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LEFEBVRE THE PRODUCTION OF SPACE

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Simo K

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Transcript of LEFEBVRE THE PRODUCTION OF SPACE

HENRI LEFEBVRE: THE PRODUCTION OF SPACE

REPRESENTATIONAL SPACE
REPRESENTATIONS OF SPACE
SPATIAL PRACTICE
Representational spaces, embodying complex symbolisms, sometimes coded, sometimes not, linked to the clandestine or underground side of social life, as also to art (which may come eventually to be defined less as a code of space than as a code of representational spaces). (s.33)

Representational spaces: space as directly lived through its associated images and symbols, and hence the space of 'inhabitants' and 'users', but also of some artists and perhaps of those, such as a few writers and philosophers, who describe and aspire to do no more than describe. This is the dominated — and hence passively experienced — space which the imagination seeks to change and appropriate. It overlays physical space, making symbolic use of its objects. Thus representational spaces may be said, though again with certain exceptions, to tend towards more or less coherent systems of non- verbal symbols and signs. (s.39)

Representational space is alive: it speaks. It has an affective kernel or centre: Ego, bed, bedroom, dwelling, house; or: square, church, graveyard. It embraces the loci of passion, of action and of lived situations, and thus immediately implies time. Consequently it may be qualified in various ways: it may be directional, situational or relational, because it is essentially qualitative, fluid and dynamic. (s.42)
Spatial practice, which embraces production and reproduction, and the particular locations and spatial sets characteristic of each social formation. Spatial practice ensures continuity and some degree of cohesion. In terms of social space, and of each member of a given society's relationship to that space, this cohesion implies a guaranteed level of competence and a specific level of performance.(s.33)

Spatial practice The spatial practice of a society secretes that society's space; it propounds and presupposes it, in a dialectical interac tion; it produces it slowly and surely as it masters and appropriates it. From the analytic standpoint, the spatial practice of a society is revealed through the deciphering of its space. (s.38)
Representations of space, which are tied to the relations of production and to the 'order' which those relations impose, and hence to knowledge, to signs, to codes, and to 'frontal' relations. (s.33)

Representations of space: conceptualized space, the space of scientists, planners, urbanists, technocratic subdividers and social engineers, as of a certain type of artist with a scientific bent - all of whom identify what is lived and what is perceived with what is conceived.
This is the dominant space in any society (or mode of production). Conceptions of space tend, with certain exceptions to which I shall return, towards a system of verbal (and therefore intellectually worked out) signs. (s.39)
The question is what i n t e r v e n e s , what occupies the interstices between representations of space and representational spaces. A culture, perhaps? Certainly -- but the word has less content than it seems to have. The work of artistic creation? No doubt — but that leaves unanswered the queries 'By whom?' and 'How?' Imagination? Perhaps - but why? and for whom? (s.43)
It is reasonable to assume that spatial practice, representations of space and representational spaces contribute in different ways to the production of space according to their qualities and attributes, according to the society or mode of production in question, and according to the historical period. Relations between the three moments of the perceived, the conceived and the lived are never either simple or stable, nor are they 'positive' in the sense in which this term might be opposed to 'negative', to the indecipherable, the unsaid, the prohibited, or the unconscious. (s.46)
In spatial practice, the reproduction of social relations is predominant. The representation of space, in thrall to both knowledge and power, leaves only the narrowest leeway to representational spaces, which are limited to works, images and memories whose content, whether sensory, sensual or sexual, is so far displaced that it barely achieves symbolic force. Perhaps young children can live in a space of this kind, with its indifference to age and sex (and even to time itself), but adolescence perforce suffers from it, for it cannot discern its own reality therein: it furnishes no male or female images nor any images of possible pleasure. (s.50)

The concept of space is not in space. Likewise the concept of time is not a time within time. Of this the philosophers have long been aware. The content of the concept of space is not absolute space or space-in-itself; nor does the concept contain a space within itself. The concept 'dog' does not bark. Rather, the concept of space denotes and connotes all possible spaces, whether abstract or 'real', mental or social. And in particular it has two aspects: representational spaces and representations of space. (s.299)

