The (re)production of climbing space: bodies, gestures, texts.
According to Lefebvre, space is not an absolute given, an empty and presumed starting point, but space is produced through human action. Further, he contends, there is a material basis to the production of space – the “practical and fleshy body”. The body must be conceived as both active in the production of space, as well as produced by space, and thereby subject to the determinants of that space. This paper demonstrates the crucial role of the body in Lefebvre’s trialectic as it interrogates the embodied mobile practice of rock climbing, specifically sport climbing. First, it begins with an examination of the role of climbing bodies in the production of climbing space; put into practice by the perceived space of the rock, bodies shape and are shaped by this interaction. Second, it investigates the mechanisms that continue the production of climbing space off the rock face, as climbers communicate with practice-specific gestures and jargon. Third, it approaches climbing landscapes as texts, focusing on the production of representations of space as routes are inscribed on rock faces, transcribed into guidebooks and websites, and circulated among climbing media. Finally, considering landscape as a way of seeing forces the investigation to return, full-circle, to situate the ways bodies enact landscapes in relation to textual representations of space. As such, this paper explores the relationality of individual climbing bodies, rock climbing communities, and climbing media in the (re)production of climbing space to demonstrate the complementarity of landscape-body and landscape-as-text perspectives in the social production of space.
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