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ps y c h o s p a c e stephen mackie


table of contents







a ff e c t i n archi tectu re, fi ve g o wander ing in the city, affect as m essage


chapter_2 s i n i s t e r qu a rter?, p roj ecti on of anxiety, language of the sinister



Bl a c k M i ll , a n i nte rven ti on



references + bibliography


appendices intimate group work Dundee University School of Archictecture Urban Contingencies Tutors: Graeme Hutton + Lorens Holm ID no. 040005822 words: approx 9200

58 separate document


Abstract Through experience, architecture has the power to evoke a diverse scope of emotional reactions within us. Our city forces us to develop profound attachments to a variety of spaces. These attachments are driven by our reaction towards spaces; we may identify areas of the city which feel unsafe or those which are comfortable and it is these reactions that are integral if we wish to relate personally to the city. This thesis is an investigation into an understanding of how architecture can affect its inhabitants in different ways. Defining the role architecture plays in the creation of affects it will focus on one in particular, the sinister. Through analyzing spaces that provoke an uneasy feeling from myself I pose the question, can architecture in itself be sinister? This study is important because as architects we are constantly striving to design an experience and in understanding how certain existing spaces provoke certain responses we can use it to inform a design proposition. The thesis looks at psychoanalysis for clues in the understanding of affect and then towards different media including film and writing where I can analyse how the author/director employs architecture in an active role that frames and reflects the emotions of the character’s experience. The chosen media for this study includes film and creative writing as techniques that successfully articulate an emotional reaction to a space. Analogue photography as well as subjective and objective drawing are also used as tools for both the analysis of the spaces I am studying and a personal response to those spaces using Dundee and its sinister spaces as a testing ground.



Introduction The elements that compose our architecture are not solely tangible and physical, they are also psychological. Architecture has an extraordinary ability to affect us in powerful ways, provoking diverse emotions including comfort, security, fear, happiness and anger. These affects create an attachment to spaces, attachments that are hard to articulate but without doubt exist as commanding forces. Architecture’s role extends far beyond the practicalities of enclosing functions; each building has our personalities projected onto it, a true reflection of the diversity of a city. This idea ignites the possibility of each inhabitant responding to spaces in the city emotionally in a bid to avoid a population of bored zombies. ‘We are bored in the city, we really have to strain to still discover mysteries…Darkness and obscurity are banished by artificial lighting, and the seasons by air conditioning. Night and summer are losing their charm and dawn is disappearing.’ [Chtcheglov]1 There is an unwillingness in architecture to confront certain affects regarded as ‘undesirable’. My interest in the sinister developed as a reaction against the conventional ‘treatment’ of urban sites which incite threat, fear or discomfort; the erasure and cleansing of the dirt to be replaced by the new and shiny. Fear is a natural emotion; one that is common to us all and our city should embrace its part in the act of provoking it. We should not always have to turn to literature, film and art to be stimulated in this way. Buildings have the power to scare us equally, if not more; a lived affect, not a vicarious one. This thesis aims to define affect and its relationship with architecture in a bid to investigate its role and importance within our built environment. This definition will then act as a tool for understanding how architecture and affect engage with the inhabitants of a city from a macro scale down to intimate pockets of space. Through both objective and subjective analysis, the thesis will interpret the collective elements that create a particular affect and identify its influence on a space. This research will broaden my awareness of what composes space; not just objectively but also how we react and interpret this reaction. An aim for this research is to focus on one affect in particular, the sinister. This will investigate ideas about what sinister architecture is and question whether it can exist, drawing influence from films that place architecture in a prominent role in the provocation of reactions from the viewer and enhance a sinister quality in the films. My interests also lie in the representation of sinister space and how the use of different media influences the way in which we read a space and represent that reading. 3

Ideas about affect and the sinister will be investigated through a series of analysis and design projects; thinking by doing. Through an architectural project the research will develop a language of the sinister. I wish to investigate those gestures and moves that are possible in a space which maintain and/or adds to the affect. I pose the question, is it even possible to find an architectural program through the affect of an existing building? Chapter 1 Affect in architecture In examining architecture and affect it is important to firstly understand what affect is. This understanding will give a basis for the agenda of this thesis and also a starting point for clues in the relationships between affect and architecture. Stepping outside the world of architecture for a brief moment, I will examine a piece of literature in which the relationship between architecture and affect is illustrated. The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Alan Poe is dependant upon architecture with affect to apply further substance to the narrator’s description of the house: ‘upon the bleak walls - upon the vacant eye-like windows – upon a few rank sedges – and upon a few white trunks of decaying trees’ 2 Poe employs provocative language to evoke a sense of dread and fear, describing the house in such a way that one’s imagination flicks through a catalogue of archetypal haunted houses in their head and projects this onto the page of the book [fig.1]. These descriptions of the house hold dual importance; not only do they portray the setting in a pragmatic sense but equally, depict a relationship between the main protagonist and the house that mirrors his paranoia and anxiety. Poe’s story suggests to us that architecture produces certain affects that are very much an integral part of our experiences in life but it does not lead us to a definition of affect. The word affect originates from the Latin word affectus 3 with its definition providing a vast diversity in meanings. From mental to physical, temporary to permanent it proves difficult to narrow down to one single definition 4. However, we can then assume that it is possible for affect to occur everywhere in architecture, though some affects are more pronounced and articulated than others. This difficulty in defining is reinforced when investigating the term affect within psychoanalytic theory. In The Language of Psychoanalysis, Laplanche and Pontalis discern the role affect plays in psychoanalysis by describing it as rooted in subjectivity and a way for humans to measure reactions towards something, transforming the intangible into tangible: 4

fig.1 Exterior sketch in response to Poe’s description of ‘The House of Usher’.


‘the affect is defined as the subjective transposition of the quantity of instinctual energy’ 5 This description reinforces the idea that affect manifests itself in all shapes and sizes by assigning it to being either ‘vague or well defined’6 which would again suggest then that all architecture produces an affect. By its subjective nature it becomes difficult to find further definition, though in Dylan Evans’ Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis we can draw a direct relationship between it and architecture, ‘affect means that the subject is affected by his relation with the Other.’7 This advocates a symbiotic relationship between the subject [you|me] and the object [architecture] inferring that without both present, affect could not exist. Affect is always attached to a place and the notion of place is fundamental to architecture. ‘a place can be defined as relational, historical and concerned with identity’ [Auge]8 Architecture is created from tangible [form, program and material] and intangible [affect] elements and both of these types of element give a place identity; affect is thus intrinsically linked to architecture. Through the dissection of the Freudian definition of affect as something ‘vague or well defined’9 we can identify the role of architecture in affect on three different levels, incidental, integral and protagonist [fig.2]: Incidental - The architecture need not play a prominent role, it can merely be the setting in which the affect takes place. In a hospital, where experiencing joy and happiness of a new born child to grief and sadness from the death of a loved one, the architecture frames the experience, giving it a context though never heightening it. Integral - Architecture can be integral to the affect though it can sit in the background. An immersive environment such as the home, a place we associate with safety, security and comfort, uses architecture as a means of provoking these affects. We define boundaries in order to determine this land is mine and on this land we build and enclose ourselves from the outside world creating an interior space that we control. Within these walls we build rooms that give us comfort in understanding that what goes on behind the door cannot be viewed by anyone other that the people in that room. We are not always aware of the architecture except in its absence; without it we would be exposed to the world. Protagonist - Finally, it can be one of the main characters in the creation of affect, assisting in provoking various emotions from the subject. An alien city can become a daunting place where a complex system of streets and lanes leaves you disorientated and lost. The unfamiliar architecture homogenises the character of the street and eventually you find yourself in a dark overlooked alley that twist and turns 6