Space is marked out, explored, discovered and rediscovered on a colossal scale. Its potential for being occupied, filled, peopled and transformed from top to bottom is continually on the increase: the prospect, in short, is of a space being produced whose nature is nothing more than raw materials suffering gradual destruction by the techniques of production. What is more, we now have the means to gather all knowledge and information, no matter how close or how far away its source may be, at a single point where it can be processed; data collection and computer science abolish distance, and they can confidently ignore a materiality scattered across space (and time). (s.334)

One of the deepest conflicts immanent to space is that space as actually 'experienced' prohibits the expression of conflicts. For conflicts to be voiced, they must first be perceived, and this without subscribing to representations of space as generally conceived. A theory is therefore called for, one which would transcend representational space on the one hand and representations of space on the other, and which would be able properly to articulate contradictions (and in the first place the contradiction between these two aspects of representation). Socio-political contradictions are realized spatially. The contradictions of space thus make the contradictions of social relations operative. In other words, spatial contradictions 'express' conflicts between socio-political interests and forces; it is only in space that such conflicts come effectively into play, and in so doing they become contradictions of space. (s.365)

The word 'science' continues to imply a detailed process of working out and construction confined to a specified field and calling for strict adherence to predetermined methods. The result is scepticism towards all specialist dogmas, and notably towards the methods — the operational (or supposedly operational) concepts — used by particular specializations.
The science of space should therefore be viewed as a science of use, whereas the specialized sciences known as social sciences (including, for example, political economy, sociology, semiology and computer science) partake of exchange, and aspire to be sciences of exchange — that is, of communication and of the communicable. In this capacity, the science of space would concern itself with the material, sensory and natural realms, though with regard to nature its emphasis would be on what we have been calling a 'second nature': the city, urban life, and social energetics — considerations ignored by the simplistic nature-centred approaches with their ambiguous concepts such as the 'environment'. The tendency of such a science would run counter to the dominant (and dominating) tendency in another respect also: it would accord appropriation a special practical and theoretical status. For appropri ation and for use, therefore — and against exchange and domination. (s.368)
SOCIAL SPACE
SPATIAL ARCHITECTONICS
CHOREOGRAPHY
Knowledge falls into a trap when it makes representations of space the basis for the study of 'life', for in doing so it reduces lived experience. The object of knowledge is, precisely, the fragmented and uncertain connection between elaborated representations of space on the one hand and representational spaces (along with their underpinnings) on the other; and this 'object' implies (and explains) a subject — that subject in whom lived, perceived and conceived (known) come together within a spatial practice. Our' space thus remains qualified (and qualifying) beneath the sediments left behind by history, by accumulation, by quantification. The qualities in question are qualities of space, not (as latter-day representation suggests) qualities embedded in space. To say that such qualities constitute a 'culture', or 'cultural models', adds very little to our understanding of the matter.
Such qualities, each of which has its own particular genesis, its own particular date, repose upon specific spatial bases (site, church, temple, fortress, etc.) without which they would have disappeared. Their ultimate foundation, even where it is set aside, broken up, or localized, is nature; this is an irreducible fact, though nature is hard to define in this role as the absolute within — and at the root of — the relative.(s.230 - 231)

