Stage One

How do you know what space is?

When a room is ‘spacious’ do you measure it to find out how big it is? If it is cramped or dingy do you need to quantify the lack of room or excess of smell to know this?

Walter Benjamin, writing in the 1930s, stated:

“Distraction and concentration form polar opposites which may be stated as follows: A man who concentrates before a work of art is absorbed by it… In contrast, the distracted mass absorbs the work of art. This is most obvious with regard to buildings. Architecture has always represented the prototype of a work of art the reception of which is consummated by a collectivity in a state of distraction.” ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’

But it is not just in a collective, or as a ‘mass’, that we distractedly experience architecture/spatial design. Alone in our lounge, bedroom, backyard or at our front door, we know the shape of the couch (and perhaps how it relates to the tv), where the light-switch is even in the dark, the wobbly step and the trick to get the key to work. We don’t just know these things in our minds, we know them in our bodies too – they are spaces we can occupy without thinking, we ‘fit’ (or more often misfit) out of habit.

For this task you are asked to select just one such ‘homely’ moment, and think about how you can ‘express its homeliness’. Produce a ‘document’ (drawing, model, tracing, audio or video recording, map) recording its space & time, the objects and how you touch them, your sense of pleasure, frustration or even disgust in such a moment.

This task is hard – and yet there isn’t a right or wrong answer!

Last modified: February 24, 2014