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Journal ArticleDOI

Brass Art: A house within a house within a house within a house

TL;DR: The Shadow Worlds | Writers' Rooms project as mentioned in this paper explores the representation of the double, the unconscious, and the uncanny in the writing rooms of influential authors, using Kinect laser scanning and processing.
Abstract: Performances from Brass Art (Lewis, Mojsiewicz, Pettican), captured at the Freud Museum, London, using Kinect laser scanning and Processing, reveal an intimate response to spaces and technologies. ‘A house within a house within a house within a house’ links historical and cultural representations of the double, the unconscious and the uncanny to this artistic practice. The new moving-image and sonic works form part of a larger project to inhabit the writing rooms of influential authors, entitled ‘Shadow Worlds | Writers’ Rooms’.

Summary (2 min read)

Introduction

  • Freud Museum, London, using Kinect laser scanning and Processing, reveal an intimate response to spaces and technologies.
  • ‘A house within a house within a house within a house’ links historical and cultural representations of the double, the unconscious and the uncanny to this artistic practice.
  • The new moving-image and sonic works form part of a larger project to inhabit the writing rooms of influential authors, entitled Shadow Worlds | Writers’ Rooms.

The Collector

  • It must be kept in mind that, for the collector, the world is present, indeed ordered, in each of his objects.
  • But whoever understands the human mind knows that hardly anything is harder for a man than to give up a pleasure he has once experienced.
  • Encountered in the here-and-now, the collected figures signify both an uncanny familiarity and an unknowable past:.
  • It is though, as collector, Freud assembles and arranges these enigmatic objects from “elsewhere” in order to map and re-order his whole world.
  • Had they not been allowed to leave Austria it is worth considering what substitutes would have been created or collected in their place.

The Artists

  • Time and again the authors have crossed the barrier, peeked behind the scenes, stayed beyond closing time, accessed parts unseen by the public-at-large.
  • The authors presence ostensibly does not make a mark or leave a trace, except for the data or the image captured during their sojourn.
  • Assisted by digital compositing, shadows, drawings and model making, the authors created their doubles to dance and loom over imaginary landscapes1.
  • Thus the authors interject, interpose or interrupt the equilibrium, the narrative, the silence, the spaces between and beneath.
  • Freud’s artefact – so reminiscent of the figure in their installation Moments of Death and Revival (2008 and 2010), and its brief transformation into a winged form at the moment of the light’s turning – is both one thing and another: inanimate and moving, dead and alive, revealing a double truth.

The uncanny twin

  • Within Freud’s house the authors can experience most clearly the mise en abyme – an important motif within their collaborative practice – in this instance the house within the house.
  • (Scholz-Strasser cited in Morra, 2013: 89) Art Historian Joanne Morra, writing on the differences between Freud’s two former homes and collections, follows Scholz-Strasser in suggesting that the Freud Museum Vienna is a ‘conceptual museum’ – largely empty of any objects or archived collection.
  • Anneleen Masschelein maintains that, ‘denying something at the same time conjures it up.
  • In re-animating the ‘familiar’ domestic spaces of their authors – familiar in the sense that the authors all understand what a bedroom is, or what a staircase is for – their sojourns invite a re-evaluation of these spaces, their particularities and peculiarities.
  • The authors performances with capture technologies, create an unfixed and constantly evolving form: a direct copy of the original space – a double – but with shifting and unexpected points of view in immeasurable time periods, and their doubles the surprising and submerged occupants.

Up the Staircase

  • I was very incompletely dressed and was going upstairs from a flat on the ground floor to a higher storey, also known as In 1899, Freud wrote.
  • Stairs, with their vertical axis, offer a literal passage up or down.
  • For Freud, dreaming necessitates the loss of one of their mental activities ‘namely their power of giving intentional guidance to the sequence of their ideas’.
  • As Marina Warner posits, ‘Doubling offers another disturbing and yet familiar set of personae in ways of telling the self; permutations of inner and outer selves catalyse uncanny plots about identity’ (Warner, 2004: 163).
  • Thus the films unfold sculpturally through intimate touch: ourselves converging on the spaces and holding archived objects, and the lasers stroking all in their range.