Abstract space - It is thus at once lived and represented, at once the expression and the foundation of a practice, at once stimulating and constraining, and so on — with each of these 'aspects' depending on (without coinciding with) its counterpart. What emerges clearly, all the same, are the three elements of the perceived, the conceived and the lived (practice, and representations in their dual manifestation). (s.288)
Abstract space contains much, but at the same time it masks (or denies) what it contains rather than indicating it. It contains specific imaginary elements: fantasy images, symbols which appear to arise from 'something else'. It contains representations derived from the established order: statuses and norms, localized hierarchies and hierarchically arranged places, and roles and values bound to particular places. Such 'representations' find their authority and prescriptive power in and through the space that underpins them and makes them effective. In this space, things, acts and situations are forever being replaced by representations (which, inasmuch as they are ideological in nature, have no principle of efficiency) (s.311)
Abstract space is thus repressive in essence and par excellence - but thanks to its versatility it is repressive in a peculiarly artful way: its intrinsic repressiveness may be manifested alternately through reduction, through (functional) localization, through the imposition of hierarchy and segregation - or through art. The fact of viewing from afar, of contemplating what has been torn apart, of arranging 'viewpoints' and 'perspectives', can (in the most favourable cases) change the effects of a strategy into aesthetic objects. Such art objects, though generally abstract, which is to say non-figurative, nevertheless play a figurative role in that they are truly admirable representations of a 'surrounding' space that effectively kills the surroundings. All of this corresponds only too well to that urbanism of maquettes and overall plans which is the perfect complement to the planning of sewers and public works: the creator's gaze lights at will and to his heart's content on 'volumes'; but this is a fake lucidity, one which misapprehends both the social practice of the 'users' and the ideology that it itself enshrines. None of which prevents it in the slightest degree from presiding over the spectacle, and forging the unity into which all the programmed fragments must be integrated, no matter what the cost. (s.318)

Formalism puts all the emphasis on form, and thus on communicability and exchange, functionalism stresses function to the point where, because each function has a specially assigned place within dominated space, the very possibility of multifunctionality is eliminated. And structuralism takes into account only structures, treating them as objects which are in the last analysis technological in character. The fact is, however, that use corresponds to a unity and collaboration between the very factors that such dogmatisms insist on dissociating. (s.369)
ABSOLUTE SPACE
ABSTRACT SPACE
If it is true that (social) space is a (social) product, how is this fact
concealed? The answer is: by a double illusion, each side of which refers back to the other, reinforces the other, and hides behind the other. These two aspects are the illusion of transparency on the one hand and the illusion of opacity, or 'realistic' illusion, on the other. (s.27)

More generally, the very notion of social space resists analysis because of its novelty and because of the real and formal complexity that it connotes. Social space contains — and assigns (more or less) appropriate places to — (1) the social relations of reproduction, i.e. the bio-physiological relations between the sexes and between age groups, along with the specific organization of the family; and (2) the relations of production, i.e. the division of labour and its organization in the form of hierarchical social functions. These two sets of relations, production and reproduction, are inextricably bound up with one another: the division of labour has repercussions upon the family and is of a piece with it; conversely, the organization of the family interferes with the division of labour. Yet social space must discriminate between the two — not always successfully, be it said — in order to 'localize' them. (s.32)

In reality, social space 'incorporates' social actions, the actions of sub-jects, both individual and collective who are born and who die, who suffer and who act. From the point of view of these subjects, the behaviour of their space is at once vital and mortal: within it they develop, give expression to themselves, and encounter prohibitions; then they perish, and that same space contains their graves. From the point of view of knowing (connaissance), social space works (along with its concept) as a tool for the analysis of society. To accept this much is at once to eliminate the simplistic model of a one-to-one or 'punctual' correspondence between social actions and social locations, between spatial functions and spatial forms. Precisely because of its crudeness, however, this 'structural' schema continues to haunt our consciousness and knowledge {savoir).(s.33-34)

(Social) space is not a thing among other things, nor a product among other products: rather, it subsumes things produced, and encompasses their interrelationships in their coexistence and simultaneity — their (relative) order and/or (relative) disorder. It is the outcome of a sequence and set of operations, and thus cannot be reduced to the rank of a simple object. At the same time there is nothing imagined, unreal or 'ideal' about it as compared, for example, with science, representations, ideas or dreams. Itself the outcome of past actions, social space is what permits fresh actions to occur, while suggesting others and prohibiting yet others. (s.73)

