Publication details for Professor Michael A. CrangCrang, M. home@Singapore.world: Spatial Imaginaries of a Mediated World. In: Döring, J. & Thielmann, T. Mediengeographie: Theorie - Analyse -Diskussion. Bielefeld: Transcript verlag; 2009:539-564.
- Publication type: Edited works: contributions
- ISSN/ISBN: 978-3-8376-1022-2
- Keywords: Singapore; globalisation; information & communication technologies; space; imaginary; social division
- View online: Online version
- Durham research online: DRO record
Author(s) from Durham
That the world is globalizing has become a shibboleth and that the flows of information and media increasingly render the world into a global village has been a commonplace of commentary and punditry. In this essay, I seek to probe a little bit more how we see spaces inflected by globalised media – specifically what shape global space might be said to be. To do this I want to review some of the ways that media and information have been imagined relating to spaces – through notions of substitution, derealisation, transcendence and thence to consequence of dispersal, distanciation and social disintegration. From here I turn to examine the production of spatial relations through media, specifically notions of proximity and distance, centrality and peripherality. The analysis here will then turn to the case of Singapore which has sought to envision itself, and be seen by others, as a central hub in a new space of mediated global flows. In and through this account what I want to suggest is that very different spatial imaginaries are mobilized – indeed that these mediated spaces enact and produce different notions of spatiality.
Initially I outline how conventional, even critical, accounts produces pit ‘place’ against ‘space’, where a virtualization is seen as transcending or eroding experiential place. Thence I shall try to suggest instead a more relational space is produced. This then is in distinction to imaginaries that see either a scalar shift where globalised and mediated processes start to operate at a global scale, becoming disembedded from previously sedimented territorial scales, or one where a global exterior erodes or overwhelms a local interior. Thus we might look at the effects of global information as disrupting the Russian doll like spatial imaginary of nested scales of belonging and priority, with the local as most immediate through to the distant and attenuated world scale. Accounts here might look at a rescaling of key processes, where global process now outweighs local and produce a hierarchy of (conflicting) scales of processes. Instead the approach here sees places as always having been constituted out of relations between practices, as being produced through a variety of processes occurring between places. Places are the sites of entanglement of practices, and are produced by their relations. In this sense then relational space has a Leibnizean caste, that sees space created through the relations of objects rather than being a substantive matrix into which objects are inserted. This does not allow some notion of an Aristotelian inhabited place opposed to Cartesian, abstract space – an imaginary I shall show haunts much media commentary. That is where we can see in globalization that ‘chaos and complexity have switched polarities from negative to positive, so too are all the expressions of disjunction and discontinuity being revisited as forms of a higher order… [But] Unlike the disjunction of collage that has characterized much of this century, the new disjunction is one of morphing’ (Novak 1995) and to make the distinction clearer the latter involves ‘warpage, not mechanics, not even alchemy, but the curving of the underlying spatial matrix itself’ (Novak 1997). Thus what I am trying to suggest here is not simply the combination or coming together of new elements but the formulation of spatial orientation brought upon by global flows on information. It is then a Deleuzian vision, informed by theorizing multiplicity and hybridity, which sees the city as an abstract machine combining different kinds of spaces in a folded, pleated topology (Crang 2000b, page 314) .To do this I will focus upon the case of Singapore, as a city which has ridden the dragon of informational technology for 30 years and try to explore how it has formed a point where different relations and spaces recombine disrupting scalar notions of belonging and engagement, where the state is actively attempting to produce a sense of centrality but also one where borders are being reinscribed in informational space.