June 1, 2015
Before doing in depth thinking about the definition of space one would define it simply as either an open area or place, or outer space beyond Earth. But, space can be perceived as a much more personal and individualized place or experience. For example, a house to the owner is very different from a house to a guest. To this guest a house is simply rooms with doors and chairs and tables and furniture. But to the owner, a home is a collection of memories and emotions that are attached to each room, along with associated smells, sounds, and tactile connections. I think it is fair to say that the same physical space can be very different depending on who is inside the space or experiencing it.
When we analyze space we have to be aware that there is more than meets the eye, more than a defined geographic, measurable place. Space is just as much a physical idea as it is an emotional idea or mental construct. When analyzing a space we should not just look at it and think about it on in isolation or without context. Even observing space depends on other people’s experiences and perspectives. It’s much like the highly individual interpretation that comes from a work of art.
Space is also a social sharing of experiences. A space can be determined by who is with you and what you are doing with that person. For example an empty room with music playing from a speaker is very, very, different from a room that is full of people, conversation, and music. If people understood that space is not just what they interpret and rather a collaborative interpretation, they would not look at space, which could be other people, other cultures, or other ideas, from just their own perspectives or measuring sticks. Instead, people would seek out other opinions and people’s own opinions and personal experiences in order to define their own. This would significantly help the global community in terms of the acceptance of others and their cultures and ideas. This would help create a far more inclusive and open global community.
It is 4 o’clock pm on a Saturday afternoon and my muscles are screaming. I’ve been dancing for the last 2 hours straight and I still have one more hour to go in the gymnasium of the German School of Boston. Technically, this gymnasium is not our studio. My dance school has rented this space for at least 30 years to be used from 11am to 5pm on Saturdays, and generations of dancers at the O’Shea Chaplin Academy of Irish Dance have grown up both fearing and loving this space. So in my mind, we own this space.
Often, when I leave the gym to gulp down some much needed water, I look at the crayon drawings elementary students at the GSIB have put on display in the hallway. I look at their abandoned lunch boxes and jackets in their cubbies, and I imagine them running down the halls and their warm-hearted teachers trailing after them. In these hallways they learn to read. They learn to add and subtract. They finger paint and learn to play the recorder. And when it’s time to enter the gym across the hall they form a line and walk through those white double doors and play whatever game is awaiting them on the other side. When I walk through those double doors, I walk into a cacophony of blaring jigs and hornpipes, and fiberglass tips trebling and clicking away. I walk into a space that has held some of the most pivotal 4 hours in my life. It is a space that has dictated my goals and aspirations since I was 8 years old. It is a space physically defined by a sea of dance bags arranged in social hierarchy. The queen bees sit near the left hand windows, while the rest follow behind. Even on the easiest days the air always feels heavy to me. Everything is heavy in that gym. Everything has consequence. And if my core friends aren’t there, the air is even heavier and space more empty.
In this instance and personal experience, space is defined by memories, by connections, by an artform that has defined my passion, and the effects of physical exertion. This is my space.
On the surface, “space” seems to be a wash concept. In our daily interactions and conversations space seems to be synonymous with emptiness. But in reality, space is something that we fill with our own perceptions, anxieties and hopes. We define it so that it shapes itself in a way that allows us to make the most sense of our lives. We give space borders and labels to create a sense of “us.” Sometimes the “us” is created first, and the spatial boundaries are dictated afterwards. Othertimes space is seen only as a physical mass that can be expressed on a piece of paper, and because of this understanding spatial borders and labels can divide “us”es and create a sense of resentment towards what the space symbolically represents. Space is both an idea and an experience and it is moldable. It is an address, a place, a definably undefinable realm of experience. It becomes space when we can leave it and return to it, when we assign it a purpose and a place in our lives.
Space is one of the most difficult things to define in the world. One can ask someone to define it and they will say it is the realm in which all events occur. Another may say it is what is outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, outer space. A quick Google search pulls up the definition, “a continuous area or expanse that is free, available or unoccupied.” I would have agreed with all three of these definitions at varying points in my life. However, after a period of deep reflection on the true meaning of the word, I find that I have crafted my own personal definition of what space means to me. I believe that space is the realm in which all events occur, but I believe that definition is irrelevant and unhelpful. If I only know a fraction of the world’s population, how am I to know what events occur on just this planet. That is impossible, and we are just one tiny rock in the vast expanse of space, the realm in which everything occurs and exists.
Since it is impossible for me to take part in SPACE, I believe that what is more important is “Our Space” or the space in which we hold sway and it holds sway over us. This sway, is more than just physical placement of objects, control of how events occur, or absolute dominance over our realm. Sway is the effect, either tangible or intangible, that we have on “Our Space”. So how does one perceive space, analyze it, and what senses are used in the process. Since whatever has an effect on us, or we affect is “Our Space” then we define what Our Space, or space that has meaning, is. This meaningful space is analyzed with our emotional mind just as much as our rational mind. We perceive it and think about it not only as a physical thing, but the space can be the emotional feel of the room, or the pattern sound follows when it echoes. I believe that the principle ideas used to analyze space are quite simple, what meaning am I giving an event, and what meaning am I giving everything around me.
