Inception: Architecture of the Mind

Inception: Architecture of the Mind

New York’s heat wave gave us the perfect excuse to escape into the cool movie theater for a few hours to check out Christopher Nolan’s latest production, Inception  (don’t worry, we won’t spoil the movie for you, we just want to share some thoughts about this very architectural-ish movie).

The movie’s protagonist, Dom Cobb, assembles a skilled team to extract secrets or, in rare cases, to implant ideas deep within a person’s subconscious.  Arguably the most important member, the architect, Ariadne (Ellen Page), designs these dreams.  At the simplest level, she is designing a maze – a complex and compelling labyrinth where the buildings and their layouts are controlled by the architect, but how it is occupied and what the “projections” do (figures the subconscious envisions), is determined by the dreamer.  As you can imagine, her designing leads to some crazy ideas, such as a penrose staircase or even cities that literally fold on top of themselves.  Yet, her success lies not in grandiose, crazy designs, but rather in the ability to connect with the dreamer, allowing his subconscious to comfortably take to the design and let his mind fill it with his ideas.

The architect must design spaces that have an air of familiarity about them.  This way, the person can latch on to the framework and begin filling the dream with his thoughts.  Ariadne learns that manipulating the design too far from what the user is used to will lead to undesired outcomes.  It is an interesting balance because the design must be compelling and exciting, yet not too unrealistic.

And yet, what if the ideas of designing the dream world could be used in our conscious state?   At one point, Ariadne notes that designing the dreams is “pure creation” at its best.  While Ariadne is certainly not tied to the same restrictions we are in the conscious world – for instance, physics – she does have certain parameters for the designs.  What if our minds could be as open as Ariadne’s – always testing the possibilities and toying with that delicate line of how a building affects a person.   You don’t want to go too far, yet you need to address the issue to make the building, just like the dream, gripping and dynamic.

The movie’s plot is deeply layered, filled with complexities and overlapping story lines, yet the power of the idea is never forgotten.  It continually emphasizes how an idea can take hold of a person and change his entire live.  It’s a strong message and threads itself throughout a chaotic and entertaining movie.  We hope you get the chance to see it!  And, if you were able to see it, what did you think of the movie?

Video from YouTube uploader trailers

About this author
Cite: Karen Cilento. "Inception: Architecture of the Mind" 26 Jul 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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