Sensual Southbank: the power of the body in the transformation of culture

Carter, Louisa (1993). Sensual Southbank: the power of the body in the transformation of culture Other, School of Geography, Planning and Architecture, The University of Queensland.

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Author Carter, Louisa
Thesis Title Sensual Southbank: the power of the body in the transformation of culture
School, Centre or Institute School of Geography, Planning and Architecture
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1993
Thesis type Other
Supervisor John Macarthur
Total pages 71
Language eng
Subjects 1201 Architecture
Formatted abstract
Observation of what is happening at Southbank suggests that the animation and manipulation of the body may serve to regulate or liberate the participants. An analysis can be conducted in terms of the specific details and subsequent behaviours to be observed in a particular setting.

The analysis of Chapter One seeks to establish that the orientation of the roles which are assumed by visitors to Southbank are body reliant. The details of the behaviour of individuals provide a description of how this is working. However, further to individual experience of this kind, the crowd experience available at Southbank is a powerful pressure upon individuals where legitimacy is based on the participation of a large number of people. Participation in the crowd occurs by immersing oneself bodily in its mood. This mood may be partly formulated in relation to the sensual prompts of the various elements of the park, but is amplified by the characteristics of the crowd.

The analysis of individual body satisfaction uncovers the techniques by which people are being manipulated and/or liberated. However, the perceptual attentiveness of the visitors to the veracity of these settings is selective. The chosen focus of attention at one particular place seems to exclude the visual clues to its artificiality. It is extremely interesting that the roles to be played out are so convincingly enjoyed, whilst the pretence at the base of the existence of the park remains virtually ignored. The overall conclusion to this segment of the thesis is that the importance of authenticity in the environmental settings of Southbank seems diminished by their ability to begin a collective life in Brisbane.

In Chapter Two, these observations are turned towards a discussion of the implications of the contrived experience made available at Southbank. Questions regarding the evolution of cultural consciousness are raised. To make a place like Southbank is to participate in the renewal and transformation of culture. Like the reproductions of the world we experience in the forms of television and photography, reproductions in architecture can have a powerful influence on the subjectivity of an individual. If the visitor's experience is informed by pleasure in the body at Southbank, then the knowledge gained from the use of its representative settings enforces a cultural transformation at the most primary level of experience.

Chapter Three muses questions of the wider political realm. As established in the first two chapters, the popularity of Southbank relies upon techniques to do with sensual pleasuring. The body is the phenomenon which stands in relation to the self and the subjectivity of an individual upon which these techniques are applied. In this chapter, the animation of the body at Southbank is discussed in terms of the possible coercive characteristics of sensual experience and the political impact of pleasure.

Questions of individual autonomy and choice arise in view of a theory in which the self is exhausted by its own subjectivity. The importance of the body as a possible instrument of manipulation in an individual's learning of their subject position does introduce interesting questions about the role of the environment. In Chapter Three, the power of the body is brought to bear on the political ramifications of cultural developments such as Southbank.
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Document type: Thesis
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Created: Mon, 24 Nov 2014, 12:19:44 EST by Elizabeth Alvey on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service