The Electric House
SHIFT. Gallery, London - 2011
Buster Keaton's, 'The Electric House', was completed in 1922 (for the second time after Keaton broke his leg during its original production) and was screened nearly a year before Le Corbusier's text 'Vers Une Architecture' rang out the modernist mantra 'the house as a machine for living in'. With his typical sense of both technological and humorous invention, Keaton re-engineers a house into an electrified environment of gadgets and objects. At a time when domestic electricity was barely in a third of homes, his meticulously constructed stage set emphasised the potential for a dislocation between user and object. The elaborate and ingenious nature of his inventions act as a method to test both Keaton's capabilities as a comic as well as question the viewer's relationship to materiality (and the modernist prerogative).
The project used the film as a means to develop an installation within the gallery at SHIFT, a space housed in an East London social housing development (demolished in 2012).