Space and Place in the Architext

My blogging here has been sparse these last few weeks (months??) due to a serious case of final stage thesis work. I have five months left as a doctoral candidate and a lot of writing to do. However, I have also been doing some teaching in this time in preparation for the post-PhD life, getting some experience and learning about the craft. Last Thursday I gave a lecture in HUMlab on Space and Place in Architexture for the museum studies students who have been working in the lab since the beginning of the term.
I based my presentation on two texts which have a profound influence on my thinking in recent years, Henri Lefebvre’s The Production of Space (1974/1991) and Edward S Casey’s Getting Back into Place: Toward a Renewed Understanding of the Place-World (1993). I drew from both works in an attempt to show some of the ways we can think about digital texts as representing space and place. Of course an obvious association is architecture, how built structures evoke meanings beyond just the functional. Likewise three dimension digital works, such as Second Life, call on the spatial arrangement of objects to evoke understandings of place and space.
I used Homi Bhabha’s The Location of Culture in the lecture for examples of how place and space create affect outside their own immediate (interlocking) spheres. One example from Bhabha is

‘Beyond’ signifies spatial distance, marks progress, promises the future; but our intimations of exceeding the barrier or boundary – the very act of going beyond – are unknowable, unrepresentable, without a return to the ‘present’ which, in the process of repetition, becomes disjunct and displaced. The imaginary of spatial distance – to live somehow beyond the border of our times – throws into relief the temporal, social differences that interrupt our collusive sense of cultural contemporaneity.

In order to summarize the connections between space, place and the types of digital works I have been researching I used the concept of ‘architexture’. A portmanteau word I thought of about a year ago, which I googled and found out that I was not the first to do so. In a paper from 1998 , Ross Farnell used architexture in relation to the writings of cyberpunk author William Gibson to explain “the effect of place, space and architecture on “posthuman” form and ontology” (Farnell 1998). While I am not focusing specifically on the “posthuman” applications of the term, I believe it summarizes well the convergence of the three elements space, place and architecture. Architexture aligns the important distinction between the text as a fixed and interpreted medium and the performative realities of mediated space in the post-industrial societies of the world today.

The notes I used for the lecture are on my teaching blog Augmented Reality.

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