Intervention: Storytelling in
the Third Places

The sociologist Ray Oldenburg invented the term ‘Third place’ in 1989 to refer to the places between where people spend time at home and work. They are places where people socialize and enjoy their time. It can be a bar, campus, church, gym, street, virtual reality, website, app, etc. 

Find a site that intrigues you visually and conceptually. Look closely at it and find what you think is interesting. You will be asked to write a short piece to describe the situation, no more than 500 words, and no less than 200 words. You will make a project based on the writing. The final format is broadly open, but must be based on your observations of the selected site/situation; it can be a video thesis, website, concrete poem, interactive game or single-channel video, two-channel video, tri-channel video, animation, motion poster, flipbook, etc.


A Provisional Theory of Non-Sites

By drawing a diagram, a ground plan of a house, a street plan to the location of a site, or a topographic map, one draws a “logical two dimensional picture.” A “logical picture” differs from a natural or realistic picture in that it rarely looks like the thing it stands for. It is a two dimensional analogy or metaphor – A is Z.

The Non-Site (an indoor earthwork)* is a three dimensional logical picture that is abstract, yet it represents an actual site in N.J. (The Pine Barrens Plains). It is by this dimensional metaphor that one site can represent another site which does not resemble it – this The Non-Site. To understand this language of sites is to appreciate the metaphor between the syntactical construct and the complex of ideas, letting the former function as a three dimensional picture which doesn’t look like a picture. “Expressive art” avoids the problem of logic; therefore it is not truly abstract. A logical intuition can develop in an entirely “new sense of metaphor” free of natural or realistic expressive content. Between the actual site in the Pine Barrens and The Non-Site itself exists a space of metaphoric significance. It could be that “travel” in this space is a vast metaphor. Everything between the two sites could become physical metaphorical material devoid of natural meanings and realistic assumptions. Let us say that one goes on a fictitious trip if one decides to go to the site of the Non-Site. The “trip” becomes invented, devised, artificial; therefore, one might call it a non-trip to a site from a Non-site. Once one arrives at the “airfield”, one discovers that it is man-made in the shape of a hexagon, and that I mapped this site in terms of esthetic boundaries rather than political or economic boundaries (31 sub-division-see map).

This little theory is tentative and could be abandoned at any time. Theories like things are also abandoned. That theories are eternal is doubtful. Vanished theories compose the strata of many forgotten books.

*Non-Site #1. Smithson changed the title for this text which was initially “Some Notes on Non-Sites.” It has been partially excerpted by Lawrence Alloway in “Introductions 1: Options, Milwaukee Art Center, 1979, p. 6

from Unpublished Writings in Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings, edited by Jack Flam, published University of California Press, Berkeley, California, 2nd Edition 1996

More Writing

the rooftop
by juriel furukawa

Since this quarantine has started, my third space has shifted from the park near my house to now the rooftop. It is the only space outside of my work/house that I safely feel connected to the outside world. My only human interactions are in digital spaces like facetime and zoom with my classmates and friends and the occasional people I see on other rooftops when I'm up there. I’ve been going on the roof a lot recently to get air because I've been very paranoid about going in any public spaces. I always want to wave and say hello to the people I occasionally catch on other rooftops but I always feel somewhat uncomfortable to interact with people even at that distance during this pandemic.

I was really intrigued by the wearable poster shown as an example in class. I was inspired by this work to create my own interpretation of this wearable poster.

I decided to wear a green screen on the roof, this acts as a message from me to anyone who happens to see me as almost a flag to get attention to invite some kind of interaction. In my edit, I am able to write my own message as well as include my digital third space.

For the first time I bumped into another building mate and we shared different roof spaces.

Invisible to visible
by destine kim

Dreaming, it was the way for me to run away. My extreme passion and idealism often made me get exhausted in short order as I failed to balance my ideals with the realities of day-to-day living. I became highly vulnerable to criticism and conflicts and kept on questioning and blaming my motives and being. In order to distance myself from this breaking point, I desperately needed a safe space where I can be freed from dragging voices. It ended up finding and creating spielraum to decompress and recharge in my time alone.

“One sees clearly only with the heart.
Anything essential is invisible to the eyes”.

There is a place that exists only in my heart, invisible to the eyes that can be seen only by the heart. It is a solace, a combination of a vivid imagination with a strong sense of compassion. This whimsical place is full of hope and opportunity for the development of a playful and metaphorical restoration. – Life continues. I gain the strength to reject hopelessness and helplessness. The presence of this place reassures me that I don’t need to be the correct or succeed one. It is okay to fail while striving for something wonderful, challenging, adventurous, and uncertain.

It is a utopia that I pursue interpreted as something transcendental. This fulfillment of spiritual well-being is similar to consolation attained from looking at abstract paintings. Inexplainable desire gets accomplished in indescribable way. It aspires serene quietude and defies concrete explanations. The longing tranquility states as relief from the troubles, restless, and tensions.

