The Ohio State University. Department of Design. Luis Barragan Installation. Wexner Center. Columbus, Ohio.
Student: Adam Behm
Critic: Gabriel Esquivel
Luis Barragán, is an architect really close to my tradition, however instead of reading his work formally we looked for effects, repressed emotions and atmospheres. We were looking specifically for an aesthetic of affect and excess inspired by readings of George Bataille.
In Barragán’s work the fluctuation experienced from one space to the next gives the subject the sense of non-uniformity within the house, and awareness that specific “atmospheres” attempt to evoke different emotions and senses. Each atmosphere has inherited qualities of light, color, sound, and function. Populations of objects, art and furniture interact with the physical form and ambient effects to produce qualities of sensuality, pleasure, intimacy, spirituality, etc
Conatus, (Latin: an exertion, effort; an impulse, inclination; an undertaking), is a term used in philosophy to refer to a few different theories on psychology and metaphysics. Over time, the meaning and use of the term conatus has evolved, having been defined by Cicero, René Descartes, Thomas Hobbes and Baruch Spinoza. This concept has been used to describe the tendency of objects to move, and was associated with God by Descartes, then the motion of other bodies by Hobbes. Spinoza took the term to explain the motion of humans and living beings and their will to live. In all of these interpretations, conatus is associated with nature, and a body's inclination to follow what is natural or God's will. Conatus is a term in early physics describing the property of inertia which was described in Isaac Newton's “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica” of 1687. In 1677, with the publication of his Ethics, Spinoza almost predicts this theory: "By striving for motion we do not understand any thought, but only that a part of matter is so placed and stirred to motion, that it really would go somewhere if it were not prevented by any cause.” Motion is then essentially a violent act, as the reactive is a violent opposition to the active. The motion that was imparted through the dramaturgy of the radical surface, has ruptured the connection between what is aesthetically pleasing, to that which produces affect. This affect in culture needs to offer an argument of sensibility that implies a much more careful understanding of the rejection of mood and atmosphere, as these forms can act as representational expressions rather than emotive. Repetition affects motion, and motion then is the catalyst of progress and the building blocks of history. Gilles Deleuze pronounced repetition as being “the thought of the future” (Deleuze 7). Is it then so radical to propose a new form of expression that is repetitive, as it is the most necessary component of modernity?
Deleuze writes of a new theatre, one that is different from the ones put forth by Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, in that, “...it is a question of producing within the work a movement capable of affecting the mind outside of all representation... of substituting direct signs for mediate representations; of inventing vibrations, rotation, whirlings, gravitation, dances or leaps which directly touch the mind.” (Deleuze 8) This is the claim for a new operative emotion, as the theatre of repetition is the production of active and reactive in the pursuit of affect, or the conatus. This new condition we will refer to it as theatricality or dramaturgy, it links you directly to nature and a history with a language that speaks before words’, where new relations and metaphors are possible. This is a theatre of movement, not of representation. It is then this theatricality or dramaturgy that achieves an affect within the spectator. The role of the spectator is now paramount in quantifying the experience of a work, as it through the sensations achieved within that promote the work's producer.
In his discussion of Nietzsche's evaluation of the Wagnerian opera, Deleuze writes that, “In the theatre of repetition, we experience pure forces, dynamic lines in space which act without intermediary upon the spirit, and link directly with nature and history... with masks before face, with spectres and phantoms before characters – the whole apparatus of repetition as a 'terrible power.' ” (Deleuze 10) Theatricality, or dramaturgy, then is this 'terrible power' hypothesized by Deleuze, that creates a new affect which directly takes the viewer in a way never before realized.