Wednesday, September 29, 2004

What is 'place'?

Ok, so here's my homework. My starting point is the definition that I found in the Collins English Dictionary (Third Australian Edition), HarperCollins Publishers, Sydney Australia 1991 (hmmm I'm going to have to brush up on my referencing skills!).
It said "place n.1. a particular point or part of space or of a surface, esp. that occupied by a person or thing". There was, of course a hell of a lot more - 47 different points to be exact! - but I really like that as a starting point, that it is about people in space (and I would add not just physical space, but social, emotional, mental) that makes a place. People make places. People have memories of being in place. The place in memory exists in connection to but separate from the actual, physical, tangible place. That doesn't mean that one is more valid or real than the other but it does point to a notion that experiences of place are individual and subjective. And if people make places then what we each make of a place are connected but individual/separate recollections. The trick is, how do we then, again make connections. The work of William E Connolly is really important on this point.
In this project my responses to people's descriptions of and objects from places will form part of the process. It would also be good to include their responses to my responses - a kind of feedback loop that continues to alter and adjust the artifact of the project. Perhaps I need to think about incorporating some kind of interactive component such as a website to enable this kind of feedback process? I'll need to decide though, where the drawing off point will be. Perhaps it will be about the time limit of the PhD project if I get accepted?


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