The word Spielraum is a German word which translates to “space available for limited movement” and is similarly used to represent either elbow room or breathing room.

There are several specific spaces and locations that I’m especially fond of. The common aspects they share are how these spaces and locations are feeling safe and comfortable.

the golf course
by Tarra Boroumandi

The site that I chose for this project is the golf course/ wooded area behind my house. The area has always stood out to me because it’s always been mostly empty which is kind of nice because there’s pretty much no pollution or human impact on that area. The site is filled with trees, bushes, moss, and sparse daffodils. All of these shapes are very organic and natural which is something that I want to incorporate into my animation.  The atmosphere of the area is very calm and there’s a typical back and forth movement of the trees due to the wind, making it look like they are coming to life. The area has a lot of repetition of the same clusters of trees and plants, so it almost looks like a pattern. The colors in the area are all very monochrome- different hues of green, pink, and blue everywhere. I am going to create a poster series that incorporates all of these elements.

An annual nightmare
by Jacquelyn Wu

Everyone has dreams when they sleep.

It isn’t atypical to have a bizarre dream. Often, you will find yourself interacting with beings that are very out of the norm.

What does make one dream bizarre and unsettling is when you repeatedly have the same dream with the same setting and around the same time annually. It gets even stranger when the characters in that dream acknowledge you and say “welcome back” every time you have that dream.

Mockingly, the situation is getting more uncanny in the sense that this dream documents your journey to hell. Therefore, it’s safe to say that you are experiencing an annual nightmare.

What is rather odd is that this “hell” does not fit the many descriptions of the netherworld in multiple religions. The dreamers' conscious is automatically aware of their location and knowledgeable of the fact that they will have to fight their way out to return to the normal world— which in this case, is to be able to wake up. It's almost as if somebody has coded a certain amount of information into the settings of "you" in this dream.

Even though it is terrifying to be in the moment during this dream, the structure of this game has parallelism to conquering levels in a video game. You always wake up in the same place: somewhere that looks like a desert that has been placed in an immensely large room with white walls and only one door.  You also know that in a few minutes or so, some bat-like looking demons will emerge from the center of this enclosed desert. You will have to make a run for that big large door to reach safety temporarily. You are not the only person to wake up, whatsoever. When you had your dream the first time, you woke up and saw your friends. Not all of them were there, replaced by some strangers when you had the same dream again. You wonder if the demons caught them before they could make it to the door.

Although you are aware that this place is "hell", there isn't an eternal flame that's constantly burning. Instead, there's a door leading to another space with another door that feels like it's going to never end. You will need to overcome many challenges when you want to pass through the door. However, you can't remember much from this dream about these challenges. Usually, you only remember the challenge for the last door. To you, it's the hardest and the most important. You are given a table full of rusty weapons, and you will have to slay a tall ogre to go past the door. Regardless of what method you used to be able to overcome the final challenge, you always felt that you only got lucky and barely survived when you pushed open that final door.
You will never feel so relieved to wake up in your bed in the morning after dreaming about this.

At least, until the next year.

Story Telling in Third Places
by Suditi Shah

Sites that visually intrigue me are national park nature reserves and urban park spaces. It’s only recently that I’ve developed a willingness to walk around these open spaces and relax within its fresh atmosphere.

The reason I find these spaces visually interesting is that they appeal to younger crowds (millennials) as well as an older generation. Washington square (NY) park for example is bustling with children, teenagers as well as grandparents on a warm sunny day.

I could be wrong, however, the trend for millennials setting out in the open is somewhat new. It was present in the 90s and 2000s and then took a dip due to the rise in technological invention and kids sitting at home glued to the TV and gaming devices. Now, however, the technological invention has taken a different route. Instead of getting people addicted to games, it’s gotten people addicted to “likes.” A pre-requirement to get the likes is to have a photograph in the first place. An interesting photo requires good lighting. And there is no better photo lightening that golden hour light. This has lead to millennials setting out not only to catch a breath of fresh air but also to capture content for the “gram.” No matter the reason - it’s still a refreshing sight to see a young crowd soaking in the sun.

This amalgamation of population demographics can be seen more so in urban park spaces as they allow a quick pit stop and then allow people to get back to their busy routine. Not only that - the photos captured represent an interesting juxtapose with urban and natural settings. Clothing too can be casual or fancy as the people are present to relax and not to play sports or hike.

Thus I want to create a project that focuses on representing the elements within these shared spaces that attract crowds from multiple age groups.

Some statements to guide me through my project

1. Without apparent plan or structure, they seem connected
2. We no longer see the internet as a means of communication - but as an alternate form of reality / as a means of changing the nature of reality
3. Changing the nature of reality
4. Our views of the world are changing
5. We are gazing at our screens trapped in the sprawl
6. Mind warped, pixelated illusions replace our faith in information
7. Our views of the world are changing as if we wake up from a dream
8. Ideologies collide
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