Burbank, Basilica, Beijing: The Architecture of Metanarrative

Sydney Farris

‘Canary’ed, Yellow’


Perry Kulper


Burbank, Basilica, Beijing addresses myth construction by re-structuring cultural strongholds of political and spiritual significance inside of a stage at Disney Studios in Burbank, California in 1941. Influenced by the “mostly fiberglass fantasy [resting] upon an unseen technological substructure” of Disney parks, the boundaries between sacred and profane, divine and mundane, are blurred and scenes are orchestrated with techniques of stage-setting and framing within the “big box.” The ultimate aim of the thesis is to examine the motivations, influences, imperatives and feedback loops of narratives and the architectures that house them within a plausible site condition.

The warehouse stage in Burbank is not only a site for work, but also contains a double of itself, where the big box is unfolded and worked on by rogue actors as a sort of drawing table, orchestrating conditions in other locations with Claude Levi-Strauss’s concept of mythological structuralism.蜉 It’s a war-time operations room, a board room, and also a tabula rasa on which the work is positioned.

Two other geographic locations are worked on within the collapsible walls of the big box. Terracotta Warriors travel from Shaanxi to a silk painting of the Forbidden City in Beijing as peony-printed tourists. Fragments of experience from St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City manifest within a black box theater. These are examples of how the thesis allows disparate mythologies and geographies to coexist and intermingle using filmic and theatrical techniques of narrative dissemination, exposing the translation of our reading of architectural affect to our subsequent reading of myth.