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Collection Spaþii Imaginate
Spaþii imaginate Series coordinator: Augustin Ioan English proofreader: Barbara Bartos Cover: Ionuþ Ardeleanu-Paici Photo credits: Claudia Robles - Konfluentia (2007). Sub-editing: Ameluþa Viºan Imagine copertã:
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Descrierea CIP a Bibliotecii Naþionale a României Artã, spaþiu ºi memorie în epoca digitalã / coord.: Tincuþa Heinzel. Bucureºti: Paideia, 2009 Bibliogr. ISBN 978-973-596-551-8 I. Heinzel, Tincuþa (coord.) 7
Editor Tincuþa Heinzel
ART, SPACE AND MEMORY IN THE DIGITAL ERA
Translators: Barbara Bartos, Patricia Comãnescu, Tincuþa Heinzel, Simona Klodnischi, Ancuþa Ionescu
Tincuþa Heinzel The revolution that took place in the consumption of electronics and digital communication devices in the second half of 20th Century compels us to speak of a real technological revolution. Digital technologies have become the common denominator of the way we represent and utilize different elements that compose our environment: sound, image, and information, thus creating a new model for understanding reality. They had a direct impact not only on the conditions of our everyday life and our models of social interaction, but they had induced changes in the way we represent and understand the world. The correlations that can be made between the different elements of the phenomenological environment and the interfaces that translate these correlations, the interactions that take place between the physical and virtual space involve a complex set of processes. The change they produced compels us to reconsider the conditions of our modern lives, while their potential demands to be explored. The speed with which all these technologies integrate into our daily life, the possibilities they offer, the utopias they generate, are part of a process in which creators and users constantly interact in defining and negotiating these new structures of everyday life. There is no wonder that the problems raised by the new media have been and will continue to be the subject of complex investigations. The approaches are diverse, as well. Not few of those asked to describe and 5
define the phenomenon, have referenced concepts and terms that were outlined in earlier studies of technique and its contexts. The influences of Walter Benjamin, Martin Heidegger, and Marshall McLuhan are enlightening at this point. It should not be neglected also, the association often made between the study of new media and the phenomenon of modernity. Precisely these types of associations have demanded some of the most complex approaches in the analysis of digital media. Interdisciplinarity has become mandatory. Borrowing concepts from different disciplines turned out to be a viable approach, as well. The separation of genres was often questioned; reorganizing the research methods and their institutional recognition are polemic issues. The social and political dimensions of the new media are often subject of theoretical research. If quantification has become the motif of modern times, then digitization is its most salient expression. If the Greek classical philosophy distinguished between téckhne and episteme, this relationship had been reformulated from a modern perspective. The complete reliance on instrumentation in science (Latour) and the mathematization of reality (Koyre) pushed the scientific explanation and production to become closely related in modern epistemology. The technology is not an imitation of nature any more, but an extension of it. The volume and the impact of scientific and technological research in our everyday life make it a cultural act. Today, technology and science are asked to push the frontiers of knowledge, while art is asked to mirror these new experiences. What can and should art and aesthetics do in these circumstances? Based on the presentations made during the conference Areas of Conflu(x)ence: Art, Technology and Space in the Digital Era, organized by the Association 2580 in Sibiu in the fall of 2007, the texts assembled here are questioning the relationship between art and technology in the current digital era, focusing on the impact of new media in our lives. The issues addressed during the conference, discuss the models of perceiving and understanding this new environment. If the tools we use have an influence on the way we deal with our environment, are we using them at their fullest potential? What traps are to be avoided? What 6
do we expect from technology? Should the new technologies be a matter of concern? If the proposed area of exploration was wide, from the existence of the virtual space, to the creation and organization of databases; from the surveillance of the internet and of the public spaces, to the liberty of expression and the promotion of open source software; from the digitization of cultural patrimony, to the integration of experimental methods into artistic creation the conference tried, to present different current theoretical positions related to these issues. The studies presented here can be divided into two groups. We find texts that are debating the framework of our existential structures and sensibilities, seen through the current framework of technological impact. The other group tries to quantify the precise experience gained from diverse artistic and technical projects. Whether descriptive, analytical, or even polemic, the texts gathered here try to identify the role of art and aesthetics in contemporary society, to question the forms they take, or to propose new ways for their future interaction. Using as a starting point the abundant innovations in imaging and communication devices produced today, Bogdan Ghiu discusses the concept of visibility and the way it defines reality. If modernity has always tried to adjust and correct the way things have become visible, today democratic transparency and generalized visibility lead to an uncontrollable irrepressible generalization of control. If in the past there were only insular visible aspects, today they seem to be out of control. The subject proposed by Bogdan Ghiu tries to clarify how a pertinent significant act can be realized in the current media-overwhelmed environment. Bogdan Ghiu places the source of todays visibility in the lineage of Giorgio Agambens concept of bare life or Michel Foucaults concepts of panopticism and biopolitics. The super-production of power (Agamben) and the generalized panopticism (Foucault) are contributing to the dissipation of the architectonic structures of power. The new visibility does not promote mimetic representation; the image of man has long since left the attention of the power generating structures. The post-neo-panopticism is not interested in the image any more, but in registering the continual flux of data. The power doesnt look to des-figure, but to de-figure. Free from the constraints of 7
representation, the new visibility is not interested in the image of the man, but in the man himself, trying to short-circuit him, to traverse him. The modern man who finds himself in a continuous process of escape, part of the flux itself, is an equipped man, a technology wearing man, preoccupied by technology, which he ends up somatizing it. What art can do in this omni-visibility and trans-visibility caught between bio-métrisable (fr) and bio-maîtrisable (fr)? For Bogdan Ghiu, art can recreate the distance, can restore the corporeality. Or for doing this, art must be reborn as ars and techné, must become an art of an hyper-perceptible existence in the imperceptible. The relationship between art and technology is also questioned in the 2005 interview with Woody Vasulka. Recognized as a pioneer of video art, Woody Vasulka was an experimenter and a creator of technology. Approaching this new medium, that was video art in the 1960s, Woody Vasulka has tried to conquer it. By altering, deconstructing, and reconstructing the magnetic and electronic impulses which are the medium itself, Woody Vasulka had hoped to break the structures that defined the analogue media, still dominant at the time. In the interview, the artist talks about the hopes of an entire generation to take over, in a critical way, the dominant forms of representation, to produce a change in the narrative structure, not only technologically but ideologically, as well. The fact that this attempt, this search for a new utopia, is not completed, is from Vasulkas point of view, almost a necessity. In a text that discusses the creation of musical instruments and digital technologies, and their impact on the musical composition, Paolo Ferreira Lopes analyzes their categoriezation and operational structures, as well as the paradigms and the models of interaction that these imply. Refusing to create delineate a hierarchy between informatics and music, the author looks to offer a gnoseologic understanding of the notion of interaction, based on the analysis of the material elements, and the software used in his own compositions. Defined in informatics as a dynamic principle (Wegner), the interaction is the notion describing the adaptability of digital computation relative to the real world, and in the case of music, the direct correlation between these two elements 8
and time. The formalization of the interactive processes can lead to two forms of interactivity: one orientated towards the internal space of the machine, and the other having an impact on the human-machine relationship. Considering the data, the author finds it difficult to establish a real time relationship, the notion of musical performance being dependent on its time-based character and its interpretation imposed by the software. The introduction of a sequence in real-time opposes de facto the act of creation, an act which implies reflection. The paradigms of interaction in music are built through the development of musical models whose relevance in real time is translated in a spatial sound effect. That is the reason why the interaction that can be established between the composer/interpreter, the computer, and the traditional instrument cannot be attached to a principle of causality, in which there is no temporal synchronicity but only the interpretative act. The text of Sophie Fetro, Digital Surrealities. Design and Architecure: Arts of F[r]iction inventories the influence exerted by the virtual reality technology on architecture and design. The author shows that if digital imagination was built around the notion of simulating reality, not less spectacular is inserting a bit of fiction into reality. The concept of mimesis in the digital context cannot be clarified outside of the current digital utopias and, the author notes that the fictive space built by these new technologies, undoubtedly leads to a new utopian era. If the mediation and the tasks imposed by architectural competitions invite the use of digital visualization techniques, the use of these technologies leads to the hierarchization of the image. The new way of reading the information, imposed by the digital culture, transforms the code not only into a new way of representation, but into an actor of the project. Surrealistic inspiration finds its expression not only in the attempt to go beyond reality, but also in the way in which digital language exploits mathematical models as way of avoiding the intentional and predictable act. The exchanges between the architectural design and the computational design lead to a new production and fabrication process. Transcribing the distortions of the materials, questioning the principles of industrial repetition, are ways that allow for a gradual understanding of reality. Thus, the computational device is less a tool for rationalization, as much as a tool for the interpretation 9
