Paola Berensteins Jacques, or Jacques 1, is an architect, urbanist and professor at UFBA that is interested about the impacts that the architecture has in our body and the other way around, how out bodies can impact and change the experience of architecture. Because of that interest, she became acquaintance and started to work with Fabiana Dultra Britto 2, also a professor at UFBA, but a professor of Dance and Dance critique. Together they started to work on the concept of Corpography.
Corpography is a junction of body (in Portuguese corpo) and cartography. The idea is that the body has a kind of map that records every experience that we have with the space, specially the urban space, and that map impacts the way we relate the space and architecture.
For both professors, this is especially visible when we take a closer look at how the residents of a Brazilian favela walk on the urban space the live. According to them, it’s almost the same of seeing dancers performing a specific choreography that shows the close relation between these dwellers and the space they live.
This relation between body and space can also be seeing when we experience other types of architectural spaces. We walk differently when we are inside of a cathedral than when we are on a park or inside other types of space.
This is also real for the architect and professor Juhani Pallasmaa 3. For him, the body is the centre of all of our experiences with the world. We should consider that we fell the space with all of our body, instead of only our eyes. Pallasmaa says that creating architecture to be experienced with only our eyes made our buildings into visual products that are disconnected with our existential reality.
Because of this close relation between body and architectural space. Architects can and should be prepared to think about the physical experience they are creating for the users of their projects and how new technologies can change and impact this relation.
Felipe Bosi 4 on his thesis about the relation between smartphones, body and remarkable places concluded that there we make an “exchange” of physical motor patterns on the real world for information in the digital spaces. In other words, we are changing our Corpographies to receive data from our phones or to create data that we want to transmit through it. That can be specially perceivable when we stop to take a selfie. On that kind of image, that only got popularity with the advent of social medias, we see the world reflected on a screen and take a strange posture that only makes sense on this kind of scenario.
For him, that isn’t something that is inherit good or bad, but a condition from our world that we architects have to learn to think about and design our buildings according to it. The digital devices that we use in our day expands the capacity of our mind, something that is also discussed by the philosophers Andy Clark and David Chalmers on the article “The Extended Mind” 5. This expansion of the mind creates a close relation between these devices and the way we think and experience the world, the space and the architecture. These digital devices, especially the smartphone, has a great impact on the way we interact with our buildings.
For Bosi, as our body is the centre of all of our experience with the world outside of our mind, this also include the experience that we have with the digital. This causes the digital experience to impact the experience that we have with architectural space. He says that our body also makes a corpography of our interaction of the digital world, making micro-movements that make it possible for us to interact with the digital.
These micro-movements creates some corporeal patterns that impacts not only a persons relation with a building, but also the relation of other people with the same area. To Bosi, this creates a hybrid between our physical space and the space of the digital interactions, where, at the same time, we experience the physical parts of the reality, but we are also talking to somebody that isn’t there, reading some info written in the past or sending some photo to the time-space continuum of some social media.
JACQUES, Paola Berenstein (2008). Corpografias urbanas. In: Arquitextos, São Paulo, ano 08, n.093.07, Vitruvius. Available at: https://www.vitruvius.com.br/revistas/read/arquitextos/08.093/165.
BRITTO, Fabiana Dultra; JACQUES, Paola Berenstein (2008). Cenografias e corpografias urbanas: um diálogo sobre as relações entre corpo e cidade. In Cadernos PPG-AU/UFBA, vol 7. Available at: https://portalseer.ufba.br/index.php/ppgau/article/view/2648.
PALLASMAA, Juhani (2012). The Eyes of the Skin. USA: Wiley.
BOSI, Felipe Azevedo (2019). The Hybrid Experience of Remarkable Places: digital devices and amalgamated mind in the experience of cities, PhD thesis, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro.
CLARK, Andy; CHALMERS, David (1998). The Extended Mind. In: Analysis, vol. 58, n. 1, jan. 1998, p.7-19.