April 18, 2012
“together we leave behind an enormous, complex web of data that is somehow connected to the places around us”

A warm welcome to our latest edition: Mediated Metropolis
Whether you live in a ‘metropolis’ yourself or not, you must have seen the world changing around you in the last decades. Not only has the environment changed on the surface, but most of all in an invisible manner; the way we interact with it has changed. When we now want to go out for a bite to eat, we don’t just pop in anywhere. First we go on the net to find thoughts of other people about the food in a particular restaurant. Or when we want to see a movie, we can easily find some reviews from film critics.  By acting in the virtual as well as in the physical space on a normal day, together we leave behind an enormous, complex web of data that is somehow connected to the places around us. Our understanding of our surroundings, definitely in urban landscapes, has also been fundamentally altered through this layer of digital information that becomes attached to the physical space. In this journal it is argued that this virtual layer may account for a more persisting, instead of fleeting experience.  By changing your relationship to the objects around you, or shaping new virtual objects where none were before, your actions may change. And by changing your actions, you change your experience of the landscape. This changing of experience can be steered by commerce or play, or by the user itself. Is this something to be afraid of, to lose the ability to see the ‘real’, clean world anymore? How does this virtuality account for our social relations in the city? And how can we see new possibilities in it? We can look at this new ‘hybrid’ space as contaminated, but we can also look at it as a playground. This and more is addressed in this journal. I hope you will enjoy. Your Editor, Daniëlle de Jonge


Daniëlle de Jonge (3632210)




1 Colofon


Published by:
Universiteit Utrecht, Masterprogram New Media & Digital Culture Hoogstraat 313e 3511 AB Utrecht T 030 – 345 98 72 F 030 – 345 69 20 info@spaces.nl www.spaces.edu Volume 3, Issue 6 April 2012 Editorial staff: Thomas van Doorn, Marilou de Haan, Daniëlle de Jonge Editor in chief: Daniëlle de Jonge Imageresearch: Thomas van Doorn Marilou de Haan Design: Marilou de Haan Printing: Multicopy Utrecht Centrum Cover art: Patrick DB http://www.flickr.com/photos/61648752@N04/ Disclaimer: Spaces has tried to recover all holders of copyrights to published material in this issue. All articles published in this issue do not necessarily reflect the opinions of advisors or


Urban Landscapes

Daniëlle de Jonge is a Master student at the University of Utrecht, specializing in New Media and Digital Culture. In 2011 she finished a major in Communication Studies. Her interest lies in (new) media philosophy and cultural practices.

Perception of Urban Landscapes and the Case of Media Art
By Daniëlle de Jonge

Art and place have always been intertwined, especially in the urban landscape. The Situationist International movement1 stated that "there’s a beach underneath the street", aiming at the unlimited boundaries of the city landscape, when looked upon with an open mind (Wark, 2011, p. 5). Against the notions of bourgeois and capitalism, they made the city their playground. The idealism they had in mind, to change the perception of the city for their community and its members through experience, is widely spread in today’s culture as well. Media artists often aim to rebel capitalist m a n i f e s t at i o n s o f p l a c e s d evo i d o f personality and stability in the public space. Mobile locative media is a welcome means to this goal, enabling the artist to ‘re-enchant’ public urban space (Paul, 2008, p. 216). In this journal we want to show how urbanity today is experienced, by looking at how a
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new layer of virtuality creates possibilities and phenomenological challenges to the perception of the city. This introductory article will focus on how this debate is placed within academic studies of the mediated city. It will take locative media art cases as a practical tool to show how the gestalt2 of the city is shaped today with the help of media artists. In our direct environment, different locative mobile media may interact with the physical surroundings of the user. This ubiquitous technology has the ability to change the perception for a user of his or her environment. In pervasive gaming theory, Eva Nieuwdorp has coined the term liminal interface3 (Nieuwdorp, 2005, p. 10). Although her theory is based on pervasive gaming, it is a useful metaphor for the changing experience which mobile technology creates, and is therefore useful throughout this journal. ›❯

An artistic movement, active in the 1960’s in several cities across Europe, with emphasis on Paris. Gestalt focuses on the direct sensing, hearing and seeing over empirical analysis to uncover the true experience. Eva Nieuwdorp explains the term ‘liminal interface’ as “referring to the status of the interface as threshold or transitional stage” between

what we can understand as the actual and the virtual (Nieuwdorp, 2005, p.8).


This ‘interface’ that the technology creates together with the user hinders common sensatory perception of reality in urban landscapes. Hindering is not per se a bad thing here, as this new techno-social space also poses possibilities for its users; it can work as a filter as well as an additional information source. In this journal these aspects of mobile media on our perception of the urban landscape is further investigated. Marilou de Haan will look at augmented reality and the urbanite’s natural flâneur4. Augmented reality applications on mobile telephones render the invisible visible to its users, thereby teaching passersby about their surroundings and changing their flow through the city. Thomas van Doorn will look at pervasive gaming, which makes the city quite literally into a playground, as was already dreamt off by the Situationist International.5 From its rise on, the metropolis has often been connected to the rise of capitalism and industrialization. This brought into being a troublesome conflict for their citizens’ identity, for capitalism pressed upon them a role as consumer and worker in the proletariat (Wirth, Simmel). It is this more or less Marxist idea about life in the metropolis that sparked the ideology the Situationists lived by. They sought to ‘open up’ the urban landscape and make men feel freer in their everyday environment (Wark, 2011, p. 11). As McKenzie Wark says, many of today’s (media) artists are influenced by this ideology. Though the rebellion has partly changed, instead of giving the people power against capitalism, it gives people power against the ubiquitous media technologies present in the postmodern city. The way The Situationists sought to subvert the authority of structures and the origin of artworks, can be seen as well in 'annotative' media art projects that generally seek to change the world by adding data to it (Tuters & Varnelis, 2006). In this article, two of such annotative public media art projects will be discussed. The first being Yellow Arrow, an urban project that makes it possible for people to visually tag a place in the real world, with a distinctive Yellow Arrow sticker. This place can then be virtually annotated with text and multimedia. Anyone who happens to pass by and is aware of the project can then acquire this information. The Yellow Arrow team has set up whole themed tours through multiple cities throughout the world (Yellow Arrow, 2005). The second media art case, Urban Tapestries, has a somewhat similar goal, namely to find out “how, by combining mobile and internet technologies with geographic information systems, people could 'author' the environment around them” (Proboscis, 2005). I will speak about these projects in more depth later on. The relevance of this article lies in the less researched grounds that lay between the phenomenological account of urban experience and the influences modern locative media art practices have on them. Therefore, there will first be looked at how urban experience can be defined according to several scholars in the field of phenomenology. Secondly, conclusions will be drawn about this after seeing how these phenomenological accounts are influenced by mobile technologies for the users or beholders of media art.
4 5 Marilou de Haans article can be found in this issue of Mediated Metropolis on page15. Thomas van Doorns article can be found in this issue of Mediated Metropolis on page 8.


“Urban ubicomp clearly has a fetishistic power in appearing to finally offer solutions by rendering place and space utterly transparent in some simple, deterministic way. […] But they are only mythologies of a perfect, uniform informational landscape.”
- Crang & Graham, 2007, p.813

Ubiquitous technology in the city; looking for a definition
The rise of ubiquitous computing, pervasive gaming, GPS-enabled mobile technology and other new mobile technology has quickly led to a vast plurality of definitions for this new ‘informational landscape’ that is today’s city in postmodern academic literature. This ‘sentient’ or ‘concept’ city with its ‘cellspace’, ‘hybrid space’ or ‘augmented space’ makes for a complex discourse to study (Manovich, Souza e Silva, Kluitenberg, Crang & Graham). Therefore, this article aims for a clear, phenomenological, viewpoint on this topic for the rest of the journal. We are wondering, much like Manovich in 2005, whether this experience of the increasingly mediated city can be captured in a single phenomenological gestalt (Manovich, 2002, p. 1), especially when it comes to media art. The idea of a separate virtual and actual or real space in the urban environment has been widely criticized in recent academic discourse. The possibility of an ‘alwayson’ connection through mobile media alters the user’s perception of his or her surroundings (De Souza e Silva, 2006, p. 262). It invites the user to withdraw from its geographical space, wherever that may be, to reach out to others who are not there, but can be taken there in ‘presence’ when the mobile phone user decides to contact him or her. Though it has also been argued that certain uses of mobile technology can also strengthen the connection to the physical and geographical space, like ‘tagging’, pervasive gaming or media art. ›❯



Adriana de Souza e Silva coins the term hybrid space, which “defines a situation in which the borders between remote and contiguous contexts no longer can be clearly defined” (De Souza e Silva, 2006, p. 269). Because hybrid space has to do with invisible technology doesn't mean it's devoid of geographical place. Hybrid space is often tied to a specific point in space and time, making use of the GPS enabled mobile devices of users (De Souza e Silva, 2006, p.262). It is these location based services that provide new ways of moving through a city and interacting with other users, changing the ongoing perception of and the relation to the city. Hybrid space is thus linked with local history (Kluitenberg, 2006, p. 10). [L]ocation aware, networked, mobile devices make possible invisible notes attached to spaces, places, people and things - Tuters & Varnelis, 2006 Although hybrid space will function as a basic term throughout this journal, I should make clear that it is these linked spaces that interest me. Lev Manovich (2005) calls these physical spaces filled with virtual data ‘cellspaces’ (p.4). Where GPS is a constituting part of Hybrid Space for De Souza e Silva, Manovich prefers to see GPS as a particular kind of cellspace, for “[a] user equipped with a GPS receiver can retrieve a particular type of information relative to their location” (Manovich, 2005, p.4). Media artists increasingly make use of these cell- and hybrid spaces in the urban landscape. The case of Urban Tapestries, for example, shows us how mapping and tagging territory gives users a sense of ownership over their environment, a feeling of belonging (Proboscis, 2005). It is then trying to show users how the cellspace is located within the hybrid space, how use of locative mobile media can still be personal and filled with local historical data. It is most often the use of the locative mobile media that transforms the urban experience for the user; not just that it’s there, but the way this person decides to use it. Ito et al. made a distinction in this by looking at how the mobile telephone was used by urban dwellers. They concluded three main uses of mobile media by people outside their homes; cocooning, camping and footprinting6 (Ito, Okabe , & Anderson, 2009). These different uses point to a certain amount of presence in the urban space (or a certain amount of intentional exclusion) (Ito, Okabe , & Anderson, 2009, p. 72). We can see these uses as types of liminal interfaces as well. Media art projects such as Yellow Arrow or Urban Tapestries, break through the widespread use of cocooning, by re-engaging the user with his or her (urban) environment. In a playful manner, both projects ask the user to look up from the screen and engage with his or her surroundings.

Phenomenology of the mediated city
How then, we ask ourselves, is today’s mediated metropolis experienced by its dwellers? To answer this question, this parag raph will look at certain phenomenological accounts concerning the urban experience. We will look at how the examples of Yellow Arrow and Urban Tapestries are able to alter these ideas of experience. For Lev Manovich (2005), immersion in virtual reality arises when the user is no longer aware of his or her physical surroundings. In the words of Bolter & Grusin (2000), it constitutes transparent immediacy, whereby the medium and physical reality is no longer perceived, because the medium appeals to all senses (p.34). For the mediated experience we seek to determine, through locative media, Manovich offers another term; augmented space. For when you interact with a smaller, handheld medium, the experience is different. “You are still largely present in physical space, and while the display adds to your overall phenomenological experience, it does not take over.” (Manovich, 2005, p.11). DeCerteau and the advantage of overview DeCerteau sees the ideal position of the city dweller as lifted above his own city, to gain an oversight of the crowded streets and chaos outside this way. He takes the elevator in New York’s WTC (sadly no longer with us) as an example of how this elevation causes a shift in the city experience: “His elevation transfigures him into a voyeur. It puts him at a distance. It transforms the bewitching world by which one was ‘possessed’ into a text that lies before one's eyes. It allows one to read it, to be a solar Eye, looking down like a god.” (DeCerteau, 1984, p. 92). Already in the Renaissance we see this urge to overlook the city. Birds view paintings were made, even before anyone was able to behold the city from this viewpoint (DeCerteau, 1984, p. 92). This not only shows us that men wanted to overview the city from a higher ground, but also a striving to an unitary vision of "the city" as opposed to "the urban". It shows how men wanted to take grasp on the ever changing, chaotic city. In what DeCerteau calls ‘the concept city’, people try to structure, plan and institutionalize the people and ideas of the urban. What DeCerteau blames on these structuralists, is that they do not see the inherent structuralizing quality of spatial practices themselves (DeCerteau, 1984, p. 96). When not overlooking the city, but experiencing it from within, though, as the users of locative media art do, these structures are not apparent. DeCerteau describes the city dwellers as “walkers, Wandersmänner, whose bodies follow the thicks and thins of an urban "text" they write without being able to read it.” (DeCerteau, 1984, p. 93). They then lack the structures only captured by the birds view. He describes them more or less as flâneurs, a subject that will be further discussed by Marilou de Haan. ›❯


Ito et al. (2009) describe cocooning as “a personalized media environment that is attached to the person and not to the physical space”, camping as “constructing personal work

space ‘encampments’ by bringing portable media to public spaces of choice” and footprints as “establishing and maintaining relationships to restaurants, shops and transit infrastructures through the mediation of various member, reward, stamp and access cards”.



There is such a thing as non-institutionalized practices that we can find here, that ultimately shape the city’s experience for the ‘Wandersmänner’ beyond the attempts of structuralization and institutionalization. This article argues that one of such determining spatial practices is locative media art.

“His elevation transfigures him into a voyeur. It puts him at a distance. It transforms the bewitching world by which one was ‘possessed’ into a text that lies before one's eyes. It allows one to read it, to be a solar Eye, looking down like a god.”
- DeCerteau, 1984, p. 92

The loss of aura in Modernity also caused a loss of Erfahrung for these times. Benjamin "noticed a historical shift in human experience where long-term experience is in modernity increasingly being replaced by isolated instances of experience" (Murtola, 2007, p. 6). “Thus it is clear that Benjamin pleaded for a return to experience as Erfahrung.” (Murtola, 2007, p. 6) In this motivation, we can find similarities with the Situationist movement, but also with our media art cases. To experience the city as the Wändermanner from DeCerteau, or re-engage with the historical aura or aura of our surroundings, we should look for ways to reenchant the locked down urban environment. Urban Tapestries, for example, makes it possible for users to leave digital notes on actual, GPS-coordinated, places. The aim of the project is that in this way, people are able to help each other out (for example with difficult terrain for disabled people) or point out a specific place (urban street art for example, or an old façade). I think that the Erfahrung, that got lost in modern times according to Benjamin, is in this way found again in the hybrid space of post-modern times. Being-in-the-world Another well-known phenomenologist on this subject is Merleau-Ponty. He follows a quite Heideggerian account of phenomenology. “Being-in-the-world” is for him the primal mode of being and experiencing. This verb means to live or be ('sein' for Heidegger) in relation to the world. This excludes “being-in-itself ”, for we always have to relate ourselves to the things around us in order to experience it? (Merleau-Ponty, 1962 [1945], p. 29). […] a virtual body with its phenomenological ‘place’ [is] defined by its task and situation. My body is wherever there is something to be done. - Merleau-Ponty, 1962 [1945], p.291 The eye is important in experience for Merleau-Ponty. For only by sight can we predict what to expect from our surroundings and experience it. He makes a link with Benjamin here; we see what we expect of the things, so we rely more or less on its aura, combined with our individual past and memories. The relation we have to our surroundings ('welt' for Heidegger), can therefore be distorted by lenses, mirrors and the like. Space is only there when used or experienced. Therefore our cases of augmented reality, pervasive gaming and media art can alter our perception. As we said before, experience is defined by our doing, our uses of the technology. Although Merleau-Ponty and Heidegger give us a quite extensive account of the phenomenology of space, there is one critique I want to make. For when we experience only by doing, by being-in-the-world, we only are (understood as the active verb of being) in relation to objects. For one, Merleau-Ponty doesn’t account for the virtual objects that are present in the hybrid space, but he also does not account for being in relation to other persons. This makes his ideas hard to follow next to the more socially oriented notion of hybrid space, which we take as a vantage point throughout this journal. ›❯

Experience from literature Walter Benjamin has written many texts on experience, for example on the just mentioned flâneur. For now, I will focus on his essay ‘On Some Motifs in Baudelaire’ (Benjamin, 1999 [1940]), in which he describes the notions of Ervarung and Erlebnis. In short (very short), Erlebnis can be understood as an isolated experience, whereas Erfahrung accounts for a longer sense of experience (Murtola, 2007). It has to be noted that Benjamin does not take his ideas from direct experience (as is the usual methodolog y for phenomenologists), but studies literature of Edgar Allen Poe and Baudelaire. This way he finds the pieces that help to construct experience for him. The two main pieces - Erlebnis and Erfahrung - differ from each other mainly in their possession of aura. The aura of an object, as is made clear in his earlier work, 'The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility', is found in its rituals and historical context. The lack of such a context is a problem for Modernity (Benjamin, 1936). Only in the rich Erfahrung can we still experience this aura. For the Erfahrung (contrary to Erlebnis), is not just a passing moment or a fragment of historical experience but it "accompanies one to the far reaches of time, [it] fills and articulates time" (Benjamin, 1940, p.331). Benjamin says that "[t]o perceive the aura of an object we look at means to invest it with the ability to look at us in return" (1940, p. 339). I understand this as being engaged with your surroundings. The historical context and rituals of the objects in your surroundings then accompany your own individual past and memory to make for a lasting experience.


Place and non-place Non-place is a term coined by the French anthropologist Marc Augé in 1992. According to him a space which cannot be defined as relational, historical or concerned with identity should be called a non-place (Augé, 1995, pp. 77-78). For him, “[this world] where people are born in clinic and die in hospital, where transit points and temporary abodes are proliferating under luxurious or inhuman conditions (hotel chains and squats, holiday clubs and refugee camps […])”, is a world “surrendered to solitary individuality, to the fleeting, the temporary and ephemeral” (Augé, 2005, p. 78). In this we see a lot of similarities, again, with the ideas of Walter Benjamin and the Situationist movement. The hybrid space theory I shortly addressed in the beginning of this article seems to undermine the theory of non-place. A place may be geographically devoid of meaning, but the virtual layer, tied to the place through its experience, certainly is not. Above all, the experience of hybrid space via media art is localized and flexible, but not fleeting. The Yellow Art project, where people make alternative routes for people to go and explore the city through yellow arrow stickers, gives the non-place back a dose of uniqueness and personality. Everywhere where the cautious eye looks around in big cities like Berlin or New York, the Yellow Arrows are to be found, unfolding new geographical information about that place and directing the user to the next place. Manovich is also saying that in our time of hybrid space, we can no longer hold on to the dichotomy Augé makes between place and non-place: [T]he physical space now contains many more dimensions than before, and while from the phenomenological perspective of the human subject, the “old” geometric dimensions may still have the priority, from the perspective of technology and its social, political, and economic uses, they are no longer more important than any other dimension. - Manovich, 2005, p. 8 One of these dimensions can be seen as the virtual layer, filled in with more and more information as time progresses.

The non-institutionalized practices that we can find in the urban landscape, whether these are digital or actual, they all reside in the hybrid space. One of these practices is participating in media art projects such as Urban Tapestries or Yellow Arrow, for they can both excavate and enrich the layers of experience that weave together in our everyday lives (Lane, 2003). These spatial practices are made more diverse by hybrid space; adding a dimension to the physical space and bringing back Erfarhung and place to the urban landscape. As Manovich says: “[E]very point in space has a particular value on a possible continuum” (Manovich, 2005, p. 9). I believe the post-modern city can be captured in a single gestalt when we look at it through the perception of media art. These different ‘values’ in the continuum can be constituted by someone who, aware of his/her surroundings, takes mobile locative media to a high priority while exploring everyday life in the city. For in these times, as Souza e Silva argued, we can no longer hope to settle for multiple experiences of the same place that has multiple layers. For these layers are, at one time, all perceived as one. ■


Arrow, Y. (2005, January 30). Yellow Arrow Overview. Retrieved March 28, 2012, from Yellow Arrow: http://yellowarrow.net/v3/about.html Augé, M. (1995). Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. Verso: New York. Benjamin, W. (1999 [1940]). On Some Motifs of Baudelaire. In M. Jennings, Selected Writings: 1927-1934, Volume 2 (pp. 313-355). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Bolter, J. & Grusin, R. (2000). Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. DeCerteau, M. (1984). Chapter VII: Walking the City. In M. DeCerteau, Practice of Everyday Life (pp. 102-112). Berkely: University of California Press. Crang, M. & Graham, S. (2007). Sentient Cities: Ambient Intelligence and the Politics of Urban Space. In: Information, Communication & Society Vol. 10, No. 6, December 2007, pp. 789-817. New York: Routledge Ito, M., Okabe , D., & Anderson, K. (2009). Portable Objects in Three Global Cities: The Personalization of Urban Places. In S. Campbell, & R. Ling, The reconstruction of space and time: mobile communication practices (pp. 67-87). New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers. Kluitenberg, E. (2006). The Network of Waves: Living and Acting in a Hybrid Space. Open, 6-16. Lane, G. (2003). Urban Tapestries: wireless networking, public authoring and social knowledge. 4th Wireless World Conference. Cambridge, UK. Manovich, L. (2002). The poetics of augmented space: Learning from Prada. Retrieved March 28, 2012, from Manovich: http://manovich.net Merleau-Ponty, M. (1962 [1945]). Phenomenology of Perception. New York : Routledge. Murtola, A.-M. (2007). Commodification of experience in contemporary context. The Fifth Critical Management Studies Conference. Åbo.

Locative media art and urban perception
Media art is one of the ways in which the virtuality of a place (or the 'space of flows') can be made visible to its occupants. Like mentioned before in this article, the Situationists argued that the city is a playground for (media) artists, not avoiding the non-places. Media-art is often thought of as a tool to make urbanites more aware of one another and emphasize the sociability of a public space (Paul, 2008, p.216). We also saw that, in contrast to the common use of mobile technology to ‘cocoon’, media art has the potential for the user to break free and reengage with his surroundings. By doing this in a more social manner, we have found common ground in the ideas of DeCerteau and Benjamin, while discarding Merleau-Ponty and Augé, for their ideas do not seem to fit well into our post-modern understanding of urban hybrid space.


Nieuwdorp, E. (2005). The Pervasive Interface: Tracing the Magic Circle. DiGRA. Vancouver. Paul, C. (2008). Technologies of the Future: Mobile and locative media. In C. Paul, Digital Art (pp. 216-237). New York: Thames & Hudson. Proboscis. (2005, February 24). Urban Tapestries. Retrieved April 06, 2012, from Social Matrices: http:// research.urbantapestries.net/index.html Silva, A. d. (2006). From Cyber to Hybrid: Mobile Technologies as Interfaces of Hybrid Spaces. Space and Culture, 261-278. Simmel, Georg. (1903). The Metropolis and Mental Life. In: Gary Bridge and Sophie Watson, eds. The Blackwell City Reader. Oxford and Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002. (pp. 11-19) Tuters, M., & Varnelis, K. (2006, January 21). Beyond Locative Media. Retrieved September 26, 2011, from Networked Publics: http://networkedpublics.org/ locative_media/beyond_locative_media Wark, M. (2011). The Beach Beneath the Street: The Everyday Life and Glorious Times of the Situationist International. New York: Verso. Wirth, Louis. (1938). Urbanism as a Way of Life. The American Journal of Sociology, 44(1), 1-24.



Pervasive Gaming

Thomas van Doorn is also a Master student at University of Utrecht, specializing in New Media and Digital Culture. He has a strong interest in gamification, pervasive gaming and online communities and would like to contribute to this scientific domain in New Media Studies.

Playing in Urban Hybridity Pervasive Games in the Metropolis
By Thomas van Doorn

“[…] This alternative reality, is now returned. Using technology as the gateway. It will challenge you. It will disrupt your concept of what is real and what is not […]. Our battleground is where we live, our streets, our cities. Choose a side, defend your area. Gain control of your city and expand your influence […]. Shadow Cities, it’s a game, it’s real.” This sentence originates from the trailer of the location-based multiplayer game Shadow Cities1. In Shadow Cities urban spaces serve as the game space. This mobile game is a clear example of a pervasive game, which is able to “extend the gaming experience out into the real world, be it on city streets, […] or a living room” (Benford, et al., 2002, p. 54). The experience, when playing a game in the real world with a smartphone, is what makes pervasive gaming so different from playing a game on a fixed personal computer or game console. The mobile nature of pervasive games is unique in
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its ambivalent wavering between fantasy and reality when played (Nieuwdorp, 2005, p. 1). The first generation of digital videogames was compelled to a fixed personal computer, since then, playing videogames has changed.2 With the arrival of the third generation of mobile phones (3G), also called smartphones, the user `has the disposal over a personal mobile microcomputer. The addition of global positioning systems (GPS) in smartphones was important for the emergence of a new type of game: pervasive gaming. This type of gaming takes place simultaneously in the physical space and the digital space. Pervasive games thereby create different experiences than conventional games played on a personal computer. By taking a phenomenological point of view, this article illustrates how pervasive gaming changes the players’ experience3 of urban space. When playing pervasive games the familiar city transforms into a new, playful and meaningful space (Nieuwdorp, 2005). ›❯

Shadow Cities, developed by Grey Area and launched in 2011, is available on the iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad. When playing games on a personal computer, as player, you mainly interact with the computer screen. The screen in front of the player is where

the gameplay takes place and as player you are disconnected from physical space. Unlike these traditional games, pervasive games pitches the player in the physical space, which is also involved in the gameplay as opposed to conventional games which only focus on the virtual space. 3 The experience of the urban space as described in the article “Perception of Urban Landscapes and the Case of Media Art” by Daniële de Jonge (2012).



