Friday, May 18, 2012

Postmodern Space

Why is it useful to consider post-modernity in an analysis of space?

Post-modern space can be described as:
-Spatial variety over short distances
-Local instead of regional architecture
-Space is not thought as an emptiness to be filled, it is never a stage or background

"(the post-modern) is a view of the world that emphasises openness to a range of perspectives in social inquiry, artistic expression, and political empowerment" Knox Marston, 2004

"socially constructed worlds that are simultaneously material and representational"
Critical Spatiality and the Uses of Theory  Jon L. Berquist  AAR/SBL Constructions of Ancient Space Seminar  October 2002.

There are a lot of different definitions of what these spaces could be referred to as well as the words used to describe them. Soja (channeling Lefebvre) calls them Perceived, Conceived and Lived spaces. I've found ways used to describe these spaces to be slightly confusing, my biggest issue being that of perceived space. This first space exists beyond perception (it is there whether anyone is around to experience it or not). I have also seen it noted as being 'physical', 'visual' and 'concrete', all words which seem contradictory. I think that sound would inhabit first space and that is not something remotely visual or concrete. In a similar way, light doesn't seem particularly physical. 

First Space:
  • Empirical
  • Beyond visual
  • Beyond conciousness
  • Physical (but not necessarily?)
Second Space:
  • A first and third space imagined
  • Mental
  • Concious
Third Space:
  • Social overlays
  • Experiential
  • Exists in both first and second space
  • Unconscious
  • Lived

(Empirical Space, Imagined Space and Experiential Space?)

What I noticed about these spaces is that first space is absolute, it exists beyond any human experience or interpretation where as second and third spaces are constructed by our own perception of this space.

In my studies I am primarily concerned with the construction of interactive spaces in the virtual world. So to then think about how such definitions of space can be applied to this dimension raises some interesting questions. To me, such a point transcends the interactivity of space itself in that this space, interactive or otherwise, operates under the same umbrella of virtuality. A screen itself exists in first space but the 'virtual space' which we experience is both imagined and socially constructed. I however feel that this digital space exceeds the definition of second and third because the game space of a world (although socially formed) is also absolute in its construction.

Virtual Space is postmodernist because it can be interpreted in an infinite number of ways by an infinite number of individuals. These individual interpretations are formed from a lived space, they are shaped by social and political factors that become trended in similar groups of people. It is in this way that affective maps can be created and triggered, interactive space is designed from the creators experience of the world and their understanding of how the ways in which people from this world can be affected.

This makes me wonder exactly how we would define a cinematic, animated or interactive space. These are spaces within spaces, just as within a room can exist in a drawer or cupboard entailing a space of its own, so too does a virtual world exist within the space from which we perceive it. It is a sub space, a deep space. I feel like there is still more thinking to be done on this because unlike a drawer or cupboard the screen takes our perception to an entirely different place.

If the modernist view point only accounts for two spaces and the post-modernist approach produces a third, is it not then entirely possible that a fourth space could be conceived? In beginning to conceptualise such a space, it is perhaps useful to ask questions of it that we have already used to define the spaces of the postmodern world. Is this space relative or absolute? Is it socially constructed or beyond human perception? Does it require us to rethink the properties of already presumed spaces?

Can we as humans perceive a pure first space? That is, experience first space without the social overlay of the third?

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