Mark Paterson introduces his Body & Society paper ‘Architecture of Sensation: Affect, Motility and the Oculomotor‘.
Recent social theory that stresses the ‘nonrepresentational’, the ‘more-than visual’, and the relationship between affect and sensation have tended to assume some kind of break or rupture from historical antecedents. Especially since the contributions of Crary and Jay in the 1990s, when it comes to perceiving the built environment the complexities of sensation have been partially obscured by the dominance of a static model of vision as the principal organizing modality. This article returns to some prior historical articulations of the significance of motility in perception, retracing pathways across art history, architectural theory and the history of neuroscience to argue for an alternative model based on the movement of the eye. Along with subsystems that deal with balance and orientation, I offer parallels between spatial motifs of the interior spaces of the body – labyrinths, vestibules, chambers – and those in artefacts and the built environment that contribute to the heightened physicality of the oculomotor subject.