[December 5th 2020]
begin and what it means to continue. In a word, it makes sense to start with ‘time’.
A tesseract, or ‘hypercube’ is a cube in four dimensions. The tesseract is to a cube what a cube is to a square. For the purposes of this essay, though, we take tesseract to mean something like what the filmmaker Hollis Frampton means when he describes Eadweard Muybridge’s long-exposure photograph of a waterfall. Muybridge, famous for those sequential shots of a horse running, spent much of 1872 photographing Yosemite valley. At this time, he was working with collodion plate photography, a very slow
Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, 1991
Sociologist Henri Lefebvre has considerable claims to be the greatest living philosopher. He is credited with introducing the idea that space is socially produced. His analysis includes a historical reading of how spatial experience has changed over time depending upon social circumstances. Up until the medieval period, space and time were largely experienced through local, lived conditions; times and distances were established by the capacity of the body. In the Renaissance, mathematical systems were developed that allowed space to be broken into fixed units which could be mapped over the land, establishing a system of abstraction allowing for exact measurement and location. Lefebvre contends that abstract space, produced and perpetuated through grids, plans, and schedules, is utilized and dominated by the capitalist system of production. So why do we continue to live our lives structured in this way? Lefebvre suggests that socially produced space and time is held in place through administrative policies, social conventions, and technological systems for living so that each day as people wake up to an alarm, commute to work, watch television, or pay bills, this system of space and time is perpetuated and reproduced.
In particular, his most acclaimed book The Production of Space (1991) is a search for a reconciliation between mental space (the space of the philosophers) and real space (the physical and social spheres in which we all live). In the course of his exploration, Henri Lefebvre moves from metaphysical and ideological considerations of the meaning of space to its experience in the everyday life of home and city. He seeks, in other words, to bridge the gap between the realms of theory and practice, between the mental and the social, and between philosophy and reality. In doing so, he ranges through art, literature, architecture and economics, and further provides a powerful antidote to the sterile and obfuscatory methods and theories characteristic of much recent continental philosophy.
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