The degrees of connection are defined not only by groups but also by spaces between individuals. According to the study of proxemics, developed by anthropologist Edward T. Hall9, there are various degrees of intimacy realised in physical proximity. The closest, most intimate zone around our body is what we call ‘personal space’. Surrounding personal space, is the ‘social space’ — the area for interaction. Outside the social space is the ‘public space’, which is inhabited by many with whom we need not have any connection.
Crossing spatial and social distances has become an increasingly relevant issue in the wake of globalisation. Never before in history has it been so easy to move to other countries, and never before have we been faced with so much unfamiliar within the familiar. As a result, new boundaries are being raised and their necessity is questioned. We value our identity and seek to preserve it. We are also increasingly aware of others. Finding ways to connect and maintain our identity are the two main forces acting in the contemporary society.
American painter José Parlá10 compares cities to palimpsest, its public spaces acting as communal canvases on which we keep leave the marks of our presence. There is a great sense of anonymity that comes with huge communities where we live in proximity but do not interact with each other. In places of high population density a certain degree of disassociation is needed in order to create any sense of personal space. In its extremes, the lack of connection can result in alienated masses. In such overcrowded proximity, the people have become part of the environment — a ‘peoplescape’.