It becomes the playground or battleground in which the game takes place (Souza e Silva, 2006). This article is important for our understanding of the relationship between the player and the environment, which create interesting experiences in the backdrop of everyday life. Media Theorist Layla Gaye notes the potential of this technology to create different experiences with new forms of aesthetic practices: “Pervasive and locative technologies situate computing into the physical and social world. […] In the scale of a city, pervasive and locative technologies can open up for new ways of engaging with everyday urban environments by turning existing urban features and infrastructures into physical resources for interaction: the very physicality of the everyday world around us can be exploited as an interface and be filled with new social meaning and aesthetic values.” - Gaye, 2005, n.p. As a case study the pervasive location-based game Shadow Cities will be applied to provide some proper examples. This smartphone application is able to illustrate how pervasive gaming influences the players’ perception of urban space, because it takes place in-between the virtual and physical space, and therefore confuses the traditional dichotomy between virtual and physical space. This article is going to find out what is causing the urban space to change into a playground, as suggested by Souza e Silva. In order to do so, in the first section it will be discussed how pervasive gaming brakes the traditional dichotomy between physical and virtual space. Secondly, a discussion will present how this dichotomy enfolds in a hybrid space according to Souza e Silva. In this section, Shadow Cities will be used to address the manner in which pervasive games take place between the physical and virtual space and how it influence players’ perception of urban space. In addition, in a next paragraph the importance of changing social relationships will be disclosed. Finally, through a focus on the interface, deriving from the notion of Eva Nieuwdorp, the last paragraph will show how mental shifts provide a change of players’ perception. It is this changing of the players’ perception that appears to be the overarching answer to the question how the urban space changes into a playground.

whereby its relation to the physical world no longer matters. The metaphor of ‘cyberspace’ -which remains a term with multiple meanings (Simons, 2002)- also contains and introduces a strong dichotomy between the physical and virtual.4 In this view cyberspace exists as an independent world from the real world. By entering this world, we as users, leave our physical bodies behind so we are able to exceed the boundaries which are present in reality. Virtual reality appears to be an example of this isolated and simulated world, which takes place apart from the physical world, where our material existence is no longer relevant (Lister et al., 2003, p. 34-7; 107-9). Gradually this dualistic thinking between the virtual and real world is diminishing in postmodern theories about space and new media.5 Stephen Graham, professor in Human Geography, even states that thinking in dichotomies is no longer appropriate, because the virtual and the physical space have become interrelated: “[…] separating them today makes no sense. One is not virtual whilst the other is real. Rather, cities, bodies, physical flows and ICT exchanges are socially shaped in combination, in parallel together. They are combined ensembles. They recursively interact and mutually constitute each other.” - Graham, 2004, p. 18 Adriana de Souza e Silva, professor of Communication, shares this notion. In the article “From Cyber to Hybrid: Mobile Technologies as Interfaces of Hybrid Spaces” Souza e Silva describes that with the arrival of microcomputers we as users can no longer address the disconnection between physical and digital spaces (2006, p. 262). As a pervasive gamer you will not perceive this distinction anymore, because the two spaces are intertwined. When playing a pervasive game, like Shadow Cities, the application adds an imaginary layer to the city. With the interfering technology, the awareness of the physical environment doesn’t disappear, but it changes (Manovich, 2005 in de Jonge, 2012, p. 4). Through creating an imaginary layer, the virtual space merges with reality (which will be further explored in the next paragraph). New media, like location-based smartphone applications such as Shadow Cities or Layar (De Haan, 2012) provide us with new meanings, but they also enhance our capability to enter virtual spaces in the everyday environment. According to Wojciech Kalaga, professor Literacy Theory and English literature, the virtuality has always been there, but the accessibility to virtuality has increased with the arrival of smartphones (2003, p. 100). As player you don’t have to sit behind the fixed screen of a computer to access the virtual. Pervasive games are no longer confined to the virtual domain of the computer, but integrate the physical and social aspects of the real world (Magerkurth et al., 2005, p. 2).›❯

Breaking the dichotomy
It has been a long-term tradition to think in a dichotomous way about virtual space and the material or physical world. Science-fiction writer William Gibson mentioned the intangible abstract place with the metaphor cyberspace (1984). The main paradox in his idea of cyberspace is the assumption that there is a digital or virtual world,


The dichotomy between the digital and physical space can be defined with the term digital dualism. This concept describes the trend of making a distinction between digital and

physical spheres (Jurgenson, 2012, p. 83-5). 5 For example postmodern literary critic N. Katherine Hayles notes in a more philosophical consideration the breaking of this dichotomous thinking, by assuming a more interrelated approach. (2002, p. 298-304). Another example is given by social media theorist Nathan Jurgenson, who states that digital and physical enmesh to form an augmented reality. Smartphone technologies and social media have the power of both physical space and networked digitality and therefore deny the digital dualism (Jurgenson, 2012).


Everyday life and the virtual become interrelated. Instead of an individual fixed place, mobile communication, according to Mark Poster, enable and promote a more fluid, multiple and fragmented relation to space (2004, n.p.).6 Smartphones offer users the ability to inhabit several places at the same time, “space becomes nearby and distant at once” (Poster, 2004, n.p.). While a player talks to a non-player besides him in the real world, he can simultaneously take down a spirit as mage in Shadow Cities. Through the mobility of a player’s mobile device the physical and digital space are blurring in the social environment of everyday life. Souza e Silva describes this merging space, between the virtual and physical, as a hybrid space. This hybrid space is characterized by the mobility of users and the social practices that arise, due to the contact between physical and virtual space. In the next section this hybrid space will be connected to the central case in this article: Shadow Cities.

Figure 1: Map of actual location of the player enriched with virtual additions (Shadow Cities)

Merging Spaces
The emergence of smartphones with 3G has contributed to the possibility of being perpetually connected to digital spaces. With a mobile phone we are literally able to carry the internet everywhere we go (Souza e Silva, 2006, p. 263). Because pervasive gamers are always connected when traveling through the city, their experience of urban space transforms. Players encounter the present context of daily life as well as the added virtual remote context from their smartphone (Sousa e Silva, 2006, p. 262).

Shadow Cities is an example of a location-based pervasive game which uses both the context of psychical space as well as virtual space (added through a virtual layer). With regard to Shadow Cities, a player is presented a map of his actual location, reminiscent of location-based applications like Google Maps. Additionally Shadow Cities adds a virtual game layer over this infrastructure, visualized on the screen of the smartphone (figure 1). This game layer consists of the location of the player himself and those of other players, but also shows information about experience points, ‘mana power’ and ‘spirits’ which can be hunted by the player. The character being played is presented as a tree figure, which serves as a simple avatar. To control this character, as player, you have to move in physical space. The GPS connection of the smartphone records the exact location of you as player and will be displayed on the screen. Movements made by the player in the city instantly affect the location of the digital avatar on the screen. Shadow Cities illustrates how physical space and virtual space are actually merging when playing a pervasive game on a mobile device. As player you are simultaneously inhabiting physical space and digital space, which both affect each other. By making movements in physical space, spirits or other enemies arise and can be chased down in the digital space through performing spells. The third generation of mobile telecommunication technology provides wide-area wireless internet access for players of pervasive games.7 Souza e Silva states that due to this ever-present connection users do not perceive physical and digital space as separate entities (2006, p. 262). When playing Shadow Cities, players are constantly in touch with both the physical space as well as the digital space. While the boundary between virtual and physical space merges, players’ awareness of the physical space increases. The player is faced with the actual street names, and becomes more aware of his position in the urban space. According to Jay David Bolter, professor of New Media, smartphone applications should be considered as hybrid, because they constitute a mixed reality (2006, p. 109). The term mixed reality (Milgram and Colquhoun, 1999) is very similar to the term hybrid space used by Souza e Silva, because both concepts presume connections between physical and digital spaces.8 Nevertheless the concept of hybrid space also differs from mixed reality, as the latter refers mainly to the overlay of graphic digital information on physical reality. Despite this technological emphasis, Bolter’s notions are useful in this article, because he recoils the dualistic thinking between physical and virtual space (Souza e Silva, 2006, p. 264-5). Hybrid space -or mixed reality- according to Bolter does not separate a user from his or her physical (and social) environment (2006, p. 109). ›❯


The term heterotopias refers to this multiplicity and dispersion of the mediatized and non-mediatized spaces. Philosopher Michel Foucault uses this term to describe spaces that

have more layers of meaning or relationships to other places than immediately meet by the eye. For example, when we make a phone call, we are simultaneously in a physical and a mental space, something which occurs continuously when playing a pervasive game in everyday life (Foucault, 1984). 7 Although this magazine and also the title of Shadow Cities indicates that this pervasive game could merely be played in urban spaces, this actually depends on the internet connection. Basically, this game could be played at any location, as long as there is a connection between the mobile device and the internet. 8 Mixed reality describes a reality somewhere on the continuous spectrum between the real and the virtual environment (Souza e Silva, 2004, p. 153). This term illustrates the combination of the two worlds (Hinske et al 2007, p. 25).


He states that most screen-based applications (like computer games) seek to transport the user into a seamless virtual world. A pervasive game like Shadow Cities delivers digitally generated text, graphics and sound into the user's world at appropriate points. By blurring the physical and digital space, Shadow Cities enhances or reconfigures the players immediate relationship to the world (Bolter, 2006, p. 109). This hybrid space allows players to use the city space as the game board which changes players’ perception of his or her surrounding space (Souza e Silva, 2006, p. 266). By adding virtual elements to everyday life, new possibilities for experiencing the real world become available.9 For example in Shadow Cities, a player might want to pass Utrecht Central Station, because at this particular location he has encountered enemy dominators10 that should be destroyed. The familiar space of a train station is then transformed into a new and unexpected environment through the addition of virtual extensions (Souza e Silva, 2006, p. 272).

