April 1, 2021

Space in the Time of Plague

During the pandemic, space is problematized. The fundamentally human act of a face-to-face encounter can be fatal. Mass congregation is impossible.

When we lose direct human contact, we also lose spaces. For example: restaurants, schools, and theaters.

Theatre cannot exist without space. The phenomenology of theatrical space is a mystery. When a performance meets the gaze of the spectator, we enter a different domain. It is conjured communally, with performer and spectator breathing the same air and experiencing the same flow of time.

We live in a digital age. In this time of plague, we have inevitably expanded our understanding of space to encompass the internet. In many instances, there is a kind of transliteration involved as we seek virtual substitutes for real-world needs.

I approach this space with a hint of skepticism. Foucault would understand the internet as a heterotopia (space of otherness). Similar to the “space” of a phone call, the online world is a readily accessible meeting point that, paradoxically, does not exist.

I, too, have an instinct to transcend the physical limitations on space necessitated by the pandemic. The space in which you are reading these words is for disjecta membrae (scattered fragments). A low-key outlet.