The Moving Body of the Spectator and Formation of Spatial Sequences in Cinematic Architecture

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Associate Professor, School of Performing Arts, College of Fine Arts, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 Assistant Professor, Faculty of Art, Art University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran

3 Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, College of Fine Arts, University of Tehran, Tehran

4 Ph.D. Student of Art Studies, Faculty of Art, Art University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran


Sergei Eisenstein, the prominent Soviet filmmaker and theoretician, was interested in the inherent inspirations from the potentials of ancient art of architecture in order to enhance the emerging art of cinema. He regarded highly the baroque architecture and its capabilities to incorporate the user and convert him/her to an active character in architectural drama. Eisenstein believed in the primary relationship between an architectural construction and the structure of a film, and considered a corporeal presence of a moving viewer for both of them. A film's observer moves along an imaginary path and passes through multiples filmic spaces and cinematic times. He suggested that film had inherited such ability from architecture and emphasized the importance and necessity of considering the "cinematic path" and the "architectural path". The model of architectural promenade, influenced by Eisenstein's debates, declared by Le Corbusier, is often considered as an attempt to shape to a cinematic architecture.  By realizing the affinity between the spatial perception of a user in an architectural complex and a spectator of the film, Le Corbusier attempted to borrow from potentials of cinema in the architectural design process. In this procedure, the spatial sequences are formed by considering the changing positions and the shifting perspectives of the moving observer.A moving user forms a coherent image from the varying perspectives and architectural frames which provoke him to keep moving through a building.  It might be discussed that for Le Corbusier, the perception of architecture makes sense only by the corporeal presence of a user in the building who, due to bodily movement through the spaces, may give a temporal and cinematic essence to architecture in such a way as a film's spectator, by moving through a narrativized space and sequential path, could relate the spaces to each other. It is worth citing that great architecture historian,Siegfried Gideon, in his famous argument about sequential and Space-time characteristics of Le‌ Corbusier's works (particularly Villa Savoye), compares them with baroque architecture and the works of Borromini. As Gideon declares Borromini to be an architect to have all of his techniques in design act as strategies to create a sense of movement in the user. The Gideon's tutor, Heinrich Wölfflin believed that baroque art is the emblem of aesthetic of movement and in baroque, every fragment finds its meaning only in its relation with movement. The present article, at first by borrowing arguments from philosophers such as Walter Benjamin and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, attempts to show that in both film and architecture, a spectator perceives space in haptic and tactile way and by an embodied presence. Then, we try to make clear that the capacities and potentials of cinema can act as an inspiration source for architects in the design process. Due to advances in the cinematic space making and achieving the more complex relationship between space and time, and also between body and space in contemporary cinema, we believe, architectural adaptation from the potentials of space-centered medium of cinema, can help augment contemporary architectural space.


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