Architectures of Aliveness: Building Beyond Gravity

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Boucher, Marie-Pier


Hansen, Mark B. N.
Seaman, Bill

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In the context of today's global mobility, information, bodies and goods are circulating across the globe, and even further into outer space. However, we face a paradox: the more we move, the more we become sedentary. The modes of transportation that enable our global mobility are working against us, insidiously dwindling our psycho-physical mobility. Globalization is thus not the world becoming bigger (or too big), but the world becoming immobile. Taking the body as the central non-place of political space, Architectures of Aliveness: Building Beyond Gravity interrogates the possibility of inhabiting circulation as a pragmatic form of resistance to the contemporary immobilization of life. In an era in which bodies and goods are ever more constantly in global circulation, architectures of aliveness ask, what would an experience of weightlessness do for us?

Biotechnology serves as the current dominant model for enlivening architecture and the mobility of its inhabitants. Architectures of aliveness invert the inquiry to look instead at outer space's modules of inhabitation. In questioning the possibility of making circulation inhabitable --as opposed to only inhabiting what is stationary--architectures of aliveness problematize architecture as a form of biomedia production in order to examine its capacity to impact psychic and bodily modalities toward an intensification of health. Problematized synchretically within life's mental and physical polarization, health is understood politically as an accretion of our capacity for action instead of essentially as an optimization of the biological body. The inquiry emerges at the intersection of biotechnology, neurosciences, outer space science and technology, and architecture. The analysis oscillates between historical and contemporary case studies toward an articulation that concentrates on contemporary phenomena while maintaining an historical perspective. The methodology combines archival research, interviews, and artistic and literary analysis. The analysis is informed by scientific research. More precisely, the objective is to construct an innovative mode of thinking about the fields of exchangeability between arts and sciences beyond a critique of instrumentality.

The outcomes suggest that architectures of aliveness are architectures that invite modes of inhabitation that deviate from habitualized everyday spatial engagements. It also finds that the feeling of aliveness emerges out of the production of analog or continuous space where the body is in relation with space as opposed to be represented in it. The analysis concludes that the impact of architecture on our sense of wellbeing is conditioned by proprioceptive experiences that are at once between vision and movement and yet at the same time in neither mode, suggesting an aesthetic of inhabitation based on our sense of weightedness and weightlessness.

These outcomes are thus transduced to the field of media studies to enchant biomediatic inquiry. Proposing a renewed definition of biomedia that interprets life as a form of aesthetic relation, architectures of aliveness also formulate a critique of the contemporary imperialism of visualization techniques. Architectures of aliveness conclude by questioning the political implications of its own method to suggest opacity and agonistic spaces as the biomediatic forms of political space.





Boucher, Marie-Pier (2015). Architectures of Aliveness: Building Beyond Gravity. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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