Tim Cresswell defines Place

Notes on Place:

  • Geography = about place and places. But place is not the property of geography
  • a concept that travels between disciplines and must be studied using an interdisciplinary approach
  • not a specialised piece of academic terminology; can be used in various different ways, almost daily, especially in the English-speaking world
    • place as in particular location or building
    • position in a social hierarchy (i.e. “she put me in my place”)
    • particular order of things that have a socio-geographical basis (i.e. “a place for everything and everything in its place”
  • defined as all spaces which people have made meaningful, spaces people are attached to in one way or another; a meaningful location
  • Three aspects of place by John Agnew:
    • 1. Location – fixed objective coordinates on the earth’s surface
    • 2. Locale – actual shape of place which people conduct their lives (i.e. New York as a vast collection of roads and streets and buildings)
    • 3. Sense of place – relationship to humans (i.e. novels and films evoking a sense of place, the feeling of what’s it like to “be there”)
  • Naming – one of the ways space can be given meaning and become place

Sites and Non-Sites: Public Records Office

A reading, Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art by Brandon LaBelle distinguishes the “site” and the “non-site.” As such: the gallery (museum, exhibitions, etc.) is a “non-site” that functions as the place to house the “site” of the actual artistic work. It “indexes” the actions of the artist wherein artistic reflection and criticality develops.

Retracing a couple of weeks back, my class and I went on a little dizzying adventure to the Public Records Office where we traversed this labyrinthine maze of archived public records preserved at a calculated temperature and humidity (I found it rather stuffy) that are not exactly for the public’s viewing. It was a vast underground chamber of records dating back to the 1800’s. I wouldn’t exactly count this as an artistic “site” per se, but it was a site nonetheless; housing information upon information about Victoria from memories, events, records of immigration and shipping, criminal trials and prisons, wills, royal commissions, governors, probates and so forth.

It may not have looked like it with the organised stacks of a modern archiving system, but each vertical storage system holds a particular meaning to people of then, now and the future.


What I garnered from the visit, firstly, is the absolving of my preconceived notion that the Public Records Office was nothing but, for no better word, boring. I expected stacks upon stacks of yellowing papers of wills and events and policies and manifestos, and sure there were some, but there were more hidden behind those grey walls.
Maps, poison bottles, bullet once lodged in a body of a murdered man, the very court trial signed slip that happened sometime between 1800-1899; a vast collection of trinkets and goods that were once held by hands who are now long gone.

There was so much history in the place. It was a site of archaeology and excavation and it brought up a number of ideas for my pursuit in my representation of place.

What is place? As Cresswell defines it, a space that has meaning, a meaningful location. The Public Records Office advanced my perception towards archiving. It, in a way, presented a very documented index of the past, rich in historical exposé.

I’ve been thinking of creating an Application for my final project during the year and my approach is history and interactivity. More on that later, but the way the Public Records Office archives and houses information in its own unique way has definitely given me a bit more of an idea as to how I can historically approach my project.

Ghosts & Spaces: A preview

note: plagiarising myself because I can.

Original post date: 14 days ago

I have returned from the land of the living and no, unfortunately this post does not contain a Vimeo trailer of a sophisticated thriller film from aforementioned title, but it’s relevant, nonetheless!

Second year university is just around the corner and I’m bubbling in a cauldron of giddiness because finally, I breathe out in deep suspiration, finally, the routine-learning, assessment-crying and busy-fun is back back back.

This year and for the first time in- I’m not even going to finish that, my course is implementing what is known as “Studios.” It’s our media term for subject, really. An elective specifically chosen in regards to what we want to learn about most. And here’s a hypothetical bag of gold for those who guessed which studio I’m in.

Ghosts and Spaces : Mediating Place

In this studio we will examine how place is conceptualised and represented in many forms across a range of media and how these are applied in a variety of contexts such as galleries, museums, archives and augmented maps.

I am almost always on a state of fernweh, feeling homesick for a place I’ve never been. Does that sound strange? My missing a place I’ve actually never been in? Is that even possible? I believe so. Truly. How many of you have watched a film, seen a television show, read a book that made you somehow feel like you’ve been there already but of course, you haven’t really, and thus, you feel an ache to return to it?

I’m definitely not the only one.

As a media-peruser, I’m curious as to how exactly books, media, print, music mediate place. Define it. Emotionally tag you that you cannot escape it. Those feelings, emotions that a certain place evokes. I love this quote from Tim Creswell:

“When we write ‘Calcutta’ or ‘Rio’ or ‘Manchester’ for instance, even those of us who have not been to these places have some sense of them – sets of meanings produced in films, literature, advertising, and other forms of mediation”.
(Tim Cresswell, ‘Place’ in The International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, 2009) 

I have a similar connectedness to New York City, Rome, and Paris. I could name a hundred more countries, cities, capitals, but those three have been there before my eyes traversed the digital globe.

I’m to explode into my atom counterparts because who gets a chance to philosophise such a nebulous idea that is the sense of place? To test, experiment and play with all kinds of media forms and platforms in order to represent place?

Man, I’m burning up.

What places have you felt fernweh for?