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NON-PLACE places in transit


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he very real challenge in studying the non-place is the search to define specifically under what conditions it exists, what factors bring about its existence and what boundaries may be present in order for it to maintain its status. The investigation and search to uncover the mystery surrounding the non-place will prove the effectiveness of the final product. Firstly in defining a non-place it is perhaps easier to contemplate the constitutional boundaries of a place and consider the non-place to categorically represent all themes opposing this idea. For place and non-place represent polar space opposites, neither is completely erased during existence nor ever completed. Place can be defined as being a geographic location that thrives or depends upon the actuality of individuals within it to maintain its existence. This particular point or position in space does not necessarily have to be tangible but can also be represented by shared ideas of a particular space by those who congregate or flock there with a specific purpose in mind. Place in this sense is constructed via the sociology, economics, religion, politics and geography of the inhabitants. The place is granted meaning via the relationship of the investors existing within it, it is completed through the spoken word. It can be a space of congregation, meeting or passing. It is, however, easy to forget that all of these themes are a result of human construction and are not to be taken for granted. Whilst this theory has its merit it does rigorously constrict the non-place, categorising it as non-geographical, a limitation that the non-place is seemingly capable of surpassing. Despite what would usually be assumed of the ‘non-place’ it can exist as an geographical location set within the boundaries of human knowledge and accessibility but more likely governed by a definition based on less than tangible physical rules than a specific esoteric set of significant hypotheses. The fluidity and conceptuality of the non-place allows it to occur within any given space, geographical or metaphysical.

NON PLACE ~ Places in Transit


“EVERY BODY OCCUPIES ITS PLACE” MARC AUGE


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POSTULATING THEORY AND GLOBAL SUPERMODERNITY

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ut how do you define non-place in its entirety? Common reasoning dictates every environment man-made or natural can be defined as a place in its physicality as long as it has some context or relevance in which it appears. Increasing globalisation and advances in new age technology mean that the existence of territory outside of human confine is rapidly decreasing. The human race’s strangle hold over the limited capacity of planet earth is changing, our populas spreading, we are breeding expansion in every corner of every country, of every city. Our quest to dominate and communicate on an international and global scale is the modern reality.

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ELS NON PLACE ~ Places in Transit


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HERE The instant gratification of communication and interaction makes the earth a seemingly much smaller space and the anomaly of non-place even more interesting. The paradox being that changes of scale and space are instigated by our ventures out of the earth’s atmosphere, extraterrestrial exploration has limited our own awareness of space on earth whilst technology broadens it. The globalisation of our race is just one key factor in the supermodernity of the present, Paul Virilio presented this hypothesis as a struggle to distinguish between the here and the elsewhere in modern society. The anomaly that exists here has led many of our present day intellectuals and artists to study the non-place in great detail. Marc Auge cites three main factors of

SEWHERE

supermodernity; overabundance of events, individualisation of events and spacial overabundance. This excess in supermodernity is characterised by our explicit need to search for meaning in everything and so these themes in turn are expressed by the non-place.

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POSTULATING THEORY AND GLOBAL SUPERMODERNITY

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Our first experiments into documenting non-place led us to the themes of transport and empty space, looking at installations and mediums of the subject. Prime installations being, train stations, bus centres, airports and motorway service stations. Auge states that “travel constructs a fictional relationship between gaze and landscape...the traveller’s space may thus be the archetype of non-place”, the act of movement presents an emptying of individuality, draining content and meaning from the landscape.The increasing bombardment of information and the demand that makes on our power of observation may inhibit our awareness of our surroundings as we pass through a space. Our interest in the motorway service station stemmed from the notion that though most travellers may not stop there the abstract space begins to attain the status of a landmark, read rather than seen, it acquires a familiarity. As we moved through a particular service station just outside of Bristol we were met with great hostility by many of the staff working there, moving outside we discovered a small lorry park. In context it fitted completely to our initial definition of non-place but critically what we observed was the relationship of those inhabiting the space with their surroundings. Many drivers appeared to have stopped there for extended periods of time, others even taking time to sleep in the cabs of their trucks. Yet there was no sociality, each inhabitant was a solitary individual, using the space for his own means and then moving on.

NON PLACE ~ Places in Transit

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POSTULATING THEORY AND GLOBAL SUPERMODERNITY

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POSTULATING THEORY AND GLOBAL SUPERMODERNITY

MOVE MENT

IN SPA NON PLACE ~ Places in Transit


POSTULATING THEORY AND GLOBAL SUPERMODERNITY

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ere we began to question our initial preconceptions of the non-place, which in turn instigated a new discovery; that the non-place designated two distinct realities, not only that of space but also the anthropological relation of individuals to that space. Keen to illustrate our new ideas we

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contacted Bristol Airport hoping to postulate further ideas about non-space through study in one specific location. Our idea being that an individual aeroplane held no historical significance or public interest as a specific object but merely as a means of travel without further inquest into the meaning of the space for the occupier. With no reply after over a fortnight we took it upon ourselves to travel to the location and begin documenting it. Having only obtained one photograph we were again met with great hostility and reservation before being forcibly ejected from the premises and told that under no circumstances would security protocol allow us to continue our investigation, in fact it was strictly prohibited. It appeared that these non-places were protected with greater security than we could have imagined, but why?


