The Baroque Sensorium: Televisual Ambience, Bioelectronics, and Ecstasy in Francoist Spain (1948-1982)

2016–ongoing

PhD Dissertation Proposal. Architecture History and Theory Program, Princeton School of Architecture.

Advisor: Spyros Papapetros

José Val del Omar, Filming of *Fuego en Castilla [Fire in Castile]),* circa 1957-1960.


Beginning the 1950s, the Francoist regime embraced the dematerialization of architecture into environment as a key strategy for the modernization of the country. Yet, in opposition to this discourse of rationalization, other spatial discourses tethered to electronic media in Spain synthesized technological and scientific developments with a tradition of mysticism, magic ceremonies, and ecstatic rituals that connected the human to the natural world. This vindication of the irrational was fraught with forms of social engagement contrary to those established by the dictatorial system.

What if irrationality, banished from modernity by Max Weber, operated as a driving force of technological and scientific progress, challenging the hegemonic understanding of modernity as demystification? And how might alternatives to rationalization unsettle the understanding of structures of capitalist, but also fascist, power?



Mariano Velasco Durántez, Pasado y Presente del Radar y Sus Aplicaciones (Zaragoza: Tip. Heraldo de Aragón, 1948), sheet VI.


To address this question, this dissertation takes as its main case study the theoretical, technical, and artistic practice of Spanish filmmaker José Val del Omar (1904-1982), mainly developed under the Francoist dictatorship (1939-1975).



First view of Earth taken by a spacecraft received at the NASA tracking station at Robledo De Chavela near Madrid, Spain, 1966.