Social encounters in mixed realities
When playing Shadow Cities, a player is not only confronted with virtual extensions like spirits or dominators on his smartphone screen. A hybrid space arises through “the connection of mobility and communication and is materialized by social networks [which are] developed simultaneously in physical and digital spaces” (Souza e Silva, 2006, p. 265). For the change of players’ perception the social environment is also important, because other players and non-players inhabit the playground where the game takes place. Pervasive gamers are able to socialize with other players in their surroundings, who have become visible through the virtual screen on their smartphone. Seen as hybrid space, a smartphone does not take its users out of the physical space (Manovich, 2002, p.11 in De Jonge, 2012, p. 4), as has been suggested by scholars who have studied mobile devices (Gergen, 2002; Plant, 2001; Puro, 2002 in Souza e Silva, 2006, p. 270). Unlike games played on a fixed personal computer, the physical location a player inhabits when playing Shadow Cities, plays an important role. When travelling through a city, a player might encounter a friendly or a hostile player, while without playing Shadow Cities it would just be a regular anonymous city dweller. It connects people who previously did not know each other. During pervasive gaming they are able to get in touch through the intervention of a virtual layer. Every human being becomes a potential friend or foe, which changes the perception of the social environment in the urban space.

For example, when entering a crowded public domain, a player should consider the movements he makes, because he might get in touch with enemies. A player may easily come across several potential enemies compared to suburbs or rural, less populated spaces, which form safer grounds. This physical awareness while playing a game is different compared to conventional computer games.11 This enhances the relationship a player has with his physical space, because the position in physical space plays an important role in the context of a pervasive game. Pervasive games establish a virtual social environment, created through, and based on the mobility of players in the physical space. Before players alter their social relations on other citizens, and change their perception through virtual additions as described before, players need to make a mental shift. To further address how a pervasive game like Shadow Cities alters the perception of a player it is important to address the interface. According to Eva Nieuwdorp, researcher Media  and Cultural  Studies, an interface acts as an intermediary between the player and the technology, which helps to find the border between the physical and virtual space (2006, p. 2). Through a focus on the interface it is possible to learn about the changing social conventions or mental shifts players make from everyday life to the game. These form the foundation for changing perceptions of urban space and turn it into a playground.


Mental Shifts
According to Souza e Silva interfaces define our perception of the space we inhabit (Souza e Silva 2006, p. 261). They are communication mediators, representing information between two parts, which goal is to make them meaningful to one another (Broeckmann, 2004; Johnson, 1997; Lévy, 1993). Applied in theories about digital games or human computer interaction, the interface is often viewed as the fixed screen12 (Johnson, 1997; Manovich, 2001). Where the interface becomes the primarily graphical overlay, through which players lose themselves in virtual reality. However, this technological based notion for interface is not sufficient when considering pervasive games, because the virtual performance is no longer dominated by the screen alone (Nieuwdorp, 2005). As stated earlier in this article, pervasive games take place in a hybrid space. That is why pervasive games require a different approach to the concept of interface: “[…] the social and geographical surroundings the technology is used in are now open to change due to the mobility of the player. The game world may be generated by ubiquitous computing, but the player interacts with it through more than just his/her PDA or mobile phone.” - Nieuwdorp, 2005, p. 3-4 ›❯


Souza e Silva illustrates this by describing a mobile location-based game experience. While searching for a nice café, in an unknown part of Stockholm, a pervasive gamer of

Botfighters and his girlfriend searched in particular for a place where they could have a picnic, but also destroy a certain bot (Mobile Killers 2001 in Souza e Silva, 2006, p. 271). 10 A dominator is a virtual presented spiky tower in Shadow Cities. These towers are established on fixed locations in the virtual space, connected to a particular physical space. 11 Although players generally not actually meet in real-life, the virtual interface does spot the location of other players in their surroundings. A player becomes more aware of its own location and the location of other players. When playing, an online shooter behind a desktop computer, as player you might only know from which country your teammate is, because his actual place does not matter in the context of the game.. 12 The interface seen as a translucent membrane, an intermediary or border zone, which translates digital signs into actual player experience (Nieuwdorp, 2005, p. 3).


A pervasive game like Shadow Cities takes place in an already existing environment with its own social relations and cultural conventions. When playing a pervasive game a player is confronted with new conventions that need to be added to the already familiar conventions of everyday life. The concept of the ‘magic circle’ by Historian Johan Huizinga, often cited in theoretical literature about videogames, illustrates the relation between the game world and the environment outside of it and how conventions and meanings are created (1995). The magic circle is described by Huizinga as designating a “temporary world within the ordinary world, dedicated to the performance of an act apart” (1995, p. 10). According to Salen and Zimmerman, who applied the concept magic circle to digital games, playing a computer game means entering the magic circle (2003, p. 95). When entering this metaphorical circle, while playing a pervasive game, the semiotics13 of everyday life change (Nieuwdorp, 2005). For example when playing Shadow Cities, the semiotics of the game change the perception for the player. This illustrates how a shopping mall can turn into a battleground, where spirits can be captured. But also how a pervasive gamer can see other non-players as potential enemies, because new meanings and conventions are created when a player steps into this metaphorical magic circle. The magic circle can be seen as a permeable membrane (Nieuwdorp, 2005, p. 6); it not only selects, but also transforms and modifies what is passed through. Nieuwdorp uses the term liminal interface14 to describe the mind of the player, where she refers to the status of the interface as threshold. This threshold illustrates the semiotic switch made by a player to step from the everyday life into the semiotic domain of the pervasive game (Nieuwdorp, 2005, p. 8). This means that an interface is not only located in hard- and software, but also in the mind of a player. In order to make pervasive gaming meaningful, the player must shift his or her mental state. This implies that a player changes the relationship between an object and its accepted conventional meaning in everyday life (Nieuwdorp, 2005, p. 5). Meaningfulness is created in the mind of the player, through a reinterpretation of relations between objects. Acts conducted in Shadow Cities, like attacking a dominator, can only make sense for a player when they are considered as meaningful. According to Kalaga the virtual can be seen as something mental. Although “objects are material […], relations between them are virtual” (Kalaga, 2003, p. 98), which indicates that meaningfulness occurs through the creation of mentally and socially constructed relations between objects and their observers. According to the notion of Nieuwdorp, the change of perception happens in the mind of the player.


“When playing a pervasive game a player is confronted with new conventions that need to be added to the already familiar conventions of everyday life”

Nieuwdorp states that while making this mental shift a player switches between the paraletic interface –where a player leaves the traditional conventions of the everyday environment- into a paraludic interface. This paraludic interface ensures players to accept the new conventions that exist in the world of the pervasive game (Nieuwdorp, 2005, p. 10). In the statements made by Nieuwdorp, a particular border zone can be recognized in shifting between the conventions of both spaces. When stepping into the magic circle of a pervasive game the conventions of everyday life are interchanged, implying that playing a game is something different from ordinary life (Huizinga, 1995). Pervasive games are played in the everyday environment filled with familiar conventions and regulations. When playing a pervasive game additional rules and conventions are added, but they won’t exchange the already present conventions entirely, as assumed by the concept magic circle. For example, when playing Shadow Cities the interface won’t show traffic lights and crowded crossings, but a player should still keep track of these everyday conventions, otherwise it might result in a dangerous situation. This illustrates how the conventions of a pervasive game meddle with everyday conventions. The conventions of both domains become entangled with each other. Annie Gentes et al. describe in the article “Gaming on the Move: Urban Experience as a New Paradigm for Mobile Pervasive Game Design” how pervasive games change the behaviour of players (2010, n.p.). Gentes et al. state that pervasive games “take away the sacred aura” of our relationship to the city. Normally, cities are governed by rules that organize our relationship to the city, like a red traffic light which indicates a pedestrian to stop. ›❯


Nieuwdorp describes the semiotics of a videogame as the meanings constructed in the game world. This world can be seen as separate domain from the semiotics of everyday life.

The semiotics, itself, as described by linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, inscribe the relation between the signifier (a sign) and the signified (the added meaning) (De Saussure, 1974). 14 A liminal interface refers also to the concept liminality coined by Victor Turner. Liminality, from the Latin word līmen, which means a threshold. It is a psychological, neurological or metaphysical subjective state, of being on the border between two different existential planes. It refers to the moment of transition, the in-betweenness, in switching from everyday life to the conventions of a pervasive game with new symbols and meanings (Turner, 1979, 465-499).



While playing a pervasive game, for example, running – not for the fear of being late- has acquired legitimacy through the context of the game (Gentes et al., n.p.).15 As described above this becomes problematic when propriety norms or safety becomes threatened. “Games should be designed to cause the least social disruption possible while still providing a manageably exciting interactive experience for those who have chosen to play”, according to Jane Evelyn McGonigal, Doctor of Philosophy in Performance Studies (2006, p. 64). Playing a pervasive game changes players’ perception and social relationship to urban space through making a mental shift. While turning urban space into a hybrid playground, players will still have to keep in mind everyday conventions.

