The Eyes of the Skin Analysis

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The Eyes of the Skin of Architecture
Juhani Pallasmaa

This book was written by Juhani Pallasmaa with regard to ‘Polemics’, on issues that were part of the architecture discourse of the time, i.e. 1995. It is also an extending of ideas expressed in an essay entitled “Architecture of the seven senses” published in 1994. As suggested by the title, this piece of literature attempts to highlight the importance of sensory experience in architecture. It is indeed a response to what the author terms as ‘ocularcentrism’ of Modern Architecture. Ocularcentrism is the act of prioritizing visual stimuli to all other sensory stimuli available to a human perception. He quotes famous German poet, Goethe, in his defense, “the hands want to see, the eyes want to caress” Firstly, Pallasma discusses at length the sensory deprivation and distance caused by ocularcentrism; and how this keeps architecture from being as wholesome as it is capable of. This is so, as architecture today does not Pallasmaa argues, take into account, peripheral vision, shifting of focus, memory, and imagination. It "has housed the intellect and the eye, but left the body and other senses, as well as our memories, imagination, dreams homeless”. Secondly, he points out how ocularcentrism has developed into a cultural norm; thus the eye can itself be biased, "nihilistic or narcisstic". Therefore can be distanced and detached from the other senses, for instance, touch, thus allowing no emotional dialogue. To support his theory, he quotes examples of the dynamics of the sense of touch in heightened emotional states wherein, indeed "the hands want to see" Thirdly, the author compares the image of a modern city to that of what he terms a "haptic city" - a city which can be touched; contrary to the distant, exterior oriented modern city. Furthermore, he discusses how since antiquity, man has been the measure of not only his architecture, all his activities as well. To support this argument Pallasmaa quotes...
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