Talk at MIT, Feb 23rd

MIT calendar 2See MIT calendar for announcement and details.

MIT Department of Architecture / Spring 2018 Lecture Series
Design & Computation Series, organized by PhD student Athina Papadopoulou with Prof. Terry Knight

“Architectures of the Oculomotor: Body Motility, Ocular Processes, and the Perception of the Built Environment”

When it comes to perceiving the built environment, a static model of vision has been the principal organizing modality. In this paper I return to some prior historical articulations of the significance of motility in perception across art history, architectural theory, and the history of physiology. Experimental discoveries by Mach, Breuer and others in the 1870s for example connected sensory subsystems dealing with balance and orientation to eye movements, offering an alternative to the ‘retinal’ or static model of vision. In addition, by means of a hypothetical ‘walkthrough’ of an archaeological site, a Roman palaestra, I offer parallels between spatial motifs of the interior spaces of the body – labyrinths, vestibules, chambers – and those within the built environment, underlining the heightened physicality of oculomotor perception.

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