Non-Places, an Anthropology of Supermodernity

After hearing that A Light in Chorus was influenced by situationalism and phsycogeoraphy, I tried to find some books on these subjects to see if it would be useful for my level design. Abertay only had one book, but one was enough! “Non-places, introduction to an anthropology of supermodernity” was a very difficult read. It provided some interesting thoughts, but I’m not sure how useful this is for my project.

Auge states that places are defined by history, culture and language, without these it is a non-space. These non-spaces are produced by supermodernity. While modern landscapes were a mixture of old and new, supermodern landscapes forgo the old in search of the newest, most relevant structures. Non-spaces created within older, anthropological spaces as a rule do not integrate into this anthropological space.

These non-spaces can start to form their own culture, but will never produce something real, just as true anthropological spaces will be drowned out but never die. This brings to mind thoughts of connecting to past or the primal self. One of the main differences between space and non space is that space is organically social, whereas non space is isolating. Non-spaces are defined by instructions and rules, text. Words bring assumptions and a pre-made narrative to the table. A person’s identity in a non space must be checked, but is then lost. In a space, people are individuals, with local knowledge and awareness of unwritten rules. (Though non-spaces are full of unwritten rules, especially those than govern identity – take tumblr’s manspreading and never talking to people on public transport as examples.)

You are not fully present and do not perceive yourself as being in a space if the space is plural – having a narrative attached to it before it is explored. For example, travelling creates a fictional relationship between the place and the traveler as tourism is not about the space – it is about the tourist. The tourist is their own spectacle. This is demonstrated in the pondering faces seen in tourism brouchours. People travel to be the type of person who travels, to tell others about it. When we are this inward facing, we are not present. This is a very conflicting idea in regards to my project, as I want the player to be simultaneously present and inward facing. I do not want them to be inward in the sense that they are thinking “what can I tell people I felt”, but “what am I feeling in this moment”. Auge finds that there is a melancholy pleasure in being self aware of this self absorbed attitude, which I think is very similar to the idea of posting a selfie or your location on social media.

“But the innocence itself is something else again: a person entering the space of a non place is relived of his usual determinants. He becomes no more than what he does or experiences in the role of passenger, customer or driver. Perhaps he is still weighted down by the previous day’s worries, the next day’s concerns, but he is distanced from them temporarily by the environment of the moment…the passive joys of identity-loss.” This is very interesting – is non space a good thing? Being distanced from worries by the environment is exactly what I want to happen. Perhaps the design methods that cause people to distance themselves from each other, become anoymised and give into pre-defined narratives can also be used to bring them closer to themselves, explore how they feel within and give them power to warp those narratives.”what reigns there is actuallity, the urgency of the present moment” “the passenger in non space has the simeltanious experiences of a perceptual present and an experience with the self”

Also talks about differences between ethanography, anthropology and history as well as defining anthopoloigcal space and  but this isn’t relevant.

A good example of a game that uses non space is The Stanley Parable. It takes a clean, generic office and a protagonist with no identity, but then subverts this non space into a story about choice, freedom and identity. It is also totally and utterly mad.


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