Elsewhere is My Where
- Is identity hardware or software?
Here are two terms often used interchangeably, but represent different concepts: space and place. The former refers to an abstract and unoccupied area, while the latter means a particular location that one could exactly indicate. Unlike place, space does not have any directions or altitude. It is a blank state, where one cannot orient themself. In English and German, these terms have multiple meanings. ‘Space’ in English, or ‘der Raum’ in German, refers to the universe, a room indoors, land, the place between things, or an interval of time. But in Korean it only has one meaning: the literal translation being 'an empty gap’ (空間).
It took so long for me to understand this meaning: an empty gap. The definition of 'emptiness’ (空) in Asian culture is notorious for having difficult interpretations. It is more than just a word, the term is itself a philosophy. In brief, emptiness is an idea affirming that no single thing, including humans, possess a material body. It does not mean that things are in vain, however it requires an understanding that the concrete figures we are accustomed to do not truly exist as we imagine. As a result of rending the word ‘space’ into my own interpretations, I have created two new terms pertaining to space and our perception of it: the ‘Elsewhere’ and the ‘My Where’.
We tend to fill empty gaps with experience, memory and associations that build and mold our personal and social identities. ‘Elsewhere’ and ‘My Where’ are relative concepts that are distinguishable with one’s perception, contributing to the understanding of how we develop our own identities. ‘Elsewhere’ is a space outside of where one is physically positioned. ‘My Where’ is, on the other hand, a place that one currently perceives. The ‘Elsewhere’ is the outer parts of one’s world and surface- where anything could occur. It could transform consequent to personal memory and imagination while ‘My Where’ is a place one confronts physically. For example, the kitchen that I was standing in at 10 am is an ‘Elsewhere’ because my body does not belong to this place anymore- I am no longer standing there. Death is also an ‘Elsewhere’, since I have not yet experienced it. All the fantasies I had as a kid are also an ‘Elsewhere’. Currently, I am sitting at my computer writing this essay in the library making the library my place of controllable or manipulable place of experience- it is my ‘My Where’.