This playground takes place in a hybrid space, where the virtual and physical space constantly confluence together through the blurring of conventions, social relations and virtual extensions related to physical urban space. In future research it might be interesting to further elaborate how a playground can obtain a hybrid form, and could be considered as a hybrid playground. ■

Benford, Steve, Carsten, Magerkurth and Peter Ljungstrand. (2005). Bridging the Physical and the Digital in Pervasive Gaming. Communications of the ACM, 48(3), 54-57. Bolter, David Jay. (2006). The Desire for Transparency in an Era of Hybridity. Leonardo. 39(2), 109-111. Broeckmann, Andreas. 2004. Public Spheres and Network Interfaces. In Stephen Graham (Ed.), The Cybercities Reader (pp. 378-383). New York: Routledge. De Haan, Marilou. (2012). The Flâneur in the Age of Augmented Reality: A Paradox by Layar in Postmodern Times. Mediated Metropolis. De Jonge, Daniëlle. (2012). Perception of Urban Landscapes and the Case of Media Art. Mediated Metropolis. De Saussure, Ferdinand. (1974). Course in General Linguistics. London: Harper Collins. Foucault, Michel. (1984). Of Other Spaces (1967), Heterotopias. Architecture/Mouvement/Continuité October 5. Retrieved March 30, 2012, from http:// f o u c a u l t . i n f o / d o c u m e n t s / h e t e r o To p i a / foucault.heteroTopia.en.html. Gaye, Layla. (2005). Mapping New Media to Physical Urban Space: Strategies and Challenges for Everyday Creativity. Viktoria. Retrieved March 8, 2012, f r o m h t t p : / / w w w. v i k t o r i a . s e / ~ l a l y a / t e x t s / Gaye_PLAN_ICA.pdf. Gentes,  Annie, Guyot-Mbodji, Aude and Isabelle Demeure. (2010). Gaming on the move: urban experience as a new paradigm for mobile pervasive game design. Multimedia Systems, 16(1): 43-55. Gibson, William. (1984). Neuromancer. New York: Ace Books. Graham, Stephen. (2004). Introduction: From Dreams of Transcendence to the Remediation of Urban Life. In Stephen Graham (Ed.), The Cybercities Reader (pp. -). London: Routledge. Hayles, Katherine N. (2002). Flesh and Metal: Re c o n fi g u r i n g t h e M i n d b o d y i n Vi r t u a l Environments. Configurations, 10(2), 297-320. Hinske, Steven, Lampe, Matthias, Magerkurth, Carsten, Röcker, Carsten. (2007). Classifying Pervasive Games: On Pervasive Computing and Mixed Reality. In Magerkurth Carsten and Carsten Röcker (Eds.), Concepts and Technologies for Pervasive Games: A Reader for Pervasive Gaming Research (pp. 11-37). Aachen: Shaker Verlag. Huizinga, Johan. (1955). Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture. Boston MA: Beacon Press.

Through playing a pervasive game like Shadow Cities virtual extensions are added to everyday life. Enhancements such as virtual spirits or dominators are presented on the smartphone screen and are linked to the physical space. These virtual extensions reconfigure a players’ relationship to the physical world by taking place between the virtual and physical space. Pervasive games transform the city into a new, playful and meaningful space where new possibilities for experiencing the real world become available. When playing a pervasive game like Shadow Cities, social relationships also change. Other players, previous invisible and anonymous city dwellers, can become potential enemies or friends. Through the intervention of a virtual layer, Shadow Cities allows players to get in contact with formerly unknown citizens. Players change their movements in order to confront or dodge other players, what turns the physical location inhabited by a player into something important. Thereby players become more aware of their surroundings. This is different compared to conventional computer games, where only the virtual space matters to the player. A virtual social environment is established, created through, and based on the mobility of players in the physical space. It is not only through the interface located in the hard- and software and the social environment that the actual perception changes. The change of a players’ perception occurs through making a mental shift, which takes place in the mind of the player. This mental shift, can be seen as a permeable membrane or liminal interface. This liminal interface enables a player to accept the game world as an omnipresent, persistent and consistent universe in which everything is part of the game (Nieuwdorp, 2005, p. 10). Played in the everyday environment, filled with already familiar conventions, a pervasive game does not mean that these everyday conventions and social rules are completely exchanged. A pervasive gamer will continuously make mental shifts to adopt proper conventions, to make the game meaningful. Through making a mental shift, balancing between real-life and virtual conventions, a player can turn his or her neighborhood into a playground.

The legitimacy to run while playing a pervasive game is strongly present in the game MapAttack (2011). This game turns a neighborhood into a virtual game board for multiple

players at the same time. In this game players need to run through several digital points to gain a high score. A game session proceeds in a arranged time span, so players should run as fast as possible.


Johnson, Steven. (1997). Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms the Way we Create and Communicate. San Francisco: Harper. Jurgenson, Nathan. (2012). When Atoms Meet Bits: Social Media, the Mobile Web and Augmented Revolution. Future Internet, 4, 83-91. Retrieved March 3 0 , 2 0 1 2 , f r o m h t t p : / / w w w. m d p i . c o m / 1999-5903/4/1/83/. Kalaga, Wojciech. (2003). The Trouble with the Virtual. Symploke, 11(1-2), 96-103. Lévy, Pierre. (1993). As Tecnologias da Inteligência (The Technologies of Intelligence): O Futuro do Pensamento na Era da Informática. Rio de Janeiro : Editora 34. Lister, Martin, Dovey Jon, Giddings, Seth, Grant, Iaian and Kieran Kelly. (2003). New Media: A Critical Introduction. London: Routledge. Magerkurth, Carsten, Cheok Adrian David, Mandryk Regan and Trond Nilsen. (2005). Pervasive Games: Bringing Computer Entertainment Back to the Real World. ACM Computers in Entertainment, 3(3),1-19. Re t r i eve d M a rch 3 0 , 2 0 1 2 , f ro m h t t p : / / vislab.cs.vt.edu/~quek/Classes/Aware % 2 B E m b o d i e d I n t e r a c t i o n / PA P E R S / MagCMNl05.pdf. Manovich, Lev. (2001). The Language of New Media. Cambridge MA/London: MIT Press. Re t r i eve d M a rch 3 0 , 2 0 1 2 , f ro m h t t p : / / www.manovich.net/LNM/Manovich.pdf. McGonigal, Evelyn Jane. (2006) This Might Be a Game: Ubiquitous Play and Performance at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century. Retrieved March 30, 2012, from http://www.antiboredom.org/uploads/ McGonigal_THIS_MIGHT_BE_A_GAME_sm.pdf. Milgram, Paul and Herman Colquhoun. (1999). A Taxonomy of Real and Virtual World Display Integration. In Ohta, Yuichi and Hideyuki Tamura (Eds.), Mixed Reality: Merging Real and Virtual Worlds (pp. 5-28). New York: Springer. Nieuwdorp, Eva. (2005). The Pervasive Interface: Tracing the Magic Circle. DiGRA. Retrieved March 30, 2012, from http://www.digra.org/dl/db/06278.53356.pdf. Poster, Mark. (2004). Digitally Local Communications: Technologies and Space. The Global and the Local in Mobile Communication: Places, Images, People, Connections (pp. -). Budapest -. Salen, Katie and Eric Zimmerman. (2003). Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Cambridge: The MIT Press. Simons, Jan. (2002). Interface en Cyberspace: Inleiding in de Nieuwe Media. Amsterdam: University Press. Souza e Silva, Adriana de. (2006). From Cyber to Hybrid: Mobile Technologies as Interfaces of Hybrid Spaces. Space and Culture, 9(3), 261-78. Souza e Silva, Adriana de. (2004). From Multiuser Environments as (Virtual) Spaces to (Hybrid) Spaces as Multiuser Environments: Nomadic Technology Devices and Hybrid Communication Places. Rio de Janeiro: UFRJ/CFCH/ECO. Retrieved March 30, 2012, from http://www.souzaesilva.com/research/ phd/SouzaeSilva_Dissertation.0510.pdf.


Souza e Silva, Adriana de. (2004). From Multiuser Environments as (Virtual) Spaces to (Hybrid) Spaces as Multiuser Environments: Nomadic Technology Devices and Hybrid Communication Places. Rio de Janeiro: UFRJ/CFCH/ECO. Retrieved March 30, 2012, from http://www.souzaesilva.com/research/ phd/SouzaeSilva_Dissertation.0510.pdf. Turner, Victor. (1979). Frame, Flow and Reflection: Ritual and Drama as Public Liminality. Japanese Journal of Reiligious Studies, 6(4), 465-499.

MapAttack. 2011. Geoloqi Platform. Version: iPhone. http://mapattack.org/. Shadow Cities. 2011. Grey Area Ltd, Helsinki, Finland. Version: iPhone. http://www.shadowcities.com/.


The Flâneur
Marilou de Haan is also in her first year of the master New Media and Digital Culture. Her interest lies with augmented reality, modern art and especially the intertwining of these two concepts.

