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Type: Conference paper
Title: Curtains and carnality: Processural seductions in eighteenth century text and space
Author: Downey, G.
Taylor, M.
Citation: Imaging : Proceedings of 27th International SAHANZ Conference, held in Newcastle, New South Wales, 30 June- 2 July 2010: pp.121-126
Publisher: SAHANZ
Publisher Place: Australia
Issue Date: 2010
ISBN: 9780646536903
Conference Name: Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand Conference (27th : 2010 : Newcastle, New South Wales)
Statement of
Georgina Downey and Mark Taylor
Abstract: Libertine erotic novellas included a number of seductive descriptions of unfolding spaces often seen through the eyes of a narrator. Instructional volumes such as Point de lendermain by Vivant Denon (1777) aimed at the sexual education of young women and the titillation of men also followed suit. Similarly architectural theory such as Le Camus de Mézières’, The Genius of Architecture (1780) also promoted the sensuous and seductive aspects of surfaces and spatial arrangements. In the erotic settings of the cabinet, descriptions of curtains generate as much arousal as the outline of a naked body, and for some players it is the space that is desired above their lover. Many of these imaginary spaces of boudoirs and cabinets have been represented through filmic interpretations such as Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s Le Liaisons Dangereuses, Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette and the earlier 1938 Marie Antoinette. In these theatrically inspired scenographic interiors there are intense resources poured into reconstructing the materiality of the eighteenth century villa. These filmic reconstructions therefore provide a wealth of technical information about the re-imagining of eighteenth century architectural space, and themselves constitute a seduction for the audience through the use of extreme close-ups of characters being dressed and undressed, powdered, and corseted, that draw voyeuristic analogies between clothing and decor. This paper concludes that twentieth century filmic and re-imagined built environment adhere with surprising consistency to earlier narratives in fiction and art that relied similarly on the interplay between the unfolding of story and space. In these texts there is a collusion between seduction in words and architectural detailing, producing an inseparability that is witnessed by the concealed viewer.
Rights: © Copyright 2010 SAHANZ and the authors
RMID: 0020104257
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