Katherine Shonfield – On Smearing: These Walls Have Feelings

Lecture date: 1996-05-16

As a reference point for architects film is most commonly used as a more or less transparent architectural document of a given building or city. More insidiously, it exploits an explicit confirmation of our self-styled unique status – the camera can lovingly caress the banal more effectively than the most obsessional drawing. In opposition to this position, Katherine Shonfield gives a two-part lecture series using film to offer an insight into and an analogy for the professional activities, most specifically the pursuit of order. In this first lecture she explores the way in which the subject matter of Roman Polanski’s horror films Rosemarys Baby and Repulsion establishes an architectural language capable of articulating anxiety about spatial ambiguity and the permeability of surfaces. The language deftly encompasses the city and the one-to-one detail, setting up explicitly sexual analogies which cast light on the architectural activity of the time, the mid-1960s.

NB: Fluctuations in sound quality. Stills from both films are sometimes unclear.