40 616 Body and Space Morphologies: Catharsis. Acting and The Collective


Det kreves ingen forkunnskaper utover opptakskrav i studieprogrammet.

Course content

Introduction: Body and Space Morphologies
Body and Space Morphologies is a research based teaching program that offers a series of master studios (Catharsis, 24ect) and elective courses (Architecture & Film, 6ect) in explorative architectural design (acting), sensing and thinking. Based on performativity theories, performance studies, neurodiversity studies as well as phenomenology and perception theories, the aim of the Catharsis studio course series is to work and deeper investigate primal pre-architectural material, processes, phenomena and conditions, and to develop or perform these into clearly experienced distinct architectural sensations, interests and identities.

Students individually are to study the performance of and with a material of their choice. Throughout the semester, they learn in depth how to develop strong initiatives for an
explorative working process that aims to act bodily on impulses and experiences - through the making of and acting with models, artifacts, plastics, installations, hand drawings, sketches and film/video. Rather than working with concepts and conceptual approaches, students in the Catharsis studios learn how to submit to performativity as the sole instance in which to act a real material – any material that is moved from a mere optical visuality towards a haptic visuality - and from which to construct or perform architectural identities
that clearly draw forth a unique and individual artistic architectural research; the start of it.

The Catharsis studio courses are for students who wish to create their own architectural problem(s); based on what the course refers to as haptic visuality. It is a course series specialized for students who either have an urge to seek deeper into particular architectural issues/materials or who want to challenge their own creative process and to get to know themselves better in the making of an architecture. Beyond the success of a mere problemsolving and/or established architectural critique, Body and Space Morphologies studios prepare and try to enable students to conduct their own architectural artistic research.

Catharsis : Acting and the Collective #III Spring 2017:
Students are to develop their own personal architectural initiative in relation to a social construct, a built autonomous construct and a desired connection to nature/environment. The topic for the Body and Space Morphologies studio course series is CATHARSIS; an inspiration to “Act The Collective” or to “Act Because Of The Collective” either as the architectural “relief from strong or repressed emotions” or as the subversive antonym to it “causing repression and/or strong emotions”. How to free and architecturally act a desire driven emotive collective, or how to conceive architecture in response to such a collective, is the task for these semesters.

However, the initial architectural initiative is without any pre-conceived architectural content or idea a mere bodily haptic material that through the experience of it and the further acting with it performs or constructs strong architectural identity/identities. In a final creative writing paper, these architectural identities have to be released and shared.

The studio works on the subthemes of “expression, language and the inexpressible”.

The Semester Task:
Spatially to release your necessity to make something because of something. To act, react or enact on a distinct, personal initiative understood as necessity for a bodily acting with a material. To construct and perform architectural identities in the things (materials: plastics, installations, models, drawings etc) rather then in thought. To embrace performativity as the sole act that sets the stage (architecture/architectural condition) for the collective (a chosen group of individuals; e.g. spectators, visitors, dwellers, workers, travelers, onlookers, mourners, guests, ill, suppressed, free, animals, people etc.). To acknowledge, accept and further act this stage into a clear architectural awareness. To finally reflect on how your stage or architectural awareness acts the collective. To experience, reflect upon and describe the necessity/necessities made. To bring your work out; in a final exhibition.

Learning outcomes

The ability to prepare and conduct an advanced haptic visual experimental architectural design research; including process preparation/adaption, development of own working method (bodily acting), critical verbal/written reflection/performance on the basis of onesown visual material, and the conclusion of the research in a final presentation and exhibition
at AHO Works.

The studio reviews contemporary art and architecture theory, literature and philosophy, stressing architectural work that is intuitive in the making yet conscious in the further programming and development of a precise visual and written argumentation/performance towards an architecture with a social content and a refined relationship with nature/culture. Students learn and will have extensive knowledge in current performativity theories, performance studies, neurodiversity studies as well as phenomenology and perception theories, and gain a deeper insight in how primal pre-architectural material, processes, phenomena and conditions through a bodily visual haptic acting (making) can lead to new and unique architectural content or identities.

The students learn how to conceive and perceive architectural form, space and body within the autonomous and un-programmed architectural construct, and how to further discuss the occurring architectural phenomena as conditions within a body and space morphology discourse.

The course is concentrated on physical model-works supported by narrative drawings. Students will gain expertise in the making and exploring of independent and new visual material, and learn to trust their ability to both conceive and present/communicate unique architectural content/research through that visual material and the phenomena or conditions experienced through it.

