GRASPING SPACES An investigation on strategies of spatial experience and appropriation
by Theresa Rößler
The thesis Grasping Spaces (April 2020) by Theresa Rößler investigates library and research practices in the post-digital age using the example of the Kunstbibliothek [art library] associated to the Sitterwerk Foundation nearby St. Gallen. Since the foundation took up its work in 2006, the library not only hosts Daniel Rohner’s (1948-2007) art book collection, but also a considerable amount of literature on material science and casting craft. The library and its order system promote interaction, modification, and performativity. Instead of applying a classification according to the alphabet, genre or epoch, a dynamic order based on RFID technology is proposed. The visitor is invited to activate the library and to engage with the place by arranging certain book collections individually. Books can be chosen intuitively and associatively according to subjective criteria. An institutionalized, public space becomes an individually constituted space.
In view of current developments in media technology, the concept of 'space' is oftentimes considered as processual. Space is not merely there but has to be produced by interaction with one's body. Instead of asking What is space? the research focusses on the comprehensive elaboration of space-constituting practices to understand how space is constituted. As the title indicates, the work concerns a plurality of spaces: The visitor constitutes and produces different spaces that complement, correlate, overlap and partly contradict each other. Spatial practices are examined from positions and concepts originating from art theory, sociology, information science and literature studies.
Thereby strategies of spatial appropriation are considered as body-bound: The activation of the library and its collection requires physical presence, i.e. the architectural space is measured meticulously by a moving, observing, exploring and groping body, that positions and places itself in relation to the architectural space. In this context, the haptic perception is an essential part of one's spatial experience, with the sense of touch being conceptualized as a recognizing and understanding one. Thus, cultural techniques like reading, skimming and browsing are comprehensively investigated as performative gestures by focusing on the assistance of the hand. Grasping Spaces attempts to reevaluate and reassess the non-digital by sensitizing the reader to the materiality of a library in direct comparison with its digital reproduction.
Future of Memories is concerned with the tensionful relations of pasts and futures, compromising everything in between: the lived present, the intensity of presence, the wish to remember things long forgotten and the desire to anticipate and realize – vergegenwärtigen – things not thinkable in the now – and how is artificial intelligence shaping the means and ends of remembrance?
Different artistic and theoretic approaches look at archival practices, mnemonic techniques, storytelling methods and narrative practices in various media and formats.
In the course of four online panel discussions, Theresa Rößler will talk to archivists, art historians and graphic designers about current challenges and perspectives of archiving.
Stretching Life / Finite Heights zooms in and out to challenge the existing borders of humanhood. Where do we end? What do we relate to, what do we depend on? Does empathy always only go hand in hand with pathetic fallacy? Where is the end to the flying fire we are currently riding on? These pressing questions are not only dealt with in artistic works, but also leave their imprints on the way, in which products and books are conceptualized.
Gathering the Given, Sampling the System finds different patterns of collecting amongst our living surroundings: from blind spots of artificial intelligence’s search algorithms to tools that help organize people in political positioning processes. Whereas visual likeness seems to be quite misleading in the shown projects, alternative practices of resembling and reinventing promise to shed new light on old things.
Bodies Exercising Society focuses on material practices either shaped through architectonic or other societal surroundings or, inversed, shape society by means of continuous, maybe repetitive practices. Implicit predicaments of court architecture gain visibility when translated into movement notations, socio-emotional entanglements fly high if a case of sexual violence takes place in one’s own, thought to be reflective and liberal environment. The body is a crystallization point for biopolitical propositions, the thing all too easily neglected and displaced, yet never totally forgettable it has the power to fight back in moments unanticipated.