The argument put forth in this thesis is based on the observation that contemporary design suffers from a ‘missing body.’ This absence stems from a Modernist aversion to the figure, which has been absorbed by contemporary design. It contributes to a diminished embodied imagination and a diminished ability to address a lived embodiment and situated subjectivity in architecture, particularly in representations and ornament.
The notion of ‘body agents’— dynamic, subjective, and non-ideal figures that exist in a reciprocal state with designs— are put forward to address radically new conditions in architecture, subjectivity, and embodiment. These figures are also predicated on the importance of continuity with the past. The historical precedents that are particularly important to this thesis and inform this definition of body agents are the proto-Baroque work of Michelangelo Buonarroti, the Baroque work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and the more recent work of Walter Pichler which presciently evoked a technologically saturated embodiment. In these examples, figures enact the emotional and personal themes of their authors as well as broader cultural issues; they mediate between the architect and the design, but also between the inhabitant and the buildings within which they are embedded.
This historical research was part of the process which also included narrative writing and the construction of hybridized images to create a cast of body agents which were deployed in design projects. The results were body agents with ‘expressive’ anatomies, comprised of reified digital meshworks that spatially and materially intertwined with their architectural contexts. My intention is to introduce body agents into contemporary design to catalyze architectural imagination and expose opportunities to interject situated and embodied intersubjectivities into design.