around blind corners and then relief as you see your hotel faรงade. These three roles highlight the type of relationship we have with architecture and how it is impacting on us through shifting narratives. This is not to say that a hospital can only perform an incidental role in producing affect. The hospital can just as easily turn from the incidental background to an ominous protagonist. Visiting a loved one at the hospital for their last moments before they pass away is a traumatic experience and the sterile environment of the hospital causes discomfort. Entering the hospital one becomes disorientated and confused through the abundance of seemingly identical wards off endless labyrinthine corridors until entering the harsh fluorescently lit room. These roles are not dictated by the architecture itself, though through the narrative one projects, the architecture either stands prominent or slips into the background. fig.2 The relationship between architecture and a subject.

Incidental: where the architecture sits in the background and does not engage with the subject.

Integral: the architecture is integeral but does not engage with the subject.

Protagonist: the architecture takes part in creating an affect.


Five go wandering in the city These ideas on affect needed testing and I used the city of Dundee as my experimenting ground. We formed a group of five students who were keen to analyse the city at an intimate scale; flipping the traditional ‘top-down’ methods for analysis and adopting Charles and Ray Eames’ philosophy of Powers of Ten 10 and walked the city. With a growing interest in the movement of The Situationists, led by Guy Debord, we seized the opportunity to experiment with a method at the heart of their raison d’être, the dérive. The Situationists employed the dérive as a method of exploring the city through drifting, being guided by their desire to have their minds stimulated by the city: ‘let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there’ 11 They believed that a city was not just organised by streets and buildings but that there also exists a much more perceptive response to organisation, a city’s psychogeography. Different areas of a city affect the residents in various different ways thus creating varied ambiances. Spaces that are safe or dangerous make one feel love or hate; the dérive is the method employed in untangling this complex system. By definition a dérive is ‘A mode of experimental behavior linked to the conditions of urban society: a technique of transient passage through varied ambiances. Also used to designate a specific period of continuous dériving.’ 12 We took this definition as our starting point, our benchmark where we could add our own interpretation and play. The time limit of our operation was only a few weeks thus pushing us to be much more demanding and employ great rigor with the dérives. There was a strong sense of a ‘constant want’, wanting to be affected by the city, seeking the emotional reactions, to never be satisfied with what we have found thus applying the pressure to seek out the affects we craved and for the city to answer back and produce them. Every decision we made, every direction turned was made with complete conviction and the urge to discover something exciting [fig.3-5]. Full of curiosity, excitement and adrenalin through risks we were willing to take, jumping fences, walls and trespassing constantly to get what we wanted. We did not go down the next street because it happened to be next, there had to be something affecting us, pulling us down it and we had to analyse this affect and record it.


fig.3-5 Images from the dĂŠrive. 9

Using the dérive, we took cross sections through Dundee [fig.6], guided by the ambition to experience the city with heightened senses. As a group we each had an agenda for looking for different affects so this inferred that the dérives were diverse lines across the city, fragments of different perception and drive. We can begin to abstract the lines away from their actual routes and think of them as product of architecture and affect. They highlight a notion that we can be pulled through out cities by our desires, these desires are intangible forces acting like magnets drawing us closer to our destination. The dérives become predetermined routes already laid out across the city that we follow in our heads driven by desire. At the end of each dérive we interpret a point that we have confronted as what we were in search of and therefore no longer need to continue [fig.7].

fig.6 The four dérives walked across Dundee. A total distance covered of 28.5km. 10

fig.7 Montage exploring the notion that the dérives we walked were already predetermined routes in our minds and at the end of each dérive we found our desires. In my case the three ‘sinister’ spaces I study later in the thesis. 11

Affect as message These cross sections of the city offered us an understanding of all that is happening throughout the city and it became apparent that the Dundee we already knew was far different from the Dundee we were discovering. On the dĂŠrives we discovered spaces that we felt had a particular affect that drew us towards and through them. These spaces began to reveal and articulate the importance of affect that exists across the city and how they contribute to the way we, as urbanites, respond and interact with the spaces. If a space does not produce a strong affect then the level of perception is likely to be more passive therefore hindering the chance of opening up the space for further interpretation which could potentially evolve the space into something much more dynamic. One affect has the potential to induce multiple, contrasting perceptions which in turn layer the space. Our initial response upon finding the spaces was one of surprise and discovery but we needed to study these spaces in greater depth in order to understand what drew us to them that on first glance was not fully realised. Studies using montage, plans, drawings, reductive models helped us to analyse and articulate the many different layers that built up and created these spaces. There are clear relationships between the spaces in both their spatial quality and how they are occupied including; interstitial or ‘between spaces’, places to fill time, ownership claimed through activity, spatial and/ or material complexity, sense of being stumbled upon and sub culture. It is the build up of layers in these spaces which produces their affect; they are integral to the spaces being successful. For example, this build up of different layers is very prominent upon reflection of our discovery of the DPM park in the Hilltown area of Dundee [fig.8]. Walking through Hilltown [an area that was predominantly unfamiliar to us] the first initial layer is the graffiti on the dwarf walls and gable ends of the tenement. Then shuffling along the path, turning blind corners until we were fully absorbed into the urban park. The grimy material quality of this park is complimented with a dynamic spatial quality that adds more layers to the space. Vastly overlooked from ominous tower blocks and converted farmhouses, the enclosed space is distanced from the Hilltown streets enhancing the feeling of a space forgotten and taken control of by kids. The different typologies of housing that could watch over the space from any angle give a variety of textures to the space but it is clearly only enjoyed by the few.


fig.8 Elevation Plan expressing the impact that different buildings have on the graffiti pitch which contribute to how the space is perceived and used.


The affect this space provokes determines who does and does not use it: spaces can discriminate against people who are outside their comfort zone. This is not necessarily a negative thing; the perception of the DPM park [graffiti pitch] in Dundee varies from a mother pushing her child in a pram to adolescents looking to be hidden away from the glare of adults [fig.9]. The affect is then acting like a message that is interpreted in different ways by different people, these messages are communicated through a couple of elements. The graffiti on the walls [fig 10+11] behaves as warning signs to a mother that anti-social behavior may be taking place and therefore it is not a safe environment for her child. A route into the main football pitch turns blind corners causing those unfamiliar with the space to shuffle along, nervously imagining what awaits them around the next corner. This is in contrast to the teenagers looking for a space to hang out; the graffiti are welcoming signs, advertisement in a language that they understand, communicating to them that this is a space where their activities are welcomed. This affect is integral to the success of the DPM park. Even though the affect of this space is perceived in two ways, the architecture is a protagonist in both scenarios. We could argue that for the kids playing the architecture is integral but in the background, however, I would point out that due to the overlooked nature of the site and how it is in constant observation from residents, it prevents the space from descending into total dereliction to a point where even the kids do not want to use it.

fig.9 Montage showing graffiti covered walls and the impact of the high rise and tenements on the space.


fig.10+11 Graffiti on the gable ends of the tenements: the warning or advertisement messages.


