FILM + PLACE â&#x20AC;&#x201A; + ARCHITECTURE Film Resonance
Anna Ulrikke Andersen
In my first film, Naturfilm, I pretended to be a scientist. 10 years old, I had borrowed my dad’s camcorder and presented ‘nature’ to the viewer, while wearing a blue, glitter lipstick. Whereas the lipstick is gone, I still use film, but now in a real academic environment. And I am not the only one. I think I used that same sentence back in 2014, when I called a meeting with a group of my filmmaking PhD colleagues. In a messy lunch/storage/ meeting room at 132 Hampstead Road, we gathered and enthusiastically discussed what filmmaking skills would help us in our practice-led PhD’s. We had all experienced that other courses, modules and workshops were not quite right. What format that would allow us to find common ground, while still accommodating everyone’s individual interests and backgrounds? A network was founded. Our seminars, which focused on the process of filmmaking, from preparation and archival research, to being on the shoot, allowed practitioners, academics and students to meet and share thoughts, experiences and work in progress. The invited speakers greatly influenced our ongoing discussions, their suggestions and comments were invaluable as our filmmaking progressed. The reading group was similarly informal and flexible; each session built upon someone’s specific interest, which made it unique and incredibly fruitful. This was all made possible with funding from The Bartlett Doctoral Initiative Fund, UCL, and the support and encouragement, particularly from Dr. Barbara Penner, Dr. Penelope Haralambidou, Eleni Goule and Dr. Stephen Marshall. Drawing attention outside of the Bartlett, the network (recognisable by its black tote-bags designed by Bihter Almaç) is now moving into new, exciting collaborations beyond the school: The Essay Film Festival, and the Architecture Film Festival London. Currently lead in an excellent manner by Thi Phuong-Trâm Nguyen, it’s lovely to see the network continue to flourish as we pursue using film in our (real) academic work; thinking and talking about what it all means.
Thi Phuong-Trâm Nguyen
This publication is an opportunity for Film + Place + Architecture to recollect and expand the research output of our doctoral initiative. For this project we wanted to involve the students who took part in the discussions during the reading sessions, to reflect on the distinct nature of our conversations, which were encouraging, gentle and warm. The reading session first initiated by Sander Hölsgens in the fall of 2015 became a platform for graduate students to discuss the filmmaking practice. Sander’s first cluster of readings was carefully crafted with the idea of sharing his personal views on films with a genuine generosity. Here, ‘personal’ does not mean non-academic, but rather a method to engage with the subject in an embodied and meaningful way. During the following term, spring 2016, different participants with various interests curated these fortnightly meetings. As a consequence, the reading group became an organic space for discussions where we could experiment with a variety of points of view on the relationship between film, place and architecture. While the fall of 2015 dealt primarily with slow cinema, in the spring we looked at windows, haptic cinema, animations, sound and cinematic space, and London’s regeneration through visual media. A complete list of the films and readings is available at the end of the book. The format of this publication and the structure – combining academic articles, but also essayistic writing and visual essays – enable us to express the multiple voices of our group and write about film in relation to place and architecture in a tangential and open way. Lastly, I would like to thank all the contributors who participated enthusiastically in Film + Place + Architecture and whose kindness allowed for the creation of this spirited space of discussion.
FILM AS RESONANCE
I read blue surfaces as filmic echoes of a bruise. Grey, noisy textures appear to me to be memories or expectations of the kind of violence that bruises. This publication — the first display of the Film + Place + Architecture initiative in print — proposes an understanding of filmic colours through monochromatic images. For blue and grey are not only reminiscent of the different stages of bruising, they also resonate the earth, including its intimacy, warmth, and vulnerability. The articles and works presented here aspire an understanding of how the camera and hand go toward things and people with delicateness. Thi Phuong-Trâm Nguyen allows the filmic texture to shimmer as memory and desire, whereas Hannah Paveck encourages us to listen to the affective and permeating quality of touch. Both pieces seem to point at the unstable and erratic disposition of cinema: Hiroshima mon amour and Exhibition are tender and destructive, moving and hurting, grey and blue. This filmic indeterminacy works through in Anna Ulrikke Andersen’s fragile storyboard, through which not only thoughts and images and hopes come to the front, but also significant incidents emerge: rushes take a rest in folders on hard drives, batteries drown, rain intrudes. Bihter Almaç embraces unexpected encounters of this sort, as her board game exists by the grace of the unforeseen, the accident. Can the imaginary appear blue, too? Dani Landau and Anna Viola Sborgi explore the composition of space. Anna reconsiders the felt weight of the filmic representations of London’s skyline, covering The Shard in grey shade and mist. Dani’s note comes into existence by launching a single sonic tone, by means of which he advances to the location of sense and the composition of architecture. Via a grid of images, Ollie Palmer works through the mathematics of online search engines, and my words pose that a bedroom can look light grey, but that its shadows always appear of the earthliest blue. Here, film resonates both the large-scale mechanisms of the world and the infinitesimal textures of the home.
