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Scopophobia/Scopophilia: electric light and the anxiety of the gaze in postwar American domestic architecture

“A House in Holland,� Arts & Architecture, Jan. 1954; arch. A Fokke van Duijn


There is an interior in the detective novel. But can there be a detective story of the interior itself, of the hidden mechanisms by which space is constructed as interior? Which may be to say, a detective story of detection itself, of the controlling look, the look of control, the controlled look. But where would the traces of the look be imprinted? What do we have to go on? What clues? Beatriz Colomina, Privacy and Publicity: modern architecture as mass media, 1994


Adolf Loos, flat for Hans Brummel, Pilsen, 1929


Adolf Loos, House for the Vienna Werkbundsiedlung; corner study, 1932


Craig Ellwood, Zack Residence, Crestwood Hills, California, 1953; photograph by Julius Shulman


Richard Neutra, Tremaine House, Santa Barbara, 1948; as appearing in Architectural Forum (Sept, 1949); photograph by Julius Shulman


“They stood in line to buy…”

Thermopane Advertisement, Architectural Forum, August 1949


Craig Ellwood, Case Study House #16, Los Angeles, 1953; as appearing in Arts & Architecture (June, 1953) photographs by Marvin Rand


invasion


When we speak of a woman’s need to protect herself symbolically against invasion, we mean to summarize the fact that she tends to enclose herself—for instance, with elaborate window curtains. Christopher Alexander, “From a set of forces to a form,” The Man-made Object, 1966


Alsynite promotion, Progressive Architecture July, 1952


The curtains on the window take the place of the underwear covering and hiding female genitals. This unconscious significance of curtains for women explains not only the special attention paid to them in their thoughts, to their style and fabric, their color and material, but also the importance curtains have for women with regard to the ensemble for the room . . . Above all, the necessity of curtains at the windows finds its secret justification in that concealed emotional factor which is akin psychologically to modesty. Theodor Reik, Of Love and Lust: On the Psychoanalysis of Romantic and Sexual Emotions, 1957


Anton Maix Fabrics Advertisement, Interiors, Sept. 1955


Anton Maix Fabrics Advertisement, Interiors, Sept. 1955


perversion


In the perversion which consists in striving to look and be looked at, we are confronted with a very remarkable peculiarity . . . The sexual aim exists here in a two-fold formation, in an active and a passive form. The force which opposes the desire for looking and through which the latter is eventually abolished is shame. Sigmund Freud, “The Sexual Aberrations,� in The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud, translated and edited by Dr. A. A. Brill


Craig Ellwood, Case Study House #16, Los Angeles, 1953, as appearing in Arts & Architecture (June, 1953) photographs by Marvin Rand


Craig Ellwood, Town House, Los Angeles, 1953; as appearing in Arts & Architecture (April, 1953) photographs by Alex de Paola


Frank Bros. advertisment as appearing in Arts & Architecture (June, 1953)


Craig Ellwood, Case Study House #16, Los Angeles, 1953, as appearing in Arts & Architecture (June, 1953); left, Frank Bros. advertisment; right, editorial feature; photograph by Marvin Rand


Craig Ellwood, Case Study House #16, Los Angeles, 1953, as appearing in Arts & Architecture (June, 1953)


Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in Double Indemnity, directed by Billy Wilder, 1944


Craig Ellwood, Case Study House #16, Los Angeles, 1953, as appearing in Arts & Architecture (June, 1953); left, Frank Bros. advertisment; right, editorial feature; photograph by Marvin Rand


[C]inematic codes create a gaze, a world, and an object, thereby producing an illusion cut to the measure of desire. Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,� in Feminist Film Theory, ed. by Sue Thornham, 1999


control


He who is subjected to a field of visibility, and who knows it, assumes responsibility for the constraints of power; he makes them play spontaneously upon himself; he inscribes in himself the power relation in which he simultaneously plays both roles; he becomes the principle of his own subjection Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish (London: Penguin, 1977 )


Pierre Koenig, Case Study House #22, Los Angeles, 1960 photograph by Julius Shulman


A domestic glance, as its name implies involves the concepts of surveillance, privacy and social relations, all in relation to a domestic setting or living arrangements. Surveillance here refers both to ‘looking out’ and also to ‘being looked at.’ Christopher Wilson, “Looking at/in/from the Maison de Verre,” in Negotiating Domesticity: spatial productions of gender in modern architecture, 2005


Pierre Koenig, Case Study House #21, Los Angeles, 1958 photograph by Julius Shulman


Richard Neutra, Chuey House, Los Angeles, 1958 photograph by Julius Shulman


Richard Neutra, Kaufmann Desert House, Palm Springs, 1946 photograph by Julius Shulman


deception


I can feel myself under the gaze of someone whose eyes I do not even see, not even discern. All that is necessary is for something to signify to me that there may be others there. The window if it gets a bit dark and if I have reason for thinking that there is someone behind it, is straightway a gaze. From the moment this gaze exists, I am already something other, in that I feel myself becoming an object for the gaze of others. But in this position, which is a reciprocal one, others also know that I am an object who knows himself to be seen. Jacques Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book 1, Freud’s Papers on Technique, 1953-1954.


Albert Frey, Frey House, Palm Springs, CA., 1953 photograph by Julius Shulman


The test of American civilization is not the height of its literary, musical, or artistic peaks, however important they are on the cultural landscape. It is the quality of the daily life itself . . . The greatness we search is greatness in the lives of our people. The true and the beautiful we try to combine with the good—and we call it the good life.” Joseph A. Barry, “The Next American will be the Age of Great Architecture,” House Beautiful (April 1953)


Farnsworth House Model, as shown at Mies van der Rohe exhibition, The Museum of Modern Art, 1947


Left: Dr. Edith Farnsworth; Right: Mies van der Rohe, Farnsworth House, Plano, IL, 1951; interior


Farnsworth House, Plano, IL., ca. 1955


Richard Neutra, Kaufmann Desert House, Palm Springs, 1946; photograph by Julius Shulman, as appearing in Life Magazine, April 1949


Charles Eames , Eero Saarinen, Entenza Case Study House, Los Angeles, CA, 1949 photograph by Julius Shulman


Retail home furnishings store designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merril for Cargoes, 1953 Photograph by Roger Sturtevant as appearing in Arts & Architecture


Panaview advertisement, Arts & Architecture, December 1954

Scopophobia_Scopophilia  

Anxious Dwellings paper

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