Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/223980
Title: THE CANCER HOMUNCULUS; A MODEL FOR ALIENATED BODIES
Other Titles: A model for alienated bodies
Between body and bedroom
Authors: TAN YI-ERN SAMUEL
Keywords: 2020-2021
Architecture
Master's
MASTER OF ARCHITECTURE
Ong Ker-Shing
Design Thesis
Design Track
DT
Alienation
Architectural Representation
Bedroom
Cancer
Cancer Treatment
Domesticity
Figurations
Idealisation
Metaphor
Non-building
Scale
Technics
Issue Date: 12-Jul-2021
Citation: TAN YI-ERN SAMUEL (2021-07-12). THE CANCER HOMUNCULUS; A MODEL FOR ALIENATED BODIES. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: A model for alienated bodies: In architectural representation, bodily figurations often play only a secondary role towards its generative capacity. Yet, much lip service is paid to bodies as an analogical basis for architectural expression. Whether by way of anthropometry or the dreaded ‘concept’, architecture seems only able to wield the body as a founding metaphor. It is a metaphor contingent upon its idealisa¬tion, never complicated and always receding, only potent if the body is blank, like a ghost. Yet that which is entangled with body (health, gender, technology, other bodies) always renders it in complications that exceed metaphor—it is complicated to the point of alienation, where bodies no longer have agency or ownership over themselves. This is a type of body architecture finds itself scarcely competent to represent, and no instance of this alienation is more elusive or complicated than a body of cancer, itself architectural in its predilection for scale, space, and metaphor. For us who afford representation such a glorified place in architecture, how can we wield this towards an understanding of the alienated cancer body? This thesis takes the position that for bodily figurations to be truly generative towards an architectural production, these bodies must be, rather than ghosts, homunculi—fully formed and complicated. The body it represents is the cancer sufferer suspended at the centre of territo¬rial negotiations occurring at scales from cell to capital. She is not passive in this, but an active agent of their ‘making’ and ‘remaking’, as she is literally alienated across the scales of her disease. The thesis is thus in this capacity an inquiry into methods of architectural representation as they pertain to non-idealised bodies, and it ultimately attempts to excavate a model for alienated bodies, one that replaces the ghost in the drawing with a homunculus and all her complications. Between body and bedroom: A cancer patient struggles with fundamentally asserting ownership over her own body in the face of her disease’s multiple scales. At each of these scales from cell to capital, we see control being taken away from the patient, diverted towards foreign agents both internal and external to the organistic body. Though each of these scales possess their own distinct expressions, they are indeed part of a larger body and consequently, these scales begin to blur for the cancer patient, where hierarchies of relationships begin to collapse as do the spaces within which they occur. In this model for alienated bodies, the domestic space in which the patient dwells sick is no differ¬ent from the consultation room, no different from the chemotherapy suite—her loss of control has metastasised from spaces within to spaces without. Here, where architecture (or building) seems to only be the theatre for her suffering, is there an architecture able to provide comfort? Is there architecture that can anchor a patient through pain that is both physiological and psychological? My proposal is an intervention in a domestic typology of a simple bedroom, part programme for respite and part programme for treatment—a once safe space turned hostile. Its scale sits between the body and the bedroom, one where the body is able to react to and act upon architecture. It is a space where the con¬ditions for the patient to be the agent of her own tethering become more and more corporeal, more and more possible, more and more literal. Through this design, I am asking if an architec¬ture can indeed fulfil the promises it makes to the betterment of the body and its ability to act, indeed if it were contingent upon a model for alienated bodies.
URI: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/223980
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