Think of nationality, of passports, of flags. Think of the metropolitan, the country-person. Think of postcode gangs, or rival cities. Think of language and culture and community, and think of places, landscapes, streets and spaces.
Place is formed and formative.
We are physical entities in space. We relate to our environment, and it relates to us our corporeality. The identity of a place and the identity of its people are interwoven.
‘When we get beneath the surface of what users say when they talk about a place’s identity, they usually have in mind some sort of meaning the place has in terms of their own identity: how the place affects how they conceive themselves.’
In the most simple and remote of settings, where life and land are close, the very act of dwelling shapes the place. Paths are worn across the earth, rocks are shifted, wood collected, fires burned, the lives of the inhabitants become ingrained, engraved on the place. Living generates specificity: the people and the place are interwoven, moulded around one another. The traces permeate the place; it is distinct, particular to the people.
David Leatherbarrow spoke of the form manifestly latent in landscape
of the ever-present background: topography as land and matter and something more
something on the edge of perception
of memory and anticipation
of people moving through landscape and landscape changing around people
and of sublimation.
The past and the future overlap and intersect in the present.
Topographical time allows renewal through reappropriation and redefinition. It cannot be annulled.
First, people leave traces. When they see familiar traces, they understand the hidden message: about how people have lived there.
Secondly, people make places. When they give space an identity, they give themselves a means to identify with it and so to understand themselves as related to it.
Thirdly, people share places, and so the place comes to mean the community.
Fourthly, people carry places: spread the message of the place and its identity, and so refine and reform their own identities.
‘Place-identity is the set of meanings associated with any particular cultural landscape which any particular person or group of people draws on in the construction of their own personal or social identities’
A place exists on two levels: as represented and as experienced.