Chapter 2 Sinister quarter The affect that I am most interested in is the sinister, this idea was sparked from a passage in a Situationist text that describes a potential city created from a series of districts that reflect the diverse feelings existing within our cities today. One of the identified districts is the Sinister Quarter: ‘The Sinister Quarter…would be difficult to get into and poorly lit at night as it is blindingly lit during the day by an intensive use of reflection’ [Chtcheglov] 13 This passage is vague in its description of the notion of a sinister quarter and possesses no real substance for there ever being the potential for one. However, it does inspire an investigation into the role architecture would play in producing an affect such as this. Would understanding alone that you were in the labelled ‘sinister quarter’ be substantial enough to provoke feelings of danger? I would argue that this is not the case and that it would be essential for the architecture to take part in evoking the uneasy feelings. It is necessary to understand the meaning of the term sinister so that it is possible to analyse architecture with the sinister in mind. The word sinister originates from the Latin world for ‘left’, sinestra 14+15 and is associated with evil where a person who wrote with their left hand was considered to be possessed by the devil. Today its meaning remains rooted in evil and encompasses the idea that sinister is a threat, something that is alluded to but not necessarily executed which causes people to feel uneasy. The important thing to understand about these definitions is that it is about provoking feelings of harm and threat and not actual physical harm. The part that holds most relevance and forms the basis of this investigation is that of threat and harm. Architecture that plays an active role in making one feel uncomfortable or uneasy in their surroundings. Projection of anxiety ‘ Anxiety is the only affect that is not deceptive.’ [Evans]


Taking affect, we can look at other disciplines that have employed architecture as a prominent character at the heart of their narrative. This will provide a clearer understanding of the role architecture plays in the creation of sinister affects and assist in answering questions such as; can the architecture be sinister, or are they merely banal sets that have been filmed with stylistic techniques, deepening 16

their impact on the viewer? The medium of film provides a good resource, as its sets are pieces of architecture, ‘no longer an inert background, architecture now participates in the very emotion of the film- the surrounding no longer surround but enter the experience as presence’ [Vidler] 17 A film that uses architecture as a prominent character in producing affect is the 1963 horror film The Haunting 18, directed by Robert Wise [fig.12]. The film lures its viewers into an experiment into the supernatural world of a haunted New England mansion riddled with a history of death. Anthropologist Dr. Markway plays host to three test subjects [two of which are perceptible to paranormal activity [Eleanor Lance and Theodora] and one who is an arrogant sceptic [Luke Sanderson] who are his mice for provoking and bearing witness to things that ‘go bump in the night’. Throughout the film the house takes a particular interest in Eleanor, casting her under its possessive powers and eventually claiming her as another victim.

fig.12 The dark interior of Hillhouse


The techniques used in this film are subtle but have a profound presence and power in allowing the viewer to engage with the actors’ anxieties. In Eleanor’s first encounter with Hill house it is overtly brought to our attention that the main protagonists in this film are not all human [the house gives a wonderful performance as the actor in supporting role]. Instantly the spatial relationship between the subject [Eleanor] and the object [the house] is established with Eleanor screeching her car to a halt as she frightfully looks up, caught in the ‘look’ of the house [fig.13-15]. Her first words describing what she has been confronted with do not include traditional architectural terminology that we usually associate with a house: ‘ it’s staring at me…Vile… VILE’ 19 The camera [representing Eleanor’s eyes] reinforces the fixation with the object to the viewers by focusing in to a tower element of the house; suggesting that here is where the ‘haunting’ lives. [The notion of the attic holding our fears is not a rare concept in cinema or indeed daily life. ‘ An attic: It speaks of sordidness, want and crime’ Scheffaure 20.] The ‘look’ that the house gives Eleanor, illustrated in this scene, is in reference to the concept developed by Jacques Lacan: ‘When the subject looks at an object, the object is always already gazing back at the subject’ 21 By establishing the house as the ‘object’ and Eleanor, the ‘subject’ it allows for the exploration of a relationship between us and architecture as a dialogue between the subject getting caught in the object’s ‘look’ and becoming fixated by it.


fig.13+14 Eleanor’s first encounter with Hillhouse when she is caught in the ‘look’ of the tower.

fig.15 Diagram showing the subject looking at the building and the building looking back. The dotted line represents the screen of projection. In Eleanor’s case, she projects that the building’s ‘look’ is ‘vile’. 19

A key element to the success of this film is attributed to the viewer never learning what the ‘haunting’ is. As the film progresses, its impact on the characters becomes increasingly apparent, particularly on Eleanor. During the third night the now familiar sounds of the haunting bring the experiment to Theodore’s bedroom. After the intense banging they realise that whatever it is making the noise is now just the other side of the door. The door begins to bend in towards the room, bellowing out towards them like a chest being pushed outwards to promote one’s strength [fig.16-20]. We can interpret the bending of the door as follows. An unknown entity is pressing so hard against the door that it begins to bend inwards, the guests know that the haunting is on the other side of the door. Their anxieties about it begin to distort the reality of the room; twisting and warping the last obstacle protecting them from a confrontation with the haunting. What we as the viewer are seeing is not real, we are seeing the twisted reality of the test subjects’ minds.


fig.16-20 The door which is acting as a screen where the characters are projecting what lies on the otherside bellows inwards from ‘The Haunting’ pressing against it.





20 21

The notion of warped space is a prominent theme in the set designs of the fantastical 1920s silent film Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari 22, directed by Robert Wienein. This German expressionist masterpiece tells the story of a series of mysterious murders which the residents of a German mountain village, Holstenwall believe to be connected with Dr Caligari and his bizarre somnambulist, Cesare. On discovering that Francis’s friend Alan has been murdered, he and Jane begin to hunt down the suspected killers but find themselves in danger of becoming the next victims of Cesare. ‘the filmic art offered the potential to develop a new architecture of time and space unfettered by the material constraints of gravity and daily life’ [Vidler] 23 The relationship between setting and plot has been explicit in its execution where the setting for this story is just as radical and surreal as the plot itself. The film depicts an obscure village where it gives the impression that the architects have restrained themselves from the use of a single rightangled square edge. The streets twist and buckle emphasising and exaggerating perspective and foreshortening; walls loom over the cast creating claustrophobic space; shadows painted on the floors and walls suggest a fierce bright sun or moon; doors wretched in to sharpen geometries so that to pass through them would risk loosing a limb; windows are painted in lightless black resembling endless voids. This amalgamation of techniques creates a deviant world that absorbs the viewer and confuses them in reflection of the cast’s anxiety. Again, like The Haunting, is it possible that what we are seeing is not a true depiction of the town and instead we are presented with a warped reality of the characters’ minds, [which at the end of the film we discover we are] where fear and anxiety take on the role as architect to create these spaces that the cast inhabit [fig.21-26]. In an attempt to gain a greater understanding of which factors have the power to cause an affect of sinister I found it relevant to draw parallels between the uncanny and sinister in Sigmund Freud’s essay, ‘The Uncanny’. ‘It is undoubtedly related to what is frightening – to what arouses dread and horror’ 24 With great rigor and persistence, Freud investigates the concept of the uncanny, attempting to define what is at the ‘common core’ of perceiving something as uncanny. The themes discussed suggest clues in where to focus my attention architecturally. The essay examines the relationship between the uncanny and the German world ‘unheimlich’ [‘unhomely’]; that what ‘is not known and familiar’ 25. This comparison is beneficial when approaching the concept of sinister space by relating sinister to that of unfamiliar for reasons that if something is unfamiliar then one has to be aware of the possibility for 22





fig.21-26 These sketches explore the idea of what the sets of Dr Caligari would look like if we were not presented with a warped reality.




