Igniting imagination through darkness: discovering fear and fantasy through shadows, silence and the invisible.
AffiliationCape Peninsula University of Technology
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AbstractDarkness invites imagination. On the one hand, it creates intimacy. It has been observed by many artforms that we feel the need to close off our vision during intense emotional experiences, during dreaming, listening to music, or caressing our loved ones. Shadows can be seen to do this for us, as they dim vision and entice unconscious peripheral vision and tactile fantasy. On the other hand, darkness entices fear. A person, who is afraid of the dark, writes Finnish architect Palasmaa, has no factual reason to fear darkness as such; he is afraid of his own imagination. Darkness, or the lack of light, is also often accompanied by silence and has the ominous ability to render the visible invisible. To probe the experience of darkness, this paper will refer to the philosophical position of phenomenology. In this regard, darkness is seen as a phenomenon that is experienced through our bodily senses. The phenomenology of darkness will be investigated be making reference to the way we project ourselves onto architectural spaces, also known as ‘mimesis of the body’. Furthermore, it will be investigated how our perceptions, memories and imaginings of past experiences influence such projections. This paper hopes to show how the relation between imagination, our mental faculty that forms images of external concepts not present to the senses, and darkness, can be understood by interpreting spatial narratives of architectural interiors. A selection of evocative interiors will be interpreted in terms of three factors that contribute to the phenomenology of darkness: shadows, silence, and the invisible. By doing so, this paper hopes to indicate how darkness has strong existential expressions that can be incorporated into spatial narratives in architectural interiors.
CitationSlabbert, B. and Jordaan, J. (2016) 'Igniting imagination through darkness: discovering fear and fantasy through shadows, silence and the invisible.' in J. Jordaan, C. Haddrell, & C. Alegria (Eds.), Dialectics of Space and Place across Virtual and Corporeal Topographies, Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press., pp. 307-316.
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