Rhodes ex­am­ines the ways in which gen­der, race, se­cu­rity, iso­la­tion, and is­sues of prop­erty and own­er­ship are treated in cin­e­matic por­tray­als of the house.

Pasatiempo - - ART OF SPACE - Po­ten­tia,” in

pro­duces cer­tain kinds of cin­e­matic ef­fects in its ar­chi­tec­ture,” Rhodes said. He senses what he de­scribes in the book as “a kind of in­her­ent cin­e­matic­ity at work in the house,” which was de­signed to fa­cil­i­tate views of the land­scape and of the ar­chi­tec­ture it­self, so that “it seems as much a viewfinder, or framer of views, as a space to be in­hab­ited.” A char­ac­ter­is­tic fea­ture of the house is Neu­tra’s curv­ing alu­minum wall, which af­fords pri­vacy to a pa­tio. On the other hand, the up­stairs bed­room and bath­room were only en­closed by glass rather than by cur­tains, which could yield “al­most some­thing of a drive-in movie the­ater

he writes Neu­tra once wrote that shel­ter is only the most ba­sic virtue of hu­man habi­tat: “It is the ful­fill­ment of the search — in space — for hap­pi­ness and emo­tional equi­lib­rium.” One of his ar­chi­tec­tural ges­tures that may pri­mar­ily have been en­acted to con­fuse in­side and out­side (along with, Rhodes be­lieves, the very na­ture of pri­vate prop­erty) also seems sim­ply play­ful: spi­der-leg out­rig­ging. The au­thor presents Neu­tra’s Chuey House, where this fea­ture is dis­played in a steel beam that ex­tends far be­yond the plate-glass wall it supports (or pre­tends to sup­port), end­ing at a joint with a steel col­umn planted in the mid­dle of a gar­den. Rhodes com­mented, “That weird am­biva­lence — is it part of the struc­ture or not? — res­onated with the views of the world that that kind of ar­chi­tec­ture gives you, that strange fluc­tu­at­ing sense of the in­side and the out­side.”

The old, per­haps para­noid-about-na­ture bar­ri­cade be­tween in­side and out­side spa­ces went out of style along with the strict com­part­men­tal­iza­tion of the res­i­den­tial space. To­day’s new, con­tem­po­rary homes in Santa Fe of­ten have huge glass pocket doors that, when open, vir­tu­ally dis­solve that bar­rier. Con­trast that with the lit­tle front door on the Vic­to­rian house. When you go in and close it, you’re in an en­tirely dif­fer­ent place. “A lot of it has to do with the tech­no­log­i­cal sense of mas­tery over na­ture, and there­fore it’s okay to let it in,” Hughes said. “Modernist ar­chi­tec­ture may be im­pres­sive, but I was in­ter­ested in kick­ing at its de­sire to ei­ther ex­tend out into space or drag the out­side world in, which is a per­fectly plea­sur­able sceno­graphic and sen­so­rial ef­fect — but it speaks to a de­sire to pos­sess and to en­close the land.”

“Spec­ta­cle of Prop­erty: The House in Amer­i­can Film” by John David Rhodes is pub­lished by Univer­sity of Min­nesota Press.

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