spatial

Form / Matter

The Judeao-Christian account of creation is an account of the origin of form, not of matter. "In the beginning..the earth was without form, and void."... The passage deals at length with the origin of order.

 For Aristotle, the generation of each organism was the result of a male formal cause (conveyed by the semen) and a female material cause (the menstrual blood.)(see epigenesis)  cf body / soul.

 The "hylomorphic" model separates a form that organizes matter and a matter prepared for the form.  Gilbert Simondon bases his critique of the hylomorphic model on "the existence, between form and matter, of a zone of medium and intermediary dimension." 

 A formalist concept presupposes a contrast between form and matter. Indeed, without this distinction the absolutization of form makes no sense. "When we look upon the work of art, the means and the materials are forgotten and it is satisfying in itself as form." (Gottfried Semper)

 In The Life of Forms in Art, Henri Focillon argues against the antithesis of form and matter. For him, art is bound to matter, and "unless and until it actually exists in matter, form is little better than a vista of the mind, a mere speculation on space that has been reduced to geometrical intelligibility." (p95) According to Focillon, "matter, even in its most minute details, is always structure and activity, that is to say, form." (p.96) and each kind of matter has a certain "formal vocation." But the life which inhabits matter undergoes a metamorphosis as it becomes a substance of art, and technique is a "whole poetry of action" as a means to achieve metamorphoses.

 Konrad Fiedler described the achievement of classical Greek architecture as the complete intellectualization of all the material elements of building. "We can speak of understanding a Greek building from the great period only when we perceive how the force that strives for a pure expression of form has taken command of every part of the building." ("Observations on Architecture, in Empathy, Form, and Space, p. 134) Still, Fiedler is careful to note that "Form has no existence except in material, and the material, to the mind, is not only the means by which form expresses itself but the medium in which form achieves existence."

 For Heinrich Wölfflin, the force of form (Formkraft ), the opposition between the tendency of matter towards formless collapse and the opposing force of will, life, or whatever, sets the entire organic world in motion and is the principle theme of architecture. 

 For Ferdinand de Saussure, "language is a form and not a substance." (Cours, p.169)

 For Deleuze and Guattari, the distinction between matter and form is characteristic of "Royal Science", the science of a society divided into governors and governed. For nomad science the relevant distinction is material-forces rather than matter-form. Materials for nomad science are not homogenous, and form is not fixed. The singularities or haecceities are already like implicit forms that are topological rather than geometrical, and that combine with the processes of deformation: for example the variable undulations and torsions of the fibers guiding the operation of splitting wood. "energetic materiality in movement" (see Thousand Plateaus, p 408)

 (see transcendent / immanent) (see also natural form)

 

 

hypertext city

hypertext city

As a conceptual framework, Hypertext provides a specific means of configuring issues sourrounding the confrontation of cyberspace and the city. It does so by embracing the advent of the electronic realm and the proliferation of networked links while at the same time interpreting these technological transformations as part of the project of writing. More specifically, studies of hypertext have focussed on the history of writing as technology, on the potential for hypertext to change the relationships between reading and writing, to alter the demarcations between the inside and outside of the text, and to change the nature and role of narrative. For its proponents, hypertext is the mode of writing that articulates the sociality of the network, that promises democratization and the empowerment of the individual, and that rearticulates themes that writing and the city have been seen to share: in the construction of memory, in the relation between movement and the subject, and in the production of space through abstraction and narrative. 

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inside / outside

In the early phase of antique art, the pyramid's clearly recognizable and completely detached exterior form, with its suppression of interior space and entry, serves to illustrate the desire to suppress space. Even when space was more practically necessary than in the tomb, the Egyptians were artistically reluctant to create it. Even vast spaces, such as Karnak, were filled with individual columns, and openings in the exterior walls were kept to the barest minimum. 

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non-place

For Marc Augé, a non-place comes into existence when human beings do not recognise themselves in it. (see place / identity) Non-places begin with uprootedeness -- uprooted nineteenth century countrymen, migrants, refugees, etc. They provide the "passive joys of identity loss." While anthropological places create the organically social, so non-places create solitary contractuality. (p.94) Thus a space which cannot be defined as relational, or historical, or concerned with identity will be a non-place, and these non-places are the real measure of our time. (pp.77-79) 

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personal space

Here is where I can write in the first person. So this discursive space, at least, can be thought of as personal, as a place of private defintion, grudgingly aware as I may be that my private sphere is socially formed.

Although Phenomenology holds little intellectual appeal these days (its point of view seems naive, its universalizing subjectivity too suspect) I still feel that there should be a place for reporting and sifting through one's own experience. (getting their feel?)

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perspective / narrative

In his study of the relation between the photographic frame and narrative in film, Steven Heath sees filmic narrative as the fulfilment of the Renaissance impetus for events to have their proper place. He quotes Rosalind Krauss' comments on perspective as "the visual correlate of causality that one thing follows the next in space according to rule...perspective space carried with it the meaning of narrative: a succession of events leading up to and away from this moment; and within that temporal succession--given as spatial analogue--was secreted the "meaning" of both that space and those events". (in "A View of Modernism", Artforum, Sept 1972.) cf. Alois Hildebrand, "The Problem of Form in the Fine Arts" with its stress on the coherence of spatial recession. (see vision)

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phase beauty

"A flowering spray of lily-of-the-valley exemplifies a growth gradient, after a simple fashion of its own. Along the stalk the growth-rate falls away; the florets are of descending age, from flower to bud; their graded differences of age lead to an exquisite gradation of size and form; the time-interval between one and another, or the "space-time relation" between them all, gives a peculiar beauty -- we may call it phase beauty - to the whole." 

(D'Arcy Thompson On Growth and Form, page unknown, quoted in Lindenmayer and Prusinkiewicz, "Developmental Models of Multicellular Organisms", Artificial Life 2, p.230) 

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philosophical space

According to Egyptian myth, space only came into being when the god of air, Shu, parted the earth from the sky by stepping between them. The creation of a vast gap between earth and sky was called chaos in Hesiod's Cosmogony. In the Tao Teh Ching, Lao Tzu addressed the role, in fact the superiority of the contained over the container, of the space within, of the immaterial. 

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place / identity

More and more of us live in what Edward Said has called a "general condition of homelessness," a world where identities are coming to be deterritorialized, or differently territorialized. In a world of diaspora, transnational culture flows, and 
mass movements of populations, familiar lines between "here" and "there", center and periphery, colony and metropole become blurred.

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public/private

According to the liberal tradition, the modern individual, at home in its private spaces, regards the public as its outside. The outside is the place proper to politics, where the action of the individual is exposed in the presence of others and there seeks recognition. (This is the notion of the political elaborated by Hannah Arendt in The Human Condition, which she calls the space of public appearance 
Public space is civic space. It is the space of civil society, shared by citizens -- individuals who have aquired a public voice and understand themselves to be part of a wider community. 

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simple location

"The characteristic common to both space and time is that material can be said to be here in space and here in time, or here in space-time, in a perfectly definite sense which does not require for its explanation any reference to other regions of space-time." (p.49) 

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smooth/striated

smooth/striated

In Mille Plateaus, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari distinguish between two kinds of spaces: smooth space and striated space. This distinction coincides with the distinctions they draw between the nomadic and the sedentary, between the space of the war machine and the space of the state appparatus. 

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space vs time

If Newton reduced the physical, objective, universe and Kant the metaphysical, subjective universe to the categories of space and time, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing performed the same service for the intermediate word of signs and artistic media. (Mitchell, p. 96) Lessing established a basic distinction between the spatial arts (such as painting.) and the temporal arts (such as poetry)-- the means or signs one"using forms and colors in space, the other articulate sounds in time." (Laocoön p.78) For Lessing, "These signs must indisputably bear a suitable relation to the thing signified.". Thus the true subjects of painting are bodies, i.e. objects or parts of objects that exist in space, and the true subjects of poetry are actions, that follow one another.

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topos

The Greek word topos meant literally a place, and ancient rhetoric used the word to refer to commonplaces, conventional units, or methods of thought. For the Ancients, particularly for Aristotle, topoi were rubrics with a logical or rhetorical value from which the premisses of argument derive. In the Renaissance, topics became headings that could be used to organize any field of knowledge. 

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