cultural criticism | photography | place & space

The Erasure of Place: There's no There, There

The idea that all new suburban residential and commercial developments in this vast terrain are virtually identical...where if the vernacular has not been obliterated completely, it has been co-opted in the most superficial of veneers...has been much discussed, so I will only raise the issue as a focal point of serious meditation...beyond the vulgarity that is the aesthetics of the bottom line. Pods where we plug space undifferentiated from the next...vast organimetric patterns. From this omnipresence of tangible space we move on to...

...the reordering of how we identify that space. Space, place, thing is renamed due to politics, economics, ideology. The culture is then required to reorder their history, identity, aims in reaction to place. Saint Petersburg > Leningrad > Petrograd. Candlestick Park becomes 3Com Park, but how do San Franciscans identify that will they in subsequent generations? One singular entity has the power to re-identify re-order culture. There's unease, and it's all too common so we have to sublimate...we have to laugh. The Who plays Olde Springfield's historic Yahoo! Arena. The mundane...Northern States Power is now X-cel Energy. Geographical considerations are rendered irrelevant and substituted with attitudes of success. Power doesn't come from a plant, it comes from a grid...a matrix, until we finally reach the evolutionary leap where...

...there's no there, there. They taught that to children, explaining cyberspace. She remembered a smiling tutor's lecture in the arcology's executive crèche, images shifting on a screen: pilots in enormous helmets and clumsy-looking gloves, the neuroelectronically primitive "virtual world" technology linking them more effectively with their planes, pairs of miniature video terminals pumping them a computer-generated flood of combat data, the vibrotactile feedback gloves providing a touch-world of studs and triggers. As the technology evolved, the helmets shrank, the video terminals there, there.
William Gibson, Mona Lisa Overdrive


Cyberspace is where a long distance telephone call takes place, but it's also where the bank keeps your money. Cyberspace is where your medical records are stored. All of this stuff is out there somehow in a relationship to all of the other bits of it, and there's really no point in thinking about its geographical location.
— William Gibson, Interview for Rabid Eye 3, 1995

Project 80 Cabaret Voltaire from The Conversation, 1994. Postscript:

Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts...A graphical representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the non-space of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding...
— William Gibson, Neuromancer

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