threat or harm. We can draw a relationship between Freud and the film The Haunting by suggesting that the uncanny is something unknown. The inhabitants of the house then project their fears and anxieties onto the familiar sounds in an attempt to transform the unknown into the known. However, due to the characters never finding out the identity of ‘the haunting’ it remains both ‘not known and familiar’. Freud’s discussion of the ‘double’ in relation to the uncanny draws a relationship with architecture through the idea of repetition, ‘the repetition of the same features or character-traits’ 26. The repetition of facades creates areas of cities that are completely homogenised by an architectural style, homes become indistinguishable; ‘am I here, am I there?’ We become lost and find ourselves turning corners only to be presented with what is perceived to be the same street as before. The lifestyles of the inhabitants of these repeated streets begin to reflect their environment until our personalities have been stripped away completely and we are left with numb robots going through the motions of life. Freud discusses this very situation and its uncanny nature when lost in an unfamiliar city. ‘But after having wandered about for a time without enquiring my way, I suddenly found myself back in the same street, where my presence was now beginning to excite attention. I hurried away once more, only to arrive by another detour at the same place yet a third time.’ 27 Anthony Vidler has explored the relationship between architecture and the feeling of uncanny in his book The Architectural Uncanny and how the uncanny through its German translation has a home in architecture. “As a concept, then, the uncanny has, not unnaturally, found its metaphorical home in architecture: first in the house, haunted or not, that pretends to afford the utmost security while opening itself to the secret intrusion of terror, and then the city, when what was once walled and intimate, the confirmation of community… has been rendered strange by the spatial incursions of modernity.’ 28 From the discussion above there are key points that can be taken forward in aiding a further understanding of why some buildings elicit a sinister affect. The affects that objects produce does not reside in the objects themselves, they are provoked from the subject that is in dialogue with it. The sinister is a way of defining a reaction towards something, to articulate a feeling or response. It is a way of looking at an object, or in the case of Eleanor and the house, it is the way the house is looking at her that she finds sinister. This shows that for affects to exist there always needs to be an object and a subject, any object can produce a certain affect it is just how we interpret the situation that can make it sinister.


Houses are not sinister, the sinister stems from the perceived human presence, or lack of, within the house, thus it is only the projection we place onto the ‘haunted house’ that makes them sinister. Not every house will allow for the same projection for each person, it is the importance of narrative and association with the object we are confronted with that determines how we respond. If a house lies derelict and empty then it is sinister because in its emptiness it allows for projection, each empty room acting as three-dimensional screen. The derelict building in society also has a collective association with danger or anti-social behavior, when wandering around one there lies the potential risk that someone is hiding out in the building and does not want to be found. By changing the narrative it is easy to interpret the same object but in contrasting ways. Changing the scene in the haunting to one of a happy family enjoying a birthday party their lush garden, the house immediately takes on a less ominous role [fig.27+28]. Architecture’s role in the producing of affect is then how much it allows for the subject to project their anxieties on to the object. What makes a good screen? In order for something to act like a screen it requires a certain emptiness, an opportunity with limitless options of confrontation. The ‘vacant eyelike windows’ 29 Poe describes are screens for projections, however, are they still screens when a figure stands at the window? Yes, if the architecture has created an interior that does not show a face and all you see is a silhouette because then there is still the option of projection, I can project an evil look onto the face of the silhouette.

fig.27+28 By changing the narrative we can interpret Hillhouse in a completely different way.


The language of the sinister Returning to the method of the dĂŠrive, I set my desire gauge to sinister and explored the city for areas and spaces that trigger an uncomfortable feeling. It was not long before I discovered three spaces and buildings that lured me in through unease and danger. These three spaces varied dramatically in their typology; a street with mirrored tenements on each side that leads to a staircase climbing up to a housing scheme; a city centre back alley complete with ad hoc extensions and bin storage; and a derelict jute Mill sitting within a vast derelict site 30. All three of these spaces gave the opportunity for me to project some kind of narrative that made me uncomfortable whilst engaging with the spaces. Using a variety of methods I can draw attention to the elements that creates a screen for projection and then how the architecture engages with the narrative that is projected. As part of my agenda I wish to intervene with the derelict Mill, therefore it is necessary to construct an architectural language, a palette of spatial and material devices to aid the process of designing: a language of the sinister. The methods for this study are required to perform in a way that allows me to engage with the site in a visceral way. I used numerous techniques though I found only a few offered the engagement I was looking for. The use of analogue photography provided me with a tool that engrossed me in the image I was attempting to capture; controlling aperture and shutter speed I could study various features such as light, darkness and texture in one image. However, the capturing of the image was not the only way I engaged with the space; detached away from the space, in the depths of the university dark rooms I produced prints that again allowed me to understand what I had captured. The unknown narratives: Our curiosity of the unknown laid out ahead draws us in, the driving force that leads the way towards possibilities of something threatening and harmful. These unknowns provide a platform for our imaginations to ascend into overdrive, projecting images of what we imagine to lie around the corner or behind the window. These projections are initiated and dictated by the number of unknowns; the greater the number the more intense the affect [in this case sinister] and thus increasing the possibility for more disturbing projections. The amount of unknowns varies between different spaces and with a greater amount of unknowns comes a greater paranoia. The façades of South Baffin Street [fig. 29+30], already touch the uneasy nerves from the relentless repetition of the windows mirrored on each side of the street, and when moving through the space one becomes increasingly aware of the escalating amount of unknowns [are people watching me? What is going on behind all these windows?]. This crescendos when one is fully engorged in the space and all they see around them are ‘vacant eye-like 26

fig.29 Montage of technical and narrative drawing. The narrative drawing represents an emotional reaction to being in the space illustrating the endless repetition of the facade and repeated windows representing lots of eyes.

fig.30 Montage of South Baffin Street.


