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Intervening Spaces

Respatialisation and the Body

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Edited by Nycole Prowse

Intervening Spaces examines the interconnectedness between bodies, time and space - the oscillating and at times political impact that occurs when bodies and space engage in non-conventional ways. Bodies intervene with space, creating place. Likewise, space can reconceptualise notions of the subject-body. Such respatialisation does not occur in a temporal vacuum. The moment can be more significant than a millennia in producing new ways to see corporeal connections with space. Drawing on theorists as diverse as Foucault, Deleuze, Guattari, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Lefebvre and Grosz, temporal and spatial dichotomies are dissolved, disrupted and interrupted via interventions—revealing new ways of inhabiting space. The volume crosses disciplines contributing to the fields of Sociology, Literature, Performance Arts, Visual Arts, Architecture and Urban Design.

Contributors are Burcu Baykan, Pelin Dursun Çebi, Michelle Collins, Christobel Kelly, Anthi Kosma, Ana Carolina Lima e Ferreira, Katerina Mojanchevska, Clementine Monro, Katsuhiko Muramoto, Nycole Prowse, Shelley Smith, Nicolai Steinø and İklim Topaloğlu.

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Christobel Kelly

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The space of Australian postcolonial landscape has been fashioned by pragmatism and inured with the cultural experience of displacement, incarceration and the persistent need to lure free settlers from Europe. Out of these early settlement imperatives a style of representation arose that arranged the landscape as an object of culturally dissociated contemplation, figured by forgers in order to transform the view into something idyllic, tame and acceptable to the English eye.1 Another divergent style of representation borrowed from literature, however, depicts Australian gothic landscape as ‘a world of reversals, the dark subconscious of Britain.’2 In this landscape we encounter a haunted backdrop for settlement wherein ‘immeasurable isolation’3 combined with desperate uncertainty and unspecific danger in an unfamiliar place.4 More recently Australian visual artists have used immersive experience as a way of establishing a close proximity to landscape. However, in doing so, there is always an awareness of ‘an echo from our colonial past,’5 which demands attention. In this sense, postcolonial landscape may also be seen as a ruin where elements of Australian gothic sensibility characterised by desolation, secrecy and isolation, create a disconsolate space. Postcoloniality therefore generates a dilemma for contemporary Australian artists who may grapple with landscape that is imbued with absence.

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Michelle Collins

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This chapter discusses ritual sound as an intervention on the body that enacts respatialisation, creating a space inbetween, where there is the potential for transformation. This anthropological research investigates the ritual sounds of keening, as a corporeal intervention, within the context of the modern day Keening ceremony. In the preceding chapter Burcu Baykan examines the body not as a complete, bounded entity with distinct boundaries between interior and exterior, but rather as porous, leaky. The limits of the body’s pliability are considered here also, where boundaries potentially dissolve and spatial-corporeal divisions collapse through interventions on the body via keening sounds. Conventional notions of space are transcended in Keening ceremonies and an ambiguous space emerges. This chapter suggests an alternative experience of being and relating as an outcome of ritual sound inscribed on the body. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the potential for individual and communal transformation through inhabiting inbetween spaces.

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Katsuhiko Muramoto

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Current discourse on sustainable architecture is often too narrowly defined and much of the discourse concentrates on technological questions, especially on energy efficiency. A key assumption unquestioned in this approach is the separation between the natural world and the subject, a one-way mode of causation defining the subject’s instrumental relationship with nature. Under this Cartesian paradigm of subject-object duality all things are knowable and controllable and an object (i.e. nature) is considered primarily in terms of its utility to human beings – through technology humans can control the environment and manage resources in a way that meets humanity’s needs and desires.1 The Modernist slogan ‘Form follows function’ is now replaced by Form follows energy performance. Cloaked and obfuscated under the current approach in architectural practice are the relational connections to the other. Drawing on the work of Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Tetsuro Watsuji, this chapter elaborates a structure of reversibility and attempts to reconceptualise the interconnectedness and ‘interdependentness’ between body, space and nature in relation to the current sustainability discourse in architecture. It argues that scientific and technological advancements alone are not sufficient for a sustainable future. What is urgently needed is a new paradigm where we become aware of relational bodies.

