Author: lsuliteanu

Discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes - Marcel Proust

A Paradoxical Refuge: Representations of the Socially Constructed United Church

The conceived space:

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The perceived space:

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The lived space:

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Blog Post 3: Authenticity & Virtual vs. Physical Bodies and Spaces

Virtual spaces are created and re-created by physical bodies in virtual form, and virtual bodies are created through virtual space, which is socially produced. (Lefebvre) What is fascinating to me about virtual spaces is that the boundaries of communication in physical interactions do not exist: bodies often communicate what they think with less guard than in physical life. Of course the opposite can be argued that bodies create a specific tailored self-image online censoring the communication they share, and this is the case when it comes to self-branding as a micro-celebrity. However, in the physical world bodies rarely interact with other strange bodies, but online this social taboo is broken unlocking vast spaces of connection and “free” communication.

98f76919Virtual spaces serve as sanctuaries for like-minded bodies. They provide a connection to other similar bodies that would otherwise have no support through traditional physical space. I personally rely on a virtual community for support regarding my lifestyle choice, as there is no physical space in my geographic location that provides connection to other like-minded bodies and support in this realm. My embodiment of these virtual communities on YouTube and Instagram have become habitual routes of travel forming my unconscious perception through my perceived space. When I am in these virtual community spaces I feel connection, support, ease, happiness, and belonging, creating a sense of home that can be felt through my embodiment online and in the physical space I inhabit at the time: sensory inscribed body. (Farman) Whether the online bodies are authentic is subjective. Some online bodies are more authentic than their physical counter-parts. For example, many introverts become extroverts when expressing themselves and connecting with others in online space, whilst in the comfort of their own personal physical space in solitude. Western  culture is built on the belief that authenticity exists, and is of great importance. People are obsessed with knowing the real truth. There is a heightened fear of “fake” people, or becoming fake yourself that drives this obsession, feeding consumerism as a solution for authenticity. Authenticity of online and physical bodies is an erroneous myth. Other bodies cannot decide the authenticity of someone’s embodiment due to intersubjectivity. (Farman)

onlinepersonaThe downfall to this lack of a social border that the physical world is tainted with is that it opens the doors to shaming, hatred, prejudice and violence through surveillance and sousveillance. In this refuge, where spaces are co-created by like-minded bodies, there also exist bodies with opposing cultural beliefs and perceptions. Because of the encouragement for “freer” communication with other virtual bodies, opposing bodies often say more exaggerated claims than they would ever consider doing in the physical world.

The regulations to keep online communities in-check is as un-just as the laws to enforce “peace” in physical space. They are corrupted by double standards, bias, whiteness, sexism, and heterosexual normality.

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Virtual space has many of the same dimensions and characteristics of physical space and should be thought of with equal importance. Virtual bodies are authentic embodiments of physical bodies and online lives should not be dismissed as less important.

 

Questions:

Is it possible to construct a fair system of conduct online without taking away bodies’ right to express themselves, or any forms of oppression?

Why is it that bodies are so concerned with the authenticity of other bodies and representations of themselves? When online bodies are created through virtual embodiment, even if their online body is completely different from their physical counter-part, isn’t there still authenticity to the online embodiment if they are creating it with?

Sources:

Lefebrve, Henri. “The Production of Space.” In Gieseking, Jen J. And William Mangold, (Eds.), The People, Place, and Space Reader. (289-293). London: Routledge.

Farman, Jason. (2012). Mobile Interface Theory Ch. 1 “Embodiment and the Mobile Interface” (16-34) London: Routledge.

Greenwald, Richard. “Why Is ‘Authenticity’ So Central To Urban Culture?” City Lab. 31 Jan. 2013. Web. 29 March. 2015.

Read more about the obsession of authenticity.

 

Instagram’s Double Standard

After reflecting on our discussion yesterday about social media websites regulating what image content they allow I was inspired to do a little research on the topic. With the millions of posts each day, platforms such as Instagram and Facebook have the task of deciding whether or not a photo is within the “limits” trying to choose between black or white, when the subject matter clearly grey. This leads users to question heavily the reasons behind banning an image, comparing it to other similar images that are “allowed” and causes anticipated controversy among users.

