Night Moves:Dissolving Time and Space in the Nocturnal City

Dunn, Nicholas Simon (2017) Night Moves:Dissolving Time and Space in the Nocturnal City. In: Sensing Architecture. Royal Academy of Arts, GBR, pp. 47-57. ISBN 9781910350737

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There is a long history of night travels as integral to ‘cultures of darkness’ (Palmer, 2000) - shady worlds of miscreants, shift workers and transgressors. Yet the night offers much to be enjoyed beyond vice. Night by definition contrasts day, summoning notions of darkness and fear. But another night exists out there, providing escape from daily routine. Liberation and exhilaration in the margins of the city is increasingly rare when the prevailing fluidity of consumptive experience has smoothed our time/space relationships with multivalent forms of commoditization (Bauman, 2000). Rather than consider darkness as negative, oppositional with illumination and enlightenment, this paper explores the rich potential of the dark for our senses. Where now for the secret, the contemplative, the quiet and subterranean? The question may no longer be what spaces we wish to engage with but when are they? The primacy of architecture is perhaps not its body in light but the itinerant, fleeting shawl of darkness that recasts our built environment and senses away from the visual. Beyond the eye of CCTV cameras and security measures, gestures of refusal to accept the accessible, banal versions of the urban landscape proffered by platforms such as Google Street View, appear evident in the visceral and insightful practices of urban wandering. This chapter uses first hand experiences of night walking in Manchester to engage with other forms of pleasure in the city outside the realm of modern illumination. The city beckons us into a process of becoming as it slides into twilight and shadows creep.

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Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings
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Sensing Architecture sets out to provide a thoughtful commentary on our lived experience of inhabiting the world from several different and often surprising angles. The essays derive from a symposium of the same name held in March 2014 at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, which accompanied the exhibition ‘Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined’, in which seven leading architects created unique installations that the public was invited to move through and explore. Four papers from the symposium are included in this collection in revised and expanded form. They are joined by an essay from curator Kate Goodwin reflecting in detail on
 the ideas that informed ‘Sensing Spaces’, introduced with a series of images of the exhibition taken by the architectural photographer Hélène Binet. This collection is conceived to complement the exhibition’s insights and to offer further consideration of the different registers of ideas – philosophical, psychological, social and economic – that shape our experience of architecture.
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07 Dec 2017 13:10
Last Modified:
12 Sep 2023 02:23