THE WORLD OF SUPERMODERNITY DOES NOT EXACTLY MATCH THE ONE IN WHICH WE BELIEVE WE LIVE, FOR WE LIVE IN A WORLD THAT WE HAVE NOT YET LEARNED TO LOOK AT. WE HAVE TO RELEARN TO THINK ABOUT SPACE MARC AUGE


ANTHROPOLOGY OF NON-PLACE

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ANTHROPOLOGY OF NON-PLACE

RAW TRANSIT

NON PLACE ~ Places in Transit


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TIONAL STATE In the core reality of the term, non-place may not actually exist in absolution, it instead exists anthropologically to illustrate the sociality of a given space, via human contact. For location is as ideologically loaded, steeped in history and other cultural themes, as any other man made artefact or notion. To illustrate, some non-places exist only in language, through words that evoke them as utopian cliches, the word creates a mythical image without spectacle. Society, community or an individuals interaction and relationship with a place give it meaning. Anthropology separates itself from other social sciences via the study of ‘the other’ in the present day, it looks to interpret the individual in the context of the contemporary world. This relationship has much to do with defining the abstract boundaries of non-place. Place owns meaning in the people and objects that exist there, this gives the place a particular relevance to a certain select group of

individuals and fulfils its purpose. By that reasoning non-place must not fulfil either of these criteria, a place possibly without routine and regular interactions with the same persons. It may be an area existing in constant chaos, something that was once deemed as a ‘place’ or something that exists only in a raw transitional state. Perhaps a place in limbo between its intended purpose and the place that it once was, disregarded during its development process, or a place now in disuse or abandon. Interestingly in defining the non-place it is worth considering its accessibility to a general audience, supposing that it can be considered open and free to all in physicality whilst simultaneously closed and secret from the restraints of society, an example of this may be an abandoned building or squat. Non-place exists as an anomaly within the constraints of our socio community, that we must put under anthropological scrutiny.

NON PLACE ~ Places in Transit


“WHAT REIG IS ACTU THE URGE THE PRESEN

MARC A


GNS THERE UALITY, ENCY OF NT MOMENT”

AUGE


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ANTHROPOLOGY OF NON-PLACE

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e began to consider that if non-place exists within our own community, there would be many more examples which we would be able to find within the confines of our own high streets and public places. Our contemporary glorification of technology is removing the need for basic human communication, in every supermarket we communicate wordlessly mimicking abstract cliches of unmediated commerce “surrendered to solitary individuality, to the fleeting, the temporary and ephemeral” (Auge). The non-place addresses us as the ‘user’, the ‘customer’ and the ‘average individual’, we assert this with our behaviour which we are contractually obliged to adopt. Reminded of this by the plane ticket or the supermarket trolley we play the role, obeying the code, responding to the same messages as every other individual we adopt a mass identity as the consumer. However there is no right to anonymity in these non-places as we must first present our identity to the establishment of contemporary consumption in order to gain the privilege. So place and non-place may have the presence of individuals in common, the paradigm of nonplace is that it alone relieves us of our identity upon entering or leaving the space.

NON PLACE ~ Places in Transit


ANTHROPOLOGY OF NON-PLACE

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WE ARE THE INDIVIDUAL

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SEARCH FOR MEANING

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t was now obvious that our search for the definition of nonplace could be considered more abstract then ever before. The non-place exists as a poignant socio paradox, defying rules that bind it and defined by a fluid and moving idea. For example, the word nothing is paradoxical in that there is no ‘nothing’, hence there is no non-place because everywhere exists as a physical place, non-place instead exists in conjunction and strict polar balance with the place. We began to reason that if the concept of non-place was anthropologically loaded then perhaps the mystery in the fluidity of the nonplace was that it was inadvertently created only by those individuals wishing to observe it. Mankind’s concept of space and place was open to interpretation, no place can be considered fixed and definitive, for example; the earth is constantly moving through space, therefore any marked place on earth can only be our own comprehension of the space, in the context of planet earth. Perhaps we are able to to segregate and create the boundaries of our own non-places within a sense of human construction. Visualising the idea of a three dimensional cube we began to consider the idea of non-place being contained within and between the limitations of social place, overlapping its boundaries, intersecting events centric to the concept of space. It can be asserted that areas on the outside surfaces can be considered the ‘known’ whilst simultaneously the inner volume the ‘unknown’. This brought about the realisation that these two polar themes are deeply tangled in our physical world. We may never be absent from place or non-place we are merely trying to interpret in which we exist. In a sense we are all lost simultaneously existing in both and neither, stuck between the two.

NON PLACE ~ Places in Transit


SEARCH FOR MEANING

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“WHERE IS A CHARACTER AT HOME” DESCOMBES


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SEARCH FOR MEANING

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f place and non-place are ultimately a conception of organic human, anthropological and sociological invention, then no theory can be determined or definitive. This leaves all ideas open to individual interpretation for greater meaning, one that may be refined by a collective awareness. So we began to go about the process of

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creating and marking out significant space which we felt we could define as a nonplace and documenting/observing these areas on location. These marked areas existed as temporary and fragile passing places, in transit, measured in units of time, documented at different hours of the day and night and conceived by our own minds. Trapped by time, their existence stuck in the present perpetual. Here the passer bys’ gaze encountered only a reflection of the self and their own journey.

NON PLACE ~ Places in Transit


SEARCH FOR MEANING

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MPORARY FRAGILE NON PLACE ~ Places in Transit


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SEARCH FOR MEANING

NEVER AB

UNFORSE NON PLACE ~ Places in Transit


SEARCH FOR MEANING

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n conclusion, the true mystery of nonplace exists within the search to define it. The possibility of non-place is never absent from the existence of place. It is the unforeseen, an obstacle to be described and utilised with the ultimate goal of shedding light, creating our own meaning and making the concept accessible with sense to an observer.

EEN NON PLACE ~ Places in Transit


WE ARE ALL LOST IN NON-PLACE

NON PLACE ~ Places in Transit


Non-Place  

A B5 booklet on the topic of "Non-place" in response to a UWE brief. Made and Designed by JoshHD & Mathew Woodman

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