Stills from 36 Quai des Orfèvres by Olivier Marchal
I recently wrote an article (Sept 14th) entitled The Weight of the Body Falling which consisted in a first approach of a study of the effect of gravity on the human body and its potential architectural interpretation. The latter can be explored by writing about the notion of Landing Sites created by Arakawa and Gins (see all previous articles), I don’t feel ready to elaborate about it yet but it should come very soon.
For now, I would like to approach this notion of bodies falling in a Spinozist way, focusing on the notion of collision. The introductory image of this article is not innocent here; I noticed that however bad a movie can be as far as the scenario or the acting are concerned, I have a strong respect for films that are attached to the weights of bodies – body, here, has to be understood as a coherent cluster of microscopic particles forming a macroscopic ensemble. Off the top of my head, I am thinking in particular of the movies directed by Akira Kurosawa -in particular The Hidden Fortress– and of a very recent one directly registered in this genealogy: 13 Assassins by Takeshi Miike. I recommend -in addition of watching the movies themselves, of course- to watch entirely both movies’ trailer by clicking on the two previous links which in few minutes manage somehow to transmit this importance of the weight. Horses galloping in the mud, never far from sliding and falling, human bodies falling in the water or on the earth, and of course the instrumental steel of the swords that resonates when clashing, are as many indicators of the reality of two bodies colliding with each other.
Spinoza (see the numerous previous articles), as usual, is the philosopher to read to understand and interpret such collision. He is the thinker of two bodies interacting materially with each other, for which collision is the most violent and expressive paradigm.
Whichever bodies are involved in a given interaction affect each other. A caress on the skin, or the simple action of stepping on a hard ground are often not intense enough to have a visually striking affect. Nevertheless this affect on BOTH bodies exists and the collision of those two bodies allows it to be visible to the human eye. Such films that express objects’ weight are therefore a celebration of this philosophy and so are architectures which consider the human body as affected by them, and vice versa. Two of them appear to me -as usual- as paradigms in this matter: Arakawa and Gins’ Reversible Destiny and Architecture Principe‘s (Claude Parent and Paul Virilio) Oblique Function. In a Spinozist terminology, they are the Architectures of Joy.
More about this subject soon…