits, because it slips spontaneously into the and because both are brought together in the one single world in which we all participate as an 5 Humans then learn through this experience that co ntact is powerful in a unique way; by engaging and one really desires the unaffected, indifferent congested city to overpower them. When we experiment, we also figure out ways masks only through thoughtful action, getting rid of any stubborn and conventional boundary of communication. The other end of the drawing represents not t he city, but the natural environment. In the itinerary, this is where the actor will escape to. The program here involves the cycle of the motions: the actor, now themselves, is no longer retaining their mask. They are not an actor anymore but not necessa rily a spectator either. In the natural realm, they regain their strength as they regain their individuality. It is through the body, again, that this discovery becomes clear. The indi vidual, traveling towards the water, 5 Maurice Merleau Ponty Phenomenology of Perception translated by Colin Smith, ( Taylor and Francis e Library, 2005 ), 411.
enters into a small sphere. At firs t their balancing mo vements are directed upwards, but slowly they must stretch their body towards the different cardinal directions (north, so uth, east, west, zenith, nadir) in order to repair their muscles and reclaim their balance. It is as if the body, moving in these directions, created the sphere out of thin air using traces of invisible, elliptical movements. In the sphere, the inhabitant is able to recollect. Looking out onto the horizon, they see other occupiable spheres floating balancing wit h t hem. They look down at the base of the sphere and realize, though, that the structure is rooted into the surrounding ice. It is only time before the ice cracks and the sphere floats away The spheres are able to work with the both the water and the inhabit ant, where on the contrary, the boundaries of the city did not lend themselves to any flexibility. The city served its purpose as a context the actors ne eded to fight through; the water and its horizon is something the inhabitants are drawn to. The hidden element (the mask) at this moment is solely the remnant of being a facade in the city. If any more masks exist here, the environment of the spheres will allow f or them to dissolve