About Travel and the Notions of Place

“Place is security, space is freedom”, states Yi-Fu Tuan, the author of “Space and Place – The Perspective of Experience”. He goes on to explain that “what begins as undifferentiated space becomes place as we get to know it better”, and that places are, essentially, “centers of value”. According to Tuan, places “attract or repel in finely shaded degrees”, and “to attend to them even momentarily is to acknowledge their reality and value.” This is evident when visiting another country, or moving into a new city.

The next issue of FNG Research (http://research.fng.fi) will deal with art and politics, and it will be available online next week. Coming back to the statements of Tuan, I think places are certainly endowed with value.

Having myself travelled in many places and also in some conflict areas in the past, and thinking about the current overall political situation and the ongoing crisis in the Middle-East, for example, it seems to me that many people would benefit visiting other countries and cities more often. This helps in putting certain things in a perspective.

In a series of black-and-white photographs in the recent “Demonstrating Minds” exhibition in Kiasma, a Finnish artist, Jari Silomäki, is visiting various sites of atrocities. Tiananmen and Auschwitz are featured in these images, along with many other such locations. The mere images of these places evoke such a powerful sense of the reality of the events that occurred in the past, that they are almost too hard to view.

Tuan states that a “—place may lack the weight of reality because we know it only from the outside—through the eyes as tourists, and from reading about it in a guidebook”., I think it is precisely visiting another country and meeting the people there that significantly affects the way we perceive the world and various political conflicts.

I think this kind of experiences are extremely beneficial, as they make us acknowledge the value and conditions of other places besides our native countries and hometowns.

That being said, and because I enjoy travelling, I have quite recently come to think about relocating again. I could continue working at home on the FNG projects on the side, while I look for new, more challenging opportunities.

Berlin is one of my absolute favourite destinations in Europe. It has been a while since my last visit, so this week I decided that it’s time to book flights there.

Being well-known as a city of many creative digital agencies and tech start-ups, Berlin also has a thriving art and museum scene. I am currently seriously considering starting job-hunting on location – unless of course I happen to get another job here in Helsinki in the meanwhile. In addition to English, I speak some German, not completely fluently, but well enough to cope with everyday situations at the workplace.

It’s quite an effort to temporarily move into another city in another country for a job – but I think it might be well worth all the trouble…!

On the other hand, having just moved back into my old place in the Kallio area of Helsinki, and in order to be able to continue with my studies at the University of Helsinki, staying here in my hometown for now makes a lot of sense too. I have yet to make any final decisions, but I’m certainly looking forward to perhaps starting in a new job this summer, be it in here Finland, in Germany, or elsewhere.

Author: Iiris Konttinen

I am a digital service design and digital marketing professional based in Helsinki, Finland.