Locations of Self 

Sophie Hamer

In space, wherever I locate my body is here.

Getting here, in this sense, is easy. Conventionally, here is positioned as the antithesis to there in terms of physical, measurable distances and time. There, at this moment, is wherever I am not. These established definitions conceal a singular understanding of the body as an object, encased and suspended in space. Space and body are considered as discrete, locational entities unable to engage with or cross-inform one another. Through drawing, this project launches an inquiry at this understanding of the body in space.

The initial drawings search for a state of subjectivity in which the self is aware only, presently, of the self. The body as mark-maker becomes the anchor point for this series.  Hundreds of drawings are produced in frenzied motion, aching for the moment of here. The marks on the pages, hanging vertically alongside the body, are increasingly giddy with here. Spilling over one another, the drawings take on characteristics of automation—the pre-reflective non-style of the surrealists.

Ripening in this series is an understanding of here as a contested state of spatial occupation, rather than an inert location. Here is accessed via a state of pre-reflectivity—complete bodily engagement with mark-making. Then, the moment we become aware of our actions, we shift from here to there. Stepping outside the process, we look in post-reflectively on the self as object in space.

The question of how to get here is interwoven with the question of how to not go there. The second drawing series defines a specific there to test episodes of hereness against. From a studio drawing board, 360 degrees of space is mapped at eye level, producing a series of conjoint one-point perspectives which stand-in as an ‘objective’ projection of space: there. Once mapped, the space is re-drawn through the pre-established techniques of here. Again the body thrashes, its relationship to space subjective, its pre-reflective existence disregarding the lines of the there.

Collages 1 & 2: Replications and erasures of the body as understood as discrete objects in space

It proves difficult for the self to remain here. As the drawings progress, triggers are identified which toss the self into the indiscrete there.  Doorways, windows, light, noises and colleagues all take their turn to exert external influence on the self. In the drawings, each of these trigger points becomes a slice—a cut, viscerally disrupting the drawing. These disruptions elicit an interweaving of the here and there mappings. The pages fold through one another, fighting for opportunity to reveal themselves, reflecting the earlier processes of drawing here. To design, then, is to repeatedly slip back and forth across this threshold between here and there.  The pre-reflective and post-reflective states inform each other, pressuring the mind to shift to accommodate different spatial possibilities.        

Interwoven and interdependent, understanding here and there as competing pre-reflective and post-reflective states suggests a kind of bodily tool, in which our experiences of place are continually re-shaped by our understanding of our bodies within them. Here is not a static location. It is constructed through subjective inhabitation.

Considering this, we can begin to draw out space and locate here with more physicality and more meaning. We might even begin to impress the here into existing spaces—to construct a series of bodily situations conducive to a more public hereness. Here is a defining, intersecting moment of space and self.


Sophie Hamer completed her Master of Architecture degree with Distinction at Victoria University of Wellington in 2010. She tutors within the school at both undergraduate and post-graduate level, and has held the role of Teaching Fellow. She also works as an Architectural Graduate for Andrew Sexton Architecture.