JACQUES TATI AND A SUSTAINABLE NATURE:
THE HUMAN FIGURE IN MODERN SPACE
AESTHETICS, MODERNITY AND AN EVERYDAY BODILY EXPERIENCE OF
ARCHITECTURE AND THE CITY
This project started life as an essay here with this exhibition I went off on a few tangents.
Melbourne International Fringe Festival 2011
In this work I wanted to look at, in part, how the change in the meaning of aesthetics may have played a role in the way we designed modern space…
Did a disconnection between the body and its environment(s) allow us to design in compartmentalized ways?
If we reconnect our design process with an everyday bodily experience(reestablishing the relationships) between the body and its environments _ both built and natural _ will we make steps towards an ‘entire design process’?
This is a term used by Juhani Pallasmaa he suggests “sustainable architecture” needs to consider the body and mind of the humans who will occupy the spaces. “Sustainable architecture” he suggests can not be understood only through “technical” terms.
Susan Buck-Morss in her essay ‘Aesthetics and Anaesthetics’ explores the original meaning of aesthetics, as it referred to apprehending our environment through the senses and how this meaning changed during the upheaval of the modern experience in the 19th Century to a term that was more associated with the rationalized
experience of the mind…
Buck-Morss states where once aesthetics was meant to understand reality through the body (taste, touch, smell, sound, sight) the meaning of aesthetics changed to become something that is only understood rationally through the mind- an engagement with art (and life) became something to be contemplated rationally – removed from all the emotional, irrational, unpredictable, imperfect, untidiness of the human being
Lorraine Mortimer in her book Joy and Terror: The films of Dusan Makavejev in using the work Buck-Morss and Alla Efimova’s on aesthetics, argues that our bodies have often been left out when it comes to our attempts in understanding the world and ourselves.Mortimer writes, the rationalization of the understanding life lead to theories of abstracted humans. She argues that to understand life and ourselves we require these sometimes messy sensory parts of life things that we understand through our bodies, however irrational.
Marshall Berman in All that is Solid Melts to Air suggests what is significant in urban design in the twentieth century, especially since the World War Two, is the space that has been made available for the car in our modern cities. He writes that the streets have been re-designed for the traffic to the exclusion of all else which differs greatly from Haussmann’s and Baudelaire's Boulevards of an earlier modernism in the 19th Century (165).
The photo above is a still from Tati’s 1958 film Mon Oncle. Below is a photo taken of the same church in 2009. Mon Oncle is in part a comparison between the old Paris, of Tati’s youth, and a Modern Paris of, perhaps, Le Corbusier. Old Paris is represented by St Maur, a suburb of Paris to the east. The modern parts of the film are sets, Play Time is entirely a set.
I like to think of Tati, in some ways, as an ethnographic film maker.
This is a still, a picture of the square in Mon Oncle at St Maur, which Tati suggests, allows for a community engagement, if you like, it has a public space with no motor cars, everything happens here from grocery shopping, to parties, street fetes…
Above is recreation of the party scene in the Royal Garden Night Club at the end of Play Time
Tati suggests that the modern architecture of Play Time has drained the life out of the city. A vibrancy has been lost, something vital.
Only when the modern architecture comes apart do people start to move freely and have fun.
Whereas before they where abstracted and disconnected from their environment Tati suggests they are now engaged bodily…