Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Time, place and work

I just came out of a meeting to figure out how to explain the affect of spatiality on literature. I guess that's an academic way of saying that place and time affect composition. We studied a diary of a writer and looked at data whereby a walk he undertook had been mapped using GIS data against Google Earth. You could see how far he had walked and over what terrain. In fact on one day he'd covered 26 km over some of the hilliest parts of England. I queried that if you could also find out meteorological data, you could work out his calorie burn for the day. How he would have felt at the end of that day could therefore be guessed and fed in to the research about what he wrote at the end of it in his room.

A year or so ago, we were working on James Joyce's diaries. Each page was dated and we knew his age and habits. Constructing a three-dimensional model of his diaries, in the software we lit the manuscript using known data about his latitude and longitude (Paris) and the date (17th February 1907). We had to guess on the time of day (we guessed a late start to the working day - 11am), and lit the book with data we had about the position of the sun at that time, on that day at that place.

So the question is, how does where you are affect what you do?

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