windows’, forcing one to become submissive to their own projections. It is the architecture here that produces this uneasy quality, allowing for one to create a narrative in their head which is completely fictitious but it affects the way we experience of a space. Using the unknowns in South Baffin Street, I was able to create a narrative explored through a piece of creative writing [see appendices]. This piece gave an opportunity to experiment with the characteristics of the space and how they dictate the narrative. The plot is based around a murder that had taken place on the street and through the story I explored how the space changes due to the event that has just occurred. In writing this piece it highlighted that if architecture allows for a projection to exist then the elements that compose the space become more prominent and exaggerated in the whole experience. In this story the repetition of the facades and the amount of windows sparked the idea for this narrative exploring how they cause the protagonist’s great anxiety and paranoia. The Mill building has great potential for projection of narratives onto the unknowns. From the exterior the windows are like black pits that offer very little clue as to the character of the interior and presents them as dark spaces when in contrast the majority of them are bright and illuminated. In the seemingly endless interior, the empty spaces flow from one room to the next with each concealing what it fully holds until immersed in that space; there is very little opportunity to peek around corners [fig.31+32]. The spaces range from vast bright rooms filled only with columns to small dark spaces, some concealed behind closed doors, however, the larger spaces are reduced to only a glimpse through small openings. As one wanders around the Mill the curiosity of what lies in the space ahead is the attraction, there is a perpetual possibility for projection in the spaces and even when all spaces have been revealed a few steps into another allows the previous one to disappear and become an unknown again.

fig.31 Section illustrating the unknowns



Ground floor


First floor


Second floor


Third floor

fig.32 These plans illustrate the different unknowns on each floor. The darker the tone the greater the unknown from the point of entrace on each floor represented by the ‘x’.


Disorientation and confusion: The Mill building gives a sense of disorientation and confusion not as explicit as that of the sets of Dr Caligari but through different relationships on the site. The dichotomy of the relationship between the subject and the object at the front [south elevation] and to the rear [north elevation] of the Mill can confuse the relationship and reaction to the site. To the front, the building dominates the subject, capturing it in its ‘look’ [fig.35+36]. The south elevation stands oppressively in the baron landscape commanding the vast open space that disappears into the distance, looking towards the façade the scale of its length and height fills peripheral vision with the decaying robust structure. The windows frame the blackness of the interior and are articulated with such a rigour it is difficult to tell one from the other. To the rear of the Mill there is a switch in the relationship of what is the object that is producing the ‘look’ [fig.37+38], tenements sit high in the space, horseshoeing around and enclosing the site detaching it visually from the city. This detachment allows for the subject to become fully absorbed in the site, the steep topography climbs from the Mill emphasising the height and the presence of the flats where windows disappear and new ones appear as you walk around the site which provide no place to hide.

fig.33 Section a-a




fig.34 Site plan of William Halley’s Mill



fig.35+36 [images 1+2 on plan] Show the oppressive south elevation filling every corner of your vision.

4 3 2 1 2



fig.37+38 [images 3+4] Show the enclosure created by the tenements that ‘look’ down on the site.



The interior of the Mill houses some subtleties that also confuse the explorer of the building. A series of small, enclosed dark spaces occupy a volume to in the west of the building. Here lies the spiral staircase and a series of spaces that do not adhere to the geometries, proportions and spatial organisation to the rest of the Mill. Tight stairs that squash to a shoulders’ width; ceilings compress to graze the hairs on the top of your head; the lack of views to the exterior world; floors manipulated to steal daylight from the floor above all provoke feelings claustrophobia. These shifts are not represented or suggested on any of the spaces outwith them which detaches it from the rest of the building giving the impression of a stand alone building [fig.39-42].

fig.39 Montage of the space. Light creeping in from the cracks.

fig.40 The narrow stairs that lead down to the space.

fig.41 Second floor plan locating space in the west of the Mill.


fig.42 Section study of the space.


Route: The way one travels through these spaces allows total immersion. The three spaces are not static; they force a continuous movement through led by desires. This is due to the nature of the spaces; the streets are places of transient movement and the Mill’s lack of comfortable spaces to rest due to the scale and current condition of the building. There are many possibilities for the beginning of trespassing on the site though the majority risk injury and being caught. Scrambling over the wall to the south is one of the preferred options though there is no point of entry to the Mill building from this side. Entrance requires a quick detour through overgrowth, up and around the landscape where at second floor level you reach another point of entrance. This entry to the site carries a greater risk of injury from clambering down the six metre high gabions but avoids exposure to the traffic on Broughty Ferry road. The site begins to envelope you as you descend down the steep, uneven topography through overgrown weeds and plants. Eventually your feet make contact with the solid concrete ground floor that extends to the interior of the building. All that is left to do it to hop the fence to enter the interior. This journey has already exposed multiple views of the building from the front and back, higher than the building and now at ground floor, all just to gain access to this heavily fortified structure [fig.43-49].

x 3 4

5 2

6 1



fig.43 Site plan showing the route one has to take to gain access to the interior of the building. The red line represents the route, the ‘x’’s represent the entrance points to the site and the numbers indicate where the photos are taken fig.44-49.


44 1


46 3

47 4

48 5

49 6


Within the interior too, the building has a way of forcing the explorer to discover its hidden spaces. The main staircase that originally lead to the third floor attic is now blocked. So, one must climb through a window in a nailed shut doorway in order to gain access to the spiral staircase to the west of the building. This move opens up another dimension to the building by exposing rooms that before remained undiscovered, the route through a building determining the spaces that one encounters on the way. The route that one travels through the Mill is not explicitly expressed in the architecture. In its own subtle way, the building draws its inhabitants through and forces them to engage with the different spaces. This is achieved through the suggestive nature of the spaces and the notion that there is always another space beyond the one presently in [fig.50-53].

fig.50 Ground floor: Walking through a solid volume of darkness to get to the space beyond. 38



fig.51-53 This sequence of photos illustrate the notion that when walking into a space one is always presented with a space beyond the one presently in.



3 3


Enveloping space: The composition of space plays a major role in the creation of a sinister affect. In all three spaces the notion of space swallowing the subject is very apparent. Although the spaces differ on first glance, similarities are drawn with the relationship between the body and an uncomfortable sense of enclosure. This sense of enclosure differs from that of being in a room to that of a situation where the subject feels a sense of being consumed and trapped by the space, where every progressive step is multiplied by ten when trying to escape from the space. The notion of space consuming a subject is discussed in Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia by Roger Caillois. He describes how creatures disguise themselves by mimicking their environment, ‘space seems to be a devouring force. Space pursues them, encircles them, digests them in a gigantic phagocytosis’ 31 The composition of Malt House Close, as with the nature of most back alleys, is very ad-hoc; shops building extensions with complete disregard to the quality of space they create. These extensions have, over time, morphed this alley into one of twists and turns around blind corners with multiple nooks for creatures to lurk inside and rarely a clear line of sight to safety. This adds a high amount of tension as the user slowly edges through the space, creeping around corners with heightened awareness of the danger imposed on them [fig.54+55]. As discussed with the Mill, the north side of the site has various elements that engulf the subject. Surrounded by oppressive tenements and flats that detach the subject from the city with the only views out of the site are those to the sky above. The steep topography gives an impression that one is below ground level even though the base of the site is ground floor level of the Mill building. To escape from the belly of the site would require a climb up the steep slopes, more difficult than the entry [fig.56].


fig.54+55 Photos of Malt house close where the space tightens and consumes the subject in the space.

fig.56 Drawing of emotional response to the enclosure of the Mill. The residential tenements loom over the subject’s head as they desend into the belly of the site and the Mill’s mouth like openings ready to swallow on into the interior space. 41

