In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Postmodern Spacings
  • Mark Nunes Coordinator
  1. 1. In February of 1997, a dozen individuals began working on a collaborative on-line project entitled “Postmodern Spacings.” We came from various academic and professional fields in North America, Europe, and Australia. Our only initial “guiding principle” was that we were to discuss a variety of understandings of postmodern space. The seminar as a whole would be responsible for drawing up a syllabus and setting the focus. Together, we set up our reading list, held real-time discussions in an on-line meeting space called 1k+1 MOO (, carried on conversations via a list-serv, and constructed collaborative, interwoven texts. The hypermedia work we present here is the culmination of that effort.

  2. 2. Postmodern Spacings attempts to address the significance of “space” in contemporary cultural discourse. It looks at manifestations of bodily space, the space of the text, and social spaces, and it attempts to question the current relevance of a philosophy of space. The project also considers the intersection of these domains and the various hybrid spaces produced by these crossings.

  3. 3. Our readings and conversations served as a series of openings to various questions about space and spacing. In our discussions of “postmodern space,” we assume that “space” has a history, and that it is more than a passive container of events. In acknowledging that space can be other than as it is, we were working from the assumption that “space” is something produced by social, cultural, and cognitive arrangements, while at the same time productive of experiential relations.

  4. 4. Our project grew from a general question posed toward contemporary culture: what are the conditions of possibility present in various spacings of the everyday? As early as 1857, Marx described the historical transformation of everyday life in industrial modernity as “the annihilation of space by time.” We find that “space” increasingly appears as a term of interrogation in contemporary discourse.

  5. 5. We discussed the production of sex and gender in relation to that spatial locus called “the body.” We looked toward the concepts of “production” and “poiesis” to explore the experience of “determined” subjectivity. We attempted to rethink urban space, sub-urban spaces, and the varied heterotopias and “non-spaces” of malls, highways, homeless encampments, and college classrooms. We considered the multilinearity of new textual spaces and the production of mediated spaces in on-line environments. Often we found our discussions heading in multiple directions. The weaving of our words into a hypermedia project allowed us to pursue connections that at times seemed aberrant, eccentric, or even monstrous.

  6. 6. We drew from our various technical, academic, and professional backgrounds and attempted to produce a collaborative, coalitional space of our own in which to explore these topographies. Since discussions took place on-line, “the virtual” and “the real” occurred as a motif in various postings and conversations, but by no means was it a limiting topic. We did come to understand that the Postmodern Spacings project itself was an experiment in spaces, making use of several networked environments to encourage collaborative effort between participants. Thus, the project provided a space of sorts for a discussion of the benefits and shortcomings of on-line collaborative work. The Internet did indeed provide us with a profoundly open “supplemental” site of contact for the exchange of ideas and information. But this chaotic space, while wonderful for creating new openings, makes an attempt at “closure” seem somewhat artificial or forced.

  7. 7. Postmodern Spacings is, therefore, a project in the truest sense, opening outward, forward, toward a positive expression. It provides a series of experiments on spatial issues according to various social, cultural, and economic discourses. The material presented “here” is not intended to serve as a finished work, but rather as a set of headings onto the various theoretical and practical issues relating to figurations and configurations of space in the post-industrial late 20th century. Perhaps it is best, then, to consider Postmodern Spacings (both the seminar itself and the work we produced) as a network of experiments and trials—essays—that point in the direction of further collaborative work.

Mark Nunes Coordinator
Department of English
DeKalb College

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