Hypercathections

In James Lasdun’s novel, The Horned Man (Vintage, 2003), the protagonist, a professor of gender studies sinks into paranoia via a series of vividly drawn spatial scenarios: the railway station where he witnesses a colleague’s attentions to a student; his office which he suspects is being occupied at night; outside his therapist’s apartment where he sees her inappropriately dressed; the …

Coloured Variations

David Batchelor draws on an apparently unending list of thinkers in his introduction to On Colour (2008) including Julia Kristeva (‘colour is the shattering of unity’), Josef Albers (it ‘deceives continuously’), Roland Barthes (‘like a tiny fainting spell’), Matisse (‘a means of liberation’), Derrida (‘has not yet been named’) and Umberto Eco (‘is not an easy matter’). But ‘colour precedes words’ …

Down the track

Under the railway arches of London Bridge station, during the process of the currently ongoing reconstruction programme, a fine, red bricked, cross-shaped vaulted ceiling was uncovered – reminiscent of the vast sixth-century underground Basilica Cisterns in Istanbul, where marble columns support a roof of round bricked arches. This, in a disaster of postmodern rationale was quickly masked with a shiny …

Interiorities

Recently the experience, purpose and contexts of architectural space have been subject to various kinds of scrutinies. The contemporary obsession with how buildings appear from the outside – through aerial photography and online images – dominates how they are perceived, commissioned and valued. This preoccupation with surface has divorced human presence from architecture. In the context of the recent Grenville …

Spatial Virtualities

The artist Shezad Dawood’s exhibition Kalimpong at Timothy Taylor Gallery in 2016, included ‘an immersive tour’ of the town of the same name on the border of Tibet, a virtual reality work which according to the press release ‘questions the border between the real and the virtual’. Situated in a separate room, the viewer was required to wear head and …

Evolving Mobilities

The concept of mobilities has been an issue which has been discussed for some time in the pages of interdisciplinary journals such as Environment and Planning, a series of journals which focus on the interface of sociology, philosophy, urban studies and culture. There are, it is obvious, many different kinds of mobility. In Mobilities journal, based at Lancaster University, recent …

On Existentialism

If one can drag oneself away from the Shakespearean dramas currently being enacted in real life (I am writing this in London), it is useful to remember that there are tools for textual analysis out there to help us make sense of things. Browsing Polity’s recent media, communication and cultural studies catalogue was balm, an antidote and a light at …

Simultaneous Landscapes

In Space, Place and Gender (Polity Press, 1994) the geographer Doreen Massey reflects on her observations as an adolescent, when from the top deck of a bus she noted the ‘acres of the Manchester flood plain which had been entirely given over to boys’ in the form of dozens of football and rugby pitches.  Relationships between gender, landscape and power …