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Title: Relational interfacings : body, memory and architecture in the digital age
Author: Mounajjed, Nadia
ISNI:       0000 0001 3427 9669
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2007
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In history, anthropomorphism was central to architecture. From Vitruvius to Le Corbusier, the human body served as a measure for proportion in the architectonics of embodiment. Some argue that Le Modulor represented the end of the body metaphor. However, contemporary theory points to new analogies between body and building, which are based on relationality rather than transprojections or physical emulations. With postmodemism and post-structural feminism, the humanist body was replaced with extendibility and a crossbreeding between body and environment. With this came a shift in body theory from objectification to an emphasis on SUbjectivity - where the body of the user is seen as measure again. However, this measure is based on the performativity and sensibility of a conscious subject who performs an act. Simultaneous to this development, emerged the notion of interface. With cyber culture, the interface is not only defined as a technological element but as an aspect of embodiment. In this context, I suggest an analogy based on 'Relational Interfacings', where a sensible and locational interface intervenes with a virtual construction (or a map) in architectural site. This in tum allows for a particularisation of memory, site-mapping and suspension of boundaries. Relational interfacings, I argue, promise to redirect the forces from monumentality to intimacy in architecture, and from a passive body to a conscious user in action. Three interventions test the affects of relational interfacings on users performativity, sociality and site-specificity. These interventions took place in real architectural sites and involved using intuitive and locational technologies to produce a virtual map on site. In the course of examining these interventions, I discuss the development of an Intervention Protocol as a diplomatic framework to guide the interventions design and analysis. This protocol helps to mark a crucial intersection of discourses and practices and sites, which locate the intervention within a definite social/architectural formation. It also promises to secure a shift from body objectification to subjectivity. The intervention protocol involves three main processes: (a) site-mapping to study memory, sociality and site-specificity, (b) ethnographic mapping where body movement becomes a measure of performativity, and (c) the possibility of a horizontal replication. In the conclusion, I revisit the postmodem body and discuss the body of user as a possible measure in architecture. I also redefine the interface as an aspect of embodiment, and discuss the impact of virtuality and interfacings in the body-architecture analogy. The thesis ends with a discussion of the interventions' development and of the outcomes, usefulness and possible applications of the interventions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available