Anna Ulrikke Andersen
Thi Phuong-Trâm Nguyen
Film as Resonance
Thi Phuong-Trâm Nguyen
Fifty-eight Indices on Shimmering
Ambient Intrusions: Listening to Joanna Hogg’s Exhibition
Anna Ulrikke Andersen
Water: a film in the making?
the day I almost had a conversation with someone I do know
Anna Viola Sborgi
So Far, so Close: the City Skyline and East London in Screen Media
Film, Colours, Body
Thi Phuong-TrĂ˘m Nguyen
is a trained architect in Canada, and holds an MA in Architectural History and Theory from McGill University, MontrĂŠal. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Architectural Design at The Bartlett, UCL. Her works address the question of perception beyond the visual realm with the study of anamorphic construction through film and re-enactment. 10
Jean-Luc Nancy. “Fifty-Eight Indices on the Body”. In Corpus. Trans. Richard A. Rand (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008), 150-160.
(Note: The indices in quotation marks are taken from the dialogue between Him and Her in the script of Hiroshima mon amour written by Marguerite Duras)
The piece consists of two superposed images from the first scene of Hiroshima mon amour, by Alain Resnais (1959). The first is representing the moment when the ashes on the bodies is becoming shimmering stardust and the second is situated at the instant when the glittering veil uncovers the perspiring bodies. The work is based on Fifty-eight Indices on the Body by Jean-Luc Nancy. In the essay, Nancy is retracing the marks left on the body and by the body through its relationship with the invisible, the soul1. On the composite image, the fifty-eight indices are dispersed on the surface of the intertwined bodies. The reader has two possibilities, to retrace the indices from 1 to 58 to read the text in a certain order or to follow their own desire and get carried in the embrace. Indices of a movement, a memory, a presence, a place. One by one, the movement of the back and forth between the image and the text, the reader opens another space that echoes the space open by the encounter between Him and Her in Hiroshima.
3. 22. 26.
37. 9. 47. 28.
29. 45. 42.
39. 40. 44.
43. 46. 27.
52. 4. 32. 59.
24. There is the word motion in emotion, is it the same movement inside and outside?
1. ‘I meet you’
13. Touch also blinds you
21. Desire to remember or fear of forgetting?
3. ‘Who are you?’ 22. According to the Unabridged Dictionary of American English, shimmering is produced by a quivering or vibrating motion or image produced by reflecting faint light
16. Is memory part of the body?
11. ‘You saw nothing in Hiroshima. Nothing’
25. Movement towards what?
23. The vibration of light inside the body is suddenly revealed outside the body by the movement. 34. Entanglement
56. You? 20. Is is ashes from the past, a former memory, a former destruction?
37. Desire 9. Him 47. Pressure and ex-pression 28. There?
15. This is where memory is located 51. Impossibility to grasp
50. Desire to reach
58 + 1 to refer to Jean-Luc Nancy Fifty-eight Indices on the Body. He used the word ‘indice’ because the body in its entirety is impossible to grasp, we can only attempt at tracing the mark it leaves. He added one more indice in waiting for delight
12. Shimmering light partly blinds you
2. ‘I remember you’ 10. Her
17. Under the shimmering veil
29. ‘Ne-vers’ 45. ‘Take me.’ 42. Warm
7. The bodies are intertwined, the change of light provokes a change in the appearances of the embrace from ashes to glittering stardust to the shine of perspirant bodies
39. Goosebumps 40. Shiver 44. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary shimmering is a reflection of a wavering, sometime distorted visual image.
49. Extension 30. Where are you?
18. Surface of encounter 8. Shimmering opens this state of indeterminacy with the persistent questioning of what belong to the substrate or to the reflected. 43. Evidences to follow
46. ‘Deform me to your likeness so that no one after you, can understand the reason for so much desire.’
33. The source of the shimmer is uncertain, impossible to locate in space and in time 31. Here?
38. The texture of the skin is partly the reflection of the outside and the projection of the inside
19. Memory and desire are intertwined
52. Traces of desire 4. Ashes?
36. Emptiness 14. In the darkness touch is telling its deepest secrets
32. According to the Oxford Dictionary shimmering is to shine with a light that seems to move slightly
is a PhD Candidate in the Film Studies Department at Kingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s College London, UK. Her doctoral research examines the ethical and political dimensions of cinematic silence through close analysis of the work of French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy. 16
2 See Elisabeth Weis, “Eavesdropping: An Aural Analogue of Voyeurism?”, in Cinesonic: The World of Sound in Film, ed. Philip Brophy: 79-109 (North Ryde: Australian Film, Television and Radio School, 1999). 1 Joanna Hogg, “A Product of Their Space: Interview with Joanna Hogg on Her Film Exhibition (2014),” interview by Indigo Bates, Bright Lights Film Journal, 7 July 2014, accessed 8 January, 2017, www.brightlightsfilm.com/product-of-their-space-interview-joanna-hogg-film-exhibition-2014/#.