Biography:

  • Brass Art is Chara Lewis, Kristin Mojsiewicz and Anneké Pettican, a collaborative trio based in Manchester, Glasgow and Huddersfield.
  • Working together since 1999, they have exhibited in Berlin, New York, Washington as well as Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Bloomberg Space London, the Tatton Park Biennial and The Whitworth Gallery, Manchester.
  • The work produced at the Freud Museum can be seen as second iteration of larger project Shadow Worlds | Writers’ Rooms (2011-), an ambitious, ongoing project in three chapters: Chapter 1 – the Brontë Parsonage, Haworth, Chapter 2 - The Freud Museum, London, Chapter 3 – Monk’s House, Rodmell (former home of Virginia Woolf).
  • The shadows cast by the artists’ figures and ‘seen’ by the lasers, are entirely unseen by the eye during the process.
  • It was written for a tribute album compiled to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Lorca’s murder by Franco’s fascist soldiers in 1936.

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University of Huddersfield Repository
Lewis, Chara, Mojsiewicz, Kristin and Pettican, Anneké
Brass Art: A house within a house within a house within a house
Original Citation
Lewis, Chara, Mojsiewicz, Kristin and Pettican, Anneké (2014) Brass Art: A house within a house
within a house within a house. Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 7 (3). pp. 375-386. ISSN
1753-5190
This version is available at http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/26081/
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Name Brass Art: Chara Lewis, Kristin Mojsiewicz & Anneké Pettican
Affiliation Manchester School of Art at Manchester Metropolitan University,
Edinburgh College of Art at the University of Edinburgh, University of
Huddersfield (respectively)
Title Brass Art: A house within a house within a house within a house.
Keywords Archive, the double, the uncanny, the unconscious, Freud, Kinect
Abstract
Performances from Brass Art (Lewis, Mojsiewicz, Pettican), captured at the
Freud Museum, London, using Kinect laser scanning and Processing, reveal
an intimate response to spaces and technologies. ‘A house within a house
within a house within a house’ links historical and cultural representations of
the double, the unconscious and the uncanny to this artistic practice. The new
moving-image and sonic works form part of a larger project to inhabit the
writing rooms of influential authors, entitled Shadow Worlds | Writers’ Rooms.
The Messenger
Love, most beautiful
Of all the deathless gods. He makes men weak,
He overpowers the clever mind, and tames
The spirit in the breasts of men and gods.
(Hesiod, 1973: 27)

A small information card beside the statue of a diminutive winged figure states
that this figure alone was sent on as a forward party in advance of the Freud
family as they fled Nazi persecution in Vienna. Easily overlooked in his glass
case Eros: the love force who emerged after chaos; competitor with the
Thanatos death drive; the triumph of self-preservation over self-destruction;
the fetish object undergone transfer from material object into the sphere of the
divine: a fitting herald.
The Collector
It must be kept in mind that, for the collector, the world is present,
indeed ordered, in each of his objects. Ordered, however, according to
a surprising and, for the profane understanding, incomprehensible
connection []. It suffices to observe just one collector as he handles
the items in his showcase. No sooner does he hold them in his hand
than he appears inspired by them and seems to look through them into
the distance, like an augur.
(Benjamin, 1999: 207)
Walter Benjamin describes the conflation of an object’s history, provenance,
and in Freud’s case symbolic meaning forming a ‘whole magical
encyclopaedia, a world order’ for the true collector. Freud’s study is famously
full of the antiquities he collected, with many positioned along his desk in two
rows, like sentinels. These objects clearly embodied a greater significance
and meaning than a mere scholarly pastime for the psychoanalyst. Their
original set up in Vienna was captured for posterity by photographer Edmund
Engelmann (Engelmann, 1998),
at the behest of August Aichhorn. Doubtless
this photographic documentation helped Anna Freud to ease her father’s
transition to London, configuring his spatial set-up with as little disruption as
possible to his work, but it can also be read as an insurance against their
destruction – specifically a doubling which works against death.