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İklim Topaloğlu and Pelin Dursun Çebi

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Public space can create social memory and enliven cities through the use of constructed spatial elements, streets and squares, as well as through the spatial events and interventions that take place in these particular spaces. With the help of these elements, urban space becomes its own open-air exhibition. People from all walks of life can create an ongoing communicative relationship with the space and with the city. Today, a new design culture is stimulating production, action and interaction. Multiple and elusive meanings, a pluralistic environment and the participation of the audience in design are emphasised. In the discipline of art and architecture we are moving from static, definite and finished icons to more open, changing and reflective spatial entities. New forms of art and new architectural installations in urban spaces provide an experimental medium for citizens to communicate with their surroundings. They can re-structure their spatial perceptions and reconceptualise the spatial structure of the city. By disturbing usual everyday practices, rhythms and choreographies, these new art forms propose alternative living scenarios in public space. It is these creative spatial interventions that enliven both the body and the city. Resonating with the work of Shelley Smith, Nicolai Steinø, Ana Carolina Lima e Ferreira and Katerina Mojanchevska in this volume, the aim of this chapter is to discuss the contributions of participant and audience-oriented art and architectural installations to urban public space. Selected installations are examined in terms of their spatial potential, their ways of transforming public space and the tactics that are used for the redefinition and recreation process. It is believed that decoding the design features of these sophisticated installations will enhance our spatial awareness and help both designers and architects to create more such innovative concepts and, in the process, encourage the re-definition of public space.

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Clementine Monro

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Perpetual Transitions is a practice-based research project that investigates how absence is observed through the spatial experience of the architectural ruin and the communication of that experience through the medium of photography. It is addressed through an experiential study and photographic response to the Georgian ruin of Nettleham Hall, England. The word ruin has its origins from the notion of ‘falling or fallen stones.’1 In this context, ruins are seen as the fragmented remains of man-made architecture. In experiencing the ruin of Nettleham Hall within its present state, absence has the capacity to embody lived space and ephemerality of the ruin. The photographic response as an experiential inquiry is key to the communication of absence and the phenomenologically experienced ruin. The capacity of photography to communicate time, duration and the ephemeral mediates a visual trace and expression of the felt experience of absence. My questions of how is absence felt and experienced within the ruin, and how does one communicate absence through photography, seek to connect and then transfer the felt experience of the ruin into an art piece that addresses absence and spatial experience.

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Nycole Prowse

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This section begins with an analysis of the leaky representations of time, space and the body in drug literature. It is selected as the opening chapter of this section because of its theoretical approach, as well as the thematic focus of the way in which interventions upon the body (via the drug trope) are reflective of the way the body is inhabited by and inhabits space. For this examination, this chapter utilises Elizabeth Grosz’s understanding of how bodies live and are positioned as spatio-temporal beings. Grosz suggests that ‘…in order to reconceive bodies, and to understand the kinds of active interrelations possible between (lived) representations of the body and (theoretical) representations of space and time, the bodies of each sex need to be accorded the possibility of a different space-time framework’. This chapter proposes that drug literature provides a platform where alternative corporeal possibilities can be played out. In the literary sphere the drug trope reframes spatial and temporal regulatory notions of the body. The drug metaphor disrupts temporal linearity through the reconfiguration of junk time. Likewise, landscapes, cityscapes and a sense of place are re-imagined in fluid, drugged dreamscapes.

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Shelley Smith and Nicolai Steinø

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Urban public space in a Western context has become increasingly functionalised and pre-determined. Designations for use and by who, have become more prolific and have introduced formalised codes of accepted behaviour. This represents a barrier to the appropriation of public space by citizens, particularly when it comes to less conventional cultural practices. This in turn becomes a barrier for both inclusion and how space is defined and conceptualised. This is problematic in a notion of public space as the space of exchange and meeting place of ‘the other,’ and as an essential part of building an inclusive, tolerant and stimulating urbanity. In this regard, architecture, design and urban planning are neither innocent nor neutral agents in the process of conceptualising, interpreting and materialising space. Design has the capacity to foster uniformity and unambiguity or to invite plurality and ambivalence. Activating the physical practice of parkour, this chapter takes its point of departure in alternative urban practices to discuss the role of architecture, urban design and planning in materialising space between segregation and intolerance on the one hand and inclusion and curiosity on the other and the degree to which space is appropriated as place. Focussing on material details for jumping and climbing, as well as the overall spatial structure for trajectory, parkour emphasises the background and the foreground, while architectural urban space focuses on the middle ground. This chapter examines this potential and its implications for an urban architectural practice aiming for plurality and ambivalence, rather than uniformity and unambiguity. Further, in the context of this publication which intends a more permanent record of the dialogues and interweavings created by the papers presented at the 4th Global Conference on Time, Space and the Body in 2014, this chapter will draw out some of the points that demarcate potential meetings with the other chapters in this section.