A mix of stuff to get us thinking about space.  I’m fascinated by the ability of humans to comprehend and intuit spatial abstractions that are so different from the space we evolved in as a species.  Until recently (say the last 300 years), such abstractions did not exist.  Yet we are comfortable with the constant barrage of spatial manipulations presented by new media.  Per Sarah’s request I’ve placed approximate time committment for each item in parentheses at the end of each item.  

  • This piece (around the 11:20 mark for about 5mins) describes a language where speakers know their spatial orientation at all times and weave it into their speech. (5 minutes)
  • The list of cinematic examples of space manipulation is long.  Most would argue that manipulation of space (and time) is a core element of cinematography.  How many examples of space manipulation can you come up with? (10 minutes)
    1. Passing through walls to follow actors from room to room.
    2. Cutting between front-facing close-ups of two actors in a face-to-face dialog.
    3. First-person perspective camera angles.

    And of course, cinema is littered with non-physical manipulation of space to advance plot. Examples?

    1. Hyperspace, to get past the pesky relativistic limitations of our universe.
    2. The merging of different locales with desirable features into one fictional locale: deserts next to rainforests, waterfalls in the plains.
  • Video games are a reliable source of spatial manipulations. Torus Games is a collection of familiar games played in an unfamiliar space, namely the torus. Please download, install and play some of these before we meet.  (20 minutes)
  • The mathematical sub-field of topology is a formalization of spatial abstractions like the torus.  Pay particular attention to the figure with the collection of squares in the middle of the linked page.  We’ll connect this basic topological method of creating bizarre spaces to the Torus Games.  (10 minutes)
  • Chapter 2 of Douglas Rushkin’s Program or Be Programmed a copy of which Justin provided early in the semester discusses a trend towards spacelessness.  (15 minutes)
  • Finally, as a possible explanation about why we are able to comprehend abstract spaces, try this blog posting.  Sorry, I couldn’t get my hands on the original article to which the blogger refers, but this is probably good enough.  (3 minutes)

Enjoy the rest of your break!