of reality. The hyper-reality of the digital era, transforms the current architecture into a computational performance art. Most often technical development is assimilated into a modern perspective that builds itself around the notion of progress. Augustin Ioans text about the experiment in Romanian architecture puts into question precisely the lack of such preoccupation after 1989. The author is mapping the reasons why the notion of habitation does not find its expression in todays projects and innovations, while arguing that this situation does not exclude the research. Polemicly, the text deconstructs the politico-economic socialist context and its heritage, and classifies the possible forms of refuge of the architect facing the political power. Even though there werent any outstanding acts, the neo-primitive investigations, the experiments in industrial architecture and the impressive participation in international contests, were ways in which the Romanian architects have tried to detached themselves from the conformism imposed by the communist state. The question the author is trying to answer is how to define some viable forms of experimentation that could function in the current conditions of economic and technologic austerity in Romania. He points out the concept of virtual heritage the digital reconstruction of patrimonial projects, well as drawing attention to crisis housing and sustainable architecture as relevant solutions. The interaction between the artistic representation and the theoretical and the scientific ways of understanding the world has often been debated in the histories of science, arts, and ideas. Gemma San Cornelio and Pau Alsinas text Spaces of Flows: Processes and Places in Spatial Media Artworks discusses the question of spatial media in the contemporary arts, and takes as starting point an incursion in the history of notions and concepts of space as they had been defined over time. The declared purpose of this archaeological investigation is to determine the type of relationships produced by the information and communication technologies today as they relate to space, via the new forms of cultural production and consumption. Last but not least, by making a parallel between the historiography of the concept of space and the models of contemporary artistic practice, the authors try to define a theoretical framework for analyzing the current media art production. 10
Three of the texts presented here are discussing problems related to digital archiving. If collecting and archiving are processes that can be subject of research onto themselves, the digitization of collections poses a series of questions of technical, intellectual, juridical, and aesthetic nature. In the lineage of the medieval cabinets of curiosities, the museum is probably the most vivid modern expression of collecting, presenting, classifying, recording, and studying of material culture. The digitization of collections and archives, the research of pertinent ways of displaying them in a digital context is the subject of a diverse series of projects, some of them highly debated (see, for example, the Google virtual library and the opposition of the French National Library). The three texts published here present three different approaches regarding the collection and digitization of archives. Presenting projects of different complexity, the texts describe three ways of capturing and presenting the artistic message as it is transferred from the analogue to the digital format. anarchive is a collection of CD-ROMs, DVDs and internet projects lead by Anne-Marie Duguet that explore the complete work of an artist based on different archives of his/hers activity. The originality of the project consists in inviting the artists to select the elements to be included in the data base, and offering them the opportunity to think of an original way to structure and navigate the data. The objective of the collection is to offer an instrument of historical and critical research for work of an artist, and to take advantage of the new reproduction and documentation tools available in order to save a recording of a perishable artistic intervention, such as an installation, a performance, a video recording, or an intervention in public space. In the present text are offered details about how the TK DVD, dedicated to the French artist Thierry Kuntzel, was realized. The different ways of accessing the data and the relationship between the different parts of the digital archive, make of the TK DVD a work in itself. Heike Helferts text brings to attention the archiving and restoration project 40yearsvideoart.de. The project tried to offer an overview of the different tendencies and modalities of expression in German video art beginning with 1963 until today. Besides developing a critical method 11
for the analysis and interpretation of the works, a special effort was made to digitally collect, restore, and archive the works included in the collection. Even if it may seem strange that a relatively young medium, as the video, can raise preservation concerns, the degradation of the magnetic support, and the shortage of hardware devices that allow the reading and processing of the video material, requires its restoration and transfer from the magnetic support to digital format. But this transfer is not only technically problematic. The relationship established between the original work and its digital versions, and the attempt to preserve the authentic experience of the work, are not details to be neglected. One of most significant issues in the process of digitization is the concept of free software. Movements like open source tried to tackle the issue of free access by proposing different sets of interventions. MEDIARC Open Source Multiuser Central Archiving System: Web Application for the Electronic Management of Documents and Other Files, tries to put into practice an open source system for on-line archiving, which allows data entry into a database by accessing different peripherals: scanner, digital camera, video camera. As Peter Tomaz Dobrila and Uro Indihar state, the project tried to respond to the safety and security needs of a database, to offer reliable technical solutions and system stability, and to have a friendly user interface. Mediarc is a technical project that looks to offer answers for the preservation of a variety documents by offering easily accessible and efficient solutions. Based on diverse artistic and aesthetic experiences, the publication offers possible answers to the way in which image and sound are affected by the digital technologies of today. This collection of texts is organized around different types of imagery and sound, spatial forms and forms of memory to be found in the current digital context. The volume approaches the ways in which new technologies have influenced the artistic production, its organization, its spatial representation, and its perception, as well as, the complexities involved in the organization of a database or an archive. The present book has attempted to present various layers of theoretical research on new media, and to highlight a few points of view and possible ways of approaching it. 12
Thanks to all those who contributed to the materialization of this project, to the participants at the conference, to the authors of the texts, and to the translators: Barbara Bartos, Patricia Comãnescu, Simona Klodnischi, Ancuþa Ionescu. Thanks, also to Augustin Ioan, the coordinator of the Imagined Spaces collection and to Eugenia Petre from Paideia Publishing House who made possible the publication of this volume. (Text translated from Romanian by Barbara Bartos)
CHAPTER I. Types of Imagery and Sound and Their Interaction
IMPERCEPTIBLE, HYPERCEPTIBLE: THE NEW HODOLOGICAL CONDITION
Bogdan Ghiu Which visibility? How many visibilities ? Art in the new field of visibility... Which visibility? What kind of visibility? Where does novelty lie here, what does it actually consist of? And what does the new field specifically the new field of visibility mean? My amazement and hence my questions are not at all preliminary and not in the least rhetorical. Should therefore the novelty, the innovation, lie in the fact that the contemporary world visibility has passed beyond, gone over a threshold, that it has undergone a qualitative shift and turned into a field? Has it, as my thread would suggest, become sweepingly generalized, thus inducing a broad reorganization of the entire field, with irreparable consequences? And if this is where the novelty lies, what reference should we use in the attempt to define the novelty we feel, we perceive? Otherwise said, which should be the benchmark, the term of comparison, the old field of visibility? In an implicit wording again is this all about an evolution that has finally reached the threshold, the final break-up, turning from latent into manifest and evident actuality? Is this about a slow evolution that could have been avoided, a drift for the prompting of which we feel guilty, but that proves to have been inexorable and that has now finally 15
come off victorious? Its something like that that we actually conceive modernity: as a process concomitantly fatal and that could yet have been avoided, adjusted, corrected, as a deviation from the straight triumphal way that proves itself to have been the royal path, the mainstream our historic moralized conscience remains to haunt from now on, accompanying it, spectrally walking it along full of remorse. An objective process, a path, the hodos between two fixed points, dissociation, division, dualist perspective on history: a new impersonation of history, impossible to live subjectively. Visibility thus seems to have become a field, to have grown coextensive with the entire mundane field, thus changing it radically: we live in a new field because this field was conquered by visibility. The novelty, the shift, thus seems to be defined by the coextensivity of visibility with the field. A qualitative leap rendered possible by a quantitative accumulation. However, I consider that visibility fields were also in place so far, but they were insular, well delimited and controlled: the visibility fields of the past were controlled control spaces. Well, according to our presupposition, these well-controlled control spaces have now escaped our control, leading to the generalization of visibility and thus to an incontrollable generalization of control. We are living in a society of uncontrolled and incontrollable control. When today we say visibility, we say exposure, denudation, intrusion. Hence, we say transparency. In the political discourse and generally, in the public contemporary discourse, both visibility and transparency are bestowed with an ambiguous, deceitful, alternate speech: we celebrate the democratic transparency and visibility, public non-concealment and at the same time deplore their historical victory. The incontrollable is in fact exactly this purely ideal line, a line of psychic scission hard, impossible to draw, between these two attitudes, between the triumph of the Lights and its consequences. Three far too expedite concepts Novelty does not only consist of this two-sided, abettingly-valued generalization of visibility. There exists, I think, a new visibility and 16
