The Affective Threshold; or, The Sensational Account of Place Through Film

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Rivera Gutierrez, Jorge Alejandro




Architecture is persistently present in films; most human stories must take place somewhere. ⁠Architectural environments serve essential roles in cinematic world-making, conversely making cinema an ideal device to unravel the affective qualities of architecture. This dissertation proposes that film is not only a visual medium, but that in its world-making capacities it is a conveyor of haptic and kinesthetic experiences, which in consequence reveal to us the poetic, emotional, and experiential richness of place. To this end, the dissertation focuses on two key elements to support this argument. The first is, a specific approach to filmmaking: slow-cinema,2 which uses delay and the cinematic long-take ⁠as a way of engaging our empathy with the spatial experiences that films can produce. The second element is the haunted house as a location: the dissertation considers this as an essential place for psychosomatic health, where the ghost figure underscores the affective dimension of space. Each of the three chapters in this dissertation draws from phenomenology, film hermeneutics, and atmosphere theory to study portrayals of place through four haunted houses: an urban house through Luis Buñuel's Exterminating Angel (1962); a farmhouse and a palace through Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010) and Cemetery of Splendour (2015) by Apichatpong Weerasethakul; and a suburban house through David Lowery's A Ghost Story (2016). As the text progresses, questions of memory, imagination, embodiment, and world-making become the subject matter. I paid particular attention to the processes of reciprocal co-creation between film and world, and between world and self. The dissertation concludes by shedding light on the affective entanglement we form with our houses, and the capacity of cinema to enrich critical architectural discourse on the places we dwell in our everyday lives.






Carleton University

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Theses and Dissertations

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