Igniting imagination through darkness: discovering fear and fantasy through shadows, silence and the invisible.

Book chapter


Slabbert, Barend and Jordaan, June 2016. Igniting imagination through darkness: discovering fear and fantasy through shadows, silence and the invisible. in: Inter-Disciplinary Press.
AuthorsSlabbert, Barend and Jordaan, June
Abstract

Darkness 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.

Darkness 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.

KeywordsPhenomenology; Imagination; Narrative; Darkness; Spatial experience; Perception; Space; Fantasy
Year2016
PublisherInter-Disciplinary Press
ISBN9.78185E+12
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10545/622200
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
hdl:10545/622200
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Publication dates2016
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Deposited22 Feb 2018, 16:10
ContributorsCape Peninsula University of Technology
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