Thursday, May 1, 2008


Non-places are characterised by their triviality, constructed spaces which don't warrant being called a 'place'. Airports, shopping malls, motorway services areas, motorways, bus and ferry terminals. They are temporarily occupied spaces en route to somewhere else. They are havens for signs of information or instruction - "check-in" "duty free" "toilets" "50% off" "The Atlantic Highway" "go to gate" "switch off phones".

I have a feeling that blogs are in some way analogous to non-places, a species of non-narrative that flows in time without the need for a temporal constructor of a storyline. Blogs have instructions, information and signing similar to non-places - "view my complete profile" "post a comment" active labels and navigation devices. Most of all they run against continuous sequential time - with posts like vehicles on ferries running the first-in last-off system.

There is a sub-species of non-place actively constructed as a fiction - British Airways calls its mobile-free lounge 'The Sanctuary"; a part of Dorset is brown-signed "Hardy Country" and Yorkshire has its "Brontë Country"; one of Britain's largest shopping centres is called "Bluewater", now notorious for banning hoodies; and the names of British motorway services can err towards the rural - "Sedgemoor", "Michaelwood", "Birchanger Green" - as sign-only spaces.

The photograph? In spite of its looks this is very much a place - this is a nun walking just below the main steps to the great Tōdai-ji (東大寺) Buddhist temple in Nara, Japan. I have a habit of pointing my camera in the other direction...

No comments: