Topogeography of Space…

Melvin_Sokolsky_Bicycle_Street_Paris_1963_thumb

                                                                                           Cover: Our personal bubble space

In this blog-post I would indulge in a brief discussion of Bachelard’s and Lefevre’s ideas about space and place and I would attempt an explanation of the following questions:

  • How do we identify with the ideas of  ‘place’ and ‘space’ in our daily lives ?
  •  Is there any difference between actual and personal space ?
  • What are the differences between social and personal space ?

Moving on to mapping and cartography (sth that Oliviaho667 explores in her blogs thoroughly already) we discussed Cuddy-Keane’s text Imaging/Imagining Globalization: Maps and Models  and the term ‘geopolitik’. Employed in 1899 by the Swedish philosopher Rhudin Kjellin, it used to refer to the political dimensions of a fixed terittorial space, however today it adresses any political dimension of social space (2). Mapping became illusory as digital and technological advancements demolished the territorial boundaries and globalization became a reality.

  •  How do we identify with the ideas of  ‘place’ and ‘space’ in our daily lives?

In our class discussion, it seemed that Locke’s empiricist idea of how we perceive our world still exists but in globalized terms. Locke defined knowledge of our actual world as a process that derives form what we experience through our physical senses. When we asked to describe and later map on Mapbox our preferable sites we all thought in personal terms.We mapped places we have physically accessed several times (home,university, job etc.) and justified our answers according to our subjective perception of relationships between space-place.The fact that although we can digitally access the world globally (browsing world-wide news, using GPS and digital maps) and physically experience a variety of places (travelling, commuting etc.) we continue to initially perceive the world through our personal space make me wonder are we still living in our fairy bubbles? The notion of ‘shriking world’ is now well established while the categories of ‘distance’  and ‘ territorial boundaries’ become elusive(6). The absence of boundaries and fixed territories lead us to perceive ‘place’ and ‘space’ in eliminating, metonymic terms . For instance, with travelling we can easily change our actual place or through the Atlas of Cyberspace we can even start grasping the illusive cyber space.

  • So, is there a difference between actual and personal space, nowadays after all?

Thacker in his article Moving Through Modernity: Space and Geography in Modernism presents Bachelard’s theory of ‘topoanalysis’ which literally means analysis of  a ‘locus’. Bachelard is trying to focus into spaces (house) that have been turned into places (home) that we associate with our inner feelings, such as ‘home’ which is emotionally charged with connotations of belonging, safety etc.(15) It is apparent that Bachelard’s approach is materialistic as he sees home as a place that contains some of our most intimate belongings and therefore as a part of ourselves. and  Although, Bachelard does not analyze external spaces, this might explains why we initially chose to answer questions about space and place in personal, psychological terms and attempted a psychogeographical mapping. The outer space became more visible in the work of Lefebvre.

  • What are the differences between social and personal space ?

Lefebvre, a Marxist French philosopher, builts upon the above theory and observes that space is dynamic and revolutionary. It always embodies a social, historical and political meaning. It is part of the national and global sphere (as there are no clear boundaries)  and is contantly defined by the dynamics  that enacted upon it and re-enacts against them (basically what Kjellin proposed) (18) . However, with this fusion of boundaries Lefevbre adds also the idea of ambiguous continuity between spaces as an elusive whole and the hypercomplexity of social space which exists between social, political, historical, cultural, national and global areas (19). Moreover, it refers to representational spaces , spaces that portay symbolic and imaginative meaning. A good example of representational spaces are graffiti walls, artistic installations, pop-up shops and generally places that are used in ways that challenge our normative notions of space ( squatting, park-our, break dance, contemporary dance actions in public places).

Unfortunately, as I have run out of space (and place and time :p), I will analyze this idea more thoroughly in my next blogpost….

Works mentioned:

Cover from American photographer Melvin Sokolsky .The “Bubble Series”, 1963 featured models in giant plastic bubbles, suspended above various locations (including the river Siene) in Paris.

Ambridge,  Brittany.”The Bubble Series” . The Aubergine Notebook.2011.  Oct.27 2013. Web

http://www.theauberginenotebook.com/2010/12/the-bubble-series-by-melvin-sokolsky/

MapBox. Oct 27, 2013 https://www.mapbox.com

Dodge, Martin and Rob Kitchin. Atlas of Cyberspace. Oct 27, 2013. Web http://personalpages.manchester.ac.uk/staff/m.dodge/atlas/Atlas_with_cover_low.pdf

Cuddy-Keane, Melba. ‘Imaging/Imagining Globalization: Maps and Models.’ Discussion Paper for MLA Convention, New York, December 28, 2002. Pdf http://children.library.carleton.ca/Melba_Cuddy-Keane.htm

Thacker, Andrew. Moving Through Modernity: Space and Geography in Modernism. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003. Introduction and Chapter One, pp. 15-19. Print

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