I Does DAT


After the Ferry…
November 24, 2006, 1:30 pm
Filed under: Production of Space

My general focus for the first space project is paths and the movement of people in relation to other people and their surroundings. It has transpired through this thinking that I’m particularly interested in the concept of ‘personal space’, that is, the space around you or what some people might call an aura. I want to look at the the dispersal of people and the alteration of their movements as dictated by their personal space.

A simple example is when you’re walking down the street and someone comes towards you and you both keep moving to the same side to get past each other. You are both altering the path you would have otherwise taken because someone is about to enter, or ‘violate’*, your personal space and this new path would often take an odd zig-zig shape because of both parties stepping the same way and back.

A couple of thoughts on this:

In the November 16th edition of the Channel 4 Internet round-up podcast, ‘thisisaknife’, there was a featured prank where a large group of people went to a park and followed a random person around in single file. It was interesting to see how long it took for these people to notice they were being followed (very closely – it was not subtle) in terms of personal space, since we all know we can usually sense the presence of another person near us even if they’re out of our line of sight.

I thought it would be interesting to look at the random movements taken when being chased, for example a group of children playing Tag, an antelope hunted by a cheetah or even a fighter plane dogfight.

Also of interest to me are the non-spaces left vacant by traced paths over a period of time, why these are unused and how they could be reclaimed or utilised better.

* Edit: when I say violate, or entering personal space, I’m really talking about the intersection or overlap of two personal spaces. I think this is a particularly fascinating point of interest, especially as it’s so subjective – we each consider our personal space in a slightly different way and by creating an aesthetic of traced paths over time I hope to reflect these intersections and potential intersections and their effect on how the space is navigated. People and their personal space become unpredictable moving obstacles within the space. Also have you noticed that, as you walk past someone on the street you sometimes unintentionally move in towards them or away from them? I think this could have something to with their perceived personal space more than our own and there could be some kind of invisible field that attracts or repels us. Or that could just be a crazy theory.

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2 Comments so far
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Sounds interesting mate!

I also find it interesting when you are walking past someone and the whole eye contact thing that is made. Some people will stare at you, others will stare at the floor, others will glance, or pretend that you are not there, could that down to personal space and how some people treat it?

Comment by Jimbo

Yeah I think that is down to how we consider personal space to some extent – in as much as it’s about the imminent violation of it and how each of us react when we know our personal space is about to be entered. The eye contact angle is a good point, it’s more about the future violation and how we try to avoid it which is a nice way to look at the subject I think.

Another point I was talking about with Chris and my group was getting out of eyeline – when I was in the gardens of the Rodin Museum in Paris looking at ‘The Thinker’ it was surrounded by tourists taking photos and you couldn’t really stand there and appreciate it because of the constant awareness of getting in the line of sight of people’s cameras. Nobody was really getting the full impact from this artwork, probably the most famous in the museum, either because of this reason or because they were looking at it through a lens and making some sort of copy of merely its visual quality.

Comment by JG Smeaton




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