The Flâneur in the Age of Augmented Reality A Paradox by Layar in Postmodern Times
By Marilou de Haan

"The old man," I said at length, "is the type and the genius of deep crime. He refuses to be alone. He is the man of the crowd. It will be in vain to follow, for I shall learn no more of him, nor of his deeds. The worst heart of the world is a grosser book than the 'Hortulus Animae,' and perhaps it is but one of the great mercies of God that "er lasst sich nicht lesen." - Poe, 1840, n.p. This quote from Edgar Allan Poe is derived from his short story called The Man of the Crowd, and is often cited as one of the first occurrences of the flâneur in the history of literature. The flâneur was introduced as the representation of an observer of modernity, someone who reflects on the major changes that where occurring in the 19th century. The first appearance of a concept is always hard to prove, but who was well known for using the flâneur was poet and art critic Charles Baudelaire. Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, Baudelaire was a pioneering

translator of Edgar Allan Poe and also cites The Man of the Crowd in the beginning of his argument on the flâneur (Baudelaire, 1964, p. 7). The ontology of the flâneur however, is not the central topic for this article. The concept as proposed by Baudelaire in 1863 is still cited today, but the conditions have of course changed. We no longer talk about modernity and have moved on towards postmodernity. The city we navigate through and the technologies we encounter today have also changed a lot in one and a half century. So what does this do to our well-known object-to-think-with the flâneur? Does it still comprise all the values it used to do, back in the days? This article tries to find an answer to the question how the concept of the flâneur relates to technologies in postmodern times that have a rather large influence on the city, as illustrated in the other articles in this journal. More specifically it revolves around how the concept relates to augmented reality (AR). To do so, the flâneur will be approached from the perspective of two wide-set uses of the same augmented reality browser: Layar. ›❯


These applications will be studied in a later part on their applicability for flânerie; how do they interfere with strolling through the city? This will be done by an empirical phenomenological study of the functions of both layers. Before this, the concept of the flâneur will be explained from four different perspectives, in order to compare this to the use of augmented reality in the city. This comparison will show that on the one hand Layar increases the applicability of the concept of the flâneur, while on the other hand, with other layers, it is almost impossible to use; Layar provides us with a paradox concerning the flâneur in postmodern times. Eventually this will result in a review of the concept to see whether it requires a new approach, a new concept or a completely different interpretation. It is important to find out more about the relationship between the citizen and the city, and the influence of technology thereon. This can be of interest for urban planners or other decision-making bodies. Overall it is plainly interesting to see how this ‘old-school’ object-to-think-with persists in today’s society.


city that points out what houses are for sale and gives more information about these properties. As explained by one of Funda’s marketing managers, the application adds an extra dimension and is thereby supposed to bring the housing supply closer to its users (Lappain, 2010, n.p.). These two applications have quite a direct influence on the navigation of its users through the city, when, of course, the application is used. The influence is therefore in no way continuous, which makes the situation somewhat complicated when looking at its effects.

The flâneur through the eyes of different beholders
As stated at the beginning of this article, the concept of the flâneur is best known from the poet and art critic Charles Baudelaire. He was however not the only one to write about this subject. Other influential adoptions of the flâneur are those by Walter Benjamin, member of the Frankfurter Schule, situationist Guy Debord and the more recent concept of the phoneur by Robert Luke. The flâneur has a large and complex ontology; the concept has been used and changed many times. The reason why these four authors are chosen for this article is because they provide us with a diverse view on the concept of the flâneur. In this part these conceptions will be discussed more extensively. Baudelaire adopted the idea of the flâneur to describe the relationship between the spectator and the modern life. He starts his argument with Monsieur G. from the short story by Edgar Allen Poe, which he calls a ‘dandy’. However, he isn’t simply strolling through the city as an observer. The flâneur possesses a power to walk in free will, seemingly without purpose, but simultaneously with an inquisitive capacity to absorb the activities of ‘the crowd’ (Jenks, 2006, p. 146). Baudelaire creates an image of the ultimate stroller, with the possibilities to look at the city with child-like eyes. Because according to the author a child is always ‘drunk’, as he or she sees everything in a state of newness (Baudelaire, 1964, p. 8). As he states, his concept has an aim loftier than that of a mere flâneur: “He is looking for that quality which you must allow me to call ‘modernity’; for I know of no better word to express the idea I have in mind” (Baudelaire, 1964, p. 12). Eventually Baudelaire himself will become one of the foremost examples of his own concept. This is all put in motion by Walter Benjamin, the second adopter of the idea of the flâneur. For the German critic Walter Benjamin the flâneur wasn’t as ideal as Baudelaire made it to be. In modernity the looks of the city changed, large boulevards were built and massive shopping malls and passages replaced the small grocery stores. These changes where ignored by Baudelaire’s flâneur and capitalism and mass media shifted his1 gaze from contemplation to distraction (Featherstone, 1998, p. 915). Benjamin criticises the concept of Baudelaire by saying that the Paris he describes preserved some of the “features that dated to the happy old days” (Benjamin, 1999, p. 168). According to Benjamin the flâneur suffered from a veil by which he was unable to see the city the way it was. ›❯

The wide-set uses of Layar
Augmented reality has been given a more concrete implementation with the arrival of Layar in 2009. Through this augmented reality browser the user can look at AR objects ‘through’ the mobile phone. Because of the special relationship augmented reality offers with reality and virtuality, it is often hard to tell how these two domains are related. Looked at from the perspective of the reality-virtuality continuum, a scale to approach these types of technologies, reality is the primary quality of AR and virtuality the secondary (Milgram, Takemura, Utsumi & Kishino, 1994, p. 283). Because of this strong tendency AR has towards reality, it can also have a larger effect on its ‘real’ surroundings: the city. As stated in the introduction, there are two central applications (called layers) of Layar used in this article, namely UAR and Funda. UAR also has its own augmented reality application available for smartphones. However, for this research the Layar version was chosen to eliminate the possibility of variables, based on limitations by the software, in the comparison. These two augmented reality uses of the same application are different as night and day. They are deliberately chosen because AR has such a wide spread use. To look at the flâneur in the age of augmented reality, means to look at the flâneur from different perspectives concerning the use of this new technology. UAR stands for Urban Augmented Reality and is an application built by the Dutch architecture institute, NAI. It offers its user information about the buildings in the surroundings by adding text, images, archive material and movies (UAR, n.d., n.p.). The users get a 3D look into the past, the present, the future and the could-have-been. They do so by adding a layer with information and images to the surroundings through a smartphone. As the Layar blog states: “A truly immersive experience. A great example to show what AR is all about!” (Boonstra, 2010, n.p.). The Funda App on the other hand is built by the Dutch real estate agency Funda and adds a layer to the

1 The verb ‘he’ is intentionally, seeing as the flâneur was predominantly a male character in those days. More information about this can be found in the article by Featherstone, M. (1998).


According to Benjamin the flâneur observed the city as a phantasmagoric, in other words the flâneur’s view on the city was “clouded by the dream-factory vision encountered in the early entertainment industry” (Lauster, 2007, p. 141). Baudelaire viewed the flâneur as the botanist of the sidewalk, according to Benjamin he was actually the botanist of the asphalt (Benjamin, 1974, p.p. 34). The flâneur was no longer the enviable stroller, who was able to distance himself from the crowd to see the city as new, but he was a victim of modern times, blinded by the arrival of mass media. A later perspective that is more comparable to Baudelaire’s is offered by Guy Debord, who approached the flâneur from a Situationist perspective. He called this strolling through the city dériver. By accessing the rationale of the flâneur, Debord notes that strolling through the city is not entirely based on chance. Certain locations, which Debord calls attractions, may form a magnetic force for the deriver. Furthermore, cities “have psychogeographical contours, with constant currents, fixed points and vortexes that strongly discourage entry into or exit from certain zones” (Debord, 1958, p. 62). Other influences on dérive is the limitation of time, which is hard to escape from an according to Debord even the weather can have a positive of negative effect. In contrast to the ‘traditional’ flâneur dérive is most fruitful in numerical arrangements of up to four or five people (Debord, 1958, p. 64). The dérive was not a simple update of the 19th century flâneur, however they both move around the crowd without being one with it. The difference between the two concepts is the fact that for the situationists, the dérive was distinguished from flânerie by its “critical attitude toward the hegemonic scopic regime of modernity” (McDonough, 2004, p. 257). A more post-modernistic view on the concept of a strolling figure through the landscape, is that of the phoneur as introduced by Robert Luke in 2003. According to Luke the phoneur is the post-modern flâneur, in the form of a mobile phone user, strolling through the city (2003, p.4). The phoneur is attached to a machine in a “machine arrangement that produces social relations based on commodity production and consumption” (Luke, 2003, p. 9). A useful addition to the concept of the flâneur is that the phoneur has personal access to only that which he or she desires to see. In the substantiation of this property Luke borrows from the idea of “Daily Me” by Cass Sunstein (2001). Which entails the personalised web that filters out undesirable or unfavorable options. This changes the perception of the city into a city according to the personal point of view of the user (Luke, 2003, p.21). However, in this the phoneur is not at all free of commercialism. He or she wanders the city in search of meaning with flows of production and consumption.


