Today we had a lecture about SPACE and PLACE. According to Edward Soja, who is an expert in urban planning, a ‘place’ is a ‘space’ invested with meanings; places are rich with cultural symbolism. (Soja, 1996) I feel it somehow connected to the previous lecture about sign and semiotic, as the same word ‘seaside’ can make people think about holidays, but people grew up on the seaside may connect it to ‘hometown’. As written by Jeffrey Sasha Davis: ‘The sensory experience in the landscape is not the source for the meaning of a place, but only one of the sources’ (Davis, 2005).
As mentioned in ‘Imaginary Worlds’, actual places and fictional story can interact with each other. In my opinion, using an actual place in a fictional story can make the story more interesting, especially for the audiences who have experience in the place as they may find it more engaging. An example is the short film ‘Pixels’ which puts 8-bit video game characters in New York City, giving it a surreal and playful style.
Another example I have primary experience about how actual place and fictional story blends would be a freelance background actress job I did last year. One of the films I worked in called ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ was designed to be happened in 1928’s New York, but in fact, we were filming the New York scene near the Warner Brothers Studio in Watford. To use a well-known place can certainly save a lot of time in building a completely new world and provide a solid cultural background.
I heard a lot of things about London before I came to the actual city: Big Ben, Thames River, Buckingham Palace, the Royal Family, Sherlock Holmes, ‘the city of fog’ …and so on. It has been a mysterious place in my memory but soon was replaced by a dynamic, mix-cultural, and tolerant city. Representations of a place can summarise the most outstanding features, but the problem is for cities like London, representations are often out of date and misleading.
Marc Auge talked about ‘non-place’, he considers that it is very different to ‘place’. A place has historical monuments and creative social life. And ‘non-place’, such as motorways and airports are functional spaces with no organic social life. But he also argues that as people transit through non-place for more and more of their time, this new form of solitude should become a subject of anthropology. (Auge, 1995)
I consider space is quite a vague concept. Although spaces or ‘non-place’ are intentionally created by people for certain functions, they will have meanings attached for those who work or live nearby. After all, once you talk about or refer to space, you have given it properties, so it became specific and no longer a meaningless random space.
Auge, M. (1995) Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. London, New York: Verso.
Davis, J. (2005). ‘Representing place: “Deserted isles” and the reproduction of Bikini Atoll’. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 95(3), pp.607-625.
Soja, E. (1996) Journeys to Los Angeles and other real-and-imagined places. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Figure 1: Screenshot of Pixels (2010) Pixels. [Film] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugV6cLgwomo (Accessed: 08/05/2016)
Figure 2. ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ shooting scene (2015) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Trailer and Poster Revealed. [Photo] Available at: http://www.comingsoon.net/movies/trailers/641041-fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them-trailer (Accessed: 09/05/2016)
Figure 3: Foggy London (2012) The “London Fog” that killed over ten thousand people. Available at: http://io9.gizmodo.com/5955311/the-london-fog-that-killed-over-ten-thousand-people (Accessed: 09/05/2016)