PERCEPTUAL DEVICES

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[YOUR] MOVEMENT IS AN ARCHITECTURAL MEDIUM

MANIFESTO

 

Movement is an architectural medium. Movements of limbs, of lips, of entire bodies and populations, describe space and inscribe themselves in time. Yet movement is inherently ephemeral, and we must take care to register it.

 

We forget how to move and be moved: how to leap, balance, gasp, crawl. Too often we are asked to leave our bodies inert, alone, and inside, deprived of connection with other living matter. We must consider ourselves active agents in our built environment, able to manifest spaces through our collected bodies’ constellation of trajectories. We must revel in our own kinetics and relish our ephemeral creations.

 

We must lay claim over our ever-shifting surroundings. The architectural surround is the melding of user and setting, structure and nature, static and kinetic material. These elements intertwine to create more than their sum. When our individual bodies step out and into the world, we enter into a constant feedback loop of ourselves and our environment. Each act of breath--of sound, of movement, of heat exchange—connects and augments one body and those around it. Our architecture is made of, and for, bodies. Bodies engage with other bodies in the making of a larger body — in a word, architecture. Our architectural surround is constantly being re-authored by us, the inhabitants.

 

Our architecture is not beholden to static, weighty materials. Ours is a dynamic architecture of light and warmth. It can be quick or slow, sharp or smooth. It leaves indelible traces that pile up in corners and adhere to walls. It carves new paths and uncovers old ones. It sculpts and molds on timescales of seconds as well as decades. It salvages forgotten spaces, expands and contracts in order to fill up and slip through.

 

Ours is architecture that lives, and bears witness to life. Ours is an architecture that dances.

CANON

 

Assumedly one cannot write an architectural manifesto without gathering a body of imagery to accompany it. My canonical body is a collection of dance works and interactive art installations authored by myself and others over the past 50 years. They illustrate my interest in the interplay between a human’s motion and her environment across a spectrum from highly choreographed to completely improvised. While the works in the canon explore a diverse range of media, environments, and motivation for movement, they each exhibit a rich mutable relationship between inhabitant and environment – motion of the user and motion of the site, implied or actual.

 

I am interested in movement because I would like to make architecture that is both responsive to human movement and generative in the proliferation and variegation of it. In the contemporary (digital) moment, we are losing awareness and utility of our bodies. If we can more carefully consider our environments, our environments can more carefully consider us.

 

My manifesto + canon is presented in video form. Ideally, it is viewed with the aid of a mobile mirroring device worn around the neck, which facilitates freedom of the limbs, and a layer of remove for the viewer from her mobile device.

MOVEMENT INSTRUCTIONS

 

Look at your left palm. Notice your lifeline, its curve and depth. If you are standing, shift your weight to your left leg. Using your right big toe, trace your lifeline along the ground.

 

Place your right hand on the front of your left thigh. Does your left earlobe feel any different?

 

Without changing your facial expression or making a sound, try to laugh. Do you feel lighter, or heavier?

 

Turn around. What was behind you that you did not notice before?

 

Close your eyes. Trace your eyebrows with your fingertips. How are they different?

 

Lift your left foot off the ground. See if you can hold it there for 10 seconds.

 

Imagine using your belly button to describe your favorite room in your home. Try to do it.

 

Take the next 15 seconds and walk in any direction. Where do you go?

 

Take another 15-second walk. Stop at a point in space — a corner, a floor tile, the gap between two columns — that you have never inhabited before.

// SAM GEBB

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