In these days I am trying to put together a collaborative talk – or symposium – that questions the legacy of physical space in the age of the digital everyday. Does it still matter? Can space be still our theatrical background that participates and witnesses our everyday life?
I would say yes.
The way our brain naturally perceives space is what virtual reality is pursuing to imitate through enhanced experience tools, like the ultimate Oculus Rift, or late Google Glasses. Weirdly enough we believed this paradox: we believe that without such tools we see reality as “boring” as it might appear to our eyes.
Christopher Hawthorne has an interesting analysis of Citizenfour‘s interior: the hotel room. We well know that space: it looks familiar to us because it confirms what we imagine to be a boutique interior space and, most importantly, we do recognise it as it has been broadcasted for months in all major news channels. Whether in reality Snowden “plays” the main actor, to some extent he becomes for the audience the supporting one because of the twofold familiarity of that space. The hotel room takes on a universal meaning for its banality, becomes symbol of the Snowden case, bypassing Snowden himself. As pointed out by Hawthorne, Laura Poitras reverses this condition in the space of the “fiction”; she unpacks what that space really is under the surveillance’s perspective, which is something we are not aware of. By unwrapping its “real” aspect that room changes to become scenario of a story, the one told as Snowden lives it. At this point for the audience the room disappears: what is left is the anxiety for the acknowledgment of what really happened. The Snowden’s widely broadcasted fiction, as seen through media, is reversed. We now see a story.
Such inversion happens through space. Indeed the hotel room changes before and after the broadcasted interview. Laura Poitras has been capable of giving shape to the paradox of the aided-enhanced-reality.
Physical space is the place where our real life does take form, because of this mutual relationship between us and our perception of the surrounding.
I hope to achieve a comparable result by constructing dialogues between people.