Open Access

The Existential Image: Lived Space in Cinema and Architecture


Walter Benjamin pointed out the affinity of cinema and architecture, and argued unexpectedly that tbese art forms are both essentially tactile arts. The tactility of the material art of building is not difficult to grasp, but the idea that a cinematic projection could result in fundamentally tactile experience certainly meets objections. However, the philosophical as well as neurological studies ofthe past few decades in perception, emotion, and thought, as well as in artistic expressions, suggest that these two arts, or poetic images at large, address ali our senses, including our synthesizing existential sense, all at once. The arts communicate through the “fiesh of the world”, to use a notion of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. The acts of perception, feeling, thinking, and memorizing cal! for the reality and sense of embodiment. We identify ourselves unknowingly with constructed architectural spaces as well as projected cinematic situations with our empathetic capacity. So, Benjamin ‘s argument could be re- -formulated: cinema and architecture are embodied atis in which the externa! and the internal are fully intertwined and fused. “The world is wholly inside, and 1 aro wholly outside myself’, as Merleau-Ponty enigmatically argues.