The students will gain thorough skills in understanding and applying performativity theories to their work. Namely the performance of speech and the recognition of haptic visuality as a performing act embedded in their project material will strengthen their capacity to communicate and construct identities/values. Instead of idea and intention driven works, students learn to trust the facts embedded in their performance; be it in speech or in the physical real material they worked.

The students discover, retrieve and nourish architectural ideas from an immediate and impulsive reaction (model-works) to a self-employed awareness of social needs and wants, and further their architectural discoveries into spatial constructions, drawings, film/photography and textual works towards a new architecture, nature, culture.

The students will get highly trained in presenting their own visual material together withverbal and written reflections on their process and feel confident/enabled to conduct an experimental discursive space in architecture, on the basis of their own work and research.

The goal of the studio is to skill students towards independent and self-sufficient artistic architectural research that produces new architectural content, awareness and ideas; preparing them both for their final experimental architectural thesis/diploma but also for an artistic parallel to scholarly research in general (e.g. the alternative PhD as offered by the Norwegian Artistic Research Programme). In general, students are enabled to trust their creative work and to develop strong and independent yet sufficient architectural content and ideas. They mature in their personal architectural awareness and should be able to make their artistic voice heard, no matter what context they operate in.

Knowledge in performativity will enable students to base all their future architectural or otherwise artistic discourses on the facts and values embedded in their own haptic visual work.

Working and learning activities

The main activity is the artistic research / architectural design (acting) on the individual
project (studio-works as described above).

We work with our hands to create and force immediate physical models and use narrative drawings and descriptive or creative writings in a search for sensory architectural qualities. We strive for a creative open and individual driven new architectural content with a clear focus on architectural space/body and the urge to experience how this architecture, understood as morphology, relates to nature, culture and society; creating awareness for how we as individuals, and as a group or collective of individuals, relate to these our creations and learning to explore and comprehend the meaningless meaningful closeness in that relationship.

The semester starts by reflecting the past and current times with their socio cultural changes as well as various artistic practices and tries to identify and discuss changes or ideas that had both determined and determent our reading of architectural space and body as instrument to influence our way of living. We will be critical to ideas, enhance performativity (speech and bodily acting with a visual haptic material) in order to work on primary architectural properties, make discoveries and develop them into distinct architectural interests toward a new nature, culture, and architecture.

The studio beliefs in a tight working environment that produces both concentration and inspiration as it allows undisturbed subjective and passionate views about ones own work. Collaborations are sought with long-term partners that can know and contribute to the studio energy and present challenging reflections or problems on each individual work.

Lectures (critical readings) on the textual works of: Goody & Watt and Olson (on the concepts of literacy); Lyotard (on postmodern production/governing of knowledge and the problem of legitimization); Benjamin et.al. (on reproduction of art and the concept of copy); Merleau-Ponty (on the problem of the body); Scarry (on pain and the inexpressible); Dind (on the moved body and the problem of language).

Literature list is available online. Additional literature (not contained in the list) are novels and essays e.g. from Barthes (Empire of Signs), Hustvedt (What I loved), Zeh (Spieltrieb), Sonntag (regarding the pain of others), Deligny (Maps and Wander Lines), Schechner (Performance Studies: an introduction) and Berger (why looking at animals) etc.

Work Effort/Demands
An introduction to the task provides the start for your individual process. The first ten days you are meant to produce an immediate physical material from which you then develop distinct architectural interests. After the first presentation/performance, the weekly schedule consists of talks/lectures (90 – 120 minutes each) on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Tuesdays are reserved for the elective course and Mondays are “silent studio work days”. Four reviews and a final crit with exhibition are all mandatory and essential working and
learning activities. The studio is based on a continuous acting; meaning, we work extensively on visual haptic material and hence have to be constant in the making/acting.

Professor in charge

Rolf Gerstlauer

Additional information

Collaborators / teaching assistance
⋅ Julie Dind, New York, (muse presenting the problem of body/language)
⋅ Tegneklubben / The Drawing Club, Oslo, (workshop on narrative drawings)
⋅ Stiv Kuling AS, Lister, (fieldtrip on sensing by making/working)
⋅ Anders Abraham, Copenhagen (sensor for the final review)

Mandatory work requirements

Work requirements Number Number of approved Mandatory presence Comment
Excursions 2

The spring 2017 semester includes a study trip to Japan (approx. 10-12 days, not mandatory), and a mandatory workshop with the Tegneklubben Oslo (at AHO) and a mandatory 3 days fieldtrip to the Lista environment (south-west coast of Norway, the course finances the travel and stay).


