Feeling: The Architectural Kiss

April 9, 2012

Melting; an architectural alchemy, a union of magnetic forces bound for inevitable separation, yet yearning for eternal closeness. But how to kiss your way into a more expansive understanding of architectural space? How to soften two similar but different surfaces such that new definitions of threshold emerge and operate through suction and slippage rather than delimitation and boundary?

Lavin claims “Kissing as a theory of architecture… and a potent way to describe a contemporary architectural performance.” She describes architecture as having grown intolerably bored, confining and austere. That it’s current forms are “merely what you bump up against when you back up to see some art.” Architecture now really deserves a kiss, needs to kiss, needs a theory of kissing. And if ever there was a champion to free architecture from it’s conventional binds, if ever the power of affect could outweigh the threats of cultural paralysis, it is the Kiss. Not in death, but in sleep, to wake from it’s enduring slumber.  A Kiss to wake.

Kissing offers a release from permanence, socially constrained architecture. Kissing extends alternative visions of ephemerality, desire, romance, healing, love. “It is the devastatingly generous slip on and over the archaic architectural figures of authority and autonomous intellection.” It is not violent or over excessive, yet still steadfast, “it is the gesture of a sweetly gentle and yet thoroughly overpowering kiss.”

And what else to caress, to embrace, to kiss – than the ubiquitous architectural surface? The outer skin is accessible, the envelope is attractive, and the facade communicates potential for affect. “Architecture’s most kissable aspect is its surface.” There are infinite types of surfaces, infinite possibilities, there’s a surface for everyone. Lavin states “the kiss is today’s highest form of sensation.” And indeed, the sensation is undeniable, the chemical vibrations, starting in a low hum, and rising, quickening with increasing material closeness. By melting architectural surfaces into/upon one another, are we kissing architecture or is it kissing itself or others? Can we define this touching in known terms (a polite greeting, a tragic farewell, an act of passion, intimacy or deceit) or do we need new names?

Although the kiss is innovative in the context of architecture and affect, it is also a modest proposal. It is a tease of what it may become, just the beginning, an introduction. How might architecture madly grope each other? Hold each other? How might it intertwine, caress, and dance? Is it limited to only two bodies?

How to enable architecture to kiss to the greatest affect? Lavin suggests “an entanglement of architecture with another,” that it may expand its affective range by “hooking up with more cultural players.” Set-ups, blind-dates, speed-dating, cute-meets, moving beyond its comfortable form, risking a flutter to its fixity. It is transformative, it is transgressive. The act stimulates a beautiful distortion; the embrace interrupts communication, replacing affect and force for representation and meaning. The Kiss is contact, a performance of temporary singularities, a union of bedazzling convergence.

/anna ingebrigtsen


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