exactly this - not the field-like generalization of the old visibility - is the source of the novelty of the new field of visibility. Coupling the concept of bare life proposed by Giorgio Agamben with the concept of panopticism and that of biopolitics, as Michel Foucault has designed and mapped them, is quite in vogue. But in this case we are faced with a non-critical takeover of immediately and hastily serviceable critical instruments of sensibly different lines of critical thought. Giorgio Agambens bare life describes the denudation, the exposure of humaneness, the ruling powers production of non-rule-of-law spaces, of exception-to-law spaces, of juridical exceptionalism, where humaneness ceases to be defended, protected and is made available for monstrous experiments. As a matter of fact, for an overproduction of power. Spaces where life is being laid bare are totalitarian spaces, confined and excluded at the same time: confinement outside the society, outside the reach of justice, of the rule-of-law, sometimes right through their instrumentality. The uncritical fashion of the immediately-critical employment of Foucaults concept of panopticism spares me any description. The also Foucauldian concept of biopolitics still preserves a certain aura of indeterminacy, but is expeditely - and hence with equally hasty lack of criticism - translated, clarified by its correlation with the concept of bare life. In our critical applications, we live in the evidence of these three concepts. Artistic thought, particularly, uses them increasingly often and with ever growing success. Yet, their broad serviceability tricks us and the hasty critical gestures that derive from the uncritical utilization of these concepts lead to an ambiguous, double-sided criticism, where the delineation between celebration and denunciation triumphantly displays its impossibility. Power to the people: trans-visibilty and senselessness In a direct, immediate, hasty use the three concepts do not describe innovation, the novelty about the new field of visibility, but the old: 17
totalitarian political conditions, therefore exactly the exception situations of contemporary normality. The major contemporary shift as regards visibility is the appearance, proliferation, generalization and standardization of a fundamentally new, un-recognizable and irreducible type of visibility. The old panopticist visibility bred offspring. The new transparency, new visibility, are no longer mimetic-representational. Its exactly the image that they are no longer related to. The image of man, the image of bare life no longer matters, is no longer pertinent to contemporary production of (over)power. Contemporary power itself has been subjected to a qualitative shift: its steady, state operating mode is all the time that of a supra-power. Yet the difference against the past is that it no longer isolates itself, that it no longer gets piled up or stored, but flows: supra-power in continuous flow, exactly due to its new condition of flow. Static power is permanently under the threat of opposition, limitation, constraint, counteroffensive. Modern-traditional panopticism was cutting out and defined spaces, screens; it defined itself in space and as well-delimited space it materialized as an architecture of power. Today, the old architecturalization of power is doubled by the converse dis-architecturalization of power. Architectonics, the architectural layout itself disappears, I mean they disappear as pertinence to the production of power: they were yielded to the society that continues to believe that the stake is there, that this is the target. The current production of power forsakes its panopticist, micro- or macro-totalitarian correlation with space, spaces, materiality. It shifted to the dimension of time, by annulling it: time is transcended, time is all the time past. Post-neo-panopticism no longer produces representational, material, mimetically-recognizable images of humaneness. The image of man was dismissed, it no longer counts for the power, is no longer of interest for power production: it was yielded to society, where arts and media are claiming it in a fratricidal dispute. The dispute over mans image, over the images about man has become a society game. Post-neo-panopticism is no longer interested in images. It now performs a permanent-automatic scanning of humaneness, producing 18
abstract, purely idealized information records in a continuous flow. Under conditions of accelerated speed, of light speed of the flow, arts, in their fight for image with media, no longer can touch, attack, affect the economic scientism power production currently builds on the adjusted, automated production of supra-power in a continuous steady mode. Power no longer needs images. They become, I repeat it, the consensual stake of the social game between arts and media. We face a radicalization of the bare life phenomenon, actually its coming into full effect. Life denudation has transcended man, the new visibility and new transparency: it scans man stripping him in continuous flow down to what is called human or - more correctly the infra-human pattern: sets of pertinent information. It is there, at that level of humaneness that the manipulation of man takes place today. As men, as people, we are free also enter the artistic-media dispute over the images of ourselves because the shape man or the level of pertinence of what we call man were made available, yielded back to civil society. To man, humaneness is un-recognizable and irrepresentable. Its this scientific-economic transparent-rendering and visualization of man down to the human pattern that a reorganization of rule-of-law regimes derives from. The historic regimes of visibility and power do not replace each other, but add up and redistribute: the old normalization, or the modern-type normalization defines today the locked, punitive, explicitly legal regime, whereas the new visibility, the invisible or trans-visible visibility, the production of non-visual, extra-visual images of humaneness define the new normality. The old panopticism we rush to denounce and represent in our critical celerity, defines today this specific locked regime, the space of explicit punishment, the space of exception, of situations of juridical exceptionality. Only here do concepts like bare life, panopticism, biopolitics effectively, literally apply. But the phenomena described by these three concepts have themselves evolved, they have surpassed their historic literal stage and constitute the new regime of contemporary normality. And this is imperceptible, un-noticeable, un-recognizable, irrepresentable. 19
(Artistic) dis-figuring and de-figuration: ultra-human man
As types of scientific formalization, the schemes of communication are identical with those of the power schemes. They are both reversible schemes of production, accomplishment, effecting. By both the concept of bare life and that of panopticism, of barren-panoptic existence, modern man was celebrating himself as conspicuous victim, object, target and support of power. The submissive, extorted, exploited subject-object is the great anti-hero of modernity, the reference of bulky bargaining and prophetic-apocalyptical imprecations of modernity. Well, I believe that today we have really become free. Become? It would be more exact for me to say got free. Power production, its communication-production-effecting scheme, no longer needs man and his images, his representations. Power emerges and is preserved today not by des-figuring man, but by de-figuring him. We are free exactly to the extent whereby we were delivered, let to go, dismissed from the great krato-dicy of alienation. Man is today important in the form of humaneness that stretches underneath. Its down there, underneath, that all globalisations and worldwide-expanding processes take place. We did not become, but remained free: the voluntarist finalism of modernity is manifest today in the form of a deliverance, of residual humanity. And it is exactly for this reason that even when we voice criticism, we actually celebrate: a granted victory, a conceded triumph. But today, the new visibility goes through us. Humaneness is dissociated from man by the latters reduction to resource. Man is important, pertinent only as a human resource And in this capacity, he renders himself happily, jubilantly to this reduction not only in the spaces especially intended for this purpose of the old panopticist power production, but also through his normal, continuous, current existence of subject-patient whose permanent normal-clinical condition is that of being connected to life-support machines. The political revolution of modernity has grown automated, miniaturized and undergoes a ceaseless decline by a double and 20
contradictory process that frames the entire social field, transforming precisely the society into a field: somatizing and idealizing itself, abstracting and idealizing itself, rationalizing itself through merger, through osmosis with technology, that progressively loses its own body and which we now confer more and more bodiness to, hiding, resorbing, naturalizing it: instead of the organless body, the body with increasingly more organs and accessories. The equipped man: equi-pathy and the society of departure Man, the current individual (shall we call him modern? Shall we call him post-modern? Maybe call him hyper- or ultramodern? Or call him otherwise, pretending that we could still give him a name?) is an equipped, an ever better equipped man. He no longer needs to sedentarily shut himself in the house in front of the TV or the PC, his ears walled off by loudspeakers, his eyes escaping through the walls of rolling images. He evaded, he circulates, he is moving all the time: he dwells inside the flow, is part of it, one with it, he is the flow itself. Between the outer (financial, media, advertisement, commodity, individual and crowd) flows and the inner flow of each of us, the individual as such, the entity individual is no more than an interface, a contact and recording toggle-switch decision surface, an activation surface, just like Aristotles metaphysical intellect in his treaty De anima. Contemporary man carries technology, wears technology (the technological suit), this increasingly becomes a part of his mandatory corporal equipment and is underway towards somatization: the current individual embeds technology in his body, carries the TV set with him, transforming himself into the screen and relay for social market messages. He is a man occupied by technology, an equipped man: mobile phone, portable computer, MP3-player on his ears, automobile, train, plane, fellow-people etc. He shut himself in the Heideggerian open he has so long yearned for. Yet he thriftily, territorially manages his flow. He territorializes the 21
