‘Place an Introduction’ by Tim Cresswell

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 5: Developing Methods - A Sense of Time and Place

Place: An Introduction by Tim Cresswell is a geography textbook for students focusing on human geography. It looks at the everyday usage of the term ‘place’ and the debates and discussions around the definition.

This post will summarise my notes from reading the Introductory chapter.

Notes on Introduction: Defining Place

Place is one of the most important terms in geography and its study benefits from an interdisciplinary one.

Artists along with geographers grapple with the idea of place.

Not only artists, but place now has a price attached to it and is important to businesses. GIS (geographic information systems) map places and fuse with social media so our phone always knows where we are. Data from this is valuable. There are open-source maps so that corporations don’t have a monopoly on the production of place.

This virtual battle reflects longstanding struggles over place. Links to previous protest movements.

Place often has political elements.

Place is important in many aspects of life – food production, housing, holidays. Yet despite its importance, it is very difficult to define. It isn’t a specialised academic term, it is an everyday term that is familiar to us. However, even though we inherently seem to think we know what it means, it is both simple and complicated. It is different to a word like “territory” which is a specialised term.

Every day uses include:

  • “Would you like to come round to my place?” – indicates some kind of connection between a person and a building and a notion of privacy and belonging.
  • “Brisbane is a nice place” – a geographical location
  • “She put me in y place” – a sense of position in a hierarchy
  • “A place for everything and everything in its place” – an ordering of things

We often add possessions to spaces to turn a space into place.

We name spaces in the world to give them meaning. Coordinates on a map mean nothing, give it a name like a city and we get an image of what it is like.

The most straightforward definition – “a meaningful location”.

John Agnew has outlined three fundamental aspects of a place as a meaningful location.

  1. Location – they have fixed coordinates on the Earth’s surface.
  2. Locale – the material setting for social relations
  3. Sense of place. – subjective and emotional attachment

When humans invest some kind of meaning in a portion of space it becomes a place.

Goes beyond just landscape they are connections, they help us understand people.

Artists and Works Mentioned

  • Towards Re-Enchantment: Place and Its Meanings by Evans and Robson
  • Christian Marclay – installation in Gstaad Switzerland

Key Quotes

“place is perhaps the key term for interdisciplinary research in the arts, humanities and social sciences in the twenty-first century.”

“Place is a word that seems to speak for itself.”

“You discover the art through the place and the place through the art”

“Power of Place”

“transforming space into place”

Ideas

The GIS systems mentioned and how valuable this data is, links to my data collection in assignment 4. I wonder if I could incorporate some of this into a piece?

References

Cresswell, T 2014, Place: An Introduction, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, Hoboken. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [1 Apr 2022].

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