I think that it is very easy to overlook the intangible parts of space and focus only on the physical world around us. It is easy to forget that the space and the meaning assigned to Our Space come full circle and affects us as well.
I believe that this idea of space is most useful when applied to difficult emotional situations. However, that is not to say it could not be applied to daily life, in fact, I believe that if it was applied to everyday life, then most of the difficult emotional problems that arise from a lack of awareness of how we affect Our Space would cease to exist. I believe that the feelings associated with Our Space are just as important as the actual contents of Our Space. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the feelings are part of the contents.
Take for example some Holocaust monuments; even people who have no history with the Holocaust can be overcome by emotion at the emotional power these monuments have. They can leave this space, take with them these feelings, and hold on to them for the rest of their lives. This is a powerful example of the power of the effects of Our Space. If a person was to give this feeling a negative or bad meaning, to say to themselves that, “We, as human beings are Disgusting,” then he will take that meaning with him his whole life and will look at people as disgusting. If he takes a positive meaning, and says to himself, “It’s amazing the power of the human spirit,” he will do just the opposite. I believe that space is less an area, and more of a collection of experiences and our current experience that we carry around with us. Because all of our past experiences affect our current one, the spaces we visited or lived in 20 years ago, are still affecting us now.
I believe that the future applications of this idea are quite simply a new way of thinking and approaching problems. If we take into account all of the past experiences we have had, and are aware of the meaning we give them, then we can act accordingly and compensate for our emotional turmoil in our decisions. I believe that this would help people to live and find meaningful lives that could greatly increase their quality of life. On a more worldly level, I believe that foreign policy could use this belief to account for the prior experiences that other nations have had in dealing with them to create a better sense of understanding which would promote peaceful relationships. I believe that the idea of Our Space is important to living a meaningful, satisfying, and impactful life; which happens to be my ultimate goal.
Critical Theory Final Assignment
Space As A Vibe
by Kate Reed
Most people define space as a location and its physical surroundings, but that just skims the surface. Space is a constant that cannot always be defined. Space can be anything from a box to a vibe. You cannot put parameters around space, as it does not necessarily have to be a place, a room, or physically restricted in any way.
Spaces impose feelings on us. Often times we go to specific space for our memories and comfort. When people get older they revisit their high school to feel nostalgic. We go to our comfort spaces and places we feel safe when we cry. Bedrooms are our safe place, and our bed within it, even safer.
However, physical space is less important to us, and it is more about the vibe a particular space embodies. For example, we get scared when we go into creepy caves and don’t like doctor’s offices. In both of these examples, it is not the physical space that causes us to feel unnerved, but it is the vibe. A cave is dark, damp, and echoes. It exaggerates the unknown, which can be scary. Doctor’s offices smell of rubbing alcohol, which we associate with shots. Our experience in and about space has very little to do with the physical constraints of a specific location.
Knowing that space is a vibe, you really can’t predict how a space will be perceived, because ultimately you cannot predict the vibe until a space is built and in community use. There is a creepy Dunkin Donuts in Central Square. Dunkin Donuts look the same all over the country. What is it about this Dunkin Donuts that makes it known for being creepy when the physical space looks the same as any other Dunkin Donuts would? It’s creepy because it is filled with extremely sketchy homeless people. It’s also next door to a liquor store, which attracts more creepy people. Often times there is construction around it so you have to physically cross a bridge to enter it. Crossing this bridge exaggerates that you are in an unknown territory and isolated.
While most people define space as a location, my definition of space begins where theirs ends. Space is the feelings and emotions that come with a physical location, whether imposed by history, the community interacting there, or by our senses connecting us to our past.
For this project, I was trying to use the negative space on a piece of paper to demonstrate how important space is. I was planning on typing the first part of a sentence on a blank page, and then using the negative space between each line to form the other half of the sentence. As I learned while trying to complete this task, it is not possible to write full sentences in both the positive and negative space. I later learned that in order to make the writing in the negative space into words, I would have had to use letters that make up gibberish in the positive space. Since I only realized this after the project was due, I instead just used two different colors to represent the positive and negative space in the piece.
I answered both questions in one paragraph:
The reading from Delirious New York considers how New York’s grid system influenced the city’s development over time. Once the block was defined, it was rigid and almost inherent. It proved integral in all future development of the city, and it had to. It split the city into its modern “mosaic of episodes.” By splitting the city up and giving it its modern structure, the grid defined the future evolution of the city. It defined the outlines of buildings, parks and man-made geological features in Manhattan, shaping its entire physical and architectural future. It gave structure to what previously had no structure. New York City’s new grid shaped every single aspect of the city, from its creation to now.