Spaces aims to open up a discussion regarding
variant conceptions of space. How ‘fluid’ is the
philosophical, scientific, or mathematical use of the term ‘space’?
Is space flat or curved? Is space by definition three-dimensional,
or do manifold ‘species’ of spaces become distinct
when one adds or substracts dimensions? Do forms in space retain
their autonomy or is it space that (in)forms? And have technological
developments in different times affected our spatial perceptions
and definitions? This session also aims to explore the relationship
between space and subjectivity: whether space exists outside
the knowing subject or is a construct of the subject's own making,
and how different conceptions of space yield different physical
and metaphysical limits or definitions of the human. Ultimately,
this session aims to question fundamental philosophical (ontological,
epistemological, metaphysical) positions vis a vis space and
to investigate interrelationships between subjects and objects
in art, architecture and other kindred research practices
10.00 - 13.00
ZOHAR, Slade, UCL
Invited guest: JUDY TAL
and Disappearance Workshop Plan"
Flatland: How flat can Flatland be?
Judy Tal will discuss concepts of Flatness in mathematics, especially
as those appear in Edwin Abbott’s Flatland, and Ian Stewrat’s
Flatness and the disappearance of space: Camouflage and Schizoanalysis
Ayelet will discuss concepts of flatness in painting – from Greenberg
to Murakami, and will argue that the disappearnce of space and the reduction
of spatiality into flatness becomes a new mode of understanding the persona
as a multifocal schizophrenic phenomenon.
10:40-11:00 Discussion of the
11:00-11:30 Flatenning of an
The participants in the workshop will be asked to flatten the space of
the room. I will offer two large camouflage nets, with short plastic
straps to attach those nets to the objects in the space. Within half
an hour all objects should be placed under the net, that will run from
10.00 - 13.00
MALATHOUNI, Bartlett, UCL
"Flatland and Other Modern Myths: An Inquiry
into Space, Form and the Self"
Euclidean space presuppositions have long ago
proved short on providing an adequate model both for physical and
for metaphysical spatial considerations. Alternative geometrical
models of space became available more than a century ago. Higher-dimensional,
or curved, space appeared more suitable to accommodate the needs
of a broad range of disciplines, from modern physics to psychology
and psychoanalysis. Since a definite answer with regard to the
form of our space remains unattainable, a closer look to some of
the early theories is still highly fascinating.
Based on the above and the fundamental relation between ‘[representations
in] form’, ‘reality’ and any human interaction with the external
world, the proposed workshop will look into the relationship between subjectivity
and alternative geometrical models of space. Akin to one of the four Research
Spaces conference strands [“Conceptual Spaces”], the workshop will
aim to investigate the relationship between space and the knowing subject and “interrelationships
between subjects and objects in art [and] architecture”.
The 2.5 hour allotted workshop session will start with a presentation of selected
parts of three texts of late 19th and early 20th century popular fourth-dimensional
literature [E.A.Abbott’s Flatland (1884); C.H.Hinton’s An Episode
of Flatland (1907); and C.Bragdon’s “Man the Square” (1912)].
Aiming at the ‘initiation’ of the participants to an alternative
model of our physical space, this ‘storytelling’ session will use
these three texts as ‘modern myths’, that is, as an alternative
- or rather complementary to science - means of providing an explanation of
the world. The reading of these texts will aim primarily to alert participants
of common assumptions about the physical and geometrical nature of space within
our everyday perception. Then, participants will be given the opportunity to
experiment with these new models of space either by short role-playing sessions
or by sketching and model-making. The last two options may be continued in
an additional 2.5 hour session and all material produced then will be added
to the Research Spaces exhibition.
Prof. John Aiken (Slade) and Dr. Peg Rawes (Bartlett)
will introduce the following Paper Session.
Chair: Dr. Rawes
|14.00 - 14.30
“The Unrecognised Agency in Japanese Spatiality: Multi-layered Space”
The ‘empty centre’ or ‘empty
subject’ has often been discussed in research on Japanese
identity, language and the city. My purpose is to investigate the
derivation of multi-layered space and through this process, to
expose the unrecognised agency in Japanese spatiality by examining
everyday spatial systems rather than traditional architecture.
It is said that the Japanese concept of space is not a massive three-dimensional
void but is the combination of two-dimensional planes or screens with hollow
layers (‘ma’). The hollow layers harmonise gradual change between
planes or screens, demarcating the different stages from outside to inside,
until finally they reach the innermost recess (‘oku’).