The modernist home at the centre of Joanna Hogg’s Exhibition (2014) vibrates with the sounds of ambient intrusions. Sounds of footsteps and sliding doors reverberate off its smooth angular surfaces. The hum of traffic and the drill of construction seep through its walls. As Hogg describes, ‘the house itself soaks in sounds from the environment around it.’1 Listening to Exhibition exposes the aural – and emotional – contours of this domestic space. The film traces the shifts in intimacy and distance between an artist couple, D (Viv Albertine) and H (Liam Gillick), as they prepare to sell their London home. Dedicated to the home’s architect, James Melvin, Exhibition explores the interconnection of emotional and physical space, exposing their mutual permeability. The film’s sound design amplifies this permeability in its construction of cinematic space. Through perception of a sound’s source, direction, and distance, listening typically orients and stabilises the spectator within the space of the film. However, from the opening sequence, sound in Exhibition challenges the spectator’s traditional patterns of orientation. The film opens with a call to listen. Indiscernible ambient sounds emanate against a black screen, dislocated from their source. The image fades in: D, silent and still, presses against the windowsill. Outside, the rustle of wind in the trees mingles with sirens and church bells, seeping through the glass surface – unbounded. Dialogue in Exhibition is sparse; its silence magnifies the sounds of ambient environment, bodies, and movement, inviting a heightened listening. With little dialogue to guide our perception, we listen attentively to the glide of hands against the steel railing; the rattle of blinds as they are dragged open and closed; the brush of skin against the bedsheets. Amplified through sound editing, these sensory details flesh out the texture of the environment D and H inhabit, grounding us within the domestic space. Yet, the ground is unstable. The voices of D and H float unanchored over the intercom, reaching to communicate. ‘I love you’ resonates against the image of an empty room. Conversations are recorded at middle-distance from the camera; their voices linger in reverb, foregrounding the (emotional) distance between them. Exhibition unfolds in a rhythm of abrupt shifts between noise and quietude. The aural contours of the modernist home extend beyond its physical borders. Ambient sounds from outside intrude within, interrupting and mixing with the domestic soundscape. As D’s anxiety builds, these ambient intrusions intensify, developing into a visceral, densely-layered cacophony of bells and sirens. The permeability of the home’s walls troubles any fixed determination of their source, direction, or distance. Cutting across interior and exterior spaces, both physical and emotional, sound in Exhibition destabilises the coordinates of cinematic space, disorienting the listening spectator. In inviting heightened aural attention, and exposing the permeability of the home, the film attunes the spectator to their own act of intrusion: listening in. As film theorist Elisabeth Weis suggests, isn’t listening to film always a form of eavesdropping, listening in secret to what unfolds in private?2 This interplay of intimacy and intrusion structures our unstable relation with the film’s cinematic space. Sound in Exhibition brings us too close: a discomfiting and disorienting proximity that draws attention to the separation, through its violation, between the film’s domestic space and our own spectatorial position.
Joanna Hogg, Exhibition, 2014
Joanna Hogg, Exhibition, 2014
In one of the filmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s final sequences, D and H circle wordlessly around a smallscale model of their home, eyes fixed. The domestic soundscape spills out from modelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s frame, sounds bleeding and liquefying in echoic reverberation. Distant cries of children playing fade into muffled snippets of intimate conversations. Now at a distance, D and H listen as the sounds of ambient intrusions slip past.
a film in
Anna Ulrikke Andersen
(BA in Art History, MA in Architectural History). Her current PhD research in Architectural Design at The Bartlett School of Architecture focuses on the window in the life and theory of Christian Norberg-Schulz, where she is adopting a practice led research methodology of filmmaking. She is the founder of the Bartlett Film + Place + Architecture Doctoral Network, and the Competition Director of Architecture Film Festival London 2017. 20
A film from 1992 shows architectural theorist Christian Norberg-Schulz standing on a train, looking through the window. A voice-over explains how he remembers a moment many years earlier, returning to Norway after having spent a year in Italy. He was struck by an immediate feeling concerning the landscape moving quickly in front of his window. This I know! This is part of me! he exclaimed. In May 1974, something similar occurred. Norberg-Schulz was sitting at Piazza Navona with a drink in his hand, enjoying the city life after having spent some time in the more rural Viterbo. Sipping his Campari, a similar immediate feeling: Piazza Navona and the rural Italian valley were the same. Not similar, but the same. Documented in his travel journal (1974) and later mentioned in an article (1999), this was an important moment in the formation of his phenomenological theory of genius loci, presented in his landmark treatise of 1980. But does Norberg-Schulz’s Campari moment imply an architectural understanding involving the process of copy-and-paste so often talked about in relation to postmodernism? Being the same, the valley was not the reference, and nor was the piazza. And without a reference point, could we even speak of copy-and-paste? Norberg-Schulz’s recognition of this theoretical connection was not based on a line of thought or a logical investigation; rather the theory came to him as a sudden realisation. This is indeed phenomenology: experience expressed immediately. Norberg-Schulz’s Campari moment could be comparable to what he himself reflected on in his 1996 article Water, discussing Helen Keller’s childhood epiphany at the water-fountain. Deaf and blind, Keller learned language as an immediate connection between word and phenomena: wet, and pouring from a fountain. While a connection is made between valley and piazza, or language and experience, Norberg-Schulz’s phenomenological thinking does not, perhaps, admit the notion of reference. Are we instead standing before a network of connections, to be made available, focused and explained, with a drink at hand?
