Endell’s Mathematics of Living Feeling
While many at the turn of the century imagined a new aesthetic theory that prioritized feelings, it was August Endell who theorized the epistemological possibilities of feeling with unrivalled acuity. Drawing on contemporaneous psychological debates about emotional expression and empathy, Endell developed an architectural theory that he put to pedagogical use at his Formschule in Berlin. This theory was predicated on the claim that forms could be correlated to their emotive effects with mathematical precision. Nineteenth-century academic architectural theory had been based on a physiognomic theory of expression, according to which architectural forms conformed to an expected character that expressed social norms. Endell instead theorized a pathognomic architecture that impressed its formal effects on the psyche, just as the physiologist Duchenne de Boulogne stimulated the facial muscles of his subjects with electrical currents. At a moment when theorists declared space (Raum) to be the essence of all architecture, Endell’s architectural theory shifted the focus from the physical body of buildings to the empty space that they enclosed. Furthermore, Endell provocatively argued that given the immediacy between form and affect, architectural space was the best means through which kinaesthetic knowing could attain a rigor comparable to that of propositional knowledge.
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