Curtains and carnality: Processural seductions in eighteenth century text and space

Downey, Georgina and Taylor, Mark (2010). Curtains and carnality: Processural seductions in eighteenth century text and space. In: Michael Chapman and Michael Ostwald, imagining... Proceedings of the 27th International SAHANZ Conference. imagining... SAHANZ 2010: The 27th Annual Sahanz Conference, Newcastle, NSW, Australia, (121-126). 30 June-2 July 2010.

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Author Downey, Georgina
Taylor, Mark
Title of paper Curtains and carnality: Processural seductions in eighteenth century text and space
Conference name imagining... SAHANZ 2010: The 27th Annual Sahanz Conference
Conference location Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Conference dates 30 June-2 July 2010
Convener Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand
Proceedings title imagining... Proceedings of the 27th International SAHANZ Conference
Place of Publication Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Publisher Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ)
Publication Year 2010
Sub-type Fully published paper
ISBN 9780646536903
0646536907
Editor Michael Chapman
Michael Ostwald
Start page 121
End page 126
Total pages 6
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
Libertine erotic novellas included a number of seductive descriptions of unfolding spaces often seen through the eyes of a narrator. Instructional volumes such as Point de lendermain by Vivant Denon (1777) aimed at the sexual education of young women and the titillation of men also followed suit. Similarly architectural theory such as Le Camus de Mézières’, The Genius of Architecture (1780) also promoted the sensuous and seductive aspects of surfaces and spatial arrangements. In the erotic settings of the cabinet, descriptions of curtains generate as much arousal as the outline of a naked body, and for some players it is the space that is desired above their lover.

Many of these imaginary spaces of boudoirs and cabinets have been represented through filmic interpretations such as Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s Le Liaisons Dangereuses, Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette and the earlier 1938 Marie Antoinette. In these theatrically inspired scenographic interiors there are intense resources poured into reconstructing the materiality of the eighteenth century villa. These filmic reconstructions therefore provide a wealth of technical information about the re-imagining of eighteenth century architectural space, and themselves constitute a seduction for the audience through the use of extreme close-ups of characters being dressed and undressed, powdered, and corseted, that draw voyeuristic analogies between clothing and decor.

This paper concludes that twentieth century filmic and re-imagined built environment adhere with surprising consistency to earlier narratives in fiction and art that relied similarly on the interplay between the unfolding of story and space. In these texts there is a collusion between seduction in words and architectural detailing, producing an inseparability that is witnessed by the concealed viewer.
Q-Index Code E1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ
Additional Notes Presented during Session 6A.

Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: School of Architecture Publications
 
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Created: Wed, 16 Mar 2011, 12:40:47 EST by Deirdre Timo on behalf of School of Architecture