THE DRIFTING SEAMSTRESS, HER POLYPHONIC GATEHOUSE, AND THE INSTITUTE OF MECHANICAL ARTS
by Mina Gohary
The Drifting Seamstress is an experimental research project that investigates the themes present in Walter Benjamin's essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Through twelve reproductions of an Exquisite Corpse drawing of the Seamstress, the creative user accesses the key to the Polyphonic Gatehouse. The Gatehouse sits at the intersection of the ideas expressed through the twelve reproductions, presents a methodological process whereby design occurs through the interpretations of the essay's narratives, and reveals the site's past, present, and future, with the subsequent proposal of the Institute of Mechanical Arts. The Institute aims to provide immersive learning for theatre students, and utilises the characters present in Benjamin's essay to form its pedagogical manifesto. The architecture, formed through a design methodology inspired by Brecht's principles of Epic Theatre, hopes to encourage conversations concerning adaptive reuse through the reinterpretation of Argosy House.