a tangible mansion in the imagination: knock before entering

Architecture has long had deep roots in the imagination. Creating fantastical structures, magnificent dwellings, and phantom cities , painters have always been drawn to erecting a dream architecture of the improbable and often psychologically revealing  buildings.

Certainly, architecture and psychoanalysis are unusual bedfellows. A seemingly “odd couple” whose ostensible artificial juxtaposition may be anchored in some profound affinities. Freud’s psychoanalysis is filled, like a giant warehouse, with many architectural elements found in dreams; from churches, to chateaus, from courts and stairs to gates and balconies. Almost everything except the houseboat and mobile home. Freud established that symptons, within his reasoning, are constructions, a protective armament, that are crystallizations of dreams; later Jung would delve into the construction of archetypes.  The fable of the three little pigs and their housing woes can be interpreted in terms of this construction.

Miro. The Farm. "It seems logical to argue – as I believe all of the authors do in different ways – that architecture represents an attempt to articulate subjective structure – or more accurately, an attempt to articulate the relationship of the subject with the Other, to answer the subject’s questions about “what does the Other want of me?”, “where (literally) do I stand in relation to the Other”,..." read more: http://sydney.edu.au/sup/journals/haecceity/pdfs/4/Aisling_Campbell_introduction_final.pdf

There has always been a connection between architecture and the human condition, and in terms of art, imaginary architecture has always been a key ingredient of allegory. In the Consummation of Empire by Thomas Cole, he made the prescient connection that linked architecture to the human condition. It was painted in the 1830′s, as part of a five act drama and represents man’s passage from barbarism to civilization and then inevitable ruin. No post civilization and no turning back. Cole’s selection in favor of the classical style over romanticism reflected America’s identification, seemingly absurd, with ancient Greece. Cole, a romanticist did not share in the unbounded optimism of most of his co-citizens: the later scenes predict a fall of Biblical proportions, likely a message aimed at what Cole saw as Yankee enterprisers.

"The third painting, The Consummation of Empire, shifts the viewpoint to the opposite shore, approximately the site of the clearing in the first painting. It is noontide of a glorious summer day. Both sides of the river valley are now covered in colonnaded marble structures, whose steps run down into the water. The megalithic temple seems to have been transformed into a huge domed structure dominating the river-bank. The mouth of the river is guarded by two pharoses, and ships with lateen sails go out to the sea beyond. A joyous crowd throngs the balconies and terraces as a scarlet-robed king or victorious general crosses a bridge connecting the two sides of the river in a triumphal procession. In the foreground an elaborate fountain gushes. The overall look suggests the height of ancient Rome." Read More: http://thevelvetrocket.com/2010/04/21/paintings-of-the-day-the-course-of-empire-by-thomas-cole/

Elsewhere in his writing, Jung recalls a vivid dream in which Liverpool appeared to him. “I found myself in a dirty, sooty city. It was night, and winter, and dark, and raining. … I had the feeling that we were coming up from the harbour, and that the real city was actually up above, on the cliffs. We climbed up there. When we reached the plateau, we found a broad square, dimly illuminated by street lights, into which many streets converged. The various quarters of the city were arranged radially around the square. In the centre was a round pool, and in the middle of it a small island. While everything round about was obscured by rain, fog, smoke and dimly-lit darkness, the little island blazed with sunlight….

M.C. Escher. Tower of Babel. 1928. "There are obvious stylistic similarities between military and modernist architectures, since many modernist buildings look forbidding, ominous, stark, alien, faceless, and present a generally hostile appearance. The reason for this impression is that they utilize some of the same typology from military and prison architecture. Here we face a paradox: how could society select an architectural style for human use that has a similar typology as the military style, which was developed specifically to make people feel uncomfortable? Our explanation is that modernist architecture is a "parasitic" meme group that is non-adaptive to human use and sensibilities. At the same time, however, the group of memes defining the modernist style of architecture has memetic advantages that helped it to take over. It is for this reason that modernism won out over competing styles." read more: http://www.math.utsa.edu/ftp/salingar.old/Darwinian.html image: http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/4268800

On it stood a single tree- a Magnolia- in a shower of reddish blossoms. It was as though the tree stood in the sunlight and was at the same time the source of the light. My companions commented on the abominable weather, and obviously did not see the tree. They spoke of another Swiss who was living in Liverpool and expressed surprise that he should have settled here. I was carried away by the beauty of the flowering tree and the sunlit island, and thought ‘I know very well why he has settled here’. Then I awoke.” …Tellingly, Jung had never visited Liverpool – “the pool of life” – before this dream. Read More: http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2010/06/cities-of-imagination.html a