much-frowned upon de-territorialization which thus becomes a false deliverance. He runs away, he unceasingly evades just to shut, to seclude himself as swiftly as possible (thats what speed serves him for) on the move. However, in what sense, or senses, can we speak about the current individual as about an equipped man? 1) Because, as I said, he carries purportedly communicational equipment. 2) Because he operates inside an equipage, because he leads an equipped existence: the others, the society have turned from community, family, human environment etc., into the equipment of each separate individual. Hence, man as collective equipment of man. (Love, couple, work, living.) 3) If we were to play (just a little) with words, current man can also be considered as equi-path, as structurally afflicted with equi-pathy and manifesting equi-pathologies: the pathology of mass individualism, the pathology of equivalence and equipotency. Derived from an ancient Anglo-Saxon word (scipian) and another just as old Norwegian one (skipa), the seamanship term équipe (documented for the first time in 1160) meant in old French to get aboard, to navigate, but in the later form eschiper it meant something close to what we understand today by escapade and through escapism (eschipre meaning seaman). Also in old French, équipée meant embarkation, setting off for adventure. So, we get equipped to leave. We get equipped - inclusively with all the others, our fellow people serving as equipment, as human technology, as social suit - to leave. We set off equipped, we equip ourselves in all the senses of the word. Technology as such, is departure: a literally built metaphor (a word of Greek extraction, metaphora means until today transposition). We set off in the flow, we are the flow: existence in /as adventure. We actually live in departing, we permanently, incessantly leave without arriving, without preoccupying ourselves with the arrival, the coming: send, start, its departure itself that counts: technologically we set off unmoving, in an immobile nomadism. In current society departure 22
was uncoupled from arrival, the trajectory, the existential track were stripped off their initiatory, teleological feature. We live in a society of departure, in ever homogenously equipped equipment-cities and societies: an equipment-humanity, messaging ourselves into the settings of the others. Happy biometry: living in-visibility Between the old transparency-visibility that still builts on image, and the new transparency-visibility, that of man scanned through in continuous flow down to the human pattern, of the residual deliverance of humanity accompanied by its images, by its dissociation into human resources as an informational-technological portrait pertinent to the new economy of power production, between these two visibilities: the old one, defining todays exceptional situations and punitive spaces; and a new one, that defines lifes normality itself in our societies, between the old transparency-visibility that operated with images of man art was having access to, and the new transparency-visibility where man has turned from the condition of emitter-producer and receptor-addressee-beneficiary of power-information (as he was in the old - today attentively circumscribed visible regime of visibility), where man has become human resource, he is rather a medium, relay and channel between these two visibility modes, man is today squeezed in as between two lenses, two screens, interleaved. Between brackets said, he is exactly in the condition opposite to that described by the concept of plasticity initiated by Catherine Malabou1 (subject to recent, captivating, incipient discussions). Man has become that Dead Part or Dead Zone between the central tower and the circular peripheral wall of Benthams Panopticum. Contemporary man is interleaved between two visibilities: a conceded one, that works with images and which media and arts dispute each other, and another one that transcends man, through man, scanning him down to the human pattern, and which is the really important level for a critical analysis. Between dis-figuring that operates with images, and de-figuring that goes beyond the images in a kind of a live 23
television broadcast of pertinent data and information at the speed that causes the production of power and supra-power, man has become a medium framed by the technological continuum. According to Gilbert Simondons analysis (in his Course about Perception2), media technology has exploited the perception deficiencies of human senses, the natural difficulty of establishing a useful perception. Important to man, says Simondon, are those machines that facilitate a practical perception of use in conditions of exception, in extreme conditions, in environments where perceptibility already naturally reduced and cumbersome - becomes progressively hard to accomplish. A good perception hinders the occurrence of accidents. Dangerous exception environments are those characterized by speed, action in flow. But the old hodological condition of exception has today become normal, current, it belongs to day-to-day life. We actually live increasingly dangerous: soldier-men, pilot-individuals, servo-engines permanently mobilized in a true ontology of the enemy3. We live between the imperceptible favored by media technologies - that arts do and can fight with - and the hyperceptible produced by contemporary connectivity and portability, rigidly interleaved between omni-visibility and trans-visibility. The technological continuum, non-separatibility, define the new human-biometric condition of man, the ultra-human and ultra-humanized man, man sunk in humaneness, undermined through human, through the bio-metering of existence. The biométrisable (in French) existence becomes an increasingly bio-maîtrisable existence. The new visibility is in-visibility: the imperceptible as a frame-condition of hyperceptibility. Art as public space: des-figuring versus de-figuring What can, under these circumstances, art do? What can art still do when image-built reality, when the image - be it even multiply disfigured - no longer counts as a game and social convention, when de-figurativity competes des-figurability ? 24
It can restore the distance, the spacing, denouncing the sped-up already accomplished process of merger and osmosis between humaneness and technology, of reducing man to the condition of medium and relay between human and technology-borne existence, that can thus become measurable in bio-technologic standards. At the same time, contemporary art restores the body, corporality and instrumentality, denouncing the false scientist-naturalized man-environment continuities against the human - technology osmosis, against the equi-pathy and portable connection, of man-field. The virtue of virtual images is conferred by their capacity to induce an update in its turn virtual - that does not go beyond the field of virtuality, but unceasingly expands it, virtualizing the entire field of reality. But until recently, virtual technologically produced images still benefited by a technologic body of visible gear that could still draw attention upon their technological artificiality. But now, following the trend of their own products and processes, the devices themselves virtualize, becoming identical to images, taking after them: getting increasingly flat, compacted, interleaved, non-corporeal, disappearing vertiginously. Only now does the image become really ideal, with no technological body, ready to somatize into the ideality of the human imagination. This is where art intervenes or needs to intervene, following its sovereign animal instinct, restoring and manifesting the synaptic exteriority (according to J.-P. Changeux4), the delimitation of the body in the environment against the transformation of humaneness in a field and correlatively remaking serviceability: existential techniques against technology, ethics versus technological estheticism (forms symbolizing, pointing to and inducing the flow, flow forms, fluid forms that make reference to each other also by figural way, symbolizing the technologic-economic market processes, self-representing themselves: vector forms, time-forms.) Art restores the public space, reconditioning man in the new ultra-humanist field of humaneness. Art renders handicraft essence, the existential do-it-yourself, pointing to a possible, hard to foresee post-technological condition of man: the rebirth of the hand, the eye, neo-tactility aimed at re-distancing man. 25
In the imperceptible frame of hyperceptibility we live in, in this authentic communitarianism, nationalism a communism of machines and with machines, art reminds of the urgency of finding a way to restore the level of perceptibility under extreme conditions, the path - hodos in the adverse mined territory, where the other messages represent the noise. It restores the minimal threshold of perceptibility. Getting back and concluding, I think that concepts like that of bare life (G. Agamben), panopticism or biopolitics (M. Foucault) need to be applied only to the ultra-human condition of the contemporary man. Power production was by way of economics returned to civil society and this one, takes photos, produces, changes, and frantically consumes images of itself, happy to retrieve itself into a hyper-neo-perception in the new field of visibility, where it actually is the field, offering itself as a an environment of hyper-perceptibility and trans-visibility of scientific economic coding & recoding: humaneness through man, and from man. A new humanity emerges: new mergers, new osmoses, new alliances are underway. Art in the strict meaning of the word disappears, gets reabsorbed, comes down and dwindles, becoming usefully invisible, re-becoming ars and teckne, art of hyperceptible existence in the imperceptible. You hear this from someone compelled to learn how to stay on the watch for transitions and permanently transform survival techniques into life arts. (Text translated from Romanian by Simona Klodnischi) References
1. Catherine Malabou, LAvenir de Hegel. Plasticité, temporalité, dialectique, Paris Vrin, 1996; (dir,), Plasticité, actes du colloque du Fresnoy, Paris, Éditions Léo Scheer, 2000; Que faire de notre cerveau?, Paris, Bayard, 2004; La plasticité au soir de lécriture. Dialectique, destruction, déconstruction, Paris, Éditions Léo Scheer, 2005. 2. Gilbert Simondon, Cours sur la Perception (1964-1965), Éditions de la Transparence, 2006.
