• Charlotte

How we occupy space.

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to attend an independent TED event in London, TEDxUCLWomen, and was blown away by some amazing talks, that I'm yet to process - expect some posts on these soon.

There is one thing that came up again and again throughout the day, and is something that you start to see more, the more you become aware of it - the myriad ways that we take up space.

This is not the place to discuss the history of womanspreading, but this does illustrate one way in which we occupy space (and the gendered nature of the way space is taken up). Given the fact that we were at a women-centred event, I was very aware of the legs that were proudly un-crossed, the contents of Mary Poppins-esque bags spilled across tables, and the wonderful colourful clothing that caught your eye and made impact. I particularly find the ways that women occupy space interesting, and the event provided some wonderful examples of this, regardless of whether people were aware of it or not.

Another way that space is occupied, which brings together intersections of race and class, is the playing of music in public spaces. Case in point - whilst waiting for the tube back to St Pancras, two men of colour were playing music pretty loud on a boom box, rap/grime music to be more specific. It is really interesting to see how people around them perceive this - it's almost a threat to the peace, they literally take up air space, filling it with bass-filled music. You can literally feel the discomfort around them.

This was contrasted against the next time that we ended up seeing them, in the middle of St Pancras International, but the reactions were so much different. Whilst the boom box was still playing music at the same volume as before, the type of music was more more soul, a 'recognisable' Motown song, and people around them in the busy station were bopping along with the song. So different to the previous experience.

This represented a great example of the different ways that we occupy space, and which kinds of space, but also the intersections within these spaces. For instance - what might have been the reactions if they were playing a little Bach through their boom box? Is this the kind of thing expected of such a device? How is the use of the boom box different to simply playing music loudly on a phone?

Whilst this provides just a couple of examples, it's interesting to see the more you pick up on space. Like how my 50kg dog shrinks to as small a ball as she can whilst cowering from fireworks at this time of year. How you tend to see more expensive cars take up multiple car parking spaces, or spaces further away from where most people park. Even the trending movement on minimalism, and the resistance against cluttering spaces (depending on how 'clutter' is culturally defined.

Maybe you'll notice a few more examples; do let me know.

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