My analysis starts with ordinary spatial systems: postal addresses (positionings:
identification of places) and their representation in maps. By incorporating
a US researcher’s concepts of layering, I will expand the current discussion
about Japanese spatiality and written characters. Subsequently, through a review
of literature about Japan written by outsiders, I will identify the agency
absent from these spatial systems and elucidate how repetitive uses of such
systems form spatial norms, which are deeply and utterly inscribed in the Japanese
unconscious mind. Simultaneously, this review reveals how the Japanese address
system has been (mis)interpreted as an irrational cultural mechanism which
can ‘satisfy millions of inhabitants’ or is ‘residents oriented’.
I will argue that these interpretations have concealed the reality of unbalanced
power relations and have unwittingly supported the legitimacy of authorities,
resulting in intensification of the residents’ sense of belonging.
The overall thesis investigates spatiality and its power relations through
a critical perspective. It explores Henri Lefebvre’s ‘representations
of space’ and ‘spaces of representation’ with dialectical
|14.30 - 15.00
ROBERT WENMAN, Bartlett, UCL
“The Space of Zero”
This paper will concentrate on a specific element
of my written research notably the conceptual space of zero in
relation to philosophy, science and mathematics. It is in direct
relation to my exhibition submission and seen as integral.
‘Zero’, to most of us, is the symbol for nothing. Names belong to
things, but ‘zero’ belongs to nothing. It represents the totality
of what isn’t there. The term zero is inescapable, in the aftermath of
September 11th we learnt the phrase, Ground Zero, after which President Bush
proclaimed that America had “Zero Tolerance”. On the high street
credit companies bombard us with adverts declaring “Zero interest, nothing
to pay until next year.”
The aim of this paper is to define a spatial understanding of how we
might differentiate between the four terms below through a theoretical
model illustrated by the artwork.
NOTHINGNESS is the undefined place where all potential to be filled has
been removed, it is an endless, depthless, point within infinity.
ZERO is acknowledged as the point, mark, position or place notation to
describe an acknowledged point of non-quantity.
EMPTY is also an adjective used to describe the characteristics of a
space where all contents have been removed. The characteristic of a space
that has the potential to be filled but is not.
VOID is the name given to a space that is empty, yet has set parameters
and known boundaries. A space that does not have the potential to be
A theoretical model will be drawn using the literal form of the digit ‘zero’.
It is the space housed, or caught within the ring of zero, that has an
acknowledged limit that should be understood as the ‘void’.
We can describe that ‘void’ using the adjective empty. Nothingness
is the infinite space outside that ring. It is beyond that of ‘void’:
it has no boundaries. Hence the ring of ‘zero’ is the edge
or boundary where ‘void’ ends and nothingness begins.
|15.00 - 15.30
MELIOLI, Bartlett, UCL
In 'Space', the object - or architecture - is
generated by a cumulative process of information (geometrical
transformations, visual sequences, sound structure…) directly
related to the psychological and physiological user’s frames.
Each interaction transforms the visible environment in a dynamic,
elastic and multidirectional imaginary space. The relationship
between the object-space system (geometrical and phenomenological
determinate ) and the body-mental projection system (subjective
view/aural decoded data ) induces new modes of perception strictly
connected to the inner spatial geometry and its physical reflecting
(aural and lighting) phenomena.
Sound as well light reveal cryptic information about the space via echo
and reverberations. Those non linear physical process articulate the
space along a dynamic and continuous medium and the geometrical space
suggested by echo and reverberation not longer deals with Euclidean but
with Multidimensional spaces. In this work, the conception of 'Space'
explores structurally and visually the dynamic process engaged in a huge
architectural volume (the Byzantine Saint Mark’s basilica in Venice)
by reflections of the acoustic rays produced by a polyphonic song and
the following transcription of reflections phenomena into geometric parameters
This process enhances how the same acoustic phenomena distorts the architectural
space creating “ghost-spaces”. These “unreal” spaces
will exist even beyond the physical limits of real architecture. As a
consequence this doubling process will destroy the spatial identity (perceptive
level) as well as the centrality role of the subject (existential level).
The space and the Ego will dissolve into a new geometrical and psychological
pattern, mutable, dynamic and elastic.
|15.30 - 16.30
17.00 - 19.30
- 18:00 - In this evening presentation, JUDY
AYELET ZOHAR, will present
some of the most exciting recent experiments with fractal design
and fractal sounds. Enjoy more colours and
ambient sounds directly from Flatland to the Slade Studios on
the Research Spaces evening.
18:00 - Film screening:
Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari [The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari]
(1919); dir. Robert Wiene; 72 mins; b&w (tinted).
Selected on the basis of the spatial qualities
of its expressionistic stage design – and in relation to
its narrative in particular - Robert Wiene's classic German horror
film will be screened in order to generate the concluding discussion
on the relation of ‘form’ to various kinds of external
or inner space as approached throughout the Conceptual Spaces day.