All Eyes on Seoul
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A letter from Departures exploring this month’s theme.
I THINK ABOUT SPACE, and my place in it, obsessively. As a 26-year-old non-white woman, I aim to take up space, as the mantra goes, yet bump against the barriers of a world and a mind socialized against that. As a born-and-raised New Yorker, I’ve only ever known erratic stimulation from spaces: awe-inspiring one minute, horrifying the next. I now share space with someone I love. For many, it's an endlessly relatable experience in its contradictions, clothing-pile politics, and navigation. My side/your side. Please get away from me/please come closer. Who takes what call from where.
My most fearful sensation is getting lost in space, which I once described to a therapist as floating off the ground, untethered, into a dark abyss. My headspace has many rooms, some of which I fervently avoid and some I wholeheartedly lose myself in with the right synthy soundtrack on aimless walks around downtown Manhattan, feeling profound and cinematic.
I consider my surrounding space in this moment and think of Gestalt theory. That optical illusion prompting the eye to see only the figures that stand out: two profiles looking at each other, not the negative space in between. However, when we shift our focus to what’s in the middle, something new emerges: Rubin’s vase. It’s an interesting way to think about space. Only in shifting our focus to the absence in between do we see all that is contained.
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Space is a thousand things. It’s an oxymoron — separating us, connecting us. It’s real, molecular compounds of matter in the air. And yet, it’s nothing more than a concept. This month at Departures, we explore this phenomenon of space in all its intangible, paradoxical forms. We look at iconic LA spaces through the lens of celebrated filmmaker Miranda July, trace the trends of modern space across the epic creations of Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid, and play Alice through the looking glass in two twin homes — mirror images of each other’s space. We make alien contact in outer space, mindfully consider our personal space, and talk to a photographer who’s been moving through space in search of something more. We find fantasy in the green space of Mexico’s mystical Las Pozas, and experience the future inside a restaurant called Contento — a groundbreakingly accessible space truly made for all.
Sophie Mancini is an editor at Departures. Born and raised in New York City, she holds a degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and has a background as a writer in brand and editorial.
Lia Halloran is an artist who creates projects that draw from scientific materials, nature, historical influences, and identities. She has participated in a wide range of interdisciplinary collaborations with scientists and architects, including an upcoming book with Nobel laureate Kip Thorne about the "warped side of the universe." She lives in Los Angeles, where she is represented by Luis De Jesus Los Angeles. She is also an associate professor in the art department at Chapman University, where her courses explore the intersection of art and science.
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