Realities of place

Place includes social, economical, ecological, social, cultural and historical realities: they are not only material. Sensual perception, but also more complex emotions and feelings, influences the sense of place people have. Emotional space defines the experience of place. The sense of place in any environment is strongly influenced by feelings and emotions. When involved in deep conflict, the sense of space disappears (interview Bawa 2008).

Light is crucial in the experience of place. In theatre and poetry, this is dramatically used. A tragedy starts in a blaze of apparently good light, and then, it goes darker and actually light goes darker. Very often poets, novelists or filmmakers set certain scenes in the rain or in sunlight, because the space one is in replicates what is in the heart (interview Lavery 2010).

The fundamental experience of place is defined by engagement (interview Jansma 2010). Breaking a wall, touching the grass or smelling flowers give physical sensa- tions that create the sense of place. Body and breathing are keys in the experience of real places (interview Jansma 2010). In online communication, the body is also the instrument that records experience (interview Lavery 2010). The sense of place emerges from fundamental reciprocity between body, light, material environment and social feelings. The sharing of sensual reality is for human beings fundamental in connecting to other human beings (interview Gill 2010).

In extreme situations, when being witness in a real place where atrocities occur, the body physically responds beyond a person’s own control. Emotions indicate the impact of an event, but they hinder the establishment of facts that are needed to be able to explain what happened, by whom and why. To establish the facts as accurately as possible, in such a situation, a person needs to block emotions if at all possible. An investigative journalist needs to offer facts; other emotional witnesses convey the impact of the event (interview MacFaydyen 2009).