Water: Changeante comme la mer might become a film. But right now, it is resting as raw material, references and rushes carefully organised in folders on an external hard drive and its backup. Laid out as a story on the double spread pages and resembling a rough storyboard, film is adapted to publication and print, for then to result in a film. I want it to begin with Rilke’s poem Les Fenêtres Ⅳ. 21
Following this poem would be footage of water, starting with a shot where one can see the window reflected in water. I would then move to footage of the ocean and a fountain, and finally the water fountain at Villa Adriana, Tivoli.
The water fountain links to Helen Keller, as I shot drink water from the fountain at Villa Adriana, Tivoli first in 2014 and then again in 2016. Intercut with clips from The Miracle Worker (1964).
This immediate recognition of theoretical connection should move back to be intercut with scenes from Norberg-Schulz riding the train.
Norberg-Schulzâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s experience on the train links to his Campari moment, which I reenacted twice: once in 2014 and once in 2016.
The first attempt is short. I ran out of battery and the footage is over-exposed.
The other time around, the camera was caught by wind and rain and the framing moves as a pan. As the sun eventually came out, this became over-exposed.
I also filmed Berniniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Fountain of the Four Rivers (1651) well known from postcards and guidebooks of the city.
Having returned from my first journey, I reflected upon my findings on camera. I discussed how Peggy Phelan sees reenactment where one is ‘drinking the same liquor as the character, expresses identificatory logic that is the bedrock of both capitalism and advertising’s raison d’être.’ (Phelan 2005, 163) ‘There I was, just reinforcing capitalism’ I say, wearing a red sweater.
This Campari-ad was made by Fellini in 1984. I would cut this together with Norberg-Schulz on the train. (He also made an ad for a bank – but that is a different story.) The waitress serving Campari towards the end of the ad, is also dressed in red. I think this essay film would require a voice-over. I shall record it sometime next week.
To do, soon:
1. Write and record voice over 2. Edit with footage 3. Send to supervisors for comments 4. Revisit 5. Lock 6. Sound edit 7. Color grade 8. Add lettering 9. Export 10. Upload to Vimeo
Norberg-Schulz, Christian. “Genius Loci: Et opprinnelsens begrep.” In På klassisk grunn: Det norske institutt gjennom 40 år. Edited by Kristin Bliksrud Aavitsland and Roy Tommy Eriksen, 100-109. Oslo: Andresen and Butenschøn, 1999.
Livet finner sted. Sven Erik Helgsen. 1992. Campari. Federico Fellini. 1984. The Miracle Worker. Arthur Penn. 1962.
Norberg-Schulz, Christian. Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture. London: Academy Editions, 1980. Norberg-Schulz, Chrisitan. Travel Journal. Box: CNS:NAM:2002:15 Arkivstykke: FC: Notatbøker/Notater. The Christian Norberg-Schulz Archive, The Architectural Collections, The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo.
My footage is based upon my fieldwork between Norway and Italy in 2014 and 2016, with the kind support of: Stenseth Grimsrud Arkitekter AS, Norway, The Bartlett Doctoral Research Project Fund, The Norwegian Institute in Rome and Airbnb.
Norberg-Schulz, Christian. “Vann.” In Øye og hånd: essays of artikler: ny rekke. Edited by Gordon Hølmebakk, 27-32. Oslo: Gyldendahl, 1997.
Thanks to: Jane Rendell, Claire Thomson, John Øyvind Hovde, Mikkel Due, The Bartlett Film + Place + Architecture Doctoral Network, Julie Leding, Henry K. Miller.
Phelan, Peggy. “Hinckley and Ronald Reagan: Reenactment and the Ethics of the real” in Life Once More: Forms of reenactment in contemporary art. ed Sven Lütticken, 147 - 168. Rotterdam: Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art, 2005. Rilke, Rainer Maria. “Les Fenêtres Ⅳ” in The Roses: & The Windows. Translated by A. Poulin. Port Townsend Wash: Graywolf Press: 1979.
c o nve rs at i o n
with s o m e o n e
a l m o st
know* Bihter Almaรง
is a PhD Candidate in Research by Architectural Design at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. Her PhD is funded by HEI Turkey and ITU. Her research mainly focuses on tactics for peculiar creativities to trespass to the architectural unconscious. Her work has been exhibited in the UK and abroad. 28
*This is about the mute negotiation between the two players of o 2: U E | u n expe cted en co unters architectural board game.
An imaginary o2: UE
/ You understand that this is a game where you need to build the home you imagine. / At first, you recollect your dreams and wish to build them. You look through the pieces. There is something peculiar under their happy, trivial appearances. The meanings are equivocal. / You begin to reflect on your fragile imagination of the home you have on mind. You unravel ‘the others’ – the unwanted, the buried – of your imaginary home. You would not want this. / Now, you know the pieces. You begin to build the home you imagine – or fear of.
