Spatial Stories

“Every story is a travel story – a spatial practice. For this reason, spatial practices concern everyday tactics, are part of them, from alphabet of spatial indication, the beginning of a story the rest of which is written by footsteeps, to the daily “news”, television news reports, legends, and stories that are told.”

Michel de Certeau (de Certeau 1988, p. 115)

The everyday journey is an organization of narrative structures. It is a travel through spatial stories (de Certeau 1988), where people with many different cultural, professional and social backgrounds cross each other’s lines as they have a ‘negotiation-in-motion’ (Jensen 2014). If mobilities consist of narrative structure elements of Aristotle’s Poetics can be used to analyse the everyday travel. Aristotle (384-322 BC) postulate that a story goes through three phases; a beginning, a middle and an ending (Classics.mit.edu 2015). The classic composition of a story is a starting, where the characters are introduced, a middle with an adventure that evolve the characters and an ending, where the characters are back home. If this structure is used on mobilities, it will show arrival and departure as start and ending, respectively. The movement is what happens in between these two points. It is in this part of the story, where the characters are getting skilled through awareness, experiences and knowledge. The following will go shortly through each of the narrative phase and then go deeper into the movement to examine what it affords and how the narrative structure of the everyday journey can be changed.

 

Critical Points of Contact

Critical points of contact (CPC) are nodes in which exchanges between different mobile systems occur. CPCs occur in the layered network city as networks of physical movement, information, gods etc. cross each other’s. Certain points are more critical than others are. These are the points, where systems can be switch on and off and where failures are more critical than other places (Jensen and Morelli 2011). CPC is an analytic framework that can be used on the arrival and departure from the narrative structure of mobilities. It is at this point the traveller changes from one traffic mode to another. Looking at Cresswell notion of mobility as movement + meaning + power, CPCs become sites of physical friction, social interaction and something more – a ‘surplus of meaning’ (Jensen and Morelli 2011). The notion CPC is in the line with spatial discussion of John Urry (1946-). Sedentarism and nomadism are two different ideas of understanding mobilities. One saying that located bounded places are the fundamental basis of human experience, and the other that there is no static, only processes of creation and transformation (Urry 2007). The spatial understanding is not a question of either or, but an understanding of spaces as moving elements. Urry postulate that spaces are comprised of various materials, of objects and environments that are intermittently in motion, which is the same definition of CPC (Urry 2007). The everyday journey travels through such points. They are fix points in the everyday travel story.

 

Staging mobilities

Staging mobilities examines the relation between movement, interaction and their environments. Every mobile situation is both staged from above and below, it is a dynamic combination of the physical environments planners create and bodily use of the users of the space (Jensen 2013). The method mainly looks at three parameters; physical settings, social interactions and embodied performances.

“Staging Mobilities is a socio-spatio-temporal process designing mobile lifescapes ‘from above’ and performed mobile engagements and interactions ‘from below’.”

Ole B. Jensen (Jensen 2013, 8)

The model ‘Mobilities in situ’ is useful in any given mobile situation, but in the following, it will help to get an understanding of what happens on the movement between departure and arrival. Every journey is staged from above as a wing in a theatre. Planners decide all the features such as the scenic view, the dimensions, the materials, semiotics (Scollon and Scollon 2003) etc. Planners build the spaces in which travellers have their embodied performance and interaction, but it is the travellers, who create the story. Their narrative lines create identity in the areas. One aspect, which is missing in the staging mobilities model is the associations and memories the physical settings gives the traveller. Urry writes that mobilities activate and develop the memory of other people, places and meetings (Urry 2007). Sensory perception has a great influence on the everyday journey. There is nothing more cheerful than traveling through the park on the first day of spring when the sun is starting to shine, the birds are singing and the trees are blossom. The sensory perception is closely connected to the human memories. The first warm sun shine on the skin starts the association of all the good times earlier summers. The human being is a social and empathic creature, which means that settings that active the social memory also have a huge impact in the experience of the everyday journey. It is important in the planning of mobilities to implement ‘the little ray of sunshine even on the dullest day’.

References

Classics.mit.edu, (2015). The Internet Classics Archive | Poetics by Aristotle. [online] Available at: http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/poetics.1.1.html [Accessed 26 Feb. 2015].

de Certeau, M. (1988). The practice of everyday life. Los Angeles, California: University of California Press.

Jensen, O. (2013). Staging mobilities. New York: Routledge.

Jensen, O. and Morelli, N. (2011). Critical Points of Contact. Danish Journal of Geoinformatics and Land Management, 46(1), pp.36-49.

Scollon, R. and Scollon, S. (2003). Discourses in place. London: Routledge.

Urry, J. (2007). Mobilities. Cambridge, UK: Polity.