Fork in the road

by stronged

I have come to a fork in the road with my research. Either I pursue the path of interactivity, using placemaking as a way to understand how interactive documentaries work. Or I pursue placemaking using an interactive documentary to examine how people create places.

What should I focus on?

Flip a coin?

My original idea to compare narrativity with placemaking has been blown out of the water by Adrian. He believes this to be more of a PhD than an Honours project. It seems I continue to aim higher and higher still with my aspirations in research.

I have spent the last two days trying to get my head around what chorology is. Unfortunately RMIT has been having trouble linking with its subscribed databases so I have not been able to access the material that I was hoping would draw light upon this theory.

I have been trying to write it out so i can make sense of such a kaleidoscopic theory. Unfortunately I’ve been climbing up the wrong tree. My understanding was that chorology is more of a philosophical perspective of place than the spatial understanding. Instead of being driven by a scientific, materialistic assessment of a place’s components, as is the case for the spatial school of thought, a chorological view treats place as an interconnected ecology of individual things. Cresswell sums it up nicely here:

“While the spatial scientists wanted to understand the world and treated people as part of that world (just like rocks, or cars, or ice but with the magic ingredient of rationality added), humanistic geographers focused on the relationship ‘between’ people and the world through the realm of ‘experience’”  (Place, 4).

For me, this draws parallels between creative nonfiction and ‘placemaking’. A unique blending of our subjective experience (chorology) and a wider held objective (spatial) understanding of what a place is. Robert David Sack draws on Hartshorne (chorological) and Schaefer (spatial) as key figureheads in this debate of geographical understanding to elucidate the need to synthesise both approaches in our conception of place. In Sack’s view, both schools of thought can be equally respected if we formulate “explanation sketches” when we explore what a place is.

“Explanation sketches” are composed from a basis of factual information that offer a ‘vague indication of the laws and initial conditions considered as relevant’ to the investigation at hand. They “explain” by using a combination of factual information as well as speculation in order to indicate where further empirical research must be conducted. As “explanation sketches” are a blending of both factual and speculative information, they can bridge the gap between a spatial and chorological understanding of place.

Here’s a definition of chorology lifted from The Dictionary of Human Geography, published by Wiley 2009. pp. 82-83

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All of this investigation set in motion from a little paragraph in Cresswell’s Place: A Short Introduction. I feel every book I read opens me up to five more publications. This seems to be what academia is all about.

I feel it necessary to skim through Hartshorne’s The Nature of Geography to truly understand what chorology is all about. I’ll continue writing to each piece of information I extract from the publication in order to solidify my understanding of the theory.

Intermittently, I have been devouring Ryan’s Narrative Across Media. Her introduction is so incredibly comprehensive that I recommend ALL media students to have a read. I wish I had read that intro right back at the start of the year. What a fantastic piece of writing.

I synchronised the last two pomodoro’s I did last night with Simon and Steve, setting ourselves the challenge to write 250 words each session. At the close of the first session we took turns reading out what we had wrote and discussed where the holes lie and what the best approach is to shape the argument or review. I found this exercise immensely helpful. I hope to do this again sometime soon.