3. Cf. Peter Galison, The Ontology of the Ennemy: Norbert Wiener and the Cybernetics Vision, Critical Inquiry, no 21, pp. 228-266, apud. Céline Lafontaine, LEmpire cybernetique. Des machines à penser à la pensée machine, Paris, Le Seuil, 2004, pp. 33-38. 4. Jean-Pierre Changeux, Lhomme neuronal, Paris, Fayard, 1983. Synapse: jonction entre neurones, mais aussi entre neurones et dautres catégories cellulaires (cellules musculaires, glandulaires). A son niveau, les membranes cellulaires de la terminaison axonale et de la surface innervée se juxtaposent, mais ne fusionnent pas (p. 414):
VIDEO BETWEEN UTOPIA AND HISTORY. INTERVIEW WITH WOODY VASULKA.
Tincuþa Heinzel Introduction Woody and Steina Vasulka moved to New York in 1965 and, along with a new environment, they have also discovered a new medium: the video. In a certain way they were pioneers. Their artistic trajectory started with the use of the video camera for recording New Yorks underground art scene. Later their interest was directed toward the medium itself and toward the language it proposed; the result was the alteration, deconstruction, and reconstruction of the electronic data. Their efforts continued and culminated with the creation of the Digital Image Articulator, a digital image device specifically build to manipulate electronic images in real time with the use of custom software. Realized in collaboration with Jeffrey Schier, the Digital Image Articulator was one of the first image synthesizers ever build. Their latest works explore what Woody Vasulka calls media machines and non-centric space. Being ones of the first to use video and electronic devices with the purpose of producing image and sound artifacts, the Vasulkas looked to inventory the possibilities offered by the apparatus. As Woody Vasulka put it in the interview, the new material provided by the electronic instruments had to be experimented with, had to be discovered. The logic behind this approach was resumed by Claudine Eizykman and 29
Guy Fihman in the formula: to understand in order to manipulate, to manipulate in order to invent, to invent in order to understand.1 If photography and film were subservient to the dominant eye of the film camera, video offered all the possibilities of an unexplored field. Being an exponent of cinematic arts, video was in the direct lineage of film. Woody Vasulkas merit is that of succeeding, from the very beginning, to transcript the source video code by inventorying the vocabulary of the electronic image and by mapping its syntax. Considering his preoccupations with the fundamentals of language, it was probably unavoidable that, at a certain point, Vasulka would approach the issue of the narrative structure. If reality was as it was, seen from the perspective of the film camera, the reality of the apparatus promised freedom from the constraints of the established narrative format. The purpose was to escape the principles of the narrative, as it was understood up to that point, and to reveal a possible poetic of technology. As Marco Maria Gazzano stated, for the artists Steina and Woody Vasulka, the creative process represents a dialogue with the machine, in which they are not only masters of an instrument, but the receptors of its capacities.2 As observers of machines capacities, the artists are asked to provide the conditions which allow it to manifest itself. Far from being dehumanizing, this approach proves to be a highly subjective way of artistic expression. In a discussion with Peter Weibel in July 1987, the latter remarked the fact that the Romantic idea of the author is highly present in Woody Vasulkas discourse. If todays technology seems to minimize authors role, it also seems to hold back people: use technology to free people, not to enslave them Woody Vasulka said in the interview. Wanting or not, we find ourselves in the middle of the technology conundrum. Considering the impact that technology has today, it is not surprising that the positions took by different people are so diverse. From a technophobes point of view, to a technophiles point of view, the palette is quite wide. Technophobia is generally skeptic of any artifice and manifests its support for the natural order. In most of cases, moral aspects are detached from the technological phenomenon, fact that leads 30
to a constant appeal to the traditional and symbolic culture3. It has been argued against such an attitude by pointing out its simplistic view and the rather poor way in which it defines technology. From a totally different perspective, the technophiles not only advocate for a constant co-existence of the human-machine relationship, but, as it happens in Gilbert Simondons case, they argue for a cultural integration of technology, education playing a central role in this sense. Even so, what could probably be criticized is precisely their initial claim: the presupposition that there is a scientific solution for any kind of problem thus, avoiding any critical approach. From this point of view, Woody Vasulka position seems to define itself: it is about the cultural integration of technology, but in the same time, the technological culture must build itself on the basis of critical inquiry. Perhaps, one of the central keys to understanding the technological phenomenon is its own technical character. As defined by Gilbert Simondon, the technologic character of an object is given by its ability to be grounded both in the technologic field as well as in the social, economic, or political fields. In The Forms of Existence of Technical Objects, Gilbert Simondon defined the technical character of an object as the quality that it allows it to be compatible with other elements inside the technological field. The technical character of an object cannot be separated from the evolution of technology, and in fact, is the instrument of this evolution. Born out of artifice, the technological object is the result of the technologic inertia. Thus, it not objectified, in the same way as technology itself cannot be objectified. One of the values of the technological object can be measured in its utility; that is, in its capacity to be compatible with the technological and cultural fields simultaneously. This quality was defined by Jean-Pierre Seris4 as innovation. It could be said that the principle of innovation involves the harmonization of the technological with the social, economic, and cultural fields. On the other hand, we need to discus the invention. A technological invention clarifies a principle, while innovation deals with the 31
development and practical application of this principle. Any pioneering activity that highlights the characteristics of the technological process itself, by this leading to the reassessment of the system, aims to clarify a technological principle. The tension that dominates Woody Vasulkas work is that between invention and innovation. We can state that Vasulka is a pioneer of video art and that his work relates to the aspects of invention. Describing the code of the machine, revealing its capacities, readjusting the functional system itself, are all elements that define invention. Though they are art objects of critical questioning, Woody Vasulkas works dont show any interest in harmonizing with the rules of the social, political, and economical systems, in other words, with the constitutive elements of culture. What the poetics of the machine reveals in Vasulkas work is the raw character of the machine itself, only this takes place with a critical eye on the act of innovation. How to innovate? Isnt this, in fact, the central question of modernity? The following interview took place in September 2005 at ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany. Interview with Woody Vasulka ZKM, September 8, 2005. Tincuþa Heinzel: I had the chance to assist at one of your conferences held last year at Paris 1 University, and I also saw some of your catalogues, like the one published by Cinedoc in Paris. Theyve raised some questions for me, and I would like to use this opportunity to find out some of the answers. What interests me - and this would be my first question - is the way you generally relate to technology. I would like to know how you define your approach to art and technology. Woody Vasulka: I suppose you are asking me the perfect question, so I will give you the perfect answer... TH: Yes, I know, the questions are always more difficult than the answers... 32
WV: And you wouldnt come all the way here if you didnt know the question. OK. After a series of experiences in film, photography and music, the idea of the art material imposed itself. The electronic sound offered the first kind of understanding of a different organization of sound. The sound produced by voice, or by musical instruments, or in other normal, analogue way was confronted by the sound produced by the electronic equipment. And the electronic equipment started to organize the sound based on the internal functioning of the apparatus. And this was basically the first critique of the analogue world. It was about a world that existed for centuries, that developed itself like a coding system - and I am referring here to music composition and its elements, like harmony, pitch, and rhythm - which suddenly found themselves resetted by new instruments and new ways of organizing sound. And this was probably the most interesting thing: this inquiry into how the music or the sound environment can be made without involving the reality of the objects that have vibrating surfaces, namely the musical instruments. With the electronically generated sound structures we do not look anymore outside into the acoustic space, but we are looking inside the electronic instruments. Outside is the acoustic space that you need to record or to hear, but if you do it internally than you can produce those sounds within the apparatus. And the resulted discourse marked a different force within a different world. There was a curiosity to explore this other world, which was of course combined with the existence of digital instruments digital instruments that are not operational could not be operated by the direct influence of the hand or (traditional t. n.) musical instruments, but by code. When you can develop, organize, and produce sounds directly from code, and the code is not simply a score, then you can understand the difference. So this kind of unity of the instrument, this new way, this new material has also been adopted by the visual world. Immediately before us was the film. And the filmmakers were already, at this stage in the Sixties, involved in experimenting with the format. The format is somehow an interface between the human experience and the forms of abstraction, whether they are narratives or visual. The colors and other various components of the image were transferred then into the 33
