kind of thing is place itself? This is a question which we
do not ask enough."(1)
was in a crowded subway in Poland, then on a street. i
walked into a restaurant for breakfast, but the menu was
unreadable to me, so i ordered scrambled eggs.
again, i flagged down two cops who were on horseback. One
spoke English. He told me that he was not from Poland, but
Not feeling at
home at any one place for any length of time has prevailed throughout
my life. Whenever I thought I had moved to
my "own place," a small wave would appear on the horizon
that would slowly grow larger until it moved me to cross an
So I left the
desert and one week later was walking the sodden streets
of my new
directions. Some months later, I settled into an apartment
with a forest out my back door. To the east, a district with red
brick walls placed with skillful hands was quickly becoming "modern
throwaway buildings of shiny glass surfaces (that) may
momentarily dazzle the eye but do not mirror any reality other
than themselves and their isolated counterparts across the street,"(2) streets
lined with art galleries, coffeehouses, boutiques, and a water
park alive with children and dogs.
is an "interval between two successive events or acts."(3) Restated
with the Japanese term, ma, it "basically means
an 'interval' between two (or more) spatial
or temporal things and events." In addition,
"although ma may
be objectively located as intervals in space and time, ultimately
it transcends this and expresses a deeper level. Indeed, it
takes us to a boundary situation at the edge of thinking and
the edge of all processes of locating things by naming and
most architecture now modeled by computerized vector graphics,
there is a scalable link between the digital and physical, beyond
which Virtual Reality has made it possible to create environments
the viewer can "walk through" as if cognitive
mapping ability strictly speaking can, and indeed does, exist without
the buttress of a traditional way of life, but it is then merely
a skill rather than part of an indigenous holistic orientation
to man and nature in
a waking dream, and manipulate objects as if they were physically
present. "Will only intuition and the 'deep structures of
the psyche' arrest this digital runaway?"(5) What
is not fantasy, in the sense of knowing it is, is shallow.
who sees ahead—who gave the West its
architectural footing. Before him, we "never knew of houses,
brick built and warm, or the art of woodwork."(6) What
felony got him chained to a rock, to the earth's foundation,
with a vulture feasting on his recycling liver? Not stealing
the Gods, as the popular myth says. Prometheus's crime was
giving us the imagination to interpret our dreams. "Any
attempt to reclaim the destiny of the dream from the purposes
is a Promethean Crime... because it robs the psyche of its
underworld imagination and therefore insults the Gods."(7) No
god can accept such an affront!
only did the Greek Gods have fundamental ties to their Aegean environment;
like the weather, they were tricksters too. Thus, on the art of
dream interpretation, James Hillman wrote:
we think back on any dream that has been important to us, as
time passes and the more we reflect on it, the more we discover
in it, and the more varied the directions that lead out of
it. Whatever certainty it once might have given, shifts into
complexes beyond clear formulations each time the dream is
studied anew. The depth of even the simplest image is truly
In New Mexico,
where adobe buildings with contoured corners rest on the earth
they emulate, I read Le Corbusier, lover of right-angled walls,
on the curves and loops of Arab architecture: It is "while
walking, moving from one place to another that one sees how the
arrangements of the architecture develop."(9) Bernard
Tschumi continued by stating that architecture "is
always hiding behind drawstrings, behind words, behind precepts,
behind habits, behind technical constraints. Yet it is the very
difficulty of uncovering architecture that makes it intensely desirable."(10)
animated, the images are palimpsests motivated by information
and provocation that if given enough attention should
draw one into the tide pools of an imaginal depth. "Perhaps
by seeing how surfaces 'color' depths, we might contemplate our
or the contrast between apparent things and hidden things."(11)
though in most past digital projects I coded hyperlinks within
the text, here there are none. One reason I moved away from this
the World Wide Web has made hypertext ubiquitous and presumably
less startling and unfamiliar, the cognitive problems remain.
Research continues to show that people who read linear text
comprehend more, remember more, and learn more than those who
read text peppered with links." (12)
we arrive at my signature trope "invagination," that, simply
explained, engenders fragments of other voices into
sentences as stratified embedments. However, invaginations are
not like salting sentences with shards. Rather, they open ground
to expose a narrative's artifacts.
to my concept of
place is "electracy," which "is
to digital media what literacy is to print,"(13) publishing
within access to other writers, photographers, scholars, and general
readers around the world. Learning from them, and from those
who came before.
Work to Text,"(14) Roland
Barthes opened the path that several decades later
led me to Digital Literary Art. Earlier, he wrote: "We read
a text (of
pleasure) the way a fly buzzes around a room:
with sudden, deceptively decisive turns, fervent and futile."(15) A
new genre requires a new way of reading. So I'd
like to muse that Barthes was anticipating how to read texts
such as these in a way that circulates the pleasure
I felt while creating and being created by them.
Designed at screen resolution 1600
X 900 pixels.
Casey, E.S. (1998) The Fate of Place. Berkeley: University
of California Press.
2- Sardello, R. (1982) "City as Metaphor." Spring Journal. 3-
Casey, E. (1982) “Getting Placed.” Spring Journal.
3- Turner, V. (1982 ) "Images of Anti-Temporality: An Essay in the Anthropology
of Experience." Harvard Theological Review (April).
4- Pilgrim, R.B. (1986) "Intervals (Ma) in Space and Time:
Foundations for a Religio-Aesthetic Paradigm in Japan." History
cognitive mapping's ability: G. Simeon, Eskimo Wayfinding and Spatial Orientation.
Unpublished Manuscript. National Museums of Canada.
5- Connah, R. (2001) How Architecture Got its Hump. Cambridge: MIT
6- Aeschylus (1957) "Prometheus Bound." In, L.R. Lind, Editor, Ten
Greek Plays. Cambridge: The Riverside Press.
7- Hersh, J. (1982) "Model-Making and the Promethean Ego." Spring
8- Hillman, J. (1975) The Dream and the Underworld. New York: Harper & Row.
9- Le Corbusier. (1994) Paraphrased from, B. Colomina, Privacy and Publicity.
Cambridge: MIT Press.
10- Tschumi, B. (1994) Architecture and Disjunction. Cambridge:
11- Sailer, S.S. (1996) "On the Redness of Salmon Bones, the Communicative
Potential of Conger Eels, and Standing Tails of Air: Postmodern Images." Word & Image.
12- Carr, N. (2010) “The Web Scatters Focus, Rewires Brain." Wired.
24 May. http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/05/ff_nicholas_carr/all/1
13- Ulmer, G. L. (2003). Internet Invention: From Literacy to Electracy.
New York: Longman.
14- Barthes, R. (1978) In, Image-Music-Text. New York: Hill and
15- Barthes, R. (1975) The Pleasure of the Text. New York: Hill
Susan Rowland, my wife and lover, forever.
For Steven, Barbara, Lucy and Annie Goldman.
5/ 2010- 3/ 2011