Space, time and the embodied description of the past
Author: Dana Arnold

This book examines how eighteenth-century prints and drawings of the architecture of antiquity operated as potent representations of thought with their own syntactical, linguistic and cultural qualities.

Original archival material is interrogated using the trope of ekphrasis to pinpoint debates about verbal and visual descriptions that continue to influence semiotics and critical theory. This novel approach makes a timely intervention in current debates about how we interpret the visual.

Beginning with the notion that the spatial world of the image and the temporal world of the text share common ground as embodiments of human thought, this study questions how these are brought to bear on the spatial and temporal aspects of the architecture of antiquity as evident in prints and drawings made of it. The book considers the idea of the past in the period, especially how it was discovered and described, and investigates the ways in which space and time inform the visual ekphrasis of architecture. The idea of embodiment is used to explore the various methods of describing architecture – including graphic techniques, measurement and perspective, all of which demonstrate choices about, and the gendered implications of, different modes of description or ekphrasis.

Editor: Dana Arnold

The need for a single public culture - the creation of an authentic identity - is fundamental to our understanding of nationalism and nationhood. This book considers how manufactured cultural identities are expressed. It explores how notions of Britishness were constructed and promoted through architecture, landscape, painting, sculpture and literature, and the ways in which the aesthetics of national identities promoted the idea of nation. The idea encompassed the doctrine of popular freedom and liberty from external constraint. Particular attention is paid to the political and social contexts of national identities within the British Isles; the export, adoption and creation of new identities; and the role of gender in the forging of those identities. The book examines the politics of land-ownership as played out within the arena of the oppositional forces of the Irish Catholics and the Anglo-Irish Protestant ascendancy. It reviews the construction of a modern British imperial identity as seen in the 1903 durbar exhibition of Indian art. The area where national projection was particularly directed was in the architecture and the displays of the national pavilions designed for international exhibitions. Discussions include the impact of Robert Bowyer's project on the evolution of history painting through his re-representation of English history; the country houses with architectural styles ranging from Gothic to Greek Revivalist; and the place of Arthurian myth in British culture. The book is an important addition to the field of postcolonial studies as it looks at how British identity creation affected those living in England.

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Dana Arnold

This chapter analyses the approach taken and offers some conclusions, as well as pointing to the broader implications of the book as a means of thinking about other periods and media. The neutrality of visual ekphrases is called into question through the assumed norm of the masculinist language, whether verbal of visual. Using Derrida, the perceived oppositional nature of space and time is questioned. The female absence and implicit presence is emphasised in the phenomenological experience of space; the proportional system or syntax used in architectural drawing; in the line that creates images; and in the bodily processes through which prints and drawings are produced. In this way, the actions (i.e. gestures and marks) that create visual ekphrases, and in the spaces and surfaces that these images inhabit show the way to a reading of categories of production and historical analysis that differs from canonical norms.

in Architecture and ekphrasis
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Dana Arnold

This chapter begins by thinking about the spaces of the page and the bodily experience of reading. The relationship between seeing and knowing is explored using the eighteenth-century ideas of Bishop Berkeley articulated through more recent thinking by Derrida and Merleau-Ponty. Theories of space and its representation through the illusion of perspective are traced from antiquity in relation to their influence on artistic practice. The chapter goes on to question what happens when theories of perspective and architectural practice collide, as evident in the work of Borromini, Pozzo and Robert Adam. The distinctive theories and practice of perspective in the long eighteenth century, especially the work of Dr Brook Taylor and Thomas Malton are examined in their contemporary context, including the parallel developments in literature, where the physio-psychological experience of space emerges as a popular preoccupation. The final section considers the historiographic implications for the perceived gap between the representation of space in architectural and artistic practice. It concludes with a consideration of J. M. W. Turner’s Royal Academy lecture diagrams as inheritors of a rich tradition of spatial thinking and perspective theory.

in Architecture and ekphrasis
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Dana Arnold

This chapter establishes the principal themes and the modes of enquiry used to explore how the architecture of the past is described. It begins with a discussion of the concept of ekphrasis and goes on to consider the relationship between text and image. Key figures including Winckelmann, Lessing, de Piles and Berkeley are introduced. Using Walter Benjamin, the particular qualities of prints are explored.

in Architecture and ekphrasis
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Dana Arnold

This chapter looks at the ways in which the past was encountered and recorded in texts and through travel. The eighteenth-century experience of Rome is revisited using Freud. It establishes the masculinist, linguistic predicates of verbal and visual descriptions. The work of Stuart and Revett, and Piranesi are used as case studies to explore the implications of visual ekphrases of the past.

in Architecture and ekphrasis
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Dana Arnold

Using the trope of the line, this chapter considers the relationship between prints and drawings and the embodied processes in their production. The ways in which the line operates as a means of verbal and visual ekphrasis is explored through the anachronistic juxtaposition of renaissance and eighteenth-century theories of drawing and Deleuzian–Bergsonian and Benjaminian theories of lines and images. The feminine trace is revealed in Hogarth’s ‘line of beauty’ and this gendered notion of recording the past is extended into the case study of the rediscovery of the Villa of the Papyri, which remains underground and unseen. Here the Derridean idea of drawings as being an act of blindness is combined with the bodily experience of space.

in Architecture and ekphrasis
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Dana Arnold

This introduction presents an overview of key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book considers some questions in relation to the ways in which the aesthetics of national identities promoted the idea of nation that encompassed the doctrine of popular freedom and liberty from external constraint. It provides a discrete investigation into these issues with particular reference to the interaction of indigenous cultural identity and empire, and how this impacted on the making of 'Britishness' in all its complexities. The book examines the politics of land-ownership as played out within the arena of the oppositional forces of the Irish Catholics and the Anglo-Irish Protestant ascendancy. It reviews to the construction of a modern British imperial identity as seen in the 1903 durbar exhibition of Indian art. The book presents the discussion of cultural identities and the aesthetics of Britishness in the twentieth century.

in Cultural identities and the aesthetics of Britishness
The Phoenix Park, Dublin (1832–49), an urban heterotopia?
Dana Arnold

This chapter constructs a contextualizing framework for the improvement that was made to the park, examining its social, historical and cultural significance against the backdrop of important political change. The Phoenix Park lies to the north-west of the centre of Dublin, standing, in the nineteenth century, between the city and the countryside beyond. By the mid-century the Phoenix Park had been transformed into an attractive landscaped space with public areas and private, though now visible, official residences. This transformation included a clear definition of the perimeter of the park, which was punctuated with new entrance gates and lodges. The works in the Phoenix Park can be set in the context of the turbulent English-Irish relations during the opening years of the nineteenth century. The chapter focuses on the expression of colonial authority exercised through a metropolitan system of government and how this, in turn, found expression in the urban landscape.

in Cultural identities and the aesthetics of Britishness