On returning to a damp and chilly Helsinki from the rainy but considerably warmer city of Porto I inevitably thought about the influence landscape and the environment in general has on our moods. After discussing various approaches to artistic research during a small well-organised and fairly informal event called Conversations on Artistic Research at the department of fine arts of the University of Porto, where I gave one of the keynotes with the title On Doing Research, it seemed almost an anti-climax to resume my modest research project on Harakka Island. The purpose of my quick visit to the island today was only to fetch some hard disks with videos now, while the wind was not too bad. While on the island I realized that it might be a good idea to perform and shoot the November image while I was there, so I did exactly that, standing on the hill and then sitting on the damp rock, listening to the howling of the small windmill. I have repeated the same action, which I used to repeat once a week twelve years ago during the year of the horse 2002, only once a month during this year of the horse 2014.
The notion production of space in the title of the blog note today refers to the classic work by Henri Lefevre The Production of Space, written in the beginning of the seventies (1974), which has been on the reading list of everybody interested in issues related to space ever since. Of course I had some brief references to his tripartite division of space into lived, conceived and perceived space, or to his slightly confusing distinction spatial practice, representation of space, and representational space, in my doctoral work called Esitys tilana (Performance as Space) in 1998. But I never really studied his thinking at that time. Now, almost twenty years later, reading him for a seminar on performance and the environment (and performance as environment) I realize that I really should have devoted more time to studying his work back then. Reading him now is fun in another way. His critical arguments against the proponents of the linguistic turn fashionable at the time and his ironical comments dircted at orthodox Marxists seem funny now, but many of his ideas on the production of space make sense today.
With the help of his ideas I could try to analyse how the particular place of Harakka Island has been produced, and is continually reproduced by the social practices of its various user groups, although understanding my own practice as part of that production is of course more difficult. Or perhaps not, if I decide that I don’t mind simplifications. In a very obvious way I am involved in a practice, which transforms our lived space into the conceived and percieved space of a video work. This spatial practice participates in producing the space of the island, and is also creating a representational space (the video work), which is at least partly based on and also to some minute extent influencing the prevalent cultural representations and conceptions of space. Rather than the different levels of representation, however, the notion of production seems most relevant today, and is also closer to something that could be called the performativity of space.