Details: These spaces are peppered with tiny details; small gestures where their contribution to the affect is not proportionate to their relative scale in the space 32. In investigating the Mill through film and photography I record these details consisting of light, sound, texture, acoustics, wind and physical elements. As I walked through the building I found that the details that have the greatest impact are those that have the most ambiguity and look almost violent; chains that hang from the roof swing lightly in the wind as if breezed past by something moments before confronting them. Short lengths of metal rods are strategically welded to the columns outside of peripheral vision so you walk into them and tear your skin, a piece of tape that blows in the wind in the corner of your eye is potentially mistaken for a figure moving [fig.57+58]. It is important to bring attention to the fact that these small details manage to have a significant power in a room full of tiny elements of decay. If the space were to be whitewashed and the details left untouched, their contribution to the affect runs the risk of becoming contrived. In the current context the details blend in and when one begins the journey of their discovery it magnifies the affect they emit, to isolate and articulate them in any way would bring attention to them and in turn weaken their affect.

fig.57+58 Short rods of steel on a few columns. Chains swinging in the wind. The details that catch your eye as you move through the spaces. 42

Trace: All over the Mill site there are traces of demolished buildings that would once have been hives of activity during the height of Dundee’s involvement in the jute industry. Walls in the north of the site still exist to hold back the landscape from sliding down and flooding the ground floor with dirt [fig.61]. To the front, only rubble is left where once the entire site was crudely occupied by a single story building [fig.59]. On the façades we can see the painted interior walls where the now demolished parts of the building would have once been attached. Now, the last remaining and original building stands hard in the site to the south and in threat to the north]. These traces create a haunting experience of the site. Even though the remains of the demolished building are very few, their presence in the site is profound; the feeling that a deceased loved one is in the room with you by the presence of their ashes on the mantelpiece.

fig.59 White paint on the facade, traces indicating that the facade used to be an interior.

fig.60 The only site plan I could find of the demolished parts of the Mill

fig.61 The remains of the demolished parts of the Mill.


Chapter 3 Black Mill When exploring these different elements composing the language of the sinister I found myself with the constant urge to explore various methods of representation. With a keen interest in film as a reference for understanding the sinister I found it apparent to experiment with it as a medium. This is a collaboration project with fellow student Sean McAlister whose masters thesis shares themes which have the potential to creatively compliment my own studies and add layers of complexity to the film. Pre-empting distortion of the image we set out various parameters for filming. Using only physical tools [such as camera obscura, enlarger lenses and prism lenses] at the point of filming allowed us to engage fully with the space and the type of distortion we felt was appropriate based on our own experiences in the Mill. The film is a platform to clearly articulate a narrative that we have personally projected onto the building; using the architecture as a main protagonist manipulating the story. The plot depicts a detective instructed to ‘check out’ a derelict Mill in Dundee. As he progresses through the ominous structure he realises that he may not be alone and his isolation within the building is increasing his vulnerability to its affects. The more immersed he becomes, the more the space around him distorts and warps to reflect his fears about the Mill. The detective’s fear is not completely irrational as there is a second character in the story following his every move. This character’s vision of the world is completely distorted and warped as a result of being consumed by the building; he can traverse effortlessly through walls and floors remaining unnoticed. Is this because he and the building have become one, the line between them barley exists? The answer to this question is left to the interpretation of the viewer. The film has succeeded in vividly articulating a personal response to the Mill, something that has proved a struggle in other media throughout the year. A method for surveying the structure as a process consisted of going through the building and picking out the elements that held a certain resonance upon us. These elements were placed in relation to the body and how one would engage and experience them. It was argued that simple shots had the greatest power over the ones that were distorted and warped, this is due to in reality these elements do not require any special effects to enhance their quality and they can simply just be what they are to evoke a response. An interesting tension developed between the three points of view that the building is presented in the film. Two of these views are centred around the detective; what he sees and following his journey. The third explores the idea of a character capable of traversing through the walls and floors with ease in 44

reference to the way in which an architect approaches a design; the architect has the ability to jump effortlessly through spaces by layering up tracing paper and manipulating scale models. These points of view empower the architect to design and view the whole experience of a building at once when in reality the spaces are experienced from that of the viewer, in the film’s case, the detective. The film is thus part survey, part proposal. Not a conventional survey of plan, section, elevation and dimensions but a survey of experience and not a proposal of a design drawn up but a proposition of a narrative and a reaction to a space. The projection of narrative through film then acts as a device for informing an intervention within the building.

fig. 62 Stills from the film ‘Black Mill’ 45

An intervention Using the knowledge from developing a language of the sinister the thesis will intervene within the Mill as a thinking machine for testing ideas about preserving and exaggerating existing affects. The intervention is not the gentrification of a historic relic, it is rather sympathetic to the affects it produces over its listed status. In choosing a brief for the Mill, there lies potential in a hybrid building, one that takes two contrasting programmes and creates a dialogue between them. A hybrid of film school and dental practice is the proposition for this building. The film school, like most arts based subjects, sits comfortably in the decaying character of the Mill, an interesting dialogue is thus sparked when contrasted against the sterile environment of the dental practice. The dental practice occupies a relatively small proportion of the building though its location in the plan allows it to engage with both the public and private elements of the film school. Developing the standard film school brief I propose a programme which achieves a balance between both controlled and spontaneous filming spaces; thus the entire building acts as a set for students who are provided with large, small, bright and dark spaces as well as spaces suitable for writing, editing and rehearsals. The physical intervention in the Mill takes the form of two cuts, these fissures respond to specific existing or indeed absent relationships and how one is forced to engage with the building. The different spatial relationships experienced in both the exterior to the north and south will be explored by these cuts as they act as mediating space by drawing the exterior into the interior. They offer new vertical spatial relationships and also explore the idea of route through the building, playing with the existing illogical way one needs to travel to access various levels. The first cut slices beside the existing staircase and lift shaft. Upon entering from a small domestic opening on the south elevation one is confronted with a tall and narrow space that focuses a view towards the residential housing enclosing the site to the north; drawing in the ‘look’ to the interior. This tall space draws other relationships with the two programmes, it is here that the public visiting the film school exhibitions come into contact with the dental practice through the examination rooms looking into the space. The form of the fissure bears no relationship with the south elevation so few clues about the experience are given away until fully immersed in the space. The second cut to the west is a contained space with a relationship to the landscape to the south. It is a transitional space that mediates between the exterior of the south and the ground floor interior. When inside the building it is a space that one must travel through to access different areas of the building, forcing an interaction with the environment outside. Its monolithic form impacts on the interior space by 46

dictating voids in the floor plates and defining space around it. Its scale and proportion is as ominous and overbearing as the south façade, an interstitial space that does not provide any shelter from the feelings evoked. Both of these interventions are experiments with the notion of projection, not solely surfaces that the film school uses for physical projection but also where the occupants project their own visions of what lies on the other side. The dental practice’s relationship to the first cut allows glimpses of situations where patients enter the examination room and become silhouetted behind opaque glass, playing with the idea that we know that someone is in the dentist chair but we do not know the full story allowing us to project our own ideas about this legal torture. The second cut obstructs an interaction with the spaces on either side of its walls, which act as screens on which we project what we believe to be lurking on the other side. It is now the architecture that has become the screen for the projection of our fears.

