I will be speaking at the delightful Architexture: Exploring textual and architectural spaces conference at te University of Strathclyde, which will run from 15 to 17 April 2008.
My paper is scheduled on the 17th April, from 13.30 to 15.00. Here’s what I will be talking about:
Reflections on Seduction
Every morning, I get to work 10 minutes late. What keeps me is the fact that I have to wait for the women at the jewellers in Glasgow’s Argyle Arcade to appear in the shop windows, polishing and displaying diamond rings. This compulsion to repeat represents the core of this paper. The regular stop in my journey is pleasurable and has qualities associated with what is commonly known as retail therapy. At the same time, and like everything related to desire, it provokes anxiety.
The rings and I are mediated by real (public) and imaginary (private) screens. These define my position, which is similar to that of the viewer in the art gallery or the analysand in the analytic room. In those situations, the privileged enclosure and the distance between subject and object structure both encounters. The screens regulate the relationship and, through them, new spaces appear, in which the objects and I are positioned together, in close proximity, as happened in Lacan’s experiment of the inverted bouquet. The rings are mine; I am theirs.
What occurs, every morning, is an act of seduction, like the one that took me all the way to Philadelphia to see what a Spanish door hid behind. Gaze, of course, is crucial to this relationship. Those rings hail me; they say: hey you! Look at me! And I let myself being led astray because I know that commodities, with their fetish qualities, are mysterious and enticing by nature. But the concept of seduction, although pervasive in contemporary culture, is complex and will need teasing out. In this journey — which takes the form of a walk and a practice-led investigation — Duchamp, Marx, Freud and Lacan are my companions and to them I will look for help to understand what makes an object seductive.