Assessment Date Duration Grade scale Oral examination
Vurderingsmappe Individual Pass / Fail

Attendance & participation in the studio: 20 weeks fulltime study (except for the attendance in the elective course that runs parallel to the master studio). The work has to be conducted and performed in the studio - the material is present at any time. Mandatory attendance during the studio work and the talks, lectures and studio discussions/reviews/workshop/fieldtrip/final exhibition and final crit.

Attendance & participation at reviews: 3 public mid-term reviews, 1 individual review and the final public review with external examiner Professor Anders Abraham (Karch Copenhagen).

Exercises (practical and theoretical), Project (individual presentation and submission) and Text/essay: For each of the reviews, assignments are announced on the moodle platform and the students hand in visuals and textual works which is complementary to the actual physical work made available and presented in the reviews. The final exhibition includes visual haptic material and a final essay ca 5-10000 words).

Reading lists / teaching materials

Recommended Literature (not updated)
Abraham, A. A new nature: 9 architectural conditions between liquid and solid
Allen, S. Points and Lines
Arendt, H. The Human Condition
Arendt, H. On Violence
Barthes, R. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography
Barthes, R. Empire of signs
Barthes, R, & Heath, S. Image, music, text
Benjamin, W. The work of art in the age of its technological reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media
Benjamin, W. Walter Benjamin’s archive: Images, texts and Signs
Benjamin, W. On Hashish Berger, John. About Looking
Berger, J. Why Look at Animals?
Berger, J; with Dibb, M., Blomberg, S., Fox, C. & Hollis, R. Ways of Seeing
Borges, J. L. Labyrinths
Calvino, I. Invisible cities
Deleuze, G. Francis Bacon: the logic of sensation
Deligny, F. The Arachnean and other texts
Descola ,P. Beyond Nature and Culture
Descola, P. The Ecology of Others
Derrida, J. The truth in painting
De Toledo, S. A. Cartes et lignes d’erre / Maps and wander lines: Traces du réseau de Fernand Deligny
Druot, F., Lacaton, A. & Vassal, J-P. Plus
Ellis, B. E. American Psycho: A novel
Fehn, S. The poetry of the straight line_Den rette linjes poesi
Fjeld, P. O.. Sverre Fehn. The pattern of thoughts
Flusser, V. Towards a Philosophy of Photography
Frampton, K. Labour, work and architecture: collected essays on architecture and design
Gissen, D. Territory: architecture beyond environment
Godard, J-L, & Ishaghpour, Y. How video made the history of cinema possible
Hays, M. K. Architecture theory since 1968
Hejduk, J. Architectures in Love. Sketchbook Notes
Hustvedt, S. The blazing world: A novel
Hustvedt, S. What I loved: A novel
Kittler, F. Optical Media
Kittler, F. & others. ReMembering the Body: Body and Movement in the 20th Century
Koestler, A. The Roots Of Coincidence. An Excursion Into Parapsychology
Koestler, A. The Act of Creation, a Study of the Conscious and Unconscious in Science and Art
Koestler, A. The Ghost In The Machine: The Urge To Self-Destruction
Kracauer, S. Theory of Film: the Redemption of Physical Reality
Krauss, R. & Bois, Y. A. Formless – A Users guide
Kwinter, S. Architectures of time: toward a theory of the event in modernist culture
Leatherbarrow, D. Uncommon ground: architecture, technology, and topography
Merleau-Ponty, M. Phenomenology of Perception Mumford, Lewis. The transformations of man
Kolhaas, R. & Obrist, H. U. Project Japan: Metabolism Talks
Richter, G., & Friedel, H. Gerhard Richter: ATLAS
Scarry, E. The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World
Serres, M., Malfeance: appropriation through pollution
Skinner, B. F. Walden Two
Sontag, S. Regarding the Pain of Others
Sontag, S. On Photography
Stein, E. On the Problem of Empathy
Stein, E. Potency and Act, studies toward a philosophy of being
Stein, E. Finite and Eternal Being: an Attempt at an Ascent to the Meaning of Being
Thoreau, H. D. Walden, Or, Life in the Woods
Vesely, D. Architecture in the Age of Divided Representation. Question of Creativity ...
Viola, B. Reasons for knocking at an empty house: writings 1973- 1994
Woolf, V. Kew Gardens