Chagall. Paris Through the Window. 1913. Aisling Campbell:Freud’s experiences on the Acropolis raised this question of subjective structure in a way that perhaps only the vastness of architecture can. Somewhat in the manner of a trauma, the Acropolis, like the Parthenon for Le Corbusier, call into question the subject’s relation to the Other, with the symbolic order. It is not surprising that they are anxiogenic. Faye Carey refers to Freud’s experiences of derealisation and indeed of surprise, which underline the essentially divided nature of the subject. Contrary to the artefactual sense of self-continuity and wholeness that I suggest are similar to the “delusions” described by Money-Kyrle, the reality is that the subject is fragmented and that the fragmented ego is never very far away. read more: http://sydney.edu.au/sup/journals/haecceity/pdfs/4/Aisling_Campbell_introduction_final.pdf

Non-adaptivity to human needs, which helps in memetic propagation, is rooted in modernist ideology. The philosophical origins of modernism in Germany of the 1920s reveal a parallel between modernism and totalitarianism . The German art historian Wilhelm Pinder (a supporter of Hitler) and his student Nikolaus Pevsner (an architectural historian who was one of the strongest promoters of modernism as a guide for social and political ideals) argued that great architecture is the product of the Volk, during periods when ideology triumphs. Adolf Hitler, Josef Goebbels, Walter Gropius, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe all shared the conviction that architecture was an expression of the central spirit of an epoch, and thus justified idealism, absolutism, and arrogance . In this view of the world, the individual is insignificant, and the needs of the human user are thus of little consequence . Philip Johnson complained of the futility of trying to discuss the aesthetics of modernism with Walter Gropius: “Talking to Gropius was a dead end because he would still mouth the Giedionesque platitudes of social discipline and revolution” . Read More:http://www.math.utsa.edu/ftp/salingar.old/Darwinian.html a

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Rene Magritte. read more: http://violinplayah.tumblr.com/

Aisling Campbell: If architecture concerns itself with space and construction, how can it say something about psychoanalysis which deconstructs and concerns itself with something that has no place and no ontology? It seems to me that architecture also concerns itself with time –the creation of permanent constructions, history, and memories – if that is so, how can it address the atemporal unconscious? To many people, the notion of architecture includes a reverence for the old, for old buildings. The aesthetic value of old buildings is tied up partly in a nostalgia for the past. There is a sense – both in nostalgia for the old, and in the nostalgic perspective on the subject, that it allows one to be master in one’s own (old) house….

"De Chirico's most well-known work comes from his metaphysical period (1909-1919), in which he depicted Nietzschean architecture, eerily devoid of figures and life. He was interested in a visual poetry where the effect of the whole is equal to more than the sum of the parts." read more: http://artfullyawear.blogspot.com/2011/01/giorgio-de-chirico.html

…Nostalgia is of course grounded in the ego psychology school of thought which reversed Freud’s most crucial discovery, that it was not trauma that was the basis of hysterical symptoms, but rather phantasy – that trauma depended on language. So, nostalgia harkens back to the past but fails to recognise the role of phantasy in its own creation. The Freudian/ Lacanian view, by contrast, points up the phantastical basis of nostalgic memory, the operation of nachtraglichkeit, of afterwardness which distorts memories…. Read More: http://sydney.edu.au/sup/journals/haecceity/pdfs/4/Aisling_Campbell_introduction_final.pdf a

Kay Sage: No Passing. "Despite her continentally royal spouse and fairytale ending marriage, Sage was not satisfied with the relationship and was divorced by 1935. She made her way to Paris soon after and became involved with the Surrealists, at first on a primarily artistic basis and eventually as the lover of painter Yves Tanguy. Tanguy followed Sage back to America to escape the chaos of World War II and the couple married in 1940. The Tanguys’ home in Woodbury, Connecticut was known as “Town Farm” and served as a studio for both artists. Working together in the converted barn area, they were nonetheless determined to maintain separate psyches; Time magazine noted in 1950 how Tanguy’s half of the studio was “neat as an operating room” while “Kay’s studio is as messy as Tanguy’s is clean.” Read more at Suite101: Surrealist Painter Kay Sage: Artist and Wife of Yves Tanguy http://www.suite101.com/content/surrealist-painter-kay-sage--artist-and-wife-of-yves-tanguy-a226822#ixzz1ENRNBbYO


---I Saw Three Cities by Kay Sage (1898–1961). The wife of Yves Tanguy.--- read more: http://www.johncoulthart.com/feuilleton/2007/01/04/surrealist-women/


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