organizing electronic instruments, where they were no more exclusively recorded through a camera, through the lens - which is a sort of how the human eyes look at this world - but all these components begin then to be constructed internally inside the instrument, and, in fact, became the critique of the previous camera obscura. These are, certainly, the principles of digital instruments. Later, of course, this idea was expanded, so that audio and video became mutually interactive. It is a kind of eurhythmics, or whatever, activated by a sort of dependency on each others energy and time potential. It was this entire electronic world which led to the conceptualization of the material, which was then translated, or made audible, or visible through the analogue world of the speakers and monitors. This separation between the world in which we grew up and the world that contained new instruments, new materials, and new codes was important to us. This transition is the reason for my work, and Steinas work, as well. We can say that we came from parallel experiences and a few years later we took different directions in our work. But this idea of the material being defined, being somehow described, and then the system being treated as behavior, that somehow has a certain development, or evolution, it became in the end a practice. And we really played - like musicians play - we played with audio-visual electronic instruments for a long, long period of time. And thats how we got our world to open. TH: And do you feel that in fact, the digital and the electronic media have allowed a change in the material source of art? WV: One reason for that is curiosity, because you have to know the secrets of the world. Before, it was a sort of professional technological cast - like the priests - therefore in order to understand the technology they kept it separated from society. Just remember that we grew up in the Sixties, when these rules of engagement were about taking over the secrets of the industrial society, and practicing them, and tearing them apart. So it was also a political statement, when everything underwent a transfer from the hands of the industry to the citizens. And we were citizens who could play with the fire of gods, so to speak. It was in a way some kind of a coup. Of course, that also made the separation between the traditional world and the new world. 34
Suddenly the dominant role of the camera couldnt be denied, and the dominant role of the microphone couldnt be denied either. So the new instruments contained all the old media that existed before. And then they became sort of independent. We came immediately like owners, taking over this generation of devices. Our generation was, and still is such an owner. That was the reality of the Sixties. It was a whole generational movement, and there were many reasons for that: there was still war in Vietnam, for example, in the States there was the Civil Rights movement, Jimmy Hendrix was still alive, and so on. And there were many economic, socio-politic, and aesthetic reasons that made these things happen. And there was also a technological change, which made that the components became smaller and cheaper. There was a new generation of designers. And they instituted, or we all instituted, this kind of movement. It wasnt really a programmatic movement, but it was far away from the instrumentation of the current way of producing images, sounds, and performances. It was a sort of separation from Hollywood and the established market which were corrupted. TH: There is a question that comes to my mind listening to what you said. It concerns the relationship between the material and the social condition of art, as well as the cultural and the political context. In one of your catalogues, when you are speaking about the nature of the film, you really accuse somehow the cinema and the photogram - as a static image for being limiting elements required to produce narration. You take a somewhat critical attitude against towards narration. But there are also some art theories which relate the very concept of art to that of narration. From their perspective, art is a sort of narration of the society, or of the history. Now, I am quite interested how you relate to narration, knowing also that later you return to it. Is this another topic in your work? WV: The first idea about the camera obscura - to present the world as it is - had an important role in this matter. My generation and the whole 20th Century were profoundly convinced that this was a form of reality. It was not only a pictorial reality, but it was also a symbol since it was a moving image - a symbol, or a cliché, of the story, of the narration. And the narration, being either melodramatic or analytic, tried in a way to criticize the world we were looking at. But this was still the dominant way we looked at the new material. 35
I was looking for a different image. It was no longer the image of the world, or that of reality, or of social reality, or of gender, or of the narrative system. What I tried to do, was to identify a different image that came from a different world. And this image was independent, was not specified, had no assignment. It becomes a kind of pure, ethical indifference because the machine at that time was not employed by any kind of ideology or instrumentalist ideology - like television. It was very much undefined. So, it was a certain period of freedom while working with this material (the video). There was no definition and no tradition to be used. All this was the very change of the image. And what had to be figured out was the reason for that change: what made this change possible and how to employ these basic primitive elements to structure something different from the world that we knew? Later in my life, in the Seventies, I attempted to question these artifacts that I could find in the electronic world and to question how these artifacts could actually be used. So I made two long pieces: Art of Memory and The Commission, which raised these questions. But they werent really made to succeed, they were conceived to question if this narrative possibility exists. There is a language that is made by electronic means, and there is a vocabulary that could be used and re-contextualized in order to remake a content, to create a new narrative. But these questions were already asked by some independent filmmakers, such as Paul Sharits - I dont know if you know his films. These authors questioned the new narrative or abstract narrative, one that can be achieved by colored fields, or with a minimum of elements. It was a sort of minimalist ideology still carrying on the very unambiguous narrative content. What does this mean? Nobody really knew. We were looking for a change in the state of our mind, a mood that conveys a possible reflection upon the world. It was about a different domain - one that was not reflected through peoples feelings that love each other or kill each other. So these were the questions that, I think, my generation tried to answer. And thats why I made these two works. But I found out that they had completely failed, because they were just designed for people to look at and say if such an attempt is possible or 36
not. That means I didnt create them to succeed, but to question these things. Yet one of them succeeded somehow, because its subject was history, you know, recent history, like Art of the Memory. Many people thought Id gave too many clues, still the film dealt with the 20th Century, a 20th Century which was a sadistic system of wars - especially the Second World War and this system was a sort of instrument for the development of this narrative. But that was rather unusual in my work, because right after that and Im referring now to the Eighties - I got turned on to robotics, so to speak, not really robotics - like human robots - but a kind of media constructions. I always tried, all my life, to look for what the code is, what the most basic, primitive, simplest code could be. What is the code that could set a new effort, in - you know - a sort of rewarding direction for this new material? But there was also this curiosity about what it does, and what it supports, or how we could form it, and how could it be learned. Because this material taught me a lot, and if this experience is valid, it has to be passed on. And this is another question. And this is still the question TH: Speaking of transferring, I understand that you are working now on archiving and digitizing some video (VHS)5 works. I am referring specifically to the Oasis project. WV: Thats right! Im looking back and Im trying to see what happened, what was accomplished. I see a lot of unfinished works. A lot of them! And Im thinking of what that means. With this project Im looking to build a repertory of all these works, to see which works are related, which are outside of the trends. So I try to establish a history of styles. Im not looking for an overview, and video and computer media have widely spread genres. They are very broad: we can see works that tell a story, we can see documentaries or abstract films. Its a broad arena. I am looking at it historically and Im trying to see what has been developed. So I would like to narrate a sort of paradigm, the only paradigm in my work that interests me. But its not even possible to finish it because there is too much data. And there is also the problem of the collective approach. I dont know if a discussion about the collection has its place here. Anyway, Im going to get through it and 37
Ill do what I can. I will take care of my friends; some of them have passed away by now. So its like a kind of gong. TH: You have described your work like some kind of research. And I consider that somehow, your approach is similar to a scientific research. You were speaking of a paradigm WV: What is a research? A research is an attempt to understand the way the world works. Scientific research has to deal with more or less successful experiments, while the aesthetic experiment doesnt really have any options. The aesthetic experiment has to deal with aesthetic evaluations, with the opinions of one or the other, with approvals and norms. So, art has much more limits. Its not true research. Actually its more like certain passions, like obsessions, driven by desire, and that is limiting. In science, a failed experiment has the same value as a successful one. Maybe not quite the same value, but scientists experiment in order to crown their success. I dont think that art works this way. If art produces non-art, it has no meaning. Art is made to succeed, in some strange way, and this narrows down its options. Also, another problem I have with science is that it takes place in a different environment. It is not an independent activity. Its usually done in a governmental or institutional environment and by that is often subject to institutional changes. Art, the best art I know, is usually done outside of the institutional realm. On the other hand, science is well funded, while artists are never well funded. We cannot fund art enough, because it doesnt produce sufficient returns. Scientists can change the world, they make atomic weapons, they are looking for solutions to produce more energy. Especially today, art is completely powerless in the current world configuration. Art cannot make you rich, cannot improve your living conditions, or whatever else. Art has been marginalized. It is no longer auxiliary to power - like it was when it used to work for the church when the artists were called to depict the heavens in such a way as to attract as many people as possible and to keep them believing in the promise of the eternal life. Art does not hold that Ace card anymore. 38
