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Visionary prefab in the modern age: deconstructing Keaton’s films

Suau, Cristian 2011. Visionary prefab in the modern age: deconstructing Keaton’s films. Docomomo Journal 44 (1) , pp. 81-85.

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Abstract

This study analyses and compares Keaton’s filmic production with Catalog Modern House, a prefab dwelling manufactured and shipped by Sears, Roebuck and Co in the beginning of 20th century. His filmic work -'One Week' (1920); 'The Haunted House' (1921) and 'The Electric House' (1922)- reveals the montage of mass housing prefabrication in the Modern Age in the United States: Repetition and mechanisation of the building production; generic layouts; and modular like-catalogue constructions. Rather than following a sequential building process, these cases are executed as mere accidents or flaws. Buster Keaton’s films however show ironically a non-standardized architecture. The Electric House focuses on mechanical appliances. Both films announce a new architecture where walls might fold over; floors shift; an escalator replaces the staircase; the foundation rests on wheels; the programme metamorphoses and the appliances organise the domestic life. Parts could leave the site and return, or the entire building could collapse or become mechanised, folded up or simply be transported to a different location. As visionary Modern architecture, there are particular features that will be analysed in depth: The expanding functions; variable divisions of interior space; and flexible and automated furniture and appliances. What might a non-standard manufacturing Modern house look like? Keaton creates a parody-manifesto against MOMO’s mass production. Keaton anticipates the architecture in motion envisioning adaptable, light and compact spaces, with dwellers in transit. In Keaton’s work, the ability to move, change or adapt are prerequisites for Modern living.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Architecture
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Uncontrolled Keywords: Film & Architecture, Customised prefab, Sears houses, Buster Keaton
Additional Information: “Visionary Prefab in the Modern Age: Deconstructing Keaton’s Films” was presented at the 11th International DOCOMOMO Conference, Mexico City, 19-27 August 2010. http://www.esteticas.unam.mx/docomomo2010/index.html
Publisher: Docomomo International
ISSN: 1380-3204
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 22:24
URI: https://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/15074

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