Musician and video blogger Meghan Tonjes posted an image of her butt which is completely covered in underwear. After the photo was removed she reached out to her followers sharing her frustration with the conspicuously transparent double standard.

From left to right, Meghan’s banned butt picture and “acceptable” swimswear model. Whats the difference Instagram?

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What I found intriguing about Meghan’s reaction was that instead of channeling all of the negative attention on Instagram, she questioned why out culture and society has such a problem with these images of women who don’t appease to a certain standard. I agree with Meghan’s point and urge more discussion around why these images are thought to be offensive.

Click here to read the article.

Blog Post 2: Re-orientation Exercise

My initial description of my favorite space is entirely psychogeographic, as I consider my own individual emotions and behavior in the space. In this reflection I will try to expand on other bodies’ experiences in the space.

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Erie Beach is a small residential neighborhood in Chatham Kent, Ontario. It is near the town of Erieau, which was historically a fishing and port village receiving shipments of coal from the United States. The beach is a private space and can only be accessed by property owners. Each property owner owns a piece of the beach making it a very restricted space. Since I have been visiting this space all my life as a privileged guest, the space that is restricted to most has always felt like a safe haven of freedom and lively connections to my surroundings. Although in reflection with Gill Valentine’s idea of public/private space, the private space is not truly private as it is managed and controlled by neighbors and for this reason, many bodies may not truly be themselves in the space.

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Even though the space is technically private, residents share the beach with one and other. There is a certain unspoken set of rules in which bodies must conduct themselves within this private space adhering with Henri Lefebvre’s first triad: special practice. I did not realize this special practice and performance in my initial description of the space as it has been engrained in me as “normal”. At the beach, one cannot stop and rest on someone else’s property while strolling down the shoreline, or play music, dance, or skinny dip without getting negative attention from neighbors. This reinforces the social practice that is constantly reproduced by the majority bodies within it.

In my original portrayal of Erie Beach, the space was a warm, sunny, summer day where I felt connected with the vibrancy of the bodies around me, and at peace from the serenity of my surroundings. When I revisited the space last week it was winter. The lake was covered in snow and ice, haunted by its previous entity. The skeleton of the space was still there, but its soul and flesh had changed drastically. As a socially produced space, the bodies within it were no longer vibrant, connected and loose, but stiff, lethargic and preoccupied. In one sense, the change in bodies’ orientations made the space feel dramatically different, however it was the change in the space’s physical make up that induced the change in bodies’ orientations. Thus a perfect example of Jason Farman’s theory that space is “constructed simultaneously with our bodies” (18) co-constructing one another.

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Through my memories of being in the actual space, as I gaze at the virtual computer image of Erie Beach at summer time, my body goes through the same physical sensations as it would if I was actually there. I feel my shoulders loosen, my breath become deeper, and my ears fill with the sound of the waves. This is an extension of Jason Farman’s idea of the “sensory-inscribed body”. Even in the dead of winter, virtual imagery of a space is able to stimulate my body with same way the actual space would.

Drawing from Sarah Ahmed’s phenomenology of whiteness, I myself possess white orientation in the space along with all other residents of the space, unaware of our orientation of power and exclusivity in the space, due to our ownership, politics and ideology. Along with being an inherently white space, Erie Beach is also authentically heterosexual. Both Valentine and Ahmed draw from Lefebvre in stating that the normality of a space is a consequence of constant reproduction of a certain behavior the bodies that are in that space conduct repeatedly and must always be reinforced. Next summer when I visit Erie Beach in its prime, I am going to challenge myself to try and break the norms of what is socially acceptable.

Hallways and Corridors – A Mis-Guide to Concordia

We must start by acknowledging Janet Cardiff and George Butes Miller and their work “Video Walks” which was the inspiration behind our creative piece.