The specific relationships (instigated by Freud) between the objects, and their
relations to each other, as they were rearranged on his desk, were contingent
on his mood and preoccupations. Even on holiday he was unable to part with
his collection of antiquities, packing up hundreds of the most favoured pieces
to travel with him, and arranging them in his new destination as a child might
carry and arrange a transitional object. Michael Molnar, former Director of the
Freud Museum,! reported that Freud habitually handled the pieces whilst
speaking, savouring both the look and feel of them. Freud himself stated in
1907:
As people grow up, then, they cease to play, and they seem to give up
the yield of pleasure which they gained from playing. But whoever
understands the human mind knows that hardly anything is harder for a
man than to give up a pleasure he has once experienced. Actually we
can never give anything up; we only exchange one thing for another.
(Freud, 1989: 437-438)
The body’s material interaction with objects from the past, grasping a remnant
of another time and place, provokes the mind and the imagination into flights
of fancy. Encountered in the here-and-now, the collected figures signify both
an uncanny familiarity and an unknowable past:
It is though, as collector, Freud assembles and arranges these
enigmatic objects from “elsewhere” in order to map and re-order his
whole (psychic) world.
(Calderbank, 2007: 10)
Our interest in Freud’s London home originates with the ‘saved’ collection and
belongings ostensibly in exile and elevated to mythical status due to its
perilous journey. Had they not been allowed to leave Austria it is worth

considering what substitutes would have been created or collected in their
place. Freud himself was unwilling to trust that his collection really would be
safely shipped out of Nazi-occupied Austria, remarking, ‘There is often a slip
‘twixt cup and lip (Freud, 1992: 247). The possibility of obliteration is
omnipresent, and we can read Freud’s fear for his collection as part of the
wider trauma of persecution.
The Artists
Time and again we have crossed the barrier, peeked behind the scenes,
stayed beyond closing time, accessed parts unseen by the public-at-large.
Our presence ostensibly does not make a mark or leave a trace, except for
the data or the image captured during our sojourn. Our collaborative entity
emerged from a shared desire to occupy inaccessible vantage points.
Assisted by digital compositing, shadows, drawings and model making, we
created our doubles to dance and loom over imaginary landscapes
1
. The
artist is often afforded privileged access by dint of their audacity to ask, and
ability to re-animate a collection with a fresh perspective. Thus we interject,
interpose or interrupt the equilibrium, the narrative, the silence, the spaces
between and beneath. We enter a dialogue to discern what we can touch,
move, displace, juxtapose, unlock, open up, or reveal.
At the Museum we occupied Freud’s vantage point at his desk, face-to-face
with his collection, opened his drawers and found non-invasive ways to insert
ourselves momentarily into his space. The winged antiquities drew our
attention reminding us of the metamorphosis we have assumed in our

Citations
More filters
Dissertation
01 Jan 2016
TL;DR: The post-cinematic uncanny as discussed by the authors is a theory of psychoanalysis, affect, and postcinema that is related to the work of Shaviro et al. The work employs technologies that were the preserve of high-end visual effects productions and aims to engender uncanny affect in its audience.
Abstract: This thesis presents and discusses the author’s practice-based artistic research. It situates the work, an investigation into the post-cinematic uncanny and the affective potential of visual effects technologies in art practice, within a theoretical context and aims to illuminate aspects of our relationship to certain types of digitally augmented contemporary moving imagery. The practice explores the post-cinematic uncanny as an intersection of visual arts, moving image, animation, cinema, television and visual effects, linking it to theories of psychoanalysis, affect and post-cinema. It questions the nature and qualities of moving image in the 21st century, especially the pervasive and ubiquitous nature of computer-generated imagery (CGI) that supplements and augments digitally captured footage. In doing so it creates, explores and situates the post-cinematic uncanny within contemporary arts practice. The work employs technologies that were, until relatively recently, the preserve of high-end visual effects productions and aims to engender uncanny affect in its audience. It thus falls under the purview of Steven Shaviro’s speculations on post-cinematic affect (2010). This ‘post-cinematic’ refers to the transformation of moving image practice and culture, driven in part by the move to digital acquisition, manipulation, distribution, display and networked consumption. It provides a conceptual framework for this practice in relation to the wider context of cinema and moving image production. In the practice, visual effects technologies have been employed site-specifically to create the impression of things unknown yet familiar, occupying a liminal zone between biomorphic and mechanical form and patterned on human-designed objects and environments. These reside in the screen-space, creating new associations, fantastic implied narratives and extra-dimensional mplications in otherwise mundane spaces. Disconnected from the profilmic event, these computer-generated images may be 'perceptually realistic but referentially unreal’ (Prince, 2002:124) and yet have no connection to the profilmic beyond an urge towards the ‘paradox of perceptual realism’ (Rodowick, 2007:101). In this respect, CGI visual effects imagery may analogous to Freud's uncanny double (1919).