fig. 63 Site plan showing concept sketch of fissures and their relation to the context. The first cut relates to the housing to the north and the second cut relates to the landscape to the south. 47

fig. 64 Interior space of first cut illustrates the relationship to the housing and the dental practice.

fig. 65 Section showing the relationship to the housing that encloses the north of the site. 48

fig. 66 The second cut illustrating its relationship to the landscape to the south.

fig. 67 Section showing the relationship to landscape to the south. 49

Conclusion Throughout the course of the year my thesis has brought to light the power that a piece of architecture can hold over an individual, not predicting that I would become fully immersed in the recording and understanding of the William Halley Mill and that one piece of architecture could hold so many levels of complexity that contribute to the affect. The importance of subjectivity in architecture is illustrated through architecture and affect, showing how and why individuals find attachment to particular spaces and places. The exploration of ideas regarding architecture and affect in this thesis has shed light on the initial accusation that architecture directly produces affect by instead identifying that every piece of architecture has the potential to house affect. The affect only manifests itself when a subject projects a narrative onto a screen or space, inferring that in order for the phenomenon to exist there needs to be both architecture and subject present. It is in our engagement with the architecture which forms a relationship with affect, the way a building ‘looks’ at us and the interpretation of that ‘look’. An affect has the greatest potential when there exists a certain emptiness in the architecture, an ambiguity in the truth which forces us to predict what lies ahead. A space that is sinister is only sinister because we use the architecture as a screen to project our fears and anxieties. This projection has the ability to exaggerate and warp architecture, enhancing the feelings that we experience. One cannot create sinister architecture but rather use architecture as a device to allow people to interpret the situation as they perceive it. There is a danger of creating something arbitrary whilst designing with the ambition of constructing sinister experience. The architect’s role is rather to allow for interpretation, creating situations with ambiguity so that the subject must use their own imagination in the space. Walls and doors are no longer objects that divide and define space but projection screens for our minds. For me, this thesis has the possibility of informing future studies in two distinct ways. Firstly, the thesis has brought to my attention the importance of different perceptions of the same space; how one building could be considered both sinister and beautiful at the same time, that those things which cause us to experience such different and contrasting emotions are in fact one and the same. For example this room is beautiful but this room is also sinister, the physical composition of elements remains constant but the affects are in opposition. Secondly, a more focused study into the notion of warped space through our psychological experience of it; how a contradiction between the realities of space and how we perceive them in our mind show diverse results. 50


References 1. Quote by Ivan Chtcheglov, from the Formulary for a New Urbanism, originally published in 1953, and again in the Internationale Situationiste no.1, 1958. Taken from Theory of the Dérive and other Situationist Writings on the City edited by Libero Andreotti and Xavier Costa. 2. Quote from the short story The Fall of the House of Usher, by Edgar Alan Poe first published in 1839. 3. Definition researched in the Oxford Latin Dictionary. 4. Definition researched in the Oxford English Dictionary. 5. Quote from the entry on ‘Affect’ in The Language of Psychoanalysis, by Jean Laplanche and JeanBertrand Pontalis. A dictionary that explains the theories and concepts developed by Sigmund Freud. 6. Ibid. 7. Quote from the entry on ‘Affect’ in An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis, by Dylan Evans. A dictionary explaining the theories developed by Jacques Lacan. 8. Quote from Non-Places, An Introduction to Supermodernity by Marc Auge, in the chapter From Places to Non-Places 9. Quote from the entry on ‘Affect’ in The Language of Psychoanalysis, by Jean Laplanche and JeanBertrand Pontalis. A dictionary that explains the theories and concepts developed by Sigmund Freud. 10. Developed by Charles and Ray Eames the ‘Powers of Ten, explores the relative size of things from the microscopic to the cosmic’ 11. Quote from Theory Of The Derive by Guy Debord, originally published in Les Levres Nues no.8, 1956. Taken from Theory of the Dérive and other Situationist Writings on the City edited by Libero Andreotti and Xavier Costa. 12. Quote from Internationale Situationiste no.1, by ‘unsigned’, 1958. Taken from Theory of the Dérive 52

and other Situationist Writings on the City edited by Libero Andreotti and Xavier Costa. 13. Quote by Ivan Chtcheglov, from the Formulary for a New Urbanism, originally published in 1953, and again in the Internationale Situationiste no.1, 1958. Taken from Theory of the Dérive and other Situationist Writings on the City edited by Libero Andreotti and Xavier Costa. 14. Definition researched in the Oxford Latin Dictionary 15. Definition researched in the Oxford English Dictionary 16. Quote from the entry on ‘Affect’ in An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis, by Dylan Evans. A dictionary explaining the theories developed by Jacques Lacan. 17. Quote from Warped Space, Art, Architecture and Anxiety in Modern Culture by Anthony Vidler, in the chapter The Explosion of Space 18. Film The Haunting directed by Robert Wise, 1963 19. Lines from the film The Haunting that Eleanor says. It is interesting to point out that ‘vile’ is an anagram of evil and live. 20. Quote from Warped Space, Art, Architecture and Anxiety in Modern Culture by Anthony Vidler, in the chapter The Explosion of Space where he is referencing The Vivifying of Space, by Herman G. Scheffauer 21. Quote from the entry on ‘’Gaze’ in An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis, by Dylan Evans. A dictionary explaining the theories developed by Jacques Lacan. 22. Film Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari directed by Robert Wiene, 1920 23. Quote from Warped Space, Art, Architecture and Anxiety in Modern Culture by Anthony Vidler, in the chapter The Explosion of Space 24. Quote from The Uncanny by Sigmund Freud, first published in 1919


25. Ibid. 26. Ibid. 27. Ibid. 28. Quote from the introduction of The Architectural Uncanny by Anthony Vidler 29. Quote from the short story The Fall of the House of Usher, by Edgar Alan Poe first published in 1839. 30. It is important to state that in the current condition of the Mill it does influence the way one travels through the site and the building. 31. Quote from Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia by Roger Caillois first published in 1935 32. In the book Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lacan, But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock, edited by Slavoj Ziezek, he writes in the chapter ‘In His Bold Gaze My Ruin Is Writ Large’ , about the significance of details in Hitchcock’s films. Explaining that Hitchcock would focus the camera on an object for a split second longer than was nessesery to draw our attention to it and ‘by the transfixed gaze’ of the charcter, the detail ‘sticks out’.