We are confronted not by one social space but by many — indeed, by an unlimited multiplicity or uncountable set of social spaces which we refer to generically as 'social space'. No space disappears in the course of growth and development: the worldwide does not abolish the local. (s.86)

Every social space is the outcome of a process with many aspects and many contributing currents, signifying and non-signifying, perceived and directly experienced, practical and theoretical. In short, every social space has a history, one invariably grounded in nature, in natural conditions that are at once primordial and unique in the sense that they are always and everywhere endowed with specific characteristics (site, climate, etc.). (s.110)

Like any reality, social space is related methodologically and theoreti-cally to three general concepts: form, structure, function. In other words, any social space may be subjected to formal, structural or functional analysis. (s.147)

In summary, then, and taking the categories one by one while bearing in mind their theoretical links, we may say of social space that it simultaneously
1 has a part to play among the forces of production, a role originally played by nature, which it has displaced and supplanted;
2 appears as a product of singular character, in that it is sometimes simply consumed (in such forms as travel, tourism, or leisure activities) as a vast commodity, and sometimes, in metropolitan areas, productively consumed (just as machines are, for example), as a productive apparatus of grand scale;
3 shows itself to be politically instrumental in that it facilitates the control of society, while at the same time being a means of production by virtue of the way it is developed (already towns and metropolitan areas are no longer just works and products but also means of production, supplying housing, maintaining the labour force, etc.);
4 underpins the reproduction of production relations and property relations (i.e. ownership of land, of space; hierarchical ordering of locations; organization of networks as a function of capitalism; class structures; practical requirements);
5 is equivalent, practically speaking, to a set of institutional and ideological superstructures that are not presented for what they are (and in this capacity social space comes complete with symbolisms and systems of meaning - sometimes an overload of meaning); alternatively, it assumes an outward appearance of neutrality, of insignificance, of semiological destitution, and of emptiness (or absence);
6 contains potentialities — of works and of reappropriation -existing to begin with in the artistic sphere but responding above all to the demands of a body 'transported' outside itself in space, a body which by putting up resistance inaugurates the project of a different space (either the space of a counter-culture, or a counter-space in the sense of an initially Utopian alternative to actually existing 'real' space). (s.348 - 349)
We know that space is not a pre-existing void, endowed with formal properties alone. To criticize and reject absolute space is simply to refuse a particular representation, that of a container waiting to be filled by a content - i.e. matter, or bodies. According to this picture of things, (formal) content and (material) container are indifferent to each other and so offer no graspable difference. Any thing may go in any 'set' of places in the container. Any part of the container can receive anything. This indifference becomes separation, in that contents and container do not impinge upon one another in any way. An empty container accepts any collection of separable and separate items; separateness thus extends even to the contents' component elements; fragmentation replaces thought, and thought, reflective thinking, becomes hazy and may eventually be swallowed up in the empirical activity of simply counting things. The constitution of such a 'logic of separation' entails and justifies a strategy of separation. (s.170)

in every society, absolute space assumes meanings addressed not to the intellect but to the body, meanings conveyed by threats, by sanctions, by a continual putting-to-the-test of the emotions. (s.235)This space is 'lived' rather than conceived, and it is a representational
space rather than a representation of space; no sooner is it conceptualized than its significance wanes and vanishes. Absolute space does have dimensions, though they do not correspond to dimensions of abstract (or Euclidean) space. Directions here have symbolic force: left and right, of course — but above all high and low.
Absolute space is located nowhere. It has no place because it embodies all places, and has a strictly symbolic existence. This is what makes it similar to the fictitious/real space of language, and of that mental space, magically (imaginarily) cut off from the spatial realm, where the consciousness of the 'subject' - or 'self-consciousness' - takes form. Absolute space is always at the disposal of priestly castes. (s.236)