1 citations

References
More filters
Book
01 Jan 1999
TL;DR: Translators' Foreword Exposes Paris, the Capital of the Nineteenth Century (1935) "Paris, the City of the Twenty-First Century" (1939) Convolutes Overview First Sketches Early Drafts "Arcades" "The Arcades of Paris" 'The Ring of Saturn" Addenda Expose of 1935, Early Version Materials for the Expose and Exposition of 1935 Materials for Arcades' "Dialectics at a Standstill," by Rolf Tiedemann "The Story of Old Benjamin," by Lisa Fitt
Abstract: Translators' Foreword Exposes "Paris, the Capital of the Nineteenth Century" (1935) "Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century" (1939) Convolutes Overview First Sketches Early Drafts "Arcades" "The Arcades of Paris" "The Ring of Saturn" Addenda Expose of 1935, Early Version Materials for the Expose of 1935 Materials for "Arcades" "Dialectics at a Standstill," by Rolf Tiedemann "The Story of Old Benjamin," by Lisa Fittko Translators' Notes Guide to Names and Terms Index

2,991 citations


"Brass Art: A house within a house w..." refers background in this paper

  • ...Shadow Worlds | Writers’ Rooms6 (2011-) as an investigation of simple, domestic spaces creates the possibility of thinking about the everyday, the ordinary and the familiar as the most vivid potential sites for uncanny revelation and transformation....

    [...]

  • ...(Benjamin, 1999: 207) Walter Benjamin describes the conflation of an object’s history, provenance, and in Freud’s case symbolic meaning forming a ‘whole magical encyclopaedia, a world order’ for the true collector....

    [...]

  • ...Freud Museum press release 07/10/09 6 The work produced at the Freud Museum can be seen as second iteration of larger project Shadow Worlds | Writers’ Rooms (2011-), an ambitious, ongoing project in three chapters: Chapter 1 – the Brontë Parsonage, Haworth, Chapter 2 -...

    [...]

  • ...The new moving-image and sonic works form part of a larger project to inhabit the writing rooms of influential authors, entitled Shadow Worlds | Writers’ Rooms....

    [...]

  • ...Having established through research for our ongoing Shadow Worlds | Writers’ Rooms project that processed Kinect cloud data gives the appearance of ‘seeing round corners’, we foresaw opportunities to extend the reach of the technology capturing performances that bridged conscious and unconscious movement – revealing what the naked eye cannot see....

    [...]

Journal ArticleDOI
01 Oct 2004-October
TL;DR: Foster as mentioned in this paper describes an archival impulse at work internationally in contemporary art, pointing to the fact that artists' practice can be seen as an idiosyncratic probing into particular figures, objects, and events in modern art, philosophy, and history.
Abstract: OCTOBER 110, Fall 2004, pp. 3–22. © 2004 Hal Foster. Consider a temporary display cobbled together out of workday materials like cardboard, aluminum foil, and packing tape, and filled, like a homemade studyshrine, with a chaotic array of images, texts, and testimonials devoted to a radical artist, writer, or philosopher. Or a funky installation that juxtaposes a model of a lost earthwork with slogans from the civil rights movement and/or recordings from the legendary rock concerts of the time. Or, in a more pristine register, a short filmic meditation on the huge acoustic receivers that were built on the Kentish coast between the World Wars, but soon abandoned as outmoded pieces of military technology. However disparate in subject, appearance, and affect, these works—by the Swiss Thomas Hirschhorn, the American Sam Durant, and the Englishwoman Tacita Dean—share a notion of artistic practice as an idiosyncratic probing into particular figures, objects, and events in modern art, philosophy, and history. The examples could be multiplied many times (a list of other practitioners might begin with the Scotsman Douglas Gordon, the Englishman Liam Gillick, the Irishman Gerard Byrne, the Canadian Stan Douglas, the Frenchmen Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno, the Americans Mark Dion and Renee Green . . . ), but these three alone point to an archival impulse at work internationally in contemporary art. This general impulse is hardly new: it was variously active in the prewar period when the repertoire of sources was extended both politically and technologically (e.g., in the photofiles of Alexander Rodchenko and the photomontages of John Heartfield), and it was even more variously active in the postwar period, especially as appropriated images and serial formats became common idioms (e.g., in the pinboard aesthetic of the Independent Group, remediated representations from Robert Rauschenberg through Richard Prince, and the informational structures of Conceptual art, institutional critique, and feminist art). Yet an archival impulse with a distinctive character of its own is again pervasive—enough so to be considered a tendency in its own right, and that much alone is welcome.1