After your first move, you wait for the other to play. Now, you understand that the other fails to interpret what you are imagining. You want to comment on their move, but you cannot. You are not allowed to. / You understand that you have to negotiate for the home you imagine. You begin to focus on your observation of the other. / Then, the board becomes a place where you are forced to communicate about the home you dream of. / You try to manipulate the conversation. Now the home you imagine becomes something other. â&#x20AC;&#x201C;
is doing arts practice research to find out about aspects of what photographs and video do through working with them in relation to places. He is a PhD student based at the University of the West of England. 34
Theodor W. Adorno, Aesthetic theory (London: A&C Black, 1997), 333. Gilles Deleuze, Logic of Sense (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2004), 142. 1 2
A single note is pushed out into a space. Someone revs the engine of a motorbike. The event is an expression, emanating from surfaces of the engine, intra-acting with air and the other materials and surfaces in the surrounding spaces of the street. It carries with it forces of intension. The push and pull of pressures through the air carry its force as waves of sound. It shapes space through material vibrations. Although the sound is dependent on the material objects to persist, it does not belong to one particular material. It exists as energetic vibrations moving through forms: an engine, a bike, air, people standing around, a broken bollard, a tree, the flow of water in to the gutter. As the sound meets with the glass window of the shop, it resonates in harmonic sympathy and produces its own audible sound. The materials are all potentials; they may not have shuddered like this before until this moment. Adorno1 writes, an ‘aesthetic shudder’ can produce ‘the annihilation of the I’. Aesthetics can decentre a listener into noticing themselves as part of a space, rather than as detached observers of events. They can shake you out of a Euclidian single point perspective. To be shaken, or rattled by the world, can make us think critically about how we imagine ourselves relating within it. This aesthetic encounter with the sound produces new sensitivities to new sounds. The sounds form a composition of energetic relations in the space. The rev of the engine could be understood as a kind of violence, asserting its presence on the materials around it. The compositional force interrupts. It changes the background repeating rhythms of sound in the space. It forms a micropolitics of sound pressure levels; loudnesses produced by material power relations. The intersecting texture of sound waves meets each other in matter and moves through each other. Some drunk wobbling shouters, building workers, the motorway from four streets down, some machines humming I have not consciously noticed before. It is the edges where sense occurs, where there is surface. As the hairs in the cochlea are moved, a surface edge of the body becomes apparent. It is a limit of the body that moves through the energetic force of the sound. Where the sense occurs so does the sound, expressed and sensed through material relations. The encounter produces a transfer of oscillating energy. The energy is reflected or absorbed and incorporated into other movements. ‘Surface is the transcendental field itself, the locus of sense and expression’2. The limits are surfaces where the process of encounter between materials occurs. And it is here where the compositional push and pull amongst forms happen. The engine sound subsides and all the senses are reflections. The senses are no longer directly from the bike. All the shapes and textures of the place afford the sound its reverberations, reflected by the surfaces. As they move back and forth the relations in the space alter the timbre and the sound pressure, with each repetition of the reflections. The space does sense to us. A singular sound rings out the place it enters into: it is rung out into and through the composing architecture.
Cursor was a video projection on to a wall of a hospital in central Bristol. The projection is of the familiar blinking vertical line of a computer word-processing or data entry cursor. The blink rate of the cursor for a normal computer is about once every second is close to a normal resting heart rate.
So Far, so Close:
Anna Viola Sborgi
is a Film Studies graduate student at Kingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s College London. Her current research project focuses on representations of the urban regeneration of East London in screen media. Her research has focused on film and television and on the relationships between literature and visual culture. She has published journal articles and presented at conferences on different subjects, from British film of the 1980s and 1990s to literary and visual portraiture in Modernism. 38
Charlotte Brunsdon, London in Cinema (London: Palgrave, 2007), 22. Brunsdon, 51.
The wider, recognisable city – made by the iconic landmarks of historical London (Tower Bridge or the Houses of Parliament) – is related to the local dimension of the main setting of the film. The function of this kind of establishing shots varies in different films. Brunsdon (2007) ponders the emergence of a new filmic cityscape, providing the example of the appearance of 30 St. Mary Axe, The Gherkin, in Woody Allen’s Match Point (2005), where the main character, Chris, gets a job in finance.2 Match Point was a crucial film in marketing an iconic, affluent New Millennium London to international audiences. Ten years after the publication of Brunsdon’s book, the City skyline has developed dramatically both in its materiality and in its filmic imagery.