In the West, therefore, absolute space has assumed a strict form: that of volume carefully measured, empty, hermetic, and constitutive of durational unity of Logos and Cosmos. It embodies the simple, regulated and methodical principle or coherent stability, a principle operating under the banner of political religion and applying equally to mental and to social life. (s.238)
In short, absolute (religious and political) space is made up of sacred or cursed locations: temples, palaces, commemorative or funerary monuments, places privileged or distinguished in one way or another. it is indeed a space, at once and indistinguish ably mental and social, which comprehends the entire existence of the group concerned (i.e. for our present purposes, the city state), and it must be so understood. In a space of this kind there is no 'environment', nor even, properly speaking, any 'site' distinct from the overall texture, (s.240)

Absolute space has not disappeared. Nor does it survive only in churches and cemeteries. The Ego takes refuge in a pit — in its 'world' whenever it falls from its perch on some crag of the Logos. Its voice may emerge from an often mephitic and sometimes inspired cavern. Is this perhaps the space of speech? Both imaginary and real, it is forever insinuating itself 'in between' — and specifically into the unassignable interstice between bodily space and bodies-in-space (the forbidden). Who speaks? And where from? As it becomes more and more familiar, this question serves increasingly to conceal the paradox of absolute space — a mental space into which the lethal abstraction of signs inserts itself, there to pursue self-transcendence (by means of gesture, voice, dance, music, etc.). Words are in space, yet not in space. They speak of space, and enclose it. A discourse on space implies a truth of space, and this must derive not from a location within space, but rather from a place imaginary and real — and hence 'surreal', yet concrete. And, yes - conceptual also. Might not this space, extracted from nature yet endowed with properties just as natural as those of sculptures hewn from wood and stone, be also the space of art ? (s.251-252)
As a product of violence and war, it is political; instituted by a state, it is institutional. On first inspection it appears homogeneous; and indeed it serves those forces which make a tabula rasa of whatever stands in their way, of whatever threatens them — in short, of differences. These forces seem to grind down and crush everything before them, with space performing the function of a plane, a bulldozer or a tank. The notion of the instrumental homogeneity of space, however, is illusory — though empirical descriptions of space reinforce the illusion - because it uncritically takes the instrumental as a given. (s.285)
Abstract space is not homogeneous; it simply has homogeneity as its goal, its orientation, its 'lens'. And, indeed, it renders homogeneous. But in itself it is multiform. Its geometric and visual formants are complementary in their antithesis. They are different ways of achieving the same outcome: the reduction of the 'real', on the one hand, to a plan' existing in a void and endowed with no other qualities, and, on the other hand, to the flatness of a mirror, of an image, of pure spectacle under an absolutely cold gaze. (s.287)
Homogeneous in appearance (and appearance is its strength), abstract space is by no means simple. In the first place, there are its constitutive dualities. For it is both a result and a container, both produced and productive - on the one hand a representation of space (geometric homogeneity) and on the other a representational space (the phallic). The supposed congruence of the formants of this duality serves, however, to mask its duplicity. For, while abstract space remains an arena of practical action, it is also an ensemble of images, signs and symbols. It is unlimited, because it is empty, yet at the same time it is full of juxtapositions, of proximities ('proxemics'), of emotional distances and limits. It is thus at once lived and represented, at once the expression and the foundation of a practice, at once stimulating and constraining, and so on — with each of these 'aspects' depending on (without coinciding with) its counterpart. What emerges clearly, all the same, are the three elements of the perceived, the conceived and the lived (practice, and representations in their dual manifestation).
The individual's orientation to abstract space is accomplished socially. For individuals, for example, the location of the instruments of labour, and of the places where labour is performed (as well, naturally, as the ways of getting there), is not separate from the representation by means of signs and symbols of the hierarchy of functions. On the contrary, the one includes the other. The underpinnings of a way of life embody and fashion that way of life. And position (or location) with respect to production (or to work) comprehends the positions and functions of the world of production (the division of labour) as well as the hierarchy of functions and jobs. The same abstract space may serve profit, assign special status to particular places by arranging them in the hierarchy, and stipulate exclusion (for some) and integration (for others).(s.288)
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