372 citations


"Brass Art: A house within a house w..." refers background in this paper

  • ...…Museum, London Sophie Leighton, Curator, The Freud Museum, London Bryony Davies, Acting Curator, The Freud Museum, London Jenna Holmes, Curator, The Brontë Parsonage, Haworth Dr Susannah Thompson, Edinburgh College of Art at the University of Edinburgh Dr Anna Powell, University of Huddersfield...

    [...]

  • ...We sought ‘to turn belatedness into becomingness’ (Foster, 2004: 22) and re-animate the archive and museum....

    [...]

Journal Article
01 Jan 1995-Psyche

21 citations


"Brass Art: A house within a house w..." refers background in this paper

  • ...Freud himself was unwilling to trust that his collection really would be safely shipped out of Nazi-occupied Austria, remarking, ‘There is often a slip ‘twixt cup and lip…’ (Freud, 1992: 247)....

    [...]

  • ...Easily overlooked in his glass case – Eros: the love force who emerged after chaos; competitor with the Thanatos death drive; the triumph of self-preservation over self-destruction; the fetish object undergone transfer from material object into the sphere of the divine: a fitting herald....

    [...]

Frequently Asked Questions (10)
Q1. What are the contributions in this paper?

The new moving-image and sonic works form part of a larger project to inhabit the writing rooms of influential authors, entitled Shadow Worlds | Writers ’ Rooms. Doubtless this photographic documentation helped Anna Freud to ease her father ’ s transition to London, configuring his spatial set-up with as little disruption as possible to his work, but it can also be read as an insurance against their destruction – specifically a doubling which works against death. Michael Molnar, former Director of the Freud Museum, reported that Freud habitually handled the pieces whilst speaking, savouring both the look and feel of them. Assisted by digital compositing, shadows, drawings and model making, the authors created their doubles to dance and loom over imaginary landscapes. Freud Museum Director Carol Seigel suggests that the authors can take this a step further: the status of the analyst ’ s couch, chair and desk ( with attendant statues ) form such a distinct core of the Museum, and of the publics ’ interest in Freud ’ s work, can be seen as an additional casement to the Museum, and consequently then produces a fourfold recursive framing of the housed collection – a house within a house within a house within a house. This mirroring of London and Vienna is significant for their approach to working with the Freud Museum and returns again to the idea of the copy. The return of some of Freud ’ s objects and furniture to Vienna in the 1970s undertaken by his daughter Anna, re-states his presence on Berggasse, but essentially proclaims absence. ( Scholz-Strasser cited in Morra, 2013: 89 ) Art Historian Joanne Morra, writing on the differences between Freud ’ s two former homes and collections, follows Scholz-Strasser in suggesting that the Freud Museum Vienna is a ‘ conceptual museum ’ – largely empty of any objects or archived collection. Her suggestion is that the authors consider the ‘ empty ’ Museum as a living archive of the Freud family ’ s life and work, and that ultimately the Viennese Museum can be understood as ‘ modeled [ sic ] on conceptual art ’ ( Morra, 2013: 89 ). Their approach to the house in Maresfield Gardens, full as it is of artefacts, furniture and books, has been to attempt to open up the space. It is these ‘ multiple significations ’ of the unheimlich that Anthony Vidler claims were most interesting for Freud, returning, as it did, to the scene of the domestic ; the home and dynamics of the family. In re-animating the ‘ familiar ’ domestic spaces of their authors – familiar in the sense that the authors all understand what a bedroom is, or what a staircase is for – their sojourns invite a re-evaluation of these spaces, their particularities and peculiarities. Can the authors consider that a dream is an archive ? The authors did not deviate from using the main staircase, with its ninety-degree turns, as a feature of their performative work. In reference to Freud 's theory of the Unconscious, the authors sought to be responsive to the spaces of the house and allow them ( and the artefacts contained therein ) to guide and shape the sequence of their performances. A new feature of this performative work was the bespoke software, developed for their Freud sojourn by Spencer Roberts. In the Maresfield house, the authors wanted to extend the possibilities afforded by the capture