Mind the Gap


Mind the gap will let us confront and analyse multiple aspects of space, from the perspectives of physics, architecture, urbanism, the arts, neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy. It will be hosted at SISSA, with the active participation of some of our PhD students in cognitive neuroscience and in other fields.

We exist within a spatiotemporal dimension, one that we still think of as the condition for experience – as Kant had demonstrated in response to Newton’s view of space as the absolute reality, calling space and time the forms of intuition. The general theory of relativity displaced Newtonian assumptions, but our folk assumptions about our spatiotemporal experience have not followed. Nor are the psychology and physiology underlying our ability to navigate the environment reducible to physics. We imagine and remember ourselves in spaces. Architecture and design model space so that it becomes usable by the embodied, mobile, relational creatures that we are. The constructed spaces of cities determine social and economic behaviors, and the spaces between us are functions of emotional proximity and social cohesion. Our proprioceptive and peripersonal senses develop within socially shared spaces. The ability to direct our attention and movements in space appears to have evolved on a continuum with that in our most distant ancestors. It is now, however, being radically transformed by virtual communication, which separates audiovisual percepts from other modalities: it thereby leads to a loss of synchronous affect and of congruence between our embodied present within one spatial environment and the social, emotional and attentional relation to others.

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