Figure 1 UAR Homescreen in this case the square in front of Amsterdam central station, and without any purpose a walk through the city was started, guided by Layar. This part of the article shows the findings from this study complemented with a couple of screenshots from the application. First of all the similarities in both applications. The interface is fairly identical in both layers, the starting screen is a view of the location complemented with a radar showing the different Points of Interests (PoI) (figure 1&3). Next to this at the bottom of the screen there are several menu items: the possibility to change the view to a map or to give a list of the PoI, information/ settings and a button to share the found locations by email, social media or to take a screenshot. In all layers the points of interests appear in the screen as floating signs, the signs may vary with each application. After selecting certain PoI the user can ask the application to offer directions. This is not a functionality in Layar, but it opens Google Maps for this. Another possibility, after clicking the PoI, is to receive some additional information about the current location. This opens a fullscreen popup with the necessary details. The implementation of the menu may vary with certain layers. The UAR layer (figure 1) is created to offer the users a different view on the so well-known city they live in. Therefore the first logical difference compared to for example the Funda application is the option in the settings to choose between the present, past, future and the could-have-been (it is automatically set to the present). Another option, which appears in several layers besides UAR, is the ability to change the radius of action of the application, which is automatically set to 500m. Next to this the user can also choose to only look at 3D models while walking through the city and there is the possibility to enter a specific route or building for which a code is necessary. For an overview of the settings see image 2. ›❯

Mapping your augmented city
To make an analysis of to what extend both Layar applications interfere with strolling through the city, a small empirical phenomenological research has been deployed. The applications were started at a certain place in the city,


Figure 2 UAR Menu

The Funda layer (figure 3) is fairly similar to the UAR application, however it is stripped from a lot of functions. When opening the application there are immediately 50 PoI found, which appears to be the maximum amount possible with Layar. When clicking the information/ settings icon in the menu, there is only the possibility to read more about the application and to switch between homes for sale and rental object. The menu of the rentals function however, does not seem to work.

Strolling through layers
So what does this analysis of Layar do with the concept of the flâneur? The addition of PoI in general, makes sure that the user walks different routes than he or she would do without the application. However the influence on these locations is not fully based on chance. This corresponds with the image of the flâneur or dérive by Guy Debord, concerning the attractions in the city. The application also maintains the psychogeographical contours of the city, like Debord mentions in his essay. This is not entirely on purpose however, with most layers the PoI are located primarily around the city centre. This influences the limits of strolling through the city in accordance with the borders of the actual city. If we compare this to the original idea of the flâneur by Baudelaire, this general image of the influence of Layar does not persist. According to the poet and art critic the flâneur is supposed to walk in free will. Walking along with a mobile application, guided by the locations it highlights, cannot be seen as doing so. This means that looking at Layar in general does not seem to give conclusive evidence about the strolling figure through the city. Looking at the flâneur from a UAR-perspective results in a different picture. The ideas from for example Baudelaire get more or less confirmed.

Of course the free-will aspect remains the same, however the idea that the flâneur should walk without a certain purpose gets somewhat confirmed. There is no obligation or need involved when walking through the city looking at architecture. One might even say that the pace in which a user of the UAR application walks through the city gets reduced, which enhances flânerie. Next to this the idea of childlike eyes of Baudelaire also holds true for the UAR application. This image is mainly caused by the possibility the layer offers for looking at another reality, in terms of the past, future and could-have-been. The user literary looks at the city with “new” eyes. Still it can’t be said without doubt that this application is a perfect tool for the flâneur. As said, the free-will is still limited by it and next to this the idea of the crowd which is so important with flânerie, gets almost completely invisible. While walking through the city the user gets immersed in the screen of the mobile phone, this way he or she loses the connection with the crowd and the ability to absorb the activity of the crowd Baudelaire envisioned. On the other side the Funda application (and probably some other layers as well) would confirm the negative image Walter Benjamin had on the flâneur. The user gets a certain veil, caused by the commercial urge that is intertwined in the use of this application. He or she does not stroll the city seemingly without purpose; with this application it has become more or less a form of window shopping, like one would do on the large boulevards or passages that Benjamin despised so much. The commercial influence is also consistent with the idea of the phoneur. This specific concept is however not broad enough to cover the relationship between the flâneur and augmented reality, this will be further explained in the next part. So overall the Funda application does seem to make Layar improve the flâneur, however not in the way most others would approach the concept. ›❯


Figure 3 Funda Homescreen



It only seems to confirm the image Benjamin had, seeing as it does not improve the possibility to flânerie in any of the other mentioned ways.

“Not everybody uses AR (yet), so we can’t speak of an influence on the overall concept of the flâneur. However, concerning Layar this concept is proven to be unstable.”

There are possible concepts to make this work, for example in the form of the PoI stroller or flARneur, however giving an adequate description of such a concept is at this point impossible seeing as the situation with AR is caught up in a postmodern paradox; there does not seem to be unity on the subject of a strolling figure through the postmodern city. This might be caused by the newness of the medium and that it will take some time before a certain balance is achieved. AR is still at the beginning of its history, perhaps more commonly used applications will assure this balance. However, another possibility remains; that the concept of the flâneur is just too outdated to be applicable on postmodern conditions. ■

Anonymous. (n.d.). Zien wat er niet is UAR – Urban Augmented Reality. Nederlands Architectuurinstituut. From: http://www.nai.nl/uar. Baudelaire, C. (1964). The Painter of Modern Life & Other Essays. Mayne, J. (trans., ed.). London: Phaidon Press LTD. Benjamin, W. (1974). Charles Baudelaire: Ein Lyriker im Zeitalter des Hochkapitalismus. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Benjamin, W. (1999). Illuminations. Arendt, H. (ed.) Zorn, H. (trans.). London: Pimlico. Boonstra, C. (2010). UAR Urban Augmented Reality: experience the past, present and future. Augmented Reality Browser: Layar. via: http://www.layar.com/ blog/2010/06/30/uar-urban-augmented-realityexperience-the-past-present-and-future/. Debord, G. (1958). Theory of the Dérive. In: Internationale Situationiste 2, 62-66. Featherstone, M. (1998). The Flâneur, the City and Virtual Public Life. Urban Studies 35(5-6), 909-925. Jenks, C. (2006). Watching your Step: The History and Practice of the Flâneur. In: Jenks, C (ed.). Visual Culture. London: Routledge,142-160. Lauster, M. (2007). Walter Benjamin’s Myth of the Flâneur. Modern Language Review, 102(1), 139-156. Lapain, D. (2010). Funda Layar app: Huizen op je mobiel. Frankwatching. via: http:// www.frankwatching.com/archive/2010/04/29/ funda-layar-app-huizen-op-je-mobiel/. Luke, R. (2003). "The Phoneur: Mobile Commerce and the Digital Pedagogies of the Wireless Web." In Peter Trifonas, ed. Pedagogies of Difference. Routledge. Forthcoming. via: http://individual.utoronto.ca/ luke/articles/phoneur/Luke_The_Phoneur.pdf. McDonough, T. (2004). Situationist Space. In: McDonough, T (ed.). Guy Debord and the Situationist International, Cambridge: MIT Press, 241-265. Milgram, P., Takemura, H., Utsumi, A., Kishino, F. (1994). Augmented Reality: A class displays on the reality-virtuality continuum. SPIE 2351. 282-292. Poe, E. A. (1840). The Man of the Crowd. About.com, no name, no date. Via: http://classiclit.about.com/ library/bl-etexts/eapoe/bl-eapoe-man.htm.

The postmodern verdict
Considered all together it appears that Layar creates a paradox concerning the flâneur in postmodern times. Layar in general does both enhance as well as decrease the possibility to flânerie. Overall the UAR application offers its user the possibility to more or less stroll through the city, with a distance to see certain relationships. Which would enhance the concept of the flâneur, these relationships are however quite limited. With the Funda app the user is far-more bound to the suggestions the application offers. In choosing between these suggestions, quite some importance is placed on the commercial aspect. This only proves the image Benjamin sketched of Baudelaire’s flâneur and would mean that flânerie in general is negatively influenced by the Funda app. Should however the route or building function of the UAR application be used, the concept of the flâneur loses its meaning. The user would no longer stroll seemingly without purpose, but would use the application for a certain goal. This is immediately the overall problem with augmented reality and this widespread concept; the applicability is very fragile. Not everybody uses AR (yet), so we can’t speak of an influence on the overall concept of the flâneur. However, concerning Layar this concept is proven to be unstable. Overall the idea of the phoneur approaches the AR situation closest, especially with the idea of a personalised city, based on what the user wants to see. However, this is quite a limited concept and does not fully cover the load of the flâneur. A lot of the original purposes of the traditional concept are vanished, for example the crowd and the purposeless strolling. This means that another concept would be appropriate or that the concept of the phoneur should be broadened (although this concept has of course a strong connotation to the phone).


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