March 21, 2010


Freespace. A network of sites and spaces
by Matthew Slaats

Freespace is an exploration of the relationships built between people and place, may they be urban, suburban or rural. It looks to inhabit the everyday space, the space that once was, and space that is constantly in between. The objective being to develop a network of sites, through partnerships with individuals and communities, to elucidate experiences of ownership, privacy, sustainability, and identity.

The concept for Freespace came while sitting at the summer home of the Vanderbilt Family in Hyde Park, NY, now a part of the National Park System. It harkens back to a landed gentry, an upper crust, that most will never see or experience. In its marble floors, how does this space represented the United States? Even more specifically how does it represent my own experience? Where is the National Park site of the every day person? The ranch home or the suburban neighborhood come to mind. What about spaces of decay? Empty lots are spattered across any Northeastern city. Going further, might we think of something more intimate, more private? Could a park consist of a favorite chair, the inside of someone’s clothes, or maybe the space between your fingers?

In scientific terms Freespace is defined in multiple ways. It is a concept of electromagnetic theory, corresponding to a theorectically perfect vacuum. It is an abstraction from nature, a baseline or reference state, that is unattainable in practice. It is a space where the movement of energy in any direction is substantially unimpeded, such as the atmosphere, the ocean, or the earth. (1) In all of these definitions we are looking for a space that is impermeable in a physical sense, but conceptually holds a significant standard.

Freespace asks the public to seek these spaces, defining them from their own perspective. They may be conceptual, textual, or physical; and range in size from micro to macro. The project looks to engage the range of associations/relationships that people have with space, building a collection of unique environments that take on meaning by the fact that they are described, located and catalogued. In the end what will be defined is a breadth of perspective that shows the vitality of peoples connection to space.

Words of interest are loss, preservation, woodland, boundary, geography, cultural geography, psycho-geography,middle landscape, sub-urban, urban, rural, forgotten, decay, disused, watershed, lot, parcel, lunch poems, walking, listening, and revitalization.
freespacenetwork at gmail dot com

lu cafausu is now in freespace