February 17, 2010
2001 dislocation
Still from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick, 1968 (source)


Most of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey takes place in zero-gravity environments where the traditional rules of architecture are void. No longer must a floor be horizontal or a wall, vertical. With no center of gravity, horizontal and vertical have no meaning. While we understand the world in three-dimensions, the forces of gravity generally force us onto a two-dimensional plane. In space, we are able to navigate free of these restrictions.


While the narrative of Kubrick’s film takes place in space, the construction of the illusion happened here on earth, with all of its rules intact. In order to achieve the appearance of weightlessness, Kubrick devised complex centrifugal sets, which reversed the relationship between the fixed and the mobile. The sets effectively rotated beneath the actors, like a motorized hamster wheel, forcing them into motion in order to maintain balance. While the sets are successful at portraying zero-gravity environments on film, they are equally interesting for their distortion of architectural norms in the real world. Perhaps all buildings could rotate around an axis in order to open up access to all of the surfaces that typically go unused. Then you could finally vacuum those cobwebs on the ceiling/wall/floor and mop your ceilings/walls/floors without splattering water everywhere.


E. Sean Bailey


Inferior Shoulder Dislocation (source)


As I was descending the staircase of a Montreal art gallery a few years back, I reminded myself not to design stairs of such irritating dimensions. These were longer than a standard run, but not long enough to take a few steps on, just long enough to remind you of their annoyance. To exacerbate the already poor design, the stone stairs had a highly polished finish which made them incredibly slippery. Before I realized what was happening, I was skiing down the steps in a pair of sandals. When I finally came to a sitting stop I realized that my arm, which had been grasping the rail all the while, had been fully released from its socket. Here, user and designer both lost control.


Erandi de Silva






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