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Déjà vu: Restaging Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad
The artifact/installation, entitled Déjà vu: Restaging Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad, is an original critical reading of Alain Resnais’ 1961 film Last Year at Marienbad based on a screenplay by Alain Robbe-Grillet. Déjà vu consists of a large architectural model interpreting the physical and psychological spaces in the film, and a digital animation specifically designed to be projected on the model. The piece was specifically constructed for Speculative Models a two-person exhibition at London Gallery West, April 22–May 17, 2009. Questions/Aims and Objectives (1) Develop a new alternative form of design-led practice that uses drawing, model making and digital film as critical tools, thus merging the boundaries between architectural design and theory. (2) Introduce an original critical reading of Resnais’ film through an architectural installation, unravelling the psychological dimensions of the setting and plot, from a design perspective. (3) Reveal the architectural significance of themes deriving from the film: architecture, memory and oblivion; clash between baroque setting (Amalienburg Hunting Lodge, Munich) and Modernist narrative (Nouveau Roman, Robbe-Grillet); game theory in literature and design; mise en abyme in architecture, literature and film; erotic desire and architecture. Research Methods The work derives from an interdisciplinary enquiry involving architectural design and architectural history and theory, film theory and critical theory. (1) An analysis of the significance of the spatial arrangement of the film by looking at the film itself and taking notes, drawing and sketching, combined with a study of the screenplay, texts from film theory and interviews. (2) Investigation into the connection between space and memory, or amnesia, using studies in psychology. (3) Research by design in the development of a critical artefact/installation in the form of a digital film to be projected on a three dimensional model. Research Context Déjà vu is a continuation of my preoccupation with design as a critical method and experimentation in digital film. My participation in the Venice Biennale 2000 included two digital films and I have developed the technique of designing a hybrid between an architectural model and a digital projection in previous projects, such as Drawing Fix, 2002, Athens-scape, 2003 and The Gaze of the Auto-Icon, 2008, as well as in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. Both the new artefact/installation and the accompanying essay in the catalogue will be informed by: (1) Historical study of the baroque setting of the film and the contrasting Modernist ideals expressed in the narrative (2) Critical analyses of the film (Linda Dittmar, Sharon Kivland, Jean-Louis Leutrat, Bruce Morrissette) (3) The work of artists and architects influenced by the film and Robbe-Grillet’s writing (Olafur Eliasson, Dan Graham, Philippe Rahm) (4) Research into the psychology of memory
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