Locating, discarding, and taking a side

Location is everything here in this work. The dependence of meaning and sense on a particular place results from mixing STS with Urban Studies. Even when this dissertation aims to displace Times Square from its geographical version, the notion of spatiality continues to be relevant regardless of the media where this element is reproduced. In that way, when we are talking about Times Square, we are pointing to a kind of object that is expanded and decomposed through a series of semiotic modes where its materiality and notion of space is dimmed and potentiated instead of being neglected due to a modal transmutation process.

That kind of partially bounded material-semiotic situation is an attractive, limited scenario that forces us, from STS, to find new epistemological strategies for describing and presenting, (in this case) through the elaboration of interactive stories and multimodal artifacts, how some temporal and heterogeneous associations were formed and transformed along the time in a specific —although mobile— location we call as an urban place. At the same time, it is inviting us to carry out an ontological discussion. A discussion on whether we are facing the same place repeated many times in multiple media or what we have in front of us is a bunch of dissimilar elements labeled under the same name.

However, those multimodal and interactive epistemologies far from being designed to look at and describe the past are also tools for constructing and speculating futures. The intention of conceiving, designing, and using them is to produce —or at least to try to produce— an ontological difference in an element that is diverse as well as to highlight the way how that element is being transformed depending on the associations and group formations it is participating in there.

The spatialized amalgam of Urban Studies and STS, instead of being a wholly solidified element, has a magmatic structure —using Venturini’s (2009) metaphor— that is continually moving but that, at the same time, still has boundaries and can be physically tracked through a particular physical path. However, and despite following one specific path also means to discard, to put aside other possibilities and routes, this activity of centering and locating —inspired by Haraway’s working on situated knowledges (1988)— will let us focus on specific and objective situations resulted from the encounter between Times Square and who is writing those words.

Thus, the key here is to multiply, increase the number of encounters and interventions to follow as many paths as possible. That is why, in terms of a located epistemology about a particular but mobile and multimodal place, I invite you not to read this dissertation in a traditional and linear way, from the first to the last page. Instead, I would like to encourage you to take —or to create— different paths and follow them, mix them, and deal with their interferences, their complications, and so on, until the end. Do not be afraid of discarding, leaving information behind, taking a (limited) side, and turning yourself into an active part of the elaboration of this artifact, of this whole work. Remember, objectivity is always partial, situated, and embodied.

References

Haraway, D. (1988). Situated Knowledges. The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective. Feminist Studies, 14(3), 577-599.

Venturini, T. (2009). Diving in magma: how to explore controversies with actor-network theory. Public Understanding of Science, 19(3), 258-273.