Critical and Theoretical Perspectives
Stephen Turk Francis Bacon, Video Games and the Fragmented Architectural Body
Painting is nothing if it does not attack the architecture of the human body. — Denis Hollier: Against Architecture (Hollier, 1989: 80) Of Windows, Screens and Atmospheres On the surface there would seem little to recommend a scholarly investi- gation of the relationship between the work of Francis Bacon, the spatial experiences of video game players and contemporary arguments in archi- tectural theory. Bacon, the pre-eminent figural painter of the second half of the twentieth century, was himself an enigmatic figure, one whose body of work demonstrates a sense of violence and visual power that challenges the representation of the body and subjectivity in the contemporary world. Although a certain superficial connection between the violence exhibited upon the body in popular modes of entertainment such as the ‘first person shooters’ of contemporary electronic media can be seen as resonant with aspects of the portrayal of subjects in Bacon’s canvases, the question I would like to explore is how architecture is connected to these seemingly distant cultural phenomena. As architecture in the popular imagination is a disci- pline identified with the mundane logic of material processes, bureaucratic logistics and legalistic regulation, one might ask what an analysis of the work of video games and Bacon can say relative to architecture’s theoretical debates and cultural heritage. Indeed, one might wonder how a profession 12 Stephen Turk so seemingly far removed from both the fast-paced world of computer gaming and the hauntingly evocative colour fields and exfoliated bodies of the English painter could be...
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