London’s skyline is constantly evolving. Traditional systems of mapping, architectural guides or informative placards on the river banks – such as those one finds walking on Waterloo Bridge – cannot keep up with the evertransforming contours of the city. This incessant transformation escapes delimitation. The inflow of capital into the city – often originating from international sources – is materially shaped into the building of futuristic skyscrapers, reaching up higher and higher with their vanity heights in London’s sky. Paradoxically, as we live in a time of economic recession, the skyline has become the symbol of financial growth and, also, a gigantic canvas international architects compete to paint on. How do the inhabitants of the city perceive these skyscrapers? To what extent are they integrated into the urban space or are they perceived as an alien body? Every time a new glass and steel tower is built, a nickname is rapidly found for the new construction, frequently recalling some vegetable or kitchen appliance. Every time the fog goes down on the city, the social media accounts of Londoners fill up with pictures of the Shard or the Gherkin with their tops mutilated, as if, for one moment, the city itself was finding pleasure in the symbolical and material crumbling of its own image. In between irony and plain hostility, all these reactions represent strategies to familiarise oneself with something that is still perceived as an eerie presence and needs to be demystified, connected to wider challenges in terms of the way we project our urban futures. Is the vertical development of the urban space still a viable option or is it perceived as anachronistic or non sustainable? Does the often unreciprocated love affair between the skyscrapers and Londoners stand for a wider disquiet towards these buildings as embodiment of the wider and social economic crisis they at once symbolise and try to disguise? Although the answers to these questions are not straightforward, looking at screen media and at their making and unmaking of these symbols becomes crucial to understand this process. The landmark establishing shot is a recurrent feature of moving images representing London, as Charlotte Brunsdon showed by exploring the role of historical landmarks, such as St. Paul’s, Westminster and Tower Bridge, in these films: This landmark iconography, like that of all capital cities, is an historically formed, multimedia iconography which is always about location but never just about location. While all cities have their landmarks, those of capital cities also carry complex and sometimes contested national and international meanings. 1
3 Brunsdon, 51. 4 Vertical Horizons: Living With The Shard in The City is the result of Tom Wolseley’s Leverhulme artist residency at UCL Urban Laboratory, 2015–16. 5 Dalston Vibe website, accessed June 3, 2016: www.telfordhomes.london/microsites/vibe/video-cgi.cfm.
Although traditional symbols of central, landmark London still appear in several films – if only to be blown up as in the apocalyptic thriller London Has Fallen (Babak Najafi, 2016) – the gravitational centre of the city has shifted eastwards. Two main cityscapes, corresponding to London’s financial hearts have been increasingly represented in screen media. Canary Wharf, and the City itself, dominated, respectively, by the profile of 30 St. Mary Axe, aka The Gherkin (Foster+Partners, 2003), and by 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf (César Pelli and Associates, 1988–91). Sometimes, in a flattening of perspective, the Shard (Renzo Piano Building Workshop, 2013), still London’s and Western Europe’s tallest building, is also visually merged to the City on the other side of the river. As Brunsdon points out, the ‘iconicity’ of landmarks is ‘made and remade across many sites, from postage stamps, to pilgrimage’,3 but moving images also play a significant role in building it. Representations of London’s skyline have acquired different meanings according to the different film and television genres they have appeared in. The Gherkin itself has featured in countless movies images since 2005 Match Point: Mirjam von Arx’s documentary Building the Gherkin (2005), Michael Caton-Jones’s Basic Instinct 2 (2006), BBC Sherlock (2010–present), Dr.Who, The Christmas Invasion (2005), and J.J.Abrams’s Into Darkness. Star Trek (2013). In the latter, London’s skyline is transfigured in an apocalyptic landscape, which is virtually on fire. Artist-driven productions have also explored specific iconic buildings, from William Raban’s iconic 1992 1-minute film on 1 Canada Square, Sundial, to Tom Wolseley’s project on the Shard.4 In my wider research on screen media representations of urban regeneration in East London, I have encountered several skyline shots of the City and Canary Wharf. In particular, they feature pervasively in television documentaries on the housing crisis, such as Channel 4’s How to Get a Council House (2013–2016), artist-driven essay films, such as Andrea Luka Zimmerman’s Estate, a Reverie (2015), and real estate video and CGI promotions of East London. In these specific films, landmark shots become crucial because the relationships they establish with the wider recognisable iconography of the city convey very different narratives of urban change, the local is strategically connected to the wider cityscape. In particular, they produce an interplay of proximity and distance, which becomes particularly evident in screen media representations on housing. In several property development promotions set in East London, the ‘skyline from the rooftop shot’ evokes proximity to the pulsating financial heart of London. For instance, in a promotional video for Dalston Vibe development, the view is shown in a flat continuity with the sunbathed rooftop garden.5 This kind of flattened perspective, resulting in an augmented proximity presented as a commercial asset, can also be traced in How to Get a Council House, with a stark contrast to what are the programme’s main topics: homelessness and the housing crisis. More generally, the hectic urban life of the City and its symbolism of affluence seem radically distant both from the deprived Tower Hamlets and the urban idyll contemporary Hackney aspires to. Nevertheless, the City looms over these areas both physically, as its view is visible in many corners of these neighbourhoods, and symbolically, through the axis gentrification-financial speculation.