technology and experiment with ‘ threshold ’ performances: by conjoining and editing data, captured by several Kinect devices located at different points within a scene, they could move freely between rooms, thereby fully animating the house as the lasers captured points of entry and exit. The idea of using repetitive actions and sonic refrains meant that the authors gave ourselves the opportunity to create a piece that would flow through the spaces of the house – moving both in and out of step with time. Thus ‘ the double ’ in this work is a signifier of the uncanny experience, triggering a sense of the familiar yet strange. Having established through research for their ongoing Shadow Worlds | Writers ’ Rooms project that processed Kinect cloud data gives the appearance of ‘ seeing round corners ’, the authors foresaw opportunities to extend the reach of the technology capturing performances that bridged conscious and unconscious movement – revealing what the naked eye can not see. Actually the authors can never give anything up ; they only exchange one thing for another. The possibility of obliteration is omnipresent, and the authors can read Freud ’ s fear for his collection as part of the wider trauma of persecution. The authors enter a dialogue to discern what they can touch, move, displace, juxtapose, unlock, open up, or reveal. The uncanny twin Within Freud ’ s house the authors can experience most clearly the mise en abyme – an important motif within their collaborative practice – in this instance the house within the house. The authors can view the two archives, collections, Museums, homes as inextricably linked, but it would be unproductive to see them as binary opposites. Furthermore, as Freud approached the unheimlich through the heimlich he ‘ exposed the disturbing affiliation between the two ’ ; that their interchangeability was perhaps the most uncanny aspect of all ( Vidler, 1996: 23 ). Shadow Worlds | Writers ’ Rooms ( 2011- ) as an investigation of simple, domestic spaces creates the possibility of thinking about the everyday, the ordinary and the familiar as the most vivid potential sites for uncanny revelation and transformation. Morra suggests that: ‘ Through dreams the various dwelling-places in their lives co-penetrate and retain the treasures of former days ’ ( Morra, 2013: 84 ). Retrospectively the authors can not always be sure who is cast in a particular role, and thus the doubling succeeds in ungrounding us. It deliberately fashions space more precisely than a photograph which Susan Sontag suggests ‘ is not “ an interpretation ” of the real ; it is also a trace directly stencilled off the real, like a footprint or a death mask ’ ( Sontag, 1990: 154 ). 

A virtue of using laser capture is that it has a limited range and depth of field so thatartefacts become part of the architecture and multiple viewings are required to discern domestic features and objects of significance. 

Their approach to the house in Maresfield Gardens, full as it is of artefacts, furniture and books, has been to attempt to open up the space. 

The shadows are formed when an object obstructs the laser, and the resulting occlusion appears as black shadow but is in fact a lack of data – something the eye cannot perceive. 

At the Museum the authors occupied Freud’s vantage point at his desk, face-to-face with his collection, opened his drawers and found non-invasive ways to insert ourselves momentarily into his space. 

In the Maresfield house, the authors wanted to extend the possibilities afforded by the capture technology and experiment with ‘threshold’ performances: by conjoining and editing data, captured by several Kinect devices located at different points within a scene, the authors could move freely between rooms, thereby fully animating the house as the lasers captured points of entry and exit. 

In dreams, ‘Steps, ladders or staircases, or, as the case may be, walking up or down them, are representations of the sexual act’ wrote Freud, and rooms are usually denoted as female – ‘Frauenzimmer’. 

Within Freud’s house the authors can experience most clearly the mise en abyme – an important motif within their collaborative practice – in this instance the house within the house. 

in the editing and re-drawing process10 something surprising occurs – the protagonists switch, move in and out of step with linear time, and extend the dream-like register of the piece. 

The flat in Central Vienna – the symbolic seat of Austrian psychoanalysis, and the site of Freud’s groundbreaking studies and writing – haunts the house in North London.