Space, Semiotics, Scientism
DOI link for Space, Semiotics, Scientism
Space, Semiotics, Scientism book
To the extent that the performative model of the Experience Economy relies on the scripting of spatial interaction, it is, in effect, creating a narrative construct out of our everyday spatial environments. The “themed environment” – a title once reserved for the enclosed Disney-style theme park – is highly regarded as a general design model in this new economic framework. In the themed environment, space is constituted as a textual device employed to tell the theme’s backstory, or narrative underpinning. A story is told, in other words, not merely through its symbolic representation, but through its manifestation as a spatial environment. Williston Dye, the former Director of Architecture and Environmental Design at Walt Disney Imagineering, appropriately calls the architectural design work of Imagineering “architecture with a plot, not architecture on a plot” (Dye 1998). And it is Disney which has appropriately claimed the rights of invention for the majority of contemporary theme-based design methods; its experiments with the spatialization of its animation work in Disneyland in 1955 laid the foundation for the proliferation of themed space that we see today in theme parks, restaurants, shopping centers, and other experientialized everyday environments. The tools used by themed designers, as we have seen, find their origins in a long trajectory of narrative environmental practices. But what is unique among contemporary projects is their fusion of narrative experimentation with the industrially rationalized scientism of the burgeoning American workplace. The scientific revolutions of the 19th and early 20th centuries have been critically studied from many points of view, but one that seems glaringly absent is an architectural-historical one. Most well-regarded histories of architecture (such classics include Banham 1960; Benevolo 1971 ; Frampton 1980) examine the technologies of the industrial revolution, along with their modes of production and manufacture, particularly in relationship to the aesthetic and “functional” ethos of modernism. And to some extent, these histories do address the impact of a growing interest in science on architecture and the built landscape, but only indirectly, leaving many salient details unreported. Where we do
find articulate histories of the scientific revolutions (e.g., Foucault 1971 ; Noble 1977; Leach 1994 ), the relationship to an understanding of its architectural impact is left unexplored. To better understand the relationship between spatial design and narrative organizations, this missing history must be explored.