The Body in Architecture

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The body in architecture. Bodies in space. Chris gave a talk for a class at NYIT in 2011 about the body in architecture. That lecture spanned the way the body has been perceived in architecture throughout history, particularly in reference to scale—from Renaissance ideals of human form to current ergonomic design. Here, he picked up where he left off, diverging into a lecture about ways art conceives the body in space.

Using the comic book art of Jack Kirby and Todd McFarlane as examples, he discussed the change in comic art from the body as a representation of an ideal “superpowered” man to an expression of form and action in the 2D composition of individual frames. Spiderman’s utilitarian webs become baroque, mannerist and expressive as the comic form evolves. In comics, action is represented with illustration through movement trails, explosions, pows, thwacks and bangs, giving the form of action equal visual real estate to the bodily form.

From here, we discussed Picasso’s “Ma Jolie” and some of the concepts of high analytic Cubism that see the body completely dematerialize in space and become one with the background, collapsing a sense of space and also time. We rounded out the discussion with a review of Robert Rauschenberg’s “Erased De Kooning,” in which Rauschenberg was given a sketch by De Kooning; upon erasing the sketch, he ended a journey of De Kooning’s abstract form of a woman in erasure. This was discussed as a conscious expression of meaning through erasure—a respectful homage to the importance of De Kooning’s work.