Making Space and Place with Geometry -Symposium 11.2.2012

Making Space and Place with Geometry
Symposium organized by Shoji Kato

Saturday, 11th of February, 2012
13:00 – 18:30

Auditorium, Finnish Academy of Fine Arts
Kaikukatu 4, 00530 Helsinki Finland

Contact: Henri Wegelius / Doctoral Studies Programme at Finnish Academy of Fine Arts

The notions of space and place occupy important areas of not only philosophy, phenomenology, and human geography, but also the arts.

Referring to Nelson Goodman’s claim that, “The making is a remaking” (Ways of Worldmaking, 1978), the given world can be disassembled and be (re)arranged into “infinite variation” (Daniel Birnbaum*). The (re)making corresponds to the ways in which we make space and place. Such notions of space and place seem to be unsettling in part because the ways we conceive space and place and the ways we have been affected by or are affecting these are constantly shifting into the multiverse of contexts.

To examine how notions of space and place can transform in any direction and in any degree in different parts of life, is it possible to look into the process and experience that occur in examples coinciding with geometry? Geometry here is not static but mobilizing and affecting. It allows for alternate meanings and organizations of space and place. It is an embodiment of potentiality.

Through this potentiality, such geometry affords, engages and guides our actions and thoughts in a multifaceted manner. It does this by manifesting the symbolic dimensions (as in national flags and corporate logos), representing concepts (as in diagrams), expanding the horizon of our knowledge (as with scientific instruments), shaping worlds (as with landscaping, gardening, and city designing), conceiving the unknown (as used in rituals and magic), playing games (as in chess and go), accentuating moods, (as in design), and altering senses and raising questions (as in the arts), to name just a few examples.

Geometry cuts, smoothes, folds and multiplies formal and intellectual spaces and places. If these examples above can also be seen as processes of becoming, can we then look at the relationships among the (re)making of meaning, (re)organizing of space and place, and what geometry enables?

With Marcus Doel, Shoji Kato, Juliette Kennedy, Matti Kujasalo, Yi-Fu Tuan and Harri Veivo as a moderator, this symposium displays a unique opportunity to share insightful observations from the areas of human geography, spatial theory, philosophy, mathematics, and visual art.

*)Making Worlds: 53rd International Art Exhibition: La Biennale di Venezia (2009)



13:00 – 13:40 Shoji Kato

As an introduction, Shoji Kato will talk about his ideas for this symposium. Looking through artifactual geometrical forms from a multi-perspective, he presents observations on the phenomena and experiences around/in/through the geometrically organized spaces. In relation to such ideas, he will also talk about his works including Monuments (2009-11), Place and Number (2010-11), and A Moment (ongoing series).

Shoji Kato is a visual artist and an artistic-researcher at the Doctoral Studies Programme at Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki

13:40 – 14:20 Matti Kujasalo

Matti Kujasalo’s talk will be an introduction of his oeuvre, process, and idea in relation to his philosophy on space involving with the elements such as materiality, chance and geometry.

“In the course of more than four decades, Matti Kujasalo has been systematically developing his philosophy, which is based on constructivist art. He has constructed a visual grammar with its own particular rules. At once sensitive and powerfully expressive, it is mercilessly logical and startlingly full of surprises. Apart from experiences, art should also awaken questions. This is an objective superbly achieved by Matti Kujasalo. Kujasalo’s art is based on an extremely disciplined use of a stringently reduced range of expressive devices. His work demonstrates the observation, familiar from mathematics and future research, that chaos does not equal disorder. Chaos is a special form of order, a complex order.”

“Matti Kujasalo remains one of the most international of all Finnish artists. He has had solo exhibitions in leading European galleries and museums in Germany, Switzerland, Hungary and Italy, and has exhibited at the Art Basel, Art Forum Berlin, FIAC, Art Hong Kong and Art Basel Miami Beach art fairs. He has works in prestigious public and private collections in Finland, Scandinavia, Europe and the United States.”
Quotations from the press release for Kujasalo’s solo exhibition at Pori Art Museum, 30.09.2011–15.01.2012

14:20 – 14:30 Short Break

14:30 – 15:45 Marcus Doel

Marcus Doel’s talk is entitled The art of spacing: from animated photography to poststructuralist spatial theory. Space and spacing have posed profound problems for theory and practice, and grappling with them has been a key achievement of poststructuralist spatial theorists. This talk sets out the spatial problematic they address, surveys the range of conceptual devices they have deployed, and illustrates them with reference to the vernacular relativity of animated photography and film.

Marcus Doel is a Professor of Human Geography at Swansea University, Wales UK, and the Co-Director of the University’s Centre for Urban Theory. He is the author of Poststructuralist Geographies: The Diabolical Art of Spatial Science (Edinburgh UP), the editor of Jean Baudrillard: Fatal Theories (Routledge) and Moving Pictures/Stopping Places: Hotels and Motels on Film (Lexington), and serves on the editorial boards of Aether and Society & Space

15:45 – 16:15 Coffee Break

16:15 – 17:15 Juliette Kennedy

Title: Geometry and Paradoxes of Place: Some Reflections on the Art of Gabriel Orozco
Juliette Kennedy’s lecture is on the geometry of various artworks, e.g. of that of Gabriel Orozco, will consider questions like: how it is possible that geometry can serve as a ground for a work of art?

Juliette Kennedy is a working mathematician as well as a philosopher. Her philosophical concerns usually center around the practice and possibility of mathematics; a secondary but significant part of her writing and curating has to do with framing encounters with artworks from within the classical analytic tradition (in philosophy). Kennedy is Yliopistonlehtori in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Helsinki. During the academic year 2011-2012 she is a fellow in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Her most recent series of exhibitions took place at the Pori Art Museum in 2011 and featured the work of Fred Sandback, and subsequently Andy Goldsworthy.

17:15 – 18:00 Yi-Fu Tuan (via videoconferencing)

Yi-Fu Tuan’s talk will draw on two of his books: Space and Place and Passing Strange and Wonderful. Although they may seem very different in content and approach, they have in fact much in common. What they have in common may be stated as follows. “Place” is an articulated object, bounded, geometric, and static: examples range in size from a tea cup to a walled city. “Space,” by contrast, is open and undefined, signifying freedom but also surprise and danger. The aesthetic is the senses coming to life (viz., Passing Strange and Wonderful.) They come to life when they experience something articulated and formed, or “place,” for short. But “place” can be too static and boring, thereby losing its power to enliven the senses. Art, therefore, cannot be just “place.” It also has to be “space” in the sense of offering the unexpected and the disorienting. Most art, however, is just “place” or it is just “space.” Good art is both–highly ordered and yet lurking within it is a hint of openness and even chaos.

Yi-Fu Tuan is a professor emeritus of geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Fellow of the British Academy and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the author of twenty-one books, including Topophilia (1974), Space and Place (1977), Passing Strange and Wonderful (1993), Human Goodness (2008), and Religion: From Place to Placelessness (2009).

18:00 – 18:20 Closing Discussion