Mapping : alternative spaces in Art and the Web

Apart from the fact that we inhabit a digital world, we also live ‘in spacious times’ (1) and this something we should consider even when we are reading a literary book. However, I would like to build upon my discussion in my previous blog post about alternative spaces and provide examples of  actual alternative social spaces that can been accessed digitally. Undoubtedly, Lefebvre’s theory links to movements in art that influenced our perception of social space.

As no one lives in a vacuum Lefebvre has been influenced from previous cultural representations of space. During the 20th century, historical and social changes influenced the way we perceive space. Mass culture, industrialism, nationalism, militarism, technological advancements and the pressures forced upon the individual resulted in the emergence a post-war wave commented on distorted space and the abolition of boundaries (439). Picasso’s Guernica and preceding art movements of Pop Art and Happenings.  By improvising and re-enacting events satirize the ways in which spatiality invades and transforms our external and internal spaces.

Lefebvre believed that space is neither an abstract concept nor empty but rather is a space that can always been coded through social meaning. Geopolitics and Marxist ideologies about social space crystalized his theories about ‘superstructure’ and how space is based on economic basis and is structured by social power relations. He divided social space in three categories: spatial practises, representation of space and representational spaces and defined representational space as a creating space who challenges our established notion of actual and metaphorical space (20) . Moving away from the grid of the scale of reality and facing the grid itself.

Moving away from the grid of the scale of reality (content) and facing the grid itself (structure) an appropriate example  of this would be the Meipi web page.Meipi itself is an open source community which is situated in Spain. A site that maps, among other things, Lefebvre’s idea of representational spaces, in the city of Athens. Thought it was actually a project from a Greek university, checking it again, it turned out to be a collaborative project between groups of people from mostly South European countries, which share a more liberal view on how public spaces are transformed to accommodate citizens’ needs. Their main idea is that public spaces should be labelled as ‘commons’ and could function as a portal of collaboration,help and sharing.  Spaces are divided according to: social, cultural, natural or digital. Its  map structure helps navigating and visualising the idea of space.By zooming in Athens, we can access places used as alternative spaces of protest and communion.In a Waste Land of economic recession and degradation, alternative usage of actual and symbolic space functions as a catalyst of creative expression and as a form of dynamic social resistance and digital means document this change. There are instance of squatting, non-profit digital spaces, open-markets, self-managed occupied spaces,inhabitants’ communities,instances of protest for democratisation of private beachesshutting down- storesan instance of squating of the Acropolis monument etc.that shape representations of commons. Unfortunately the site stopped to get updated in 2011 but still can be a point of reference for spatial changes in Athens. Cities are vibrant and voice the political, cultural shifts and demands of their citizens.

Works cited:

Cover:  Post-modernist idea of representational fragmented spaces, Mirrored Room from Lucas Samaras, 1966. (498)

Mapping the Commons of  Athens.” Meipi.  2008. Sat. 29 Nov. 2013

Thacker, Andrew. Moving Through Modernity: Space and Geography in Modernism. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003. Introduction p. 1, 20. Web

Arnason, H. and Mansfield Elizabeth. History of Modern Art. London : Pearson, 2010. p. 439, 498. Print.


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