Of course art has a certain power, a transcendental power, of making a little daily object - like a canvas - to be priced from $20 or $12 to $30 million. And how it does it, it is still a transcendental mystery. But it does work, somehow, sometimes! And this is the very provocative power of art. But of course, usually the artists have long since passed away or they arent part of the transaction anymore. All this happens behind their back. The questions raised by the artistic creation have always provoked extreme behaviors. Of course artists are like crazy people, but then, there is a community of artists that knows how the system works, and where each artist appreciates the work for the other. We had an experience, perhaps six or eight years ago, with a group of artists and scientists in a laboratory in Santa Fe. It all ended in a complete disaster. Maybe it is possible to combine art and science. I think this is just a theory. There is not evidence of such a practice. Its impossible. But thats just my opinion. I could be totally wrong. Other people could support the contrary, that this relationship is real, and that these people like each other, that they work together, that they develop magnificent art. But Im not aware of these situations. Maybe science and technology have a lot in common. Maybe the only thing common between art and science is indirectly, though technology. The link between art and science is made through technology. This is almost evident. I will never doubt that. TH: I am quite surprised by your answer since your artistic interests are so tightly related to the video material. Sometimes you give the impression that your work follows the same directions as the scientific research. I think your answer is very much related to the contextual or sociological aspect of the work. WV: You see... Let me define it in a different way. Most collaboration initiatives between art and science actually come from science, because in order to exist, science needs an everlasting project. But if you consider all the scientific theories, after centuries of questions, only a few survive. Still, scientists have always fought to prove the fact that their work is as creative as that of the artists. But art has an unshakable past. There are paintings that go way back to the prehistory, works documented throughout the centuries. 39
There are masterpieces. And then you take science. All of a sudden, every scientific domain is questionable. Of course we can say that Einsteins theory has held up for a century, but can you imagine the number of theories that have been forgotten? This has already happened many, many times before and its still happening. And of course, we can think of the work of scientists as an intense effort to convince their own community of the existence of something, but this goes on only for a short period of time. Art is usually a conglomeration of symbolic, iconic, or whatever other kind of sentences. So I think art and science are not really similar processes, even if many scientists deny that, and even if the French Academy brought them together in the 18th Century, calling itself the Arts and Science Academy. This marriage can only be made in heaven. Anyway, this is an observation. Ive met many scientists and Ive met many artists, and Ive seen not only profound differences in aesthetic thinking, but Ive also seen profound differences in their social environment. And that is irreconcilable. But it depends on the angle from which you look at it. Somebody else can convince you that this relationship is true. TH: Which are, from your point of view, the next steps to be done? What things are important for you, and what things will be, from your perspective, of interest in the future? WV: What I see as an important issue in the future is basically what it is called the utopian model. My generation has known several of these projects, the socialism, or the communism, in which we grew up, and which you probably know very well. And then there were these promises of the market economy, saying that everyone will work and make money, and eventually become rich. When you look at the latest catastrophe in New Orleans, than you see that actually what the poor people of New Orleans are looking for is comfort. What these people lack is the fact that their existence has nothing to do with the market economy, and that what counts is the human quality of life. Were talking about a new aesthetic, a new understanding, which is kind of an old discourse. Then, there is the promise that through automation we will free the human being from enslavement its 19th Century utopian thinking. 40
So, suddenly there is a crisis of thought. Then you have to ask the question why, and what is our existence? Are we here to build a large predatory capitalist system or to oppose it to Marxs old model? I think we live in very strange times. Then, there are the waves of wars that are no longer considered aberrations. They are even called preemptive, and Im referring here to the concept of preemptive war. It is an aberration! It consists of a war prepared and paid for from the national budget. It is the budget that goes to war. Of course this is nothing new. But it contrasts so much with all these promises of evolution, lets call them of enlightenment, which was the latest evolutionary concept. There have been a series of patents, like those aiming to eradicate poverty, and these concepts keep coming back into the United States. So it is the very existence of a person that is questioned. And art is now placed in a no mans land. If you look around, and see how far removed the artists concerns are from the official interests, you realize that these officials arent interested in improving the governmental strategy anymore. Only in Bhutan, from what Ive heard lately, there is a kind of kingdom there, and they are talking about the Gross National Product being happiness. It sounds so strange! But the man was correct, what counts is the happiness of his people. But this is an approached that was used in Germany during WWII, as well. So, the future is this unfulfilled promise of the past reconfigured as a vision. And eventually, I think, we have to decide what the value of human existence is. Is it to get a job? More and more people are born because there is a need for more slave labor. Or is there any way people can choose to live according to the talent, ability, or whatever old terms might define their abilities. So I am interested in the story of a generation. We, my generation and I, we were totally involved with every aspect of the social condition, including that of the video. It did not matter the format: be it abstract, non-narrative, non-figurative, video was especially politicized from the inside. We were extremely realistic of the politics of the time; we took advantage of those politics. The generation of the Sixties in the United States and everywhere, became the actors of a certain style of social movement, the actors of historical movements. It is whats lacking in 41
the art of today. I dont know why. But I believe it is a deep human crisis: to find out who we are, and what we should be. And looking at the media, you cannot think otherwise. The crisis raises questions like: what is all about in the end, what kind of explanations do we get? What is the relationship between government and people, and what is the relationship between people and industry? Are we exploited? Should we be exploited? What about the people that cannot be employed, because they dont have the ability to maintain a job, but who, maybe, could be productive through their aesthetic innocence? These arrangements, and then the religion, are the same thing. It took us four centuries to get rid of the religious oppression. And suddenly in the United States begins its exacerbation again. And then there is a certain kind of Islam. We have this repetition of the past over which none of us has control, and on top of it, there is this democratic process which justifies it. So, I became just an observer. Im looking at the past and Im trying to imagine what was, and what the process that allowed it to be born was. So I am reflexive, I am not a creative person anymore. Sometime I am tempted by the idea of making art, because there are so many unfinished areas, or areas that have just been neglected, and this, because the time has passed so fast, and the evolution of the media was so rapid that we barely could touch on some of these things or describe them in some way. If allowed, I would like to make a suggestion: use technology to free people, and not to enslave them. But there is no evidence that such a thing is happening. Its about free people who dont want to participate in the way that society forces them to. There is a struggle for personal choice. It is not about liberation, but about something that supports the values of tolerance and will advance the qualities that in the end do not follow the industrial and political necessities. Anyway, thats all I can say. Do you have any other questions? TH: No, for the moment these are all my questions. WV: Use my answers, and if they dont help you, forget them. You know, Im only an instrument. 42
TH: As am I, probably. WV: We all are. Thanks to Woody Vasulka for the interview. The residence at ZKM was possible with the support of DAAD German Academic Exchange Service. Notes Steina et Woody Vasulka Videastes, 1969-1984: 15 annees dimages electroniques -â. Ed. Cine-MBXA - CINEDOC, Paris, 1984. (catalogue) 2 Gazzano Marco Maria « On the Trail of the Fire from the Gods », in « Steina e Woody Vasulka Video, Media e Nuove Immagini nellarte Contemporanea », Ed. Fahrenheit 451, Roma, 1995 (catalog). p.13-23. 3 Philippe Pasquier - « Lintelligence artificielle et la création contemporain en réflexion. La question de la technique ». Parachute, no.119/2005, pg. 154-164. In his article, Pasquier reviews the position of some philosophers in respect to technology: he recounts Jacque Ellul technophobia and Gilbert Simondon technophila, as well as the radical emancipating position formulated by Tristam Engelhard. 4 Séris, Jean-Pierre, « Technique », Ed. PUF, Paris, 1994. 5 transcription note
A GNOSSEOLOGICAL APPROACH OF THE CONCEPT OF INTERACTION REAL TIME IN MUSIC SEVERAL PARADIGMS AND MODELS
