Liquid Surfaces

Minor Architectures of the Fille Fatale





Exploring the interactions between liquid surfaces and their relationship to the figure of the fille fatale in dark genres of film and television, this paper suggests that the liquid surface not only disrupts our understanding of architecture as a static structural envelope, but also acts to destabilise the image of the innocent girl in science fiction and horror films and television. The discussion focuses on three relatively recent depictions of young girls who confront (or are forced to confront) the liquid surface: Mitsuko’s submersion in the water vessels of an apartment building in Dark Water (2002), Ofelia and the muddy interior of the tree in Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), and the watery floor of Eleven’s psychic state in Stranger Things (2016). Working with Jill Stoner’s understanding of minor architectures and their ability to deterritorialise both physical structures and structures of power, the paper asks to what extent the liquid surface encounters of Ofelia, Mitsuko and Eleven exist as reflections of each character’s experiences, or as currents of agency through which the fille fatale reshapes her world. In doing so the research considers the ways in which fictional liquid surfaces operate as a visual minor architecture that elicits a questioning of social and physical norms.




How to Cite

Brown, Alexandra, and Kirsty Volz. 2017. “Liquid Surfaces: Minor Architectures of the Fille Fatale”. Idea Journal 16 (1):62-73.



Design Research Paper