Tag Archives: place

Varnelis, K. and Friedberg, A. (2008). Place: The Networking of Public Space.In _Networked Publics_, K. Varnelis, ed. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Anne Friedberg, PhD, Cinema Studies from NYU, was Chair of the Critical Studies Division in the School of Cinematic Arts at USC and President-elect of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. She was instrumental in creating the Visual Studies Graduate Certificate and the Media Arts and Practice PhD program. In 2009, she was named an Academy Scholar by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Varnelis and Friedberg explain the spatiality of the Net: a quotidian superimposition of authentic and virtual spaces, the formation of a movable sense of place, the rise of popular virtual dimensions, emergence of the network as a socio-spatial model, and expanding mapping and tracking technologies. All of them are not solely technical but “thoroughly imbricated in culture, society, and politics” (15). This isn’t a normative good — there are tensions. “With connection there is also disconnection, and networks can consolidate power in the very act of dispersing it” (15).

“Place, it seems, is far from a source of stability in our lives, bur rather, once again, is in a process of a deep and contested transformation” (39).

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Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Media Arts, Minor Field, Public Space, Research Fields

Itō, M. (2008). Introduction. In _Networked Publics_, K. Varnelis ed. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Mizuko (Mimi) Itō, PhD in Education and Anthropology from Stanford University, is the Research Director of the Digital Media and Learning Hub at the University of California Humanities Research Institute, as well as Professor in Residence and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Chair in Digital Media and Learning in the Department of Anthropology and Department of Informatics at UC Irvine. She is a cultural anthropologist who studies new media use, specifically among young people in the U.S. and Japan.

In the introduction to Kazys Varnelis-edited Networked Publics, Itō explains “networked publics” refers to “a linked set of social, cultural, and technological developments that have accompanied the growing engagement with digitally networked media” (2).

Neither “audience” nor “consumer”, “publics” evokes a more participatory engagement and the possibility for a convergence culture, one that acts from all sides and angles (Jenkins, 2006).

The book’s diverse contributors discuss place, culture, politics, and infrastructure. Within these larger themes, they drill down to consider accessibility, the decentralization of communication networks the implications, aggregation, Internet privacy, the net neutrality debate, intellectual property in the creative industries, and what function the Net serves in the deliberative democracy discourse. (The book’s focus is the U.S. since it continues to play a leadership role in Internet communications [though there are some leapfrogging countries].)

The Internet is, as Barnett (2004) puts it, neither poison nor cure. While larger numbers are “domesticating networked digital media for their ongoing business, for socialization, and for cultural exchange” (1), the digital divide is “resilient” (7), owing to the consistent technological advances. Catch up in hard in such conditions.

This book concerns not new technologies, “but rather on longstanding social, cultural, technical, and material domains” (4).

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Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Community Development, Media Arts, Media Literacy, Minor Field, Public Space, Research Fields

Augé, M. (1995). _Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity_. London and New York: Verso.

French anthropologist Marc Augé has had a career in three stages, moving from African research, to European, then global. This particular book, first an essay, describes first “place” in the anthropological sense — it is the link between space and social organization. “Place” gives us context (Dourish, 2001), and so long as a social connection can be made there, a space becomes place.

Augé’s non-places, by contrast, are the places where people move (highways), wait to move (airline terminals), or stay as they move (hotel rooms) around the world in this globalized world. These are the places people flow through as they operate on behalf of Castells’ (1989, 1996) spaces of flows, and, per Castells, these places often look like each other on purpose. One’s stay is too quick, too ephemeral, the purpose too uni-functional, and the place really too generic for any substantive experience to take place. Individuals may travel the globe via these non-places, but they don’t really see it.

“A paradox of non-place: a foreigner lost in a country he does not know (a ‘passing stranger’) can feel at home there only in the anonymity of motorways, service stations, big stores or hotel chains” (106).

Not exactly non-places, but similar, are Walzer’s (1986) “single-minded spaces.” In “Pleasures and Costs of Urbanity,” Walzer explains single-minded spaces are those design by city planners or entrepreneurial corporatists with a single thing in mind, “and used by similarly single-minded citizens” (ibid, 470). However, his condemnation, like Augé’s, is not absolute. These places serve purposes. However, the problem for Walzer is that “open-minded spaces,” those designed for multiple uses, anticipated and impromptu, and which contribute to culture-making, lose ground to the single-minded ones. Like Augé, he wants us to notice the difference.

“In the concrete reality of today’s world, places and spaces, places and non-places intertwine and tangle together. The possibility of non-place is never absent from any place. Place becomes a refuge to the habitué of non-places (who may dream, for example, of owning a second home rooted in the depths of the countryside). Places and non-places are opposed (or attracted) like the words and notions that enable us to describe them. But the fashionable worlds — those that did not exist thirty years ago — are associated with non-places” (107).

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Davenport, G. (2005). When Place Becomes Character: a critical framing of place for mobile and situated narrative. In _The Mobile Audience: Media Art and Mobile Technologies_, M. Rieser, ed. London: BFI.

Glorianna Davenport, MA from Hunter Collect, is Principal Research Scientist at the MIT Media Laboratory. She founded the Interactive Cinema group (1987-2004), as well as the Media Fabrics group, which she directs. She is a trained sculptor and documentary filmmaker, and is internationally renowned for her work in digital media forms. Her recent research explores the creation of customizable storyteller systems, able to serve and adapt to a wide audience.

“New technology has brought new opportunities for overlaying real physical spaces with active agencies of history, culture, and personal storytelling. . . . The participant audience can become immersed in an evocative sensory surround or can gather bits and pieces of surrogate experience to be later used in acts of creation, consumption, and sharing” (6).

This essay explains places’ rich characters and stories, and gives a few examples of her work. For Davenport, places in stories often express the driving psychology of that tale. It can be imbued with a sense of everything from hope, to trauma, to horror, and back around to romance. Likewise, in new media art works, “place can and often does take on an active role approximating that of a character” (2) and audience members transform into agents who can influence the path and its stories through “acts of navigation, selective gestures, or other methods of communicating desire to the responsive system” (2).

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