Our definition is as follows: a video walk is a multisensory tour that holds a particular visual emphasis. For this walk to be successful, a smartphone needs to be used as well as earphones, which are plugged into the medium. The viewer stands at the same location where the footage has been shot. The participant needs to turn on his/her phone, access the video via YouTube and to press play. The 10 minute long footage consists of one single shot which adds a raw and ghostly feel to our footage. The participant is both an engaged listener and viewer and follows the prerecorded footage on the cellular device. This cellular device is held at arms length, comfortably to mimic the present space. As Cardiff and Miller mention “the architecture in the video stays the same as the physical world, but the people and their actions change, so there is a strange disjunction for the viewer about what is real.” This piece requires the participant to interact with his/her senses as well as interact with the space, the architecture and the people in that space. Throughout the walk, the voiceover directs the participant to pay attention to specific elements that make up the space with the engagement of touch, sound, sight and smell. Our goal for this piece is for the viewer to notice their body and how it reacts to the space; we do so by asking the participant to concentrate on the relationship between their body and the space that they are in.

Our imaginative map blends together the “real” physical space and our perceived predisposed footage, blurring the lines between the two realities.

By Lisa Suliteanu and Frédérique Rajotte

Blog Post 1: About Me

Name: Lisa Suliteanu

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Background: Born in Montreal, and lived here my whole life. I completed my DEC in cinema video and communications at Dawson college, and decided to give business at Concordia a go. After 3 semesters as an economics student, I realized business isn’t fulfilling enough for me as I need creative outlets. Im switching into coms or theatre for fall 2015. I’m a city mouse, love the sun, hate the snow, am a mermaid at heart (i.e. competitive swimmer), have a case of travel fever, have a passion healthy living, love nature, and let life inspire me.

Time spent:

I spend a lot of time thinking, browsing Instagram, watching Netflix, cooking vegan food, doing yoga, making daily task lists, working on miscellaneous projects, and STUDYING.

Goal for this class: The topic of this class is intriguing to me because it involves changing our awareness to our bodies, something that is so simple and yet often ignored. I am very interested in studying relationships between things because this way of thinking provides a fuller, more holistic insight to the truth. I first became aware of this way of thinking through a documentary called An Ecology of Mind I studied for a class of mine last semester.

I am excited to broaden my lens further this semester through studying the relationships between bodies and spaces. This way of thinking can be challenging because we are used to defining things through isolation. My goal for this class is to keep my outlook open in order to encompass the relationships between bodies and spaces, and to think deeper into workings of otherwise considered subconscious decisions.

My favourite space:

Erie Beach in southern Ontario has always been my favourite happy place. I have countless memories of the sand sliding through my toes, the sun beating on my shoulders, and the water sending chills up my spine. When I am in this space, my body becomes relaxed through a combination of familiarity, and the forgivingness of the sand and the water, and I move in a loose, dancing like manner. It is impossible to be stiff in this space. I notice I naturally breath deeper here.

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5 things faculty members do that make learning hard:

1. Giving vague instructions for assignments. Its always helpful to know what you’re being graded on to make sure assignments are complete. When instructions are vague or unclear than assignments don’t reflect a student’s true ability and work done because interpretations of objectives can be different.

2. Giving difficult readings. When readings are heavy and use difficult vocabulary I don’t get much out of them besides frustration from not understanding the message/content.

3. Not giving feedback. Feedback so important in order to know what can be improved for next time. They provide justification for grading and are constructive for further improvement, and can serve as guides for later assignments.

4. Giving lectures. Lectures are very important, however I find class discussions to be a good addition to keep the content interesting and students engaged.

5. Not being available for questions in person or via email. I often don’t think of questions for teachers until later in the day when I’m at home. Responding to email is important to me for that reason.

5 things faculty members do that make learning easy:

1. Giving examples. Examples are so helpful for more complex assignments as they help students see what is expected of them.

2. Using mixed media. I love it when teachers mix up a lecture by integrated Power Points, movies or video clips, sounds, discussions, exercises… It keeps me engaged and allows a topic to be thought of or discussed in different ways and forms, and from different people and perspectives.

3. Giving options. Options for assignments are helpful because they allow students to choose to learn and work on what interests them personally.

4. Providing links to material. I am good with computers and many different programs, however looking for readings is very hard and frustrating for me. I always appreciate it when there are links, or instructions on exactly where to find readings.

5. Encouraging ideas and participation. It can be hard sometimes to put yourself and your ideas out there. When teachers provide encouragement for ideas, it creates a comfortable, and creatively better dynamic in a class.