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Slapstick homes : architecture in slapstick cinema and the avant-garde

Steven Jacobs (UGent)
(2018) JOURNAL OF ARCHITECTURE. 23(2). p.225-248
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Abstract
Slapstick film comedies of the 1910s and 1920s are marked by a highly mechanical' use of space as indicated by its fascination for the skyscraper. First and foremost, slapstick's interest in architecture focuses on the house. Ridiculing bourgeois respectability, slapstick chuckled at the destruction of the bourgeois home. Laurel & Hardy in particular mastered this practice. In addition, slapstick celebrates the house as a mechanical object. In films by Charley Chase, for instance, the interior is presented as a precision mechanical apparatus for a perfectly timed choreography of characters chasing each other. Moreover, with their foldaway beds and electric utensils and gadgets, slapstick films present the home as a "machine à habiter," which also fascinated avant-garde architects and designers. By focussing on slapstick's encounter with architecture, this article also addresses the relationship between slapstick cinema and the European avant-garde. While Dadaist, Surrealist and Constructivist artists as well as leading modernist architects such as Le Corbusier, Hannes Meyer and Karel Teige applauded American slapstick as the embodiment of mechanisation, slapstick's interest in skyscrapers and mechanised houses also shows unmistakably Dadaist and Surrealist sensibilities, particularly in its fascination for the conflation of bodies and machines, animated ready-made objects and obstinate interest in bathroom fittings. Celebrating both mechanisation and slapstick cinema, European avant-garde artists and modernist architects contributed to the cult of Americanism.
Keywords
Slapstick Cinema

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MLA
Jacobs, Steven. “Slapstick Homes : Architecture in Slapstick Cinema and the Avant-Garde.” JOURNAL OF ARCHITECTURE, vol. 23, no. 2, 2018, pp. 225–48.
APA
Jacobs, S. (2018). Slapstick homes : architecture in slapstick cinema and the avant-garde. JOURNAL OF ARCHITECTURE, 23(2), 225–248.
Chicago author-date
Jacobs, Steven. 2018. “Slapstick Homes : Architecture in Slapstick Cinema and the Avant-Garde.” JOURNAL OF ARCHITECTURE 23 (2): 225–48.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Jacobs, Steven. 2018. “Slapstick Homes : Architecture in Slapstick Cinema and the Avant-Garde.” JOURNAL OF ARCHITECTURE 23 (2): 225–248.
Vancouver
1.
Jacobs S. Slapstick homes : architecture in slapstick cinema and the avant-garde. JOURNAL OF ARCHITECTURE. 2018;23(2):225–48.
IEEE
[1]
S. Jacobs, “Slapstick homes : architecture in slapstick cinema and the avant-garde,” JOURNAL OF ARCHITECTURE, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 225–248, 2018.
@article{8558485,
  abstract     = {{Slapstick film comedies of the 1910s and 1920s are marked by a highly mechanical' use of space as indicated by its fascination for the skyscraper. First and foremost, slapstick's interest in architecture focuses on the house. Ridiculing bourgeois respectability, slapstick chuckled at the destruction of the bourgeois home. Laurel & Hardy in particular mastered this practice. In addition, slapstick celebrates the house as a mechanical object. In films by Charley Chase, for instance, the interior is presented as a precision mechanical apparatus for a perfectly timed choreography of characters chasing each other. Moreover, with their foldaway beds and electric utensils and gadgets, slapstick films present the home as a "machine à habiter," which also fascinated avant-garde architects and designers.
By focussing on slapstick's encounter with architecture, this article also addresses the relationship between slapstick cinema and the European avant-garde. While Dadaist, Surrealist and Constructivist artists as well as leading modernist architects such as Le Corbusier, Hannes Meyer and Karel Teige applauded American slapstick as the embodiment of mechanisation, slapstick's interest in skyscrapers and mechanised houses also shows unmistakably Dadaist and Surrealist sensibilities, particularly in its fascination for the conflation of bodies and machines, animated ready-made objects and obstinate interest in bathroom fittings. Celebrating both mechanisation and slapstick cinema, European avant-garde artists and modernist architects contributed to the cult of Americanism.}},
  author       = {{Jacobs, Steven}},
  issn         = {{1986-1346}},
  journal      = {{JOURNAL OF ARCHITECTURE}},
  keywords     = {{Slapstick Cinema}},
  language     = {{dut}},
  number       = {{2}},
  pages        = {{225--248}},
  title        = {{Slapstick homes : architecture in slapstick cinema and the avant-garde}},
  url          = {{http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13602365.2018.1443345}},
  volume       = {{23}},
  year         = {{2018}},
}

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