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Public Space

Public spaces can be interpreted into many different views depending on environment and social perspective. Now given that they don’t all share the same interpretation, most share a single point of origin. Each word that we use to label an object or space is comprise of a word web connecting our terms like pieces of a puzzle. For example, words like “bench” and “sword” although have different meaning they both trace back to Germanic times. Proceeding with the word “bench”, let’s look at those around campus specifically the one by the Theatre building near our lovable fountain and sculpture. The word “bench” that we used to label this object can be connected to “sit” and “ass”. The former holding a Germanic origin and the latter, a Celtic origin. As mentioned earlier, words are connected by a web tracing back to a few origins for countless number of words. The bench can also be defined by its environment and scenery on our campus. We the students define this object as a “bench” mainly because of its purpose. For example, during breaks one could find this bench suitable for sleeping, smoking (not recommended), sitting, the whole nine yards. You can even flirt with your preferred individual here. The environment is quite peaceful, as you sit on this bench you are surrounded by the creations and innovations of man. A fountain of youth forever reminding us of college life, the streets that takes us to reality, and the trees of nature bringing us a sense of peace as a gust swipes through. All factors that define this bench shapes our definition of it. It influences our decision to label that specific public space for what we perceive it as. Miles Orvell and Jeffrey Meikle asked an interesting question, “Is public space unchanging, or is subject to out subjective perception?”. Well there are many answers to that question, usually based on personal opinion. Public spaces are ever changing because the human perception ever changing. How we view an object today could be totally different within a century or so. Look at LA river for example, it was natural food source back in the days however now hardly anyone wants to go near the place. The river changes by our taste and opinion, we modified it to prevent flooding however in doing so we tarnished the natural ground. What we use to consider a beautiful natural scenery is now no different from a toxic wasteland. If you asked people many wouldn’t even know that it is an actual river, my point is our perception is ever changing thus public space is ever changing. Now it’s not absolutely ludicrous to say that certain public space retains a symbolic meaning. Certain creation given to the public contains such a deep meaning that it retains in the view of the public. These public spaces are defined by their given purpose, take the Statue of Liberty into account, people will always view it as a symbol of freedom. A more obvious example would be North Korea, back during the old ages it was an ordinary country now people would not spend a vacation there. It was changed by human ideology and now it is one of the worst places in the world. Public places can also be twisted into something private, places such as lakes are subjected to these changes, lake Irvine for example. Miles Orvell and Jeffrey Meikle asked if we had the right or power to undermine a place. The reality is it doesn’t matter if we have the power we the modern society tend to break terms and do what we want. Even if it is considered a public space in a sense it’s also a private space due to it serving purpose for someone or something. The statue of liberty although a public space and a symbol of freedom is given purpose by the country’s high power. It was placed to be a symbol and a gift and so serves the will of the government. The bench in the description serves the will of the school, giving the students a place to rest so they can get those good test scores for the school. A mall is a perfect example, it’s a public space yet its purpose is to produce an income for several already wealthy individuals. Throughout history we’ve label spaces so casually that we’ve never really considered its true purpose and origin. The words we used for our labels shapes our definition. Now it’s not the most entertaining thing to do but digging at the history of a word can give us a deeper understand of it. Nothing is as simple as it seems.

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