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Parallelism of identity and space (plus film analysis as sides)

In the video composed by nerdwriter for a film analysis, I re-engaged with the film Ghost in The Shell(1995). In hindsight, I would've come back to this film whilst I was researching for Pierre Huyghe and Philipe Parreno’s project ‘No Ghost Just A Shell’. Anyhow, by watching this film analysis reignited my interest towards dimensions, and bring forth a different philosophical definition of space and identity from what I’ve previously explored. I’ve dissected ideas into two parts.

  1. Space as Heterotopia

Heterotopia can be a single real place that juxtaposes several spaces. A garden can be a heterotopia, if it is a real space meant to be a microcosm of different environments, with plants from around the world.

Heterotopia has a function in relation to all of the remaining spaces. The two functions are: heterotopia of illusion creates a space of illusion that exposes every real space, and the heterotopia of compensation is to create a real space—a space that is other.

In the film analysis, the narrator points out that instead of identifying the setting as dystopian or utopian, it is rather heterotopic.(see research) As initially, in the back of my head, I’ve been trying to label the creation of virtuality and reality as either dystopian or utopian. It was hard to find a word that fully describes virtual realities’ diversity and mass borders, it is too vast and oscillated to be described as one. The idea of heterotopia, which is dynamic, layered and marginal spaces, not only outlined the afloat state of the movie backdrop but bring forth a personal connection that I shared.

2. Space, Identity and Construction

The movie suggested the idea of parallelism between cities and identity through its careful placement of HongKong sceneries. Both of them consist of networks and most importantly, are constructed. It might seem innate in the way which identity and space develop, however, the artificiality lies between the interconnected relationships between the two. Spaces are made by humanity, humanity is made by its spaces. The interconnection between us and the space we live in, in a way constructs who we are and reflects it upon the environment as we live and it operates.

Space might seem as natural and given, to highlight its constructed nature, one needs to examine the limitation of a space. It will always be limited by the way it is produced, thus a freedom within borders. For example, big cities created by authorities pushes its development towards money-interest directions, or to put it simply you can never buy video games in a garden. Similar to identity, we are who the limitations allow us to become. Identity is a construction based on the knowledge we’ve been exposed to and inclinations towards particular representative elements.

Combining and Relating:

‘You are ever to remain what you are as what limits you’

—— ‘Ghost in The Shell’ (1995)

When space is described as a heterotopia, it could remain in a state of dynamics, but also a microcosm or illusion that serves no ‘ideal’. Linking this to myself, I feel a sense of displacement from the space where I was born. My nationality as a Taiwanese citizen blurs the line politically of who I really am from. The ground of which my identity is built upon becomes more complex as I was raised in an international environment. Growing up in an English-speaking environment, I was exposed to American culture, but as now I am in London, I barely understand the British culture. I am not Taiwanese, Chinese or either Western. There exist no space in reality that defines my identity thus I grew up with the feeling of displacement. Either virtual or physical, the character of me feels disconnected.

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