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The Eyes of the Skin by joelzook
September 3, 2008, 3:50 pm
Filed under: Social / Cultural Issue | Tags: , , ,

I started this semester by reading The Eyes of the Skin by Juhani Pallasmaa. I have been meaning to read this book for some time now but thought that designing a single family home made the issue even more pressing. The premise of the book is that society and architecture place too much emphasis on vision, at the expense of the other senses. This creates several problems including: spaces that do not address the human interaction with a space beyond focused appearance, the commoditization of images and therefore architecture, and the shift from haptic spaces of nearness and engagement to ones of exteriority and deprivation.

Pallasmaa chooses Caravaggio’s “Incredulity of Saint Thomas” as the cover to illustrate many of the arguments in the book. The doubtful Thomas would not belive his eyes until confirmed by touch, highlighting the weakness of the eye. When designing, we should be conscious of all senses, especially in a setting as intimate as a home.

Pallasmaa furthers his claim of a overly ocular world by saying that it is focused vision that is given too much importance over peripheral vision. This is really just an extension of his prior argument, but a valid claim nonetheless. Peripheral vision integrates one with a space wheres focused sight objectifies the space as well as the viewer. When space is designed with regards to peripheral, the viewer is enveloped in the space and becomes part of the experience.

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