FIELDWORKING | Species of Spaces

Posted on 15/04/2013



I was at the hospital today reading Species of Spaces by Georges Perec (full PDF online). It is both a work of writing space and a manual for doing so. Perec writes:

Spaces have multiplied, been broken up and have diversified. There are spaces today of every kind and every size, for every use and every function. To live is to pass from one space to another, while doing your very best not to bump yourself.

The prose of this work prompted me to recall walking – a kind of retracing – through the hospital to rethink the different types of spaces – paths, halls, wards, waiting rooms, consultation rooms. Retracing, too, a relationship between walking and writing. Perec says: “decipher a bit of the town”. The influence of this work on Fieldworking is traceable as I interrogate the relationship between space and field: itinerary, inventory, invention. Recently, John and I started one of the Fieldworking walks – in our locality – to start to map a field. At first it seemed strange to do this, like the walking in Long Time, No See?, although the walking and our conversation loosened as we went. That day we only made it halfway through the proposed walk.

My walking at Battery Point in Hobart was solitary and deciphered differently, following a public art trail that traced the history and culture of the locality. Streets, neighbourhoods, parks, buildings, pathways, harbour. Then spaces within spaces, like the space around an artwork, the space of an artwork, or a tree. And spaces that are assemblages of spaces – space multiplied – as the panoramic view tends to show.

And an incitation to write.  “I write: I inhabit my sheet of paper. I invest it, I travel across it.”

And another writing experiment in and about places and spaces. Sprawling Places is a work by David Kolb. Here, he presents exposition and argument, as well as “narrative scenes of places today, and reflections about philosophical issues lurking in the background”. The city – place, space, suburbia, urbia – and its text as requiring navigation.