Kimberley Skelton
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The disciplinary distraction of motion
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From mid-seventeenth century, guests found motion literally built into the interior and exterior spaces through which they passed both cues that invited their own physical and mental movement and the potential changeability in house and garden. To late seventeenth-century English viewers, in fact, the sash window offered unprecedented transparency despite its grid of mullions. Across the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries guests look through the window separating interior and exterior, and correspondingly the house interior became a briefer interlude in movements through the English landscape. Guests found that the vista was one moment in a sequence of experiences blending motion and mental readjustment. Vistas, potentially mobile wall surface, and changeable garden provided precisely the essential distraction that, in actual experience and theoretical discussion, rearticulated social divisions and assured the ideal harmony. The illusionistically changeable wall surfaces of entertaining rooms transformed such strategic distraction into an enveloping environment.

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