Briony Cambell and Fugitive Images. Pictures taken during the filming of Estate, a Reverie, directed by Andrea Luka Zimmerman, 2012 The presence of a minaret in this particular view indicates that it could be Tower Hamlets, where the East London Mosque is situated. Myria Georgiou, Media and the City: Cosmopolitanism and Difference (London: Polity, 2013), Kindle edition. 6 7
In Estate, an essay film about the last days of the Haggerston Estate in Hackney, the roof of a building under development is used as a setting for the penultimate scene of the enacted drama within the film, a duel between two women impersonating Samuel Richardson’s Pamela and Clarissa, from whom the blocks of the estate got their names. The sharp depth of field of this long shot places the rooftop of the building in relation to a series of other roofs of buildings under development and to the wider area up to the small silhouette of the City, which, as a result, looks very distant. This view is also combined with a different, eastward view.6 The scene itself is charged with symbolism: as one of the two women raises her sword against the other, a crane descends in the background. The death of the old utopian project of social improvement is paralleled by the growth of new developments. As ‘utopian and dystopian representations of the city and responses to the challenges that the urban world presents to humanity are as much negotiated in the media as they are in the street’7 screen media set in East London stage narratives of proximity and distance to London’s financial landmarks. These narratives not only represent a complex, spatial layering of the city, but also correspond to dynamic interplay between the different, often conflicting narratives of social inclusion and exclusion in the regeneration game.
is an artist and designer. He is currently finishing his PhD by Design at The Bartlett School of Architecture, entitled Scripting performance: the absurd in the human and the machine. He formerly taught in The Bartlettâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Interactive Architecture Lab, MArch Architectural Design, and from 2015â&#x20AC;&#x201C;16 was Pavillon artist in residence at the Palais de Tokyo. 42
This set of images is the result of a scripted Google Image search for the time of day in the format HH:MM:SS. It is normally presented as a continuous 24-hour film consisting of 86400 images (one per second), but here each page represents exactly one minute, or sixty seconds. The searches were conducted in random order between July 2015 and March 2016, from masked IP addresses, and stored in a database prior to being downloaded. During this time, the Google Image Search API â&#x20AC;&#x201C; which gives the ability to communicate with Google's Image Search via Python script â&#x20AC;&#x201C; was shut down. Where there are blank spaces on these pages, it is either because a search yielded no results, or the API was cancelled before the search itself could be conducted, or the original image can no longer be found online. The exact reasons each image is associated with its search term vary. The algorithms that Google use to index sites and pictures on the internet are subject to immense secrecy, and we can only speculate as to why certain images appear on these pages. Some will have been created at that specific time, whilst others will have a more tenuous relationship with their search term. Every image was embedded in at least one web page. This image set thus contains a snapshot of the ever-changing nature of pictures on the internet, as catalogued by Google, in late 2015. It is also a spatial representation of the passing of time.
is a filmmaker who currently works on intimacy and the colour blue. He is a tutor at UCLâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Writing Lab and the MA in Film Studies, and is currently undertaking a PhD in architectural design at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. His latest film, Whose Kimchi, was screened at the British Museum during the London Korean Film Festival 2016. 48
1. I remember the fragility of those blue sequences in Yasujirō Ozu’s An Autumn Afternoon (1962). These moments point at memories that are still sorely felt, as though they are part of the bruised skin. I’m no longer certain whether these memories are Ozu’s or my own—for they awaken an echo in my body. My body welcomes these filmic memories and their cadence as my own. 2. Within Yasujirō Ozu’s oeuvre, the home is often portrayed as an intimate space for family matters. An Autumn Afternoon (1962), one of his few films in colour, proposes that the architecture of the house belongs to the world of values, rather than to the domain of geometrical spaces. We get to know the dwelling via precise routines, biorhythms, and everyday encounters. Those inhabiting the filmic home know and remember the bathtub, and their ears are attuned to the front door opening and closing. Those who do not live there are constantly adjusting their body—anticipating or hoping that this architectural locale will eventually become a familiar space.
3. The film chronicles the life of widower Shūhei Hirayama and his children, Michiko and Kazuo. Towards the end of the film, Michiko agrees on taking part in a matchmaking session, and we find out through an ellipsis that she eventually gets married. Hirayama meets up with his middle-school friends in the local bar and gets drunk, seemingly appeased by the marriage of his daughter. However, when one of his friends cites their old teacher (‘in the end we spend our lives alone’), Hirayama envisages what this marriage might mean for his domesticity. Acknowledging his desire to return home, he excuses himself, and, not much later, finds himself in a nearly empty house. Hirayama consoles himself by singing a patriotic song that, a couple scenes earlier, coloured a bar blue. The sad undertone of the song strengthens his feelings, for Hirayama tells himself that he’s alone indeed, after which he continues chanting. Did he anticipate his daughter’s presence?
6. A planet, Ludwig Wittgenstein writes, couldn’t look light grey. A bedroom can. But its shadows always appear of the earthliest blue. 7. I hope to write the earth, the world, but perhaps I should try and start with the body—my closest acquaintance at a distance. (If I can, perhaps I can write the skin of film, too). 8. I don’t mistake anyone else’s body for mine, but I can’t locate it geometrically. My body seems to take up space, rather than occupying a point within it. It is certainly somewhere, and surely I am there, too.
