The Myth of the Muttering Madman is a project in self-realization.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

a u·nique space

  1. Often found in descriptions of "exciting new art galleries". Used to sublimate what is normally considered "just another space". 1
I really can't get my head around a space "being unique". Surely all space is universal. Either that or every arbitrarily compartmentalised piece of space is unique. Perhaps both concepts are correct and coexist. In either case what does labelling a piece of space "unique" do for my understanding of that space?

What is a "a space" anyway? Is it like a piece of pie?
"Excuse me, may I have a piece of space?"
If I can and if I draw a different boundary around one piece of space in three dimensions (ignoring theories concerning themselves with infinitely dimensional space), what makes that contained space unique? Is it the container? It is the shape? Is it the distribution of objects within the space? Is it the instant in time that the space existed? Is it the speed with which the space is moving relative to an observer? I think the whole concept is ridiculous.

Why is "the space" even said to be "contained"? Surely the container is also part of "space" in a general sense. But to specialise our original definiton of such space, the container is probably also part of the space it is meant to be containing. If this wasn't the case I can't see how it could be said to be containing the space. It is either part of the space it is supposed to be containing or it is containing some other space and not related to our original concept of space in the first place. Again, I think the whole concept is ridiculous.

Suppose it makes sense to say that I can have a piece of space and that it can therefore be contained by something. What if I change the colour of the container, that is, I put on my interior decorator hat and start painting my wall a thunderous indigo. Does the space contained by my room become more or less unique? Does it change? What if I decide to mangle the roof and collapse part of it, and then punch huge dents in the floor to deform the shape of my room. Does the space change? Does it become more or less unique? Is it more or less unique than any other space which is different to the "space" I have supposedly created? No two spaces are identical. Does that mean that every space is unparalleled?

People don't walk into rooms and exclaim that they have never before experienced such unparalleled space. I don't walk outside in the morning, do a double-take and shout,
"Holy fuck, that cloud definitely wasn't there before. I am once again experiencing unparalleled space on my way to work!"
But people describing art galleries do take great pride in this uniqueness of "space". They almost seem to have a monopoly on unique space. What's going on? Are they morons, or are they simply groping with dithering tautologies? I'll go for the former.

For those that can be bothered, this is a brilliant post.

1 This is a u·nique definition.


David Garrett said...

Well, to be Kantian about it, maybe what makes a space "unique" is how it is percieved? It can only be unique if someone unique perceives it in a unique way. Maybe?

snarkyboojum said...


So "unique space" does seem to be tautological guff.

Dutchy Hollando said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dutchy Hollando said...

In the Kantian conception of space, we do not perceive it. In fact it plays the transcendental role of making objects possible. If it was perceived, that is, it was empirical, then it could not be a priori.

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