Representing Space: The Pictorial Imperative

Representing Space: The Pictorial Imperative

Stephen Boyd Davis (Middlesex University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-020-2.ch010
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The chapter is concerned with the relationship between the planar space of graphic representations and the world space that they represent. To achieve some coherence in thinking about the spatiality of different media such as film, television, and videogames, two opposed modes of composition, the configurational and the pictorial, are described, both historically and in current practice. The film theory concepts of diegetic and extra-diegetic are also unified with these two modes of composition. It is argued that the historical, developmental path to the spatiality of modern media suggests an almost irresistible pictorial imperative. So while we may at times regret the dominance of one particular mode of picture-making that, for some purposes, certainly has weaknesses in both informational and affective terms, in the end we must acknowledge its attraction and its power.
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From World Space To Picture Space

It is worth looking briefly at the apparently obvious relationship between the world to be depicted and the depictions that are made of it.

The space of the real world is commonly described as three-dimensional. This way of conceiving space is a culturally specific one, and it has been objected that the Cartesian system little resembles our experience of the world (e.g., Lannoch & Lannoch, 1989, p. 41). In this view, it might be preferable to use spherical polar coordinates representing how far up or down, right or left, the observer must turn, together with the distance from the observer of the various parts of the environment, in order to see or reach some part of the scene. However, Cartesian three-dimensional space has a good fit with depiction on a two-dimensional surface. Indeed, it is almost certain that the idea that space is naturally measured on three orthogonal axes would not have occurred without the prior achievement of perspectival depiction. Descartes’ model presupposes just those kinds of graphical mapping of world space to picture space with which our culture is familiar: a picture has two dimensions, comprising marks on a plane that is orthogonal to the line of sight, and the world has an additional dimension: that of depth or distance from the observer.

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Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Alan Dix
Map, mazes, myths, magic, and mathematics, computation, cognition, community, and the constructed environment, all reveal something of our internal... Sample PDF
Paths and Patches: Patterns of Geognosy and Gnosis
Chapter 2
Jon Kerridge
This chapter concerns the question of how people navigate through a space in which other people are also present. Issues addressed include how the... Sample PDF
Let's Meander Through a Measured Space
Chapter 3
Matthew Leach
The Speckled Computing project is a large multisite research project based in Scotland, UK. The aim of the project is to investigate, prototype, and... Sample PDF
Navigating a Speckled World: Interacting with Wireless Sensor Networks
Chapter 4
John Willy Bakke
Workplaces are key loci for expressing and studying organizational identity, even in distributed work. In organization studies, there is a growing... Sample PDF
Contested Terrain: Place, Work, and Organizational Identities
Chapter 5
Anne Sofie Laegran
The chapter is based on a study of Internet cafés in Norway, and interrogates the way space and place is produced in interconnections between people... Sample PDF
Technosocial Space: Connecting People and Places
Chapter 6
Lynne Hall
This chapter discusses artists’ use of virtual space to collaboratively create a digital stained-glass rose window. It explores the use of virtual... Sample PDF
Reconfiguring the Rose: An Exploration of the Use of Virtual Space by Artists Collaboratively Creating Digital Stained Glass
Chapter 7
Elin K. Jacob
In distinguishing between space and place, one approach is to contrast the physicality of space with the sociality of place: space directs attention... Sample PDF
Context, Boundedness, and Structure: The Apprehension of Place in the Development of Information Environments
Chapter 8
Richard Coyne
The widespread use of mobile telephony prompts a reevaluation of the role of the aural sense in spatial understanding. There are clear correlations... Sample PDF
Voice and Space: Agency of the Acousmêtre in Spatial Design
Chapter 9
Susan Turner
This chapter considers the role of sound, and more specifically, listening, in creating a sense of presence (of “being there”) in “places” recreated... Sample PDF
Listening, Corporeality, Place and Presence
Chapter 10
Stephen Boyd Davis
The chapter is concerned with the relationship between the planar space of graphic representations and the world space that they represent. To... Sample PDF
Representing Space: The Pictorial Imperative
Chapter 11
Fiona Carroll
The art of the visual-narrative is not a new phenomenon. Artists and designers have been using images to tell stories for thousands of years. From... Sample PDF
The Spatial Development of the Visual-Narrative from Prehistoric Cave Paintings to Computer Games
Chapter 12
Shaleph O’Neill
The Situationists defined the increasingly spectacularized society (The Society of the Spectacle ) as the alienation of the individual by an... Sample PDF
The Interactive Spectacle and the Digital Situationist
Chapter 13
Shaun Lawson
People use spatial language in everyday face-to-face conversation, and we also now use such language during everyday computer-mediated interactions.... Sample PDF
Spatial Language in Computer Mediated Communication
Chapter 14
Phil Turner
Recent years have witnessed a number of initiatives to develop technology (“memory prosthetics”) to enhance and extend human memory. Typical of... Sample PDF
Space, Place, and Memory Prosthetics
Chapter 15
Julian Warner
This chapter is concerned with exposing the material basis for the concepts of the syntagm and paradigm from linguistics, and the message and... Sample PDF
Materializing Communication Concepts: Linearity and Surface in Linguistics and Information Theory
Chapter 16
Sándor Darányi, Péter Wittek
Current methods of automatic indexing, automatic classification, and information retrieval treat index and query terms, that is, vocabulary units in... Sample PDF
On Information, Meaning, Space and Geometry
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