Getting a Flavour: Place and Space

‘Space, as a practiced place, admits of unpredictability.’1

‘1 the performance; 2 the place; 3 the public’2 are three foundations that will build a site specific piece. The place will be the location of the performance and the space will be made by the performance. The words ‘space’ and ‘place’ would often be perceived the same meaning, however there are differences. It is said that ‘place is a geographic location with particular rules and regulations, while space is the product of the social interactions which happen within that place.’3 Both the place and the space are the framework for what is going on around it, being that the building outlines and structures whereas the space surrounds the activity.4

Our site and place is the University Library and for now our space is anywhere inside or around the building. Through experimentation, research and developing knowledge, we should start to see progress in adapting the space in which we see now and the space in which our perspectives can change it into. John Berger talks through his theories in Ways of Seeing and how every persons perspectives are entirely different and how ‘today we see the art of the past as nobody saw it before.’5 Therefore, our perceptions of place and space are altered no matter how strongly we are familiar with the location. Berger applied the same theory when looking at paintings and photographs. He explained that when viewing a painting, any narrative corresponding to the painting was seen instantly because the painter had created something that only he could see. However, when the camera was invented and photos were developed, photographers could capture the same image as the painter but these would be different to the paintings as they would be capturing something else that only the photographer sees. Berger then goes on to mention that ‘the visible no longer presented itself to man in order to be seen, it was no longer what confronted the single eye, but the totality of possible views taken.’6 Everyone began to view the world open-mindedly and from all angles, suggesting that perspectives are endless.

When exploring the space for the first time within the library today, I began to see further into the space instead of the place: the building. Every time I walked past the same bookshelf or piece of architecture, I realised how small the library actually was. However, seeing as though there is more than one floor and there are various rooms, corridors, stairs and elevators that we can experiment with, we have the opportunity to do so much with the site. When using a site, such as the library to create a performance, we are ‘forc[ing] audiences to re-examine the nature of the place’7 which will hopefully result in changing their perspective in whichever way possible.

  1. Kaye, Nick. Site Specific Art, (London: Routledge, 2000) P. 5 []
  2. McLucas in Mike Pearson, Site-Specific Performance, (Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) P. 37 []
  3. Govan, Emma. Making a Performance, (London and New York: Routledge, 2007) P. 104 []
  4. Govan, Emma. P. 103 []
  5. Berger, John. Ways of Seeing, (London: Penguin Books Ltd. 1972) P. 16 []
  6. Berger, John. P. 18 []
  7. Emma Govan, P. 106 []
Posted: February 1st, 2013
Categories: Early Research, Library
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