Drawing together philosophical, empirical and academic thinking, this book focuses on generating awareness of the relationship forged between self and surroundings. It details research undertaken at two coastal sites, the South Wall in Dublin city and the Maharees peninsula in Co. Kerry, Ireland. Sixty-two participants were engaged in photography and drawing to enable this exploration of spatial experience. The participants' photographs and drawings present how spatial sensibilities can be revealed by becoming more attentive to the immediacy of bodily knowledge: our more-than-cognitive experience. Their communications resonate with the philosophers and theorists considered, including Merleau-Ponty, Edward Casey, Gilles Deleuze, Dalibor Vesely, and contemporary cultural geographers. From exploring the experienced spatiality of the meeting of land and sea, this book begins to suggest an alternative politics of the coast.
Reviews: 'For Anna Ryan, the shore is above all a scene of encounter, not only between land and sea but also between different modes of knowledge. In her mapping of physical and cultural coastlines, she incorporates the insights of walking and surfing, photography and drawing, academic philosophy and everyday experience. This is a venturesome and satisfying contribution to our current conversation about "situated" ways of knowing.'
John Elder, Middlebury College, USA
'Not since Joseph Conrad's Mirror of the Sea has the drama of land meeting sea been narrated with such insight and sensitivity. The encounter is certainly physical, but not only that, for an intertwining of self and environment also occurs there, with social and psychological consequences. Ryan rescues primary architectural themes from the darkness of common usage: the concept of boundary is illuminated, but also ideas of duration, measure, and materiality. As in Conrad, this text returns repeatedly to the cycle of departure and landfall, but here we are also taken farther afield. Alternately philosophical, historical, and personal, this book brings an entire world before us, at once situated, communicative, and engaging. It is a marvelous book that will help architects understand their task more deeply and general readers recall their experiences more fully.'
David Leatherbarrow, University of Pennsylvania, USA
'Beachcombing in the tidal zone where geography meets philosophy, Anna Ryan considers a variety of writings on the phenomenology of open spaces as experienced by the mobile, memorious, emotional, spatial creatures that we are. Then she brings these theoretical insights to bear on oral accounts she has gathered from people walking two very different coastlines, the sandy peninsula of the Maharees in Kerry and the monumental stonework of the South Wall in Dublin. A lucid account of contemporary thought in the wake of Merleau-Ponty, and of an innovative piece of participatory research.'
Tim Robinson, Folding Landscapes, Ireland