Confused post about identity

October 16, 2013


When I started reading “The mutant body of architecure” by George Teyssot, my thoughts went to an old book of mine: Husmoderns läkarbok, from the 1930s. Through advises, prescriptions, and pedagogical images its is unravelling the mysteries of the human body. The main attraction are the exceptional colour images: layer by layer of carefully detailed illustrations revealing the constitution of the stomach, the eye, the ear, the reproductive organs…

I believe this interest of mine represents a quite common curiosity for the unknown, and especially for the unknown inside ourselves. As Teyssot mentions, the invisibility of the our inner organs have for long been a source of inspiration within art and science, and still we’re trying to understand how particular material conditions inside our bodies relates to the outer world, as well as to our inner psyche. This can be seen as a searching for greater understanding of our own position in space, our place in the world, a searching that is naturally shaped by the predominant ideas of the time.

As Teyssot shows, in the early 20th century the predominant analogy was the human/machine, but since the end of the century, when the “computer science and micro-molecular biology” had taken over, we should expect new visions/imaginations of the body in relation to space (1994: 30).

If the machine symbolized a kind of mathematical predictability, rationalism and calculation, the paradigm of today is characterized by a complex set of constantly changing (global) connections and flows, interacting as an incomprehensible whole.

I was interested in how this kind of new connections through space (new ways of communicating, flows of capital and goods, news media, migration and other travels, nomadic lifestyles, professional and personal global relations, etcetera) effect our understanding of ourselves, more specific: How do we understand us as parts of communities – local or global? What new kinds of spaces are created, which disappear? How does our sense of responsibility change when the relation between our actions and there consequences is more complex and hidden?

Instead of searching for an origin or try to classify, as my fascination for the images in Husmoderns läkarbok might be an example of, I think the idea that Teyssot brings up about incarnation/incorporation can be useful (1994: 23). If we see ourselves, and also the built surroundings, as species/objects living by integrating the other into ourselves, instead of trying to separate us from them, here from there, maybe we can better understand the our relations to each other, as well as the new spaces we create.

/Gerd Holgersson

George Teyssot, 1994. The mutant body of architecure. In: Elizabet Diller, Ricardo Scofidio. Flesh. Architectural probes. New York : Princeton architectural press




Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: