Spatial Dramaturgies

Frankfurt, 12-14 Feb 2007

London-Frankfurt is a joint doctoral student colloquium sponsored by the Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths College and the Research Network “Anthropology of the Medial” of the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology at the University of Frankfurt.


Alexander Schwinghammer Introductory Remarks on Spatial Dramaturgies

Manfred Fassler, Cybernetic Localism

John Hutnyk Street Level Megalopolis: constitutions of the sidewalk in the Police State

Julie Woletz Spatial Dramaturgies in Virtual Environments

James Burton Affirmative delusions: the revolutionary potential of reduplicative paramnesia.

Daisy Tam Defending Slow Space

Madoka Takashiro Japanese animation, between the image and the imaginary

Joel Mc Kim Uneasy Feelings: Questioning the Place of Affect in New Media and Architectural Theory

Gerald Straub The Dubai Case

Georg Russeggger Locative Dispositions

Cristobal Bianchi The Case of the Chilean group Casa Grande and the project Bombing of Poems

Carsten Ochs Towards an Anthropology of Becoming. In-Between Spaces as Fields of Interactivity

Susan Schuppli Load Space: Hidden dimensions in Michael Haneke´s Hidden

Spatial Dramaturgies - A Review

by James Burton & Joel Mc Kim

The Spatial Dramaturgies symposium was an experiment in convergence, bringing together two departments who share a common concern for the social and cultural occupation, participation and creation of space. The collaborative event, held at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, brought together research students and professors from the Centre from Cultural Studies (Goldsmiths) and the Institute for Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnography (Goethe University). Alexander Schwinghammer, the first doctoral candidate to study for a joint degree at the University of London and a non-British institution (the Goethe University), instigated and warmly hosted this cross-channel meeting of minds.

The title of the event was chosen to allow a broad range of topics and approaches while also advancing two elements of research that are crucial to both departments: philosophies of space and a more ethnographic focus on human duration and movement. Despite the diversity of the papers presented, participants discovered numerous conceptual links and fertile intersections, prompting lively discussions (both formal and informal) throughout the visit.

The stage was set on Monday afternoon with introductory talks by Alexander Schwinghammer and faculty participants Manfred Fassler and John Hutnyk. Schwinghammer and Fassler highlighted the important distinction between space and spatiality, the latter emphasising the cultural elements of process and relationality. Hutnyk encouraged a street-level approach to spatial ethnography, taking us on a narrative and pictorial walking tour of Broadway Avenue, NY.

The student papers began the following day, a marathon idea exchange from which emerged unexpected points of convergence between diverse areas. Julie Woletz’ historical contextualisation and analysis of virtual environments produced strange parallels with James Burton’s discussion of the neuropsychological condition of reduplicative paramnesia (where the subject hallucinates an illusory spatial environment over their actual surroundings). The themes of virtuality and the experience of space were further developed in Joel Mc Kim’s questioning of the place of affect in new media/architectural theory and Carsten Ochs’ exploration of the significance of becoming and ‘in-between spaces’ in questions of interactivity. A number of the talks made clear the inseparability of time from discussions of spatiality – such as Susan Schuppli’s reading of the temporal and chronological distortions in Michael Haneke’s film “Hidden” as opening up the quantum possibility of alternative worlds – and Daisy Tam’s defence of ‘slow food’ (and the ‘slow space’ of community it can create) against the critiques ranged against the marketing techniques of companies using ‘slowness’ to sell conventional, mass-produced commodities.

The spatialities considered ranged from the intimate space of the body to the trans-national spaces of global news production and capital development. Angela Dressler presented us with novel ways of visualising regional discrepancies in international news coverage and Gerald Straub suggested conceptual models for understanding the impossible/possible spectacle of Dubai. Spaces of creation held a prominent place in the conference with Christobal Biancci illustrating the poetic potential of vertical space through his Bombing of Poems project; Madoka Takashiro tracing the aesthetic and cultural history of Japanese Anime; and Georg Russegger exploring the “mixed reality” spaces occasioned by locative media and mobile computing.

The symposium culminated in a tour of the ZKM Centre for Art and Media in Karlsruhe where the participants were able to experience canonical works of interactive media and work out their disputes in virtual battle. The symposium was a great success and will hopefully lead to a series of similar events.

Last update April 10, 2007, at 12:37 PM | Login
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