VOYEURISM: GRADUATE THESIS PART 1
The intention of this thesis is not to solve a problem or to answer a question, but to engage it. As a designer, I want to make you think about what you know as truth—what you have been conditioned to believe. Rooted in architectural theory, this thesis is designed to illustrate a dialogue about a social phenomenon. My focus is on process—an architectural dialogue about voyeurism.
We use images to describe and define the world as we see it. Do we use these systems to reflect the world as it is or do we construct the world and its meaning through the systems of representation we deploy? As social constructionists, we can only make meaning of the material world within a cultural context. Thus, the material world can only be ‘seen’ by us through our systems of representation and within the dynamics of social power and ideology. “We live in a culture of conflicting ideology within contemporary advertising and consumer culture. Assumptions about beauty, desire and social value are constructed and responded to.” (Practices of Looking)
The voyeuristic gaze is the active male in binary opposition to the female as spectacle. The cinematic image does not simply confine the female to a position of space, but it fetishistically flattens her into the surface. The only fixed conditions are place and time. The relationship between male and female both define and activate the space within the aperture of the camera. Architecture becomes immaterial—no more than a series of choreographed views.
Exhibitionism refers to the pleasure of being looked at; deliberately behaving to attract attention
Scopophilia from the Greek ‘to view’ refers to the pleasure of looking; a love of viewing people sexually
The photographer, a flasher making an exposure, is explicitly both voyeur and exhibitionist. (Sexuality & Space)
the male gaze
All living organisms seek pleasure. The concept of the gaze fundamentally regards the relationship of pleasure and images. The symbiotic exchange between exhibitionism and scopophilia is a mutual source of pleasure. In the instance where the voyeur is not apparent, the camera becomes a tool of voyeuristic sadism—a demonstration of male power. From behind the lens, the male gaze becomes a kind of violence, presenting the camera as a weapon of the voyeuristic male. With a camera, he wields the power to frame, flash, shoot and capture the female performance. Also apparent is a measure of forced exposure.
Female sexuality is a mystery and a threat--something to be dominated and controlled, contained and possessed.
What is so attractive in the feminine is the advertised presence of the masculine; we assume the female is posing for the male. What the man is attracted to is the myth of himself. This myth is a representation that can only be sustained by concealment—a mask. (Sexuality & Space)
Space as a kind of masquerade can be understood as the instrument of identity formation. Identity cannot be separated from the mask. The subject is not simply behind nor in front of its mask; it can only be found within the nonplace of mask itself. The mask inscribes the limit of space, appearing as a frame that is occupied by desire. (Sexuality & Space)
Marylin Monroe represents a mass-produced object to be consumed.
Sex Sells. What's the point?
Holmes, Alena Voyeuristic Hotel–Can Walls Breathe? University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; 2005. revised 2023.