Karen Messer

Karen Messer is a PhD student in Concordia University’s individualized program (INDI), working at the intersection of Geography, Sensory Studies and Applied Human Science. She holds a BFA in Visual Arts from the University of Victoria and a MA in Human Systems Intervention from Concordia. Karen’s research focus draws from this interdisciplinary background by taking an embodied and sensorial approach to the often unseen and intangible impact of the physical environment on our day-to-day interactions and relationships.
Spatial perception is subjective, but can be characterized by three overarching conditions: social, as predicated by our cultural predisposition and social context, 2) emotional, our personal and empathic response, and 3) embodied, translated by our senses. By investigating the interconnectedness and co-determination of mind, body and environment, we begin to access a more complete and nuanced knowledge system. Under the assumption that spatial affect extends beyond measurable boxes and units, Karen’s current research themes are:
• to explore the ways in which our day-to-day built environment is utilized and thought of from a social, emotional and embodied perspective particularly in regards to innovation, engagement and well being;
• to investigate the correlation between sensory aptitude and spatial awareness, and finally;
• to enhance our understanding and precipitate new experience based discourse around space as an active agent co-creating our day-to-day experience.
We have all walked into spaces that should feel good, should work well, and should encourage innovation, but do not. The contemporary detachment from post modern mass-produced space has led to a longing for authentic places in which we feel more emotionally connected and supported. At the same time a hyper-designed, utopian landscape where every object, colour, texture, scent has been considered and manufactured to conjure the desired effect is taking us in the wrong direction. It is this fear that underlines the importance of using our whole body, accessing all of our senses, to engage with our surroundings rather than manifest spaces designed to stimulate and modify our perception. How can space be empowering and support creativity as a process, rather than simply emulate it aesthetically? Karen will be exploring these, and other daily encounters in her new blog: