Sensory Deprivation in Ocular Culture: An exploration of Perception & Architectural Sensuality

Undergraduate Dissertation


Juhani Pallasma argues in his book ‘The Eyes of the Skin’ that since the development of digital media technology via mediums such as the internet and television, photography is increasingly playing a significant role in the definition of modern architecture. It has created a culture of ‘ocularcentrism’ in which the eye’s dominance in cultural consumption has changed the priorities of design. Many now argue that architecture is increasingly bowing to a more pictorial appeal for presentation in two-dimensional photographic projection that become globally accessible through media dissemination. Is this true? Can it be argued that the design world increasingly favours the two dimensional image to the detriment of a more fully sensory experience? What are the possible consequences of this? And how do we really experience space?

This essay endeavours to explore, through literary study and physical experimentation, the boundaries of human sensory experience. It will aim to create a critical analysis of how we perceive our physical world and what affects our interpretations of architecture upon individual or group interaction.

This exploration is presented in two parts; Part one, a literary analysis, will identify and discuss the gaps or fracturing in modern design methodology and the possible repercussive endangering of architectural sensitivity to spatial experience. It will also identify a number of perceptive elements that are intrinsic to spatial immersion and consider the possibilities or impossibilities of photographic representation. These latter experiential factors will be further studied in part two, physical research [included as an appendix]. Part two is designed to test sensory experience in a series of physical experiments that explore individual perception and reaction through sensory deprivation.

Both sections will interrogate the question of two-dimensional representation through the lines of history and tradition in design methodologies, material and tactility, peripheral vision, emotion and interrelated social, mimetic contributors.