What is Space?

Presenters: Dori Julian, Nick Frai, Ashley Plescia & Kamelia Dore

Lefebreves theories of space

Lefebvre’s theories of space

Henri Lefebvre provides three concepts of space; spatial practice (conceived space), representations of space (perceived space) and representational spaces (lived space). These three concepts provide a foundation for society to function. The most common form of space is spatial practice, which is the physical creation of a space. Examples of these can be buildings, parks, rivers, etc. It is a tangible space. The second form of space is the representations of space, which is the visual creations of space that are formulated by the mind. Examples of these can be maps, models, plans, etc. It is the mental space of the physical form. The third and most complicated form of space is representational spaces, which is the social space. Examples of these can be ideals, imagination, theory and visions, etc. The goal of this space is to reform a space, that is abandoned and mistreated, into something new, often for a social reason.



weather influences Dérive

weather influences Dérive

Dérive is an unplanned journey where the pilgrim withdraws from their life for a period to let the soul of the scenery and architecture entice and inspire them. Dérive is similar to art because factors such as weather (derive) and culture (art) have affects on it. As well, just like art it has become something that anyone can go on. It is subjective to the individual, for reasons such as the days vary in how long it takes to go on such a journey.

The SI (Situationist International) was an international organization whose goal was for social revolutionaries. It was composed of avant-garde artists, intellectuals, and political theorists. Guy Debord, the author of the reading “Theory of the Dérive and Definitions” was a member of this group and discussed the very notion of Dérive. At the beginning of their creation, it focused on the arts, especially redesigning the notion of art itself, such as unitary urbanism and psychogeography. It later shifted towards revolutionary and political theory. One of their spectacles: progressively increasing tendency towards the expression and mediation of social relations through objects (a unified critique of advanced capitalism). The SI aimed at putting Lefebvre’s three theories on space (conceived, perceived, and lived) into practice. They transformed urban space through altered, experimental use of the city, advancing the concept that society has the ability to create city space through bodily activities of dwelling and movement, and introducing case studies of sound and film art that aimed to expand the understanding of public space and sensations.

Still Life | Henri-Horace Roland de la Porte (1765)

Still Life | Henri-Horace Roland de la Porte (1765)

Still Life With Dralas | Marion Peck (2003)

Still Life With Dralas | Marion Peck (2003)

Two important terms to remember are Détournement and Situationism. Détournement is an artistic practice conceived by the Situationists for transforming artworks by creatively disfiguring them. Situationism is the theory that behavior is chiefly response to immediate situations. According to the Situationist International organization the two most important factors of détournement are the autonomous elements creating said piece, lose their autonomous meanings and there is an organization of another meaningful ensemble. Therefore in the end, Détournement is just a fancy word for remix. For the SI’s ideal society, everyone would be considered an artist. The idea of remixing and re using is appealing because there is always potential to reuse. Aside from art, this phenomenon has spread to music; through sampling and remixing, movies through remakes and recreations, and pretty much in all other aspects of life as well. With Lefebrve’s theores on space, we can easily transform any of the three forms of spaces and remix it into different art pieces, we are able to re appropriate spaces in order to achieve Detournement status.


  1. How would you define space?
  2. Do you feel remixed products are original art?
  3. Do you ever feel constrained within the routes laid-out for us by the city?

One comment

  1. Great presentation! Thanks for kicking off the class. First: Can you please include all of your names in the blog post so I know who is part of the group.

    Second: Pushing one of your questions towards themes of the class —How do you think we can remix spaces? One example could be raves. The beginnings of rave culture depended on re-articulating spaces for the benefit of all night/day dance parties. This meant taking spaces such as airplane hangars, warehouses, fields, parking lots, etc and turning them into ‘venues’.



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