Living (and Thinking) in Space:

Art, Space and Process:  

Traditionally, art is about making things, Paintings and sculpture are  things to buy and to sell -to hang on our walls or fill up our rooms.

Space is somewhere where we put our our objects so we can see them and find them -or perhaps hide them, if we wish to keep them private.

    Paul Klee claimed that  drawing was taking a line for a walk.

Walking is a way of moving around in space -so it is possible to place a drawing by Klee on the two-dimensional  wall of a three-dimensional  museum. We then see, placed in the context of various levels of physical space, the result of  the artist taking a line for a walk within the conceptual image space created by his own imagination process.

However, the image space is not simply the area within which the line has moved:  In some mysterious way, the space within which the line conceptually moves is actually created by the process of walking the line itself. The environment in which something lives is (at least partially) created by the way that organism interacts with its environment.

Feedback and Interaction:

Apparently, not only can we have a multi-dimensional conceptual image space within a two-dimensionally  constructed wall space -within a three-dimensional architectural space -we also discover that the image space is not something which is simply filled up with something else -but it is the process of filling the space that actually creates this space.

Perhaps this sounds a little bizarre -but in practice it is quite simple. When we walk through the museum looking for the Klee drawing on the wall, it seems as if the walls are within the space of the museum -but for the architect, it was the placing of the walls within the building that created the space which the visitor experiences as being contained by the walls.

So maybe we should be more  aware of the difference between the original creation of the space by nature, the artist or the architect  -as well as the reconstruction of that space through our experience of using the space.

Through seeing and understanding the different levels of experience,  and the way they intereact with each other, we may be able to gain more control over the wat we create space -and the effect that this has on our lives.

Building the mental Space:

If drawing is taking a line for a walk -then perhaps thinking is taking a thought for a walk.

However, if the architect constructs the space by placing the walls and the visitor experiences the space by following the walls -then the artist and the thinker can become both architect and visitor in the same space.

Just as walking the line through visual space creates the drawing -so does taking our thoughts for a walk create the conceptual space within which these thoughts  live and grow.

Unfortunately, it is also often our own thoughts which form the walls that limit the space with in which our thoughts must live and grow.

Culture as Collective Space:

If  visual (and mental) space is created through a dialogue between the points and the lines in a space -and the space that both contains and defines them  -then surely "culture" can be seen as a dialogue between the individual (as point) and the community (which defines the point and yet is also defined by the points which constitute the space).

Surely, each community defines its own space by determining the organization of the individual points which create and define the  communal space.

Within a global system, each communal space becomes a point in a communal meta-space and the whole process repeats itself on another level. However, the communication between the points and the constituting space may become more difficult -due to the size and complexity involved in organizing the larger space.

Materializing the Space:

If a drawing is the visible trace of the effect of taking a line for a walk -then it must be produced by the physical interaction of the drawing medium in contact with mind that moves the line  being taken for a walk.

As the pen, chalk, brush  or pencil  moves over the paper or canvas it leaves behind it a trace of the action that created it.

From the sensory impression left behind in the space created by the medium we are often able to reconstruct the artist's physical movements that created the image  -and from these movements we are perhaps able to reconstruct something of the thoughts that caused these movements to happen.

Echoes in Space:

In the same way the visual artist's medium leavews its visible trace -it is the musician's hand or breath that strikes the material that vibrates the air that collides with our eardrum  -that stimulates the nerve, that initiates the thought process  that  identifies the sound.

The impact of object upon object disturbs the air and penetrates our minds. We identify the sound and locate the source within physical  space -but also within a mental space. When we know where the sound is coming from -and then we know if we are listening to sounds we wish to hear, or perhaps some snake in the grass we wish to avoid.

The sound may originally come from a single point in physical space -but we soon interpret it in terms of a complex conceptual space. A conceptual space which is highly dependent on our previous experience.  With our eyes closed we can listen to the CD of a performance and imagine the performers are with us in the room -provided we have had the experience which allows us to do so. But  how are we to recognize the sound if the musicians on our CD are using instruments we have never heard or seen before?

How are we to  know if we are safe from the snake in the grass if we have never encountered one before?

It is the echo of the sound within space that allows us to reconstruct the nature of that space and the objects that sound within it.

The self-reflecting Mirror:

Our interpretations affect both our experiences and the actions that result from our interpretation of the world around us -and yet it is also our experiences, as a result of these actions, which determine the beliefs that form the basis through which we interpret the world of  experience around us.

Our experiences expand our knowledge -but our knowledge can restrict the expansion of our experience.

Sometimes we need to undo our belief systems in order to let in new knowledge.

Accidentally feeling Space:

In Holland, there is a saying: Those who won't believe must feel. Essentially, it means you should beat your kids if they won't listen to you.

Perhaps its not a very satisfactory pedagogical principle (especially if you are a child) but there may be some element of truth in it.

Even if you don't believe that a car is coming towards you -you can still end up in hospital, especially if you've made a mistake. Accidents can happen when our beliefs do not fit in with the physical world that is outside our minds.

So if seeing is believing -perhaps feeling is understanding!

Artificial Accidents:

AUnexpected accidents can be powerful indications that we have made a mistake during the process of interpretation -so in that sense they are useful indicators that we need to rethink our ways and somehow modify the assumptions or processes through which our belief and interpretation systems operate.

However, accidents can also be dangerous -so it might be wise not to rely on them as the only way to correct our errors.

It might be nice if we had some way of exploring  both the potential and the consequences of our belief systems and detecting and removing any any potential errors before they became dangerous.

Perhaps, before climbing into our brand new aircraft and flying off at supersonic speed through our newly created space -we should experience a few hours in the flight simulator first.

Creating a Space for Art, Language, Experiment and Ritual:

Through our conceptualization of the world we are able to manipulate the world and control it -if we wish. However, we can also use our conceptualizations to reflect upon themselves in the form of a "simulation" which can act as a useful basis for an error detecting system.  By creating imaginary worlds we can investigate possibilities that would be impossible in real life.

Maybe art, language and ritual are ways of creating such worlds.

Maybe the mental spaces that are created by our inventions actually influence the way our minds operate in the  world outside our minds.

Maybe, the inventions created by, and within, our conceptual worlds actually change the world outside our minds.......

main page
Image and Process
Some Basic Concepts
Aim of the Project

Trevor Batten
Baclayon January 2011