I have been positioning networked space as a third space of social relations. After reading Edward Soja’s “The Spatial Turn and the Concept of the Thirdspace,” from Ikas & Wagner’s comprehensive collection, “Communicating in the Third Space,” I am now beginning to make sense of the collective, online spaces concocted by experimental net artists, such as Curt Cloninger’s classic, glitch inspired, 80s pop infused, click-driven “Play Damage,” (like so many avant-garde artists, who knows when this was created, so no date included). These spaces seek to undermine the notion of place (and time), taking us on a radical journey into some Other-dimension, who knows where, but intended to be experienced in the collective imagination of the here and there.
So back to Soja’s essay, I have drastically updated my thoughts on the idea of a third space place of Other. Note that I am trying hard to avoid using the third space because without the article the space is activated considerably, less grounded as a “thing” or a specific space or place or entity. Really, third space is fairly intangible, fleeting, transient, social and aesthetic. The following is a quick stab at a new “definition” of third space (quotes from Soja), as I tackle Soja’s complete volume, Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places… Ah yes, what could be more third space than LA. So here goes:
“First Space: includes all forms of a direct spatial experience, which can be empirically measured and also present in geographies.” This is the physical world, the “known world,” the world around us, the geographical world, the world that is mapped, the world on the ground.
“Second Space refers to the spatial ‘representations,’ cognitive (or mental) processes as well as modes of construction, which give rise to the birth of geographical “imaginations.” This is the virtual world, the representational world, the world of the symbolic, the psychological, constructed, derived, fabricated, cerebral space.
Third Space: “a third term that disrupts, disorders and begins to reconstitute the conventional binary opposition (between the real and the imagined) into an-Other that is more than just… the sum of the parts… then proceeds to fuse (objective) physical and (subjective) mental space into SOCIAL SPACE.” This results in a third space as shared, social space: collective space, transcending the first and second spaces as a place of “OTHER,” a place of open possibilities, a place of NEW POTENTIAL for going beyond the physical and the representational. This is why third space experience is so provocative. It is outside of time and space, not limited to those rules and limits. It is transcendent, it is connected, it is spatial in terms of a sense of active play that takes place in a space without borders like worm holes, instant trajectories that defy distance and geography.
Curt Cloninger’s epic appropriation and deconstruction is a third space of remote possibilities: accidents, collisions, a click-through sequence of mishaps and “otherness” in spatial disorientation: out of context, uprooted, exploded, and set loose from any preconceived notion of reality and its rules. And ultimately SOCIAL in its networked presence.
This is where art really begins.