Meanderings on Spaces
Ahh, vacation. I get to spend a lot of casual time at home and walking in the woods while others are working or in sumer camps. Space is a subject worth more consideration.
There are a couple of books I picked up in grad school that peaked my interest back when I was digging for a thesis topic. Architecture as Space and another called The Power of Place: How Surroundings Shape our Thoughts Emotions and Actions. I was interested in the nature of sacred spaces. I guess I've gotten used to contrasts having grown up in a small old Colonial town that was a suburb of Boston, gone to school at U Mass Amherst, a big University in the Western part of the state, lived for a year in a battered old house bordering hundreds of acres of farmland, then finished my BA at Goddard College, a small school of less than 100 hundred student surrounded by many aces of woods and a quiet town of 2,000. I then moved to San Francisco for grad school in the Haight Ashbury. Now I live in the suburbs of a small city in the Pacific Northwest. How has my thinking changed through living each of these environments?
And now there are virtual spaces; spaces seemingly without time, without seasons and cycles.
I can remember going to Berkeley with a friend in the mid 90's to try out a virtual reality system. Head gear and gloves without haptics. It was a simple amphitheater like environment and we had guns. After a while of stupid fun of shooting at each other we stopped and looked around. Space without clear boundaries, space without any references for time. We could not tell how long we were in there and thankfully, the technician knowing we were interested in the psychology of the experience let us stay in as long as we wanted. When we got out, back into the higher stimulation environment with clear boundaries our sense of time a space was odd. Our nervous systems had scaled down and the Real World was moving too fast. We needed time to decompress. Returning to Vermont from San Francisco for a wedding, it seemed like everyone was moving in slow motion. But it was more than that. Vermont was expansive and more deeply tied to the seasonal changes. When I was in school there many of the teachers were interested in how subjects of study impacted the here and now. Vermont, at the least the parts that I encountered in the 3 years that I was there always seemed deeply political, small business, local economy focused and eco-spiritually minded.
San Francisco for me was a place of dynamicism, fast moving, big ideas, diversity and innovation.
I often went out for hikes while living there to ground myself in organic time and sense of space. Living in the city was compressed with houses mashed together and neighbours ignoring each other. In Vermont there was so much space between that people talked to each other more in public spaces and I think talked to each other longer. Conversation.
Having worked in IT for 25years I've watched how people interact within computer generated spaces such as email, the desktop operating system, websites, video games, youtube, social media and onward with their expansive or elongated worlds and constricted narratives. Sometimes I wonder if this has the effect of compressing dialogue into smaller digestible discourses and exchanges rather than longer unstructured dialogues. Many popular musics and movies are fast and precise with quick scene changes and sometimes from many angles. And while I work in these spaces I seek out more expansive musical and organic spaces to get perspective, to think "big thoughts" and get perspective. The contrast of these spaces stimulates my creative.
Is there a specific point or theme to all this? Is there a center to the space of all these thoughts on Space? Meandering. The river winds it's way though the landscape, the meander is the shape of these thoughts. Are there other shapes of thought? Indeed.