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Title: Black Boxes : Airport Space, Liminal Mechanisms, and Systems of Autobiography
Author: Sonner, Sarah
ISNI:       0000 0004 2671 7106
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
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Treating the first-person experience of airport space as an ethnographic tool, this thesis examines spatial perception and its breakdown in multiple examples of imagined and real twentiethcentury spatial constructs. First, it considers examples of failed or redundant mechanisms which function as liminal constructs, either through their presence as physical objects or through use as tools with which to perceive liminal spaces. It emphasizes their function as points of access for narrative and delineates their status as examples of failure in relation to Bruno Latour's use of the term "black box," appropriated from the world of air crash investigation, and to Walter Benjamin's collection and juxtaposition of research in Tbe Arcades Project. Second, it explores the type and sequence of spaces encountered by a traveller in a large contemporary international airport, and those behaviours that are inscribed and prescribed upon people and mechanisms therein. It critiques Marc Auge' s ideas of the "non-place" through explorations of a distinctly airport-specific culture and possible deconstructions of airport space by passenger use and mechanical and architectural functions. Finally, it relates these to narrative space through an examination and practice of systemic approaches to autobiography in works by Georges Perec, Michel Leiris, and Raymond Queneau. It uses the first-person construction of a narrative of airport space-a first-person "silent reading" of public space-to construct a system of research through which twentieth-century liminal space may be inhabited and critiqued from within and on its own terms. Thus the constraint and potential offered by these diverse liminal spaces are deconstructed in terms of the personal narrative, and through use of airport space demonstrate an inhabiting of research through an innovative and revealing method
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available