Image References 1 - 2. Author’s own drawing. 3 - 5. Author’s own photo. 6 - 8. Author’s own image. 9 - 11. Author’s own photo. 12 - 14. Still’s from ‘The Haunting’. 15. Author’s own diagram in reference to Lorens Holm’s diagram about architecture and the ‘gaze’. 16. Author’s own diagram. 17 - 20. Still from ‘The Haunting’. 21+23+25. Still from ‘Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari’. 22+24+26. Author’s own drawing. 27. Still from ‘The Haunting’. 28. Montage with a still from ‘The Haunting’. 29. Author’s own drawing. 30. Author’s own image. 31 - 34. Author’s own drawing. 35 - 36. Author’s own photo. 37 - 39. Author’s own image. 40. Author’s own photo. 41 - 43. Author’s own drawing. 44 - 49. Author’s own image. 50 - 53. Author’s own photo. 54 - 55. Author’s own image. 56. Author’s own drawing. 57 - 59. Author’s own photo. 60. Drawings from ‘A History of Halley’s Mill 1822-1980’ 61. Author’s own image. 62. Still from film collaboration project with Sean McAlister ‘Black Mill’ 63 - 67. Author’s own drawing. 55

Bibliography Andreotti, Libero; Costa, Xavier, Eds; 1996; Theory of the Dérive and other Situationist Writings on the City; Actar; Museum d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona; Barcelona Augé, Marc; 2006; Non-Places, An Introduction to Supermodernity; Verso; London Douglas, Mary; 2002; Purity and Danger; Routledge; New York Evans, Dylan; 2003; An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis; Brunner-Routledge; East Sussex Frank, Claudine; 2003; The Edge of Surrealism, A Roger Caillois Reader; Duke University Press, Durham, NC Freud, Sigmund; 2003; The Uncanny; Penguin Classics; London Halley, J.R.L; 1980; A History of Halley’s Mill 1822 – 1980; William Halley & Sons Ltd; Dundee Laplanche, Jean; Pontalis; Jean-Bertrand; 2004; The Language of Psychoanalisis; Karnac; London Poe, Edgar Allan; 1986; The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings; Penguin Classics; London Vidler. Anthony; 1992; The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely; The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Vidler, Anthony; 2001; Warped Space: Art, Architecture and Anxiety in Modern Culture; The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts White, Patricia; Female Spectator, Lesbian Specter: The Haunting; Colomina, Beatriz; 1992; Sexuality and Space; Princeton Architectural Press; New York Woods, Lebbeus; 1997; Radical Reconstruction; Princeton Architectural Press; New York


Zizek, Slavoj; 1992; Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lacan, (but were Afraid to ask Hitchcock); Verso; London Films: Dassin, Jules; 1948; The Naked City; UK; Arrow Films Welles, Orson; 1958; A Touch of Evil; UK; Universal Pictures UK Wiene, Robert; 1920; Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari; UK; Eureka Enertainment Wise, Robert; 1963; The Haunting; UK; Warner Home Video


Appendices Consuming Street As Mike watches the decapitated body being carted out in separate bags he ponders how last nights events would change the atmosphere of where he lived. He did not know the person who was killed, nor would half the people who live on the street. Though there was a change going on- a certain layer of unease started to drape itself over the street that he felt would not lift. Going about his usual morning routine before heading to work; shower, jerk off (usually in the shower), shit, brush teeth and leave, he likes to skip breakfast as he feels this gives him extra time in bed. Leaving the tenement he sees a large number of unfamiliar faces peering out at the gathering of police and ambulance services. The media has already caught wind of the murder and arrive with note pads and cameras at the ready, he presses on to work. Work is nothing special, thoughts enter his head about when the police would turn at his door to question if he knew anything about the events of last night. A quick ‘ sorry I didn’t see a thing’ exchange of numbers and details and he could get back to his life. Leaving work to walk home he fells the cold air a lot more against his body. The dark winter nights of Dundee, are in full swing, he always enjoys them, the sharpness makes him feel alive. Approaching his street, he worries about it being crowded with curious neighbours and police all playing Chinese whispers about what they heard or what they think happened last night. Hopefully he can slip into his flat and into a deep coma like sleep. Turning the corner into the street he is confounded by its emptiness. Not a person in sight. The empty street is not alien to him but this time he knows something is a miss. Mike’s receptiveness towards his surroundings sharpen- the street he lives in, the place he was so familiar with has a new light. He walks towards his flat. As he climbs the shallow slope, the tenements on either side draw in from his peripheral vision. The street is blank, none of the windows are illuminated for him to look into like every other night. The closer to the flat he becomes, the more he finds the street enveloping him. He starts to run, then sprint, bursts through the rarely locked door to the shared stairwell, sprints up the stair, with shaking hands opens the front door, enters, slams the door, collapses down and sits with his back pressed against the door. Out of breath and with the taste of stomach acids on his tongue he tries to comprehend what the fuck just happened to him. 58

12.30am, Mike wakes up from the cold draft, confused about the strange position his body is in when slowly he realises he is still sitting with his back to the door. Making his way through the hallway to the living room, allowing the streetlight to illuminate and guide the way. Slumping down in his armchair he looks out the window scanning the street. Slowly observing from the far end where it meets the main road, up past the façade on the opposite side that is identical to the one on his side. The windows in the street, like black pits of no activity, repeated in a regimented manner up the street until they are met by the high impenetrable wall that encloses the space. No life. Not a soul. Rising up and standing in the window he observes and reflects on how different his relationship towards the street is from this position. In one of these pits he is in control of the space, he watches over it, commanding it. He does not need to worry about the unknowns behind the other facades as he is a unknown. This power was polar from his reactions in the street below. Although he could not see a face, the sense of being watched took control of him, pushing him through the street like a puppet submissive to his master. These thoughts made him uneasy, so he drops the blind and goes to be for a night of broken sleep. Waking at the usual time of 7.30am, Mike gets up and goes through his morning routine. It was the weekend but he liked getting up and walking in the crisp morning air just as it gets light. He locks the flat and went down the stairs, neglecting to concern himself with last night’s events when returning from work and steppes out into the street. Startled in his motion forward by the unfamiliarity of the street. Where is this? Is it the way the morning winter mist and sunrise is filling the space, like a solid form, making it hazy and illegible? It is longer, much longer. The facades of the tenements loom oppressively down on the space with more repeated windows watching over the street below. Mike found himself back inside the stairwell, palpitating to come to terms with what was going on. He did not understand it. He knew that the murder on the street would change it but it is incomprehensible what was happening to him. The street is taking over him, drilling and tearing into his mind. It is a new place and he wants out. Opening the door there is a new kind of cold, a cold that clasps his skin tight and makes his body taut, his heart drops. Walking. The nostalgia of last night’s reactions intensified as he progressed down the street. Walking did not bring the main road any closer. The facades began crushing down on him, compressing his body to this insignificant being, pressuring him. His spine contorting to the point of collapse. Something catches his eye.


A figure, a face in the window bares down on him. Mike stops, does not look up but knows it is looking at him. Frozen, rooted to the ground. He remembers this sensation from his childhood. He was out of control and pissed his pants in the class. The teacher stared at him as he sat in his puddle of warm urine on his chair- she couldn’t see it but knew what he had done, his face said it all and she excused him from class. He looks down at his blood stained trousers and runs back to the flat. Inside he falls at the toilet and pukes. He can’t leave the flat. To leave would mean going into the street. The street knows what he has done. The other residents should fear him for what he has done. But out there the control him. They use the street as a device to punish him, to trap him. To kill him. If only he could get beyond the street. To escape this place that once held no power over him. Trapped in his flat as punishment for what he has done, the street will soon get in to consume him.




MArch thesis _ a journey into the dark side of urban spaces...

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