3.1.2 inside a third. E. M. Forster

3.1.2 Principles for
film form:

The five general principles for a film that the spectator
perceives in a film’s formal system:

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“function, similarity
and repetition, difference and variation, development, and unity / disunity”
Similarity and repetition of elements is used to create motifs and the feeling
of parallelism; the oppositions and differentiations between the elements is created
for contrast and variety; the degree of development reveals the overall form;
and the degree of unity and disunity between the elements are the basic
principles of film form.

3.1.3 Plot Structure
as Spatial diagrams:

Plot structure refers
to the specific ways that a narrative arranges story incidents— flashbacks,
ellipses, and other patterns. Aristotle theorized that plot-structure can be
split into four parts: exposition,
rising action, climax, and denouement. Hollywood films usually follow a
three-act structure, having the rough proportions of 1:2: 1. In the first act a
problem or conflict is established. The second act develops that conflict to a
peak of intensity. The final act constitutes a climax and denouement.

The framework of plot can be visualized as spatial diagrams
that convey the macro— structures of the entire narrative. This helps us
understand the spatio—temporality of narrative structures and network
affiliations between events and characters. Aristotle’s structure evoke certain geometric spatial figures-
A rising pattern of action can be visualized as a curve or vector, continuing
as a “dramatic pyramid”, that conceives the plot action as leading to a central
climax (principal turning point)— the apex of a triangle, followed by a
decrease in tension (the anticlimax).

Similarly, stories embedded in stories that nest inside
still other stories, evoke images of rectangles enclosing other rectangles. The
Locket (1946) displays this “Chinese box” structure, with one flashback inside
another, and both inside a third. E. M. Forster spoke of Henry James’ novel The
Ambassadors as having the shape of an hourglass, with two lines of action
meeting at a central juncture. Or we can conceive distinct lines of action as
forming parallel lines, or as entwining into a braid, with the trajectories
splitting and converging at crucial points. Thus it may be helpful to think of
the pair of stories in Chungking Express as giving the plot a dumbbell shape;
two tales linked by one character passing between them. In the movie Memento by
Christopher Nolan, the entire movie has presented as two sequences, one in the
present (black/white) moving forwards, and the another (color) plays in
reverse, from the actual end to the middle of the story (the climax).This can
be visualized as two sequences meeting at the middle, which is the end of the
movie. Movies like Babel and Crash, have nonlinear narratives with multiple
storylines within them, visualized as four separate lines intersecting at
distinct points in the story.

This exercise is
analogous w the mapping of miser trajectories and resulting circulation
patterns in architecture, which, is the primary layer that leads to the
generation of form and space.

3.1.5 Focalization in
Cinema:

This is a technique used in films where the plot remains
always, or for the most part, in the same space as a particular character, that
is, it is focalized through that character. A number of Hollywood films in
recent years, such as The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont, 1994), The
Sixth Sense (M. Night Shyamalan. 1999), Fight Club (David Fincher, 1999) and
Memento (Christophor Nolan, have played with the conventions of focalization,
providing focalizers whose understanding is partial or deluded. Such strategies
influence our response to characters, either through provoking distrust of the
characters’ unreliability or pleasure at the plot’s ingenuity.

 

In architecture,
focalization of every character moving through the space will help us generate
unique trajectories and narratives for every individual, thus bringing out the collective
narratives and memories of the larger crowd. Architecture would then cater to
both the individual and the collective and become a repository of both
individual and the collective knowledge. 

 

 

 

– fig 9: The moment the audience realise that the protagonist
is not who he believes himself to be.

3.1.6 Spatial memory
in Cinematic narratives:

The plot also stages the story across space as well as
across time. For example, In Bambi the story takes place in the two distinct
spaces of the forest and the meadow, and we are guided as to the type of
story-incident liable to occur in the meadow on Bambi’s first visit there, when
his mother warns him that ‘Out there we are unprotected.’ When the plot next
dramatizes a scene on the meadow Bambi is stranded whilst gunfire sounds
off-screen, and in the third meadow scene Bambi’ s mother is shot. The plot therefore uses the spaces of the
story to alternate between periods of safety (represented by the forest) and
danger (represented by the meadow). The climax of the narrative is signaled
by a breaking of this pattern, and we are alarmed by the threat of the hunt and
the tire precisely because they invade the safe spaces of the forest. The
plot’s staging of the action in space is also crucial to our grasp of narrative
point of view.

 

 

Fig 10: The meadow and the forest are shown as dangerous and
safe areas resp. throughout the movie, except in the climax, where the pattern
is broken to challenge the viewer’s spatial memory.

Similarly, in architecture has spatial and contextual memories attached
to them which can we extracted while designing. Moreover, these preconceived
memories can be manipulated and contradicted to evoke feelings of surprise and
attachment. 

3.2 Architectural
Narratives:

Architectural narratives bring spaces to life. They inscribe
stories onto the fabric of spaces that strike an emotional and mental chord
with the users. Architecture is nothing but storytelling in space using place,
time, event and movement through the spaces as cues that bring out the
narrative.

Stories are the building blocks of architectural proposals
and aid in the crucial transition of an
idea into design. Through the various stages of storytelling, the general
ideas, challenges, potential and thereby, the outcome of the project is
formulated. Paul Ricoeur defined this process as ‘miseen intrigue’ or emplotment
– All creative ideas have a plot, a structure, and patterns and internal
tensions that make it legible to the
reader/user/viewer. More importantly, narratives have the power of “creating memory”, “making what’s
absent present”

                            “Architecture is a
Conversation, And Architects are Storytellers”

                                                                              
                                       –
Bernard Tschumi

 

        

 

 

 

 

Fig 11: Graphic showing the comparisons between architectural
and cinematic narratives.

 

Spaces are constructed and sequenced as a narrative, in the
minds of the architect, who has to plot it and structure it, but becomes a part
of the life of somebody else, who establishes a relationship with it.
Therefore, an architect has to be sensitive to the emotions and experiences of
the users in order to create spaces that communicates and becomes one with them.

The experience of space is mostly nonlinear and is not bound
by a definite timeline like it is in cinema. In cinema, the director has
complete control over the pace. duration of the shots and depth of focus in
every scene, whereas the architect cannot predict the nature of interpretations
of the end users -the narrative may not remain true to his intentions over
time. To ensure that the spaces are interpreted properly, the architect may
resort to manipulation of the user through careful conception of frames,
viewpoints and events, which deprives the user of the natural process of
self-interpretation and perception.

Architecture can break away from the shackles of technical
aesthetic jargons and reach out to the people- it can echo the culture and
pulse of the society of its time and stand as a testament to the life stories
of the general public – IF it
communicates with people. Architectural narratives are tools for
communication; a medium through with people can project their own memories onto
the space and add multiple meanings and interpretations to it over time.

We have seen the similarities between architectural and
cinematic narratives – Both aim to convey a story with a plot and distinct
sequences — space, time and events are the factors that shape the narrative. Can architecture narratives incorporate the
process behind the developmeut of cinematic narrative in development of
architectural spaces?