Implications philosophiques

perception, axiologie et rationalité dans la pensée contemporaine

Dossier 2009 - L'habitat, un monde à l'échelle humaine

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Notes et remarques

[10] Merleau-Ponty, Phénoménologie de la perception, op. cit., p. 332.

[11] « Il faut retrouver le corps opérant et actuel, celui qui n’est pas un morceau d’espace, un faisceau de fonctions, qui est un entrelacs de vision et de mouvement », Merleau-Ponty, L’Œil et l’Esprit, Paris, Gallimard, 1964, p.16.

[12] Ibid., p. 118.

[13] Conference of Paul Virilio and Jean Nouvel in Fondation Cartier in Paris, March 2009.

[14] Gaston Bachelard, La poétique de l’espace, PUF, Paris, 1957, p. 90. : « Toujours imaginer sera plus que vivre ».

[15] Paul Virilio, Cybermonde, La politique du pire, Paris, Textuel, 1996, p. 45.

[16] Ibid., p. 105.

[17] Merleau-Ponty, Phénoménologie de la perception, op. cit., p. 344. : « il y a autant d’espaces que d’expériences spatiales distinctes ».

[18] Henri Maldiney, L’Art, L’éclair de l’être, éditions Comp’act, Chambéry, 2003.

[19] Gaston Bachelard, La poétique de l’espace, op. cit., p. 200.

     Eva Mahdalickova - Page 2

New Experiences Of The Body Through Space 

7. The interactive architecture and the intelligent houses

How does architecture represent the culture of interactivity? Architecture can be transformed into complex intelligent system, capable of inherent transformations. It’s a kind of mutant body which interacts with its context. Can we consider the visceral environment like the extension of the body or more like the substitute of the body? It could be the both. There is a fusion between the body and the technology. Marcos Novak asserts that it is the brain itself and its activity that become source of architectural expression. Previous sections discussed how the body interacts with space, we can now wonder how does this interaction change within the new interactive spaces of today?

The interactive architecture is a recent phenomenon that is related to the development of new technologies. In 1994, NOX realized one of the first interactive architectures with the Pavillon de l’eau douce in Netherlands, where the projections of water and light interfered with the visitors, exposing a world in liquefaction. Such architecture transformed into stream of information, claims its continuous metamorphosis in space and time.

Architecture also reflects our time, the world as a fluctuations and stream. However, it also reveals a condition of the being, the fluid space being the original space, is an echo of the chaos that contains all creative forces. Merleau-Ponty speaks about the stream of experiences in the natural attitude, where the perception are not localized : « je n’ai pas des perceptions, je ne pose pas cet objet à côté de cet autre objet et leurs relations objectives, j’ai un flux d’expériences qui s’impliquent et s’expliquent l’une l’autre aussi bien dans le simultané que dans la succession »[10].

The interactive architecture transforms how people inhabit space. What happens when space reacts to the body, when it is formed by means of the physical rhythm? People tend to react to mobile environment in a different way than they react to static environments. Their involvement with a building becomes an interaction more than a simple reaction. The deformed space forces the individuals to react. Architecture no more imposes an identity, it creates a change. Within the innovative and interactive architecture, we create ourselves by crossing spaces which change as they react to our bodies. Consequently, space and body are closely intertwined since space reacts to the body and the body to space.

Such is a conception of Son-O-House, imagined by NOX. It is an interactive sound architecture which reacts in real time to the movements of the visitors. These architectures to the body affirm the permeability between the body and the technology, between the subject and the space. This reminds us the conception of the Flesh of Merleau-Ponty, as the interactive architecture effaces the border between object and the subject. The body is considered as an interlacing of vision and of movement[11].

We’re living in time of the beginning of new era of the artificial life. Many architects try to erase the difference between architecture and organism by creating bio-artificial spaces.

NOX presents the architecture which is “swallowed up by technology so that it becomes completely capable of absorbing and enhancing the body’s rhythm”[12]. That means that the body’s rhythm will affect the form. And conversely it means that the form’s rhythmicality will in turn activate the body. Consequently, architectural identity evaporates and the natural body moves into a bio-technical mutation. According to NOX, architecture of the future will evolve in the same way. Building will soften by becoming capable of acting and reacting to human behaviors and activities. In doing so, there will be a radical change in the way we inhabit and experiment space.

If we go further with this vision of architecture, we get to the organic and robotics houses. We think of them, but they too, think of us. If we live in such houses, it is also the houses, which live us, because they live thanks to us: their feed is the human activity and the behavior. This fact will surely influence the body and the perception of the space. Expression of the body conditions our experience of the space and the expression of the space conditions the experience of the body. Merleau-Ponty explains that the Flesh means both: the experience and the expression. Are we going to perceive space as “the body in the body” or “the flesh in the flesh” (surrounded by the flesh of the intelligent space)?

