lindsay hoyle's living room
is an oubliette
|awful stack||Nov 5, 2019|
i don’t know the first thing about rugby; a sport my late grandmother would watch purely (admitting this not even under duress) in order to watch big men clamber over one another. good for her. Lindsay Hoyle - MP, etc - would seem generally less enthusiastic about the game, judging by the fact that his body, in the image below, is turned awkwardly away from the television; requiring that, in order for him to watch the game, he would have to contort his neck and head at 45 to 90 degrees for a duration of some 70 minutes. sufficient time to introduce a slow aching; a hot, subcutaneous murmur within the pulpy tendons attaching the skull to the rest of the body.
rather, his natural gaze lands upon whichever figure - real or imagined - occupies the increasingly threatening space to the left-hand side of the frame. everything echoes with a positively Lynchian psychodrama.
i want to talk about Hoyle’s living room; a blank, wilted space cast in offputting and collic browns and yellows. a room of signs and clues which rot at the foundations of spatial convention. the room - it should be clear - is not ordinary. in fact, it has been arranged along proportions bordering on the satanic - on the cursed.
aside from the sustained neck and head twisting Hoyle must subject himself to for the duration of the game - eyes swivelling like little scallops in a china bowl -, he must also make uneasy lunges for the white cup located on a table to his left; a table that remains frustratingly beyond his arm’s span. this can only mean that Hoyle - growing increasingly uncomfortable from the continued pivoting and twisting of his neck - would seek comfort in a (now lukewarm) cup of tea which also completely eludes him. each time he wishes to take a sip, Hoyle will either have to reach hungrily across an expanse of diabolic carpet (risking a weak grip on the cup, and likely spillage), or that he will continually have to rise from, grasp, sip, and retreat to and from the chair simply in order to drink.
urban and architectural space is frequently designed to make us feel discomfort. from hostile architectures intended to deter rough sleepers to public plazas and spaces so large that we become dwarfed by them; made to feel not only insignificant (and exposed) but necessarily surveilled. In his Across the Plaza, Owen Hatherley dissects the ‘proverbially windswept’ public spaces built under ‘really existing socialism’ (from Kiev’s independence square to Berlin’s Alexanderplatz). There remains, in their proportions, an energy toward that of horror and alarm - even while they embody electrifying centres for latter political upheaval and protest. at such wide and mighty proportions, our sense of discomfort rises. Scale - as Comaroff and Ker-Shing argue in their Horror in Architecture - is alarming; presaging “the passage into the dramatic, into horror and menace.”
Hoyle’s living room - the site of his twisted-neck unease - embodies precisely the awkwardness of architectural space that has escaped the bounds of hierarchy and comfort; while also escaping the figuration of the body itself (Hoyle’s),
Who designed this space? The room swallows its furnishings; a large chandelier positioned off-centre from the perceived centre of the room, while a smaller (two-headed) repetition of itself is pinned jarringly to the wall alongside it (unlit, offering the grey pearly colour of dead milk). The chair - faded and prim - features front legs noticeably shorter than those at the back, implying a kind of continued tipping-forward of the occupying body (Hoyle’s, still yet alarmed and uneasy figure; not only neck twisted but forward tipping, hand outstretched as if attempting to arrest a fall - or to take flight). It might be exhilarating if it were not for the derangement of objects and of Hoyle-body within this strange and alarming room; this drab, Ballardian oubliette (curtains drawn in their nicotine-tinted thickness).
what precedent can we offer for this obnoxious and diabolic contortion of space? a living room which mocks its own designation; a room which erodes and makes-strange the contexts of the living body. to enjoy this space - or to attempt to enjoy it - would be to become transfigured into the twisted figure of a study of Bacon (limbs thrown apart and overlapping at mad angles). it is not ok.
but perhaps we’ve also entered another space entirely. The baroque light-box of Kubrick’s 2001, in which Bowman encounters himself eating at a little table, in a room washed in acrid white light; in a celestial time-stripping chamber of existential uncertainty; the space of the rise of the Star Child; a space in which time (and yes, space itself) collapse.
Does this make Hoyle - neck-twisted, tea-stained, body-tilted - the Star Child of this drab and diabolic baroque of clods and earth? Is Hoyle a being who has passed through the gate of stars, and beyond all reaches of relativity knowledge?
Or should the image simply be captioned: ‘waiting for a lapdance in east acton.’
? not sure. i’ve wasted enough time on this already tbqh.