9. Distance, dis-stance, is a standing, a posture, a taking place, an ethos towards someone or something (Daniele Rugo, 2013 1). 10. Distancing is no form of withdrawal. Rather, it is a bodily occupation of space by trembling, by keeping the interval alive. 11. Every distance, Martin Heidegger suggests, is always a happening outside, towards; it is a kind and careful (care-full) encounter with the world, a being-in-theworld, through concern and involvement. What is at stake here, to paraphrase Daniele Rugo, is the measure of what happens between bodies and beings, even when nothing seems to happen. Heidegger considers this measuring, this bodily involvement with the world, to be the existential character of one’s body. The body, he writes, is never belonging to one place, but always at each time opening the conditions for a ‘somewhere’, for an involvement with the world (Being-in) and with others (Being-with). “Distance is here the opening of my stance to the other, and this stance is always already a standing out, something I cannot fully appropriate nor withdraw within” (Rugo, 2013, p.104). 12. In my films, I hope to trace the vestiges and indications of the in-between, of distance; I work towards an intervallic mode of filmmaking that is gestural.
Daniele Rugo (2013). Jean-Luc Nancy and the Thinking of Otherness: Philosophy and Powers of Existence. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
5. Was my old room as monochromatic as Michiko’s when I left my parents’ home?
I notice there is something of a doing in my looking. One could call it a mobilising of the world, or perhaps a distance.
4. Via still frames, An Autumn Afternoon then encourages the spectator to walk through a vividly coloured hallway, climb a brown staircase, and, eventually, enter a poorly illuminated bedroom—Michiko’s former bedroom. She is no longer there; a mirror and a stool appear to be the only objects left, allowing the moonlight to dominate the space. Michiko’s bedroom pronounces the film’s intimate colour scheme: grey, black, blue. The blue moonlight and dark shadows give shape to the damaged membrane of this intimate space. Her absence is felt. For these objects no longer shimmer to the extent of illuminating a room; they are no longer used. Rather, the mirror only reflects matte noise, whereas the stool emerges not unlike a bruise, that is, as a hurting memory. This is no longer a space to look at one’s mirror-image or to sit down by oneself.
Sander Hรถlsgens, Blue, 2017
Sander Hรถlsgens, Blue, 2017
Yasujirล Ozu, An Autumn Afternoon, 1962
13. Yasujirō Ozu embraces gestures of this sort, as he moves his hands and eyes and technological equipment towards things and people with delicateness. I consider his estimation of the dwelling, of the corpus, of the colour blue, to be intrinsically kind; his filmmaking reveals itself as a form of looking after, dealing with, and providing for other people’s stay on the earth. The intimate parameters of Ozu’s filmic dwelling reveal the limits and edges of the body.
It seems as though the crust of the body is blue-grey-blue.
Sander Hรถlsgens, Blue, 2017
Cities + film: a brief history Man With a Movie Camera Directed by Dziga Vertov. 1929. Regen Directed by Joris Ivens. 1929.
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Five – Dedicated to Ozu Directed by Abbas Kiarostami. 2003. Ten Directed by Abbas Kiarostami. 2002.
Desolated America: Kelly Reichardt Certain Women Directed by Kelly Reichardt. 2016. Meek’s Cutoff Directed by Kelly Reichardt. 2010. Wendy and Lucy Directed by Kelly Reichardt. 2008.
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Simon Ball, motion graphic designer Lilian Chee, Assistant Professor National University of Singapore Daniel Lema, filmmaker Mark Lewis, artist and filmmaker Miranda Pennell, artist and filmmaker Sandra Schäfer, artist and filmmaker Christopher Iain Smith, filmmaker Ed Webb-Ingall, filmmaker and PhD candidate Royal Holloway
03–Flats Directed by Lei Yuan Bin and original concept by Lilian Chee, NUS and 13 Little Pictures, 2014.
Bihter Almaç Anna Ulrikke Andersen Jessie Brennan Dr. Nat Chard Eugenio Giorgianni Sander Hölsgens Clara Jo Irene Kelly Dani Landau Samar Maqusi Thi Phuong-Trâm Nguyen Natalia Romik Henrietta Williams
The Host Directed by Miranda Pennell, 2015 Griot Directed by Daniel Lema, 2014
This publication has been printed in an edition of 100 to recollect the discussions and seminars organised by Film + Place + Architecture from December 2015 to December 2016
Edited by Sander Hölsgens and Thi Phuong-Trâm Nguyen Designed by Studio Boris Meister www.borismeister.ch Published by The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. 22 Gordon Street, London, WC1H 0QB Printed in the UK
Copyright © 2017 The Bartlett School of Architecture and the authors This publication is published under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Non-derivative 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). This license allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work for personal and non-commercial use providing author and publisher attribution is clearly stated. Further details about CC BY licenses are available at creativecommons.org/licenses. ISBN: 978-0-9954819-6-1
Cover Image: Sander Hölsgens. Blue, 2017.
Film + Place + Architecture is supported by The Bartlett Doctoral Initiative Funding programme, UCL.
Bihter Almaç Anna Ulrikke Andersen Sander Hölsgens Dani Landau Thi Phuong-Trâm Nguyen Ollie Palmer Hannah Paveck Anna Viola Sborgi