Where will the life take place finally? Paul Virilio distinguishes three ways of living: the life in the living room, the life on oneself and the life inside oneself[13]. The life in the living room was typical of the 20th century. During the 21st century, the life is on oneself because we wear all that we need on ourself: computers, ipods and cell phones. Finally, the future holds the life that will soon take place inside oneself. All the aforementioned accessories will be inseminated in the body. They will be an extension of the body, and they may even be its substitution. Moreover, the body will live inside of the body of the organic house. Will we still say that we are at home, when the home will transform into organic living body capable of interacting with us?

8. Searching for the new balance

The acceleration of reality creates the sensation of being lost, as we lost the singularity of space, genius loci. The centre is everywhere; the virtual body too, is everywhere. If we let go this tendency to its extreme, to imagine will be more than to live, as asserted by Bachelard[14]. The issue is not in the virtual, because there is no here in the virtual world, there is only now. The new virtual identities, named the body-specters, are traceable like objects and they have nothing to do with human organism, which is situated now and here. The human being thus becomes an object and not an existing.

Paul Virilio explains this phenomenon by the predominance of the virtual and the immaterial. « Il y a là une menace considérable de perte de l’autre, de déclin de la présence physique au profit d’une présence immatérielle et fantomatique »[15]. The fluidification of the reality and of the housing environment asks for a new balance. In order to live in a time of media and networks of communication, it is necessary to recover its consciousness of the physical world. The solution passes by the body and the real space.

We feel more and more the necessity of returning to the real world, because we cannot separate the body from the world. The body has existence only within the world. Let’s imagine that a human has to leave the Earth to go to the cosmic space without any possibility of returning on the Earth. This image can be terrible even for an astronaut because the condition of the spatiality of the body consists in its inherence to the world. There is no body "in itself". How to find the contact between the body and the world?

9. Conclusion: The role of architecture for the existence: singularity and rhythm

Architecture can be a tool to intensify our senses and sharpen our consciousness of the reality which tends to be erased under the influence of the speed and of the surfeit of information. Architecture can help us to find our physical body. Buildings owe a lot to the humanity. The body is scale and measure, as asserts Jean Nouvel. According to Virilio, architecture is the first measure of the Earth. « La demeure est le curseur des proportions et donc de mon rapport au monde »[16]. It is thus the body and the architecture that are measures of the world.

What is the real task of todays’ architecture? Let us remind the words of Maldiney who wrote that architecture, as well as true art, "gives existence back to existence”. The task of architecture is thus more than to design and offer places where to live. We can see two ways of how architecture expresses the existence.

Firstly, architecture presents the existence as singularity. The architecture includes in a creative way the singularity of moment, of the space and of the existence. In other words, architecture creates a poetics of the situation and makes that events happen. It focuses on singularity and not on homogeneity or uniformity. According to Merleau-Ponty “there are as many spaces as there are distinct spatial experiences "[17]. The function of architecture would be to create a unique relationsip between the body and the world, to anchor the body in the corporeity of space. That means “faire le corps avec le monde”, because the body of the Earth relates to physical body and vise-versa.

Secondly, architecture affirms the existence as the rhythm. According to Maldiney, the rhythm reveals the space. The rhythm is the articulation of the breath of life. It is articulation of the existence: rhythm articulates the spatiality. The passage of chaos in the order passes by the means of the rhythm. The only adequate answer to the dizziness is rhythm because the latter protects against the loss of oneself, as writes it Maldiney[18].

The architecture establishes the place and in doing so, the rhythm of the space. It is to open the existence to the universal rhythm, to harmonize it with the physical rhythm and to create a new type of subjectivity, more connected with the fluid and changeable nature. In nature there is no negation, no opposition of opposites, there is a harmony.

Therefore, the fact that we belong to both universes (to global and to local, to reality and to virtual) at the same time turns out to be natural. It is possible to feel the eternity through moment, the global through the local. Rhythm arouses exactly the place where these constraints communicate. Once we need to dwell, to be anchored in the place, to lock oneself into folds, at home (in a sense of the folds of Michaux and Deleuze, which inspires certain conception of the architecture, as "folding architecture" of Sophia Vyzoviti). Once, we need the opening: to be connected to the world, to travel and to be enfolded by the stream of information. To live at the same time in the opening and in the folds, that is the essence of the very existence, being half-opened (entr’ouverte, as writes it Bachelard[19]).

Finally, where is the last border of the body? Before wondering what will be the next border to exceed, let’s see rather if we are ready enough to manage what will happen, without the risk of falling in the slavery of body-machine. We should not forget that we belong to both worlds, but that there is only one which is more essential and real. It can exist in parallel with the virtual worlds but it should not be dominated by them.

We tend to try to exceed everything, to efface all the borders and to go always further. Architecture is an art of constraint and not only a free expression. Indeed, it is limited and it poses the limitations. The liberation is not only made by the overtaking of the limits. Architecture may serve us best when it helps us to organize the gaps, pauses and intervals of respite in an ever-accelerating world. Sometimes speed limits us, sometimes limits set us free.

E. Mahdalickova