Paulo Ferreira-Lopes Abstract Digital technology and the tools of artistic expression. Reflection on several operating structures resulting from the integration of digital technologies in music and sound production. The digital musical instrument: an ontological perspective on the main structures of sound manipulation interfaces and interactions. Paradigms and interaction models. 1. Introduction My fascination with interaction stems from my childhood, when I was passionately interested in the construction of sound producing instruments. As for my research interests of the last ten years, they can be illustrated by the impact and implications of the lutherie of musical instruments on musical compositions based on digital technologies. The construction of musical instruments, more specifically those created through digital lutherie, presuppose the meeting, vicinity and 45
intersection of several subjects and of different fields of knowledge. As for the specific case of my work, and for the personal application of my research, one can discern several domains which coexist and structure the development of my projects. Actually, these domains represent indirectly the different components and parts that structure a musical instrument, as well as the applications that I intend for them. The individual complexity of each of the parts and components of the musical instrument as well as the complexity according to which each of the parts connect to each other, determine in the end, the degree of complexity of the instrument. For both the method of accessing the instrument and for the process of sound production, this implies mastering and deepening our knowledge on subjects such as the representation, interaction, interface, support and on the back-end side, the computer science involved. Invariably and generally, in my work as well as in my mind, the relationship between computer science and music is not structured in a hierarchical form. This means that the digital environment and the use of digital means in the conception of an instrument, goes beyond the materialization of the instrument, of its sound, or of its function controls. Materially speaking, digital technologies and computer science are but a few elements in the chain of creation. The material specificity of each of these elements naturally and permanently determines not only the dimensions and the characteristics of the instrument, but also the limits of the composition and the outline of the network that leads to its finalization due to the endogenous characteristics of the instruments. In this sense, one should consider that the use of digital technologies generates reflexes and interactions in the field of the musical composition, concerning both its macroform and its microstructure. This means that the elements hardware and software which representare the basis of a the computer science-based work and which enable the production of the basic material of musical composition namely the sound - coexist within a chain of multiple interactions, whose components are the composition, the performer and the composer. 46
In order to support this basic idea, I quote a paragraph from of my PhD thesis: The musical instrument may be the material motivation of the musical composition. The limits and the challenges of its complexity can direct the contents and the form of a musical composition. The musical instrument may become at the same time the object of a composition. It is not unusual for the composer to create his own instruments in accordance with a pre-established ideal which evolves in fragments, with the progression of his lutherie work as his instrument begins to take shape. The musical instrument can, on the other hand function as a mirror, by means of reduction or redunndancy, enabling a shallow access to the main outline of musical reality. (pp 162-163) In this respect, several of the main aspects related to the concept of the musical instrument1, are proven to be the essential aspects of the mentioned approaches: • through the study of the connections between the user and the surface structure of the musical instrument: the interface • through analyzing the relationships between the user and the more profound and abstract structures of the musical instrument: the interaction. 2. A gnosseological approach on the concept of interaction In general, the concept of interaction as defined by the different fields of communication sciences is the result of communication seen, either from a conversational or visual point of view (including gestures). As for the quantification and the measure of the interaction, the fluctuation between these two variables is conditioned by the type of support used by the communicational phenomenon. In the case of traditional media, the interaction proves to be weak as the communication is unilateral. In the case of the new media especially those transmitted or fixed on a digital support - the interaction proves to be strong, as the 47
communication mechanism is theoretically established according to an exchange model, which proves to be very strong, according to the participants personality. Trying to identify the common aspects of the most widespread approaches towards the concept of interaction, one can mark note, on a macro-dimensional level, that the mainstream understanding of the general concept of interaction is directed either to a category focusing on the action and the transfers of states which is reached due to the action moving to other possible states (Dance: 1967; McLoughlin: 1988), or to a category which defines the concept of interaction as a process catalyzing instable states directed towards principle of communication and exchange. (Rafaelli: 1988) In short, the concept of interaction, according to the communication science, is based grosso modo on the communicational phenomenon. If case certain divergences come up regarding the communicational phenomenon, their occurrence may be explained by the specificities of the media and of the instruments related to different fields of research, as well as, by the specificities induced by quantifying the signification of each media. As for computer sciences, and especially those influenced by the fundamental thought of symbolical interaction, I have inferred several taxonomies, modalities and degrees of interaction in the framework of interaction between man and machine, as will be discussed we later. One of the most interesting paradigms tackling the concept of interaction is that of Wegners. The concept of interaction, analyzed by Wegner (Wegner: 2001), moves away from the simplification based on the communicational principle mentioned earlier. The concept of interaction introduced by Wegner evolves to a dynamical principle, requiring an extensive flexibility of calculation which must adapt to the reality, and to connect to the temporal axis. This concept reveals thus, a new principle, as compared to the quite closed communication chains in which the information was exchanged and converted by algorithmic calculation previously. However, in order to offset some of the opposing reactions to his algorithmic calculation, 48
Wegner presupposes that the association between algorithms and interactive technologies, based on the concept of adaptive interaction, can lead to solving the problems more efficiently and closer to the human context. Consequently the concept of interaction, from the computer science point of view and by comparison to communication sciences, implies a greater complexity, as its definition becomes extremely formalized in some cases, or branches into several fields of knowledge, in other cases. As I tackle the concept of interaction from the point of view of computer sciences, my research evolves two different levels. At this point, I will mention my study developed in the context of a my PhD thesis tackling on one hand the definition of the concept of interaction oriented towards the internal space of the computer and towards the space of calculation, and on the other hand, towards the impact of the human-machine relationship on the concept of interaction. 3. Interaction and real-time in music A few attempts to study the relationships between music and interaction compel the us to reflect on the concept of real-time. Realtime, in the technical terminology of musical composition delimits the vast connotations of interaction and music. In this respect, one has to consider the lack of precision found in few attempts to understand the principles of causality between real-time and interaction, especially when these theoretical speculations eliminate the interaction between mixed forms of music or recorded music. Here is the Manourys position on the subject: Considered from the point of view of an intelligent interactivity between musician and machine, the interpretation, as I said it previously, needs to reintegrate itself into the body of the electroacoustical music so that the performer should no longer be the slave of the machine, but the contrary (Manoury: 1987). From this point of view, it is not difficult to conceive real-time as if it could simultaneously include many unique aesthetic tendencies and, 49
at the same time, limit the topic of interaction to certain technological contexts. According to Manoury, in the case of mixed-media works that use previously recorded music are the integration of reactions to all kinds of interactions is inexistent, as the interpretation is an exogenous manifestation. For interpretation, the concept of interpretative variation is highly dependant (if not exclusively dependent) on the time axis. This argumentation implies that in the mixed compositions, using pre-recorded music, or the compositions recorded exclusively on media, the interaction, derived from the principle of time interpretation, cannot take place, as the time dimension does not allow for interpretation, due to the fixed and unchanging medium of the composition. However, if we take into consideration the relationships between architectural space and the acoustic conditions needed by a musical composition, one can immediately note the countless interactions, which also include the acoustics of a space, without mentioning the importance of the speakers as instruments of perceptive reproduction, which can enhance the interpretation of a piece. Here is Horacio Vaggiones commentary on the immanent characteristics of the outer surrounding space of the composition and its interactions with the concert hall: We have to add to this the characteristics of the concert halls reaction, which is a true resonance box: the sounds thus projected will spring to other ghostlike locations drawing unique paths for each elevation and each tone. (Vaggione: 2000: pp. 7). If, on one hand it is true that real-time enables a direct intervention on the sound processes involved and the implementation of wider interactive processes during the concert, one can often note that the use of real-time, observed in a more refined light and in certain applications, encounters serious problems because of several limitations. In this sense, it is worth mentioning that due to its nature, these limitations will never find a solution through technologic development because these problems are a the result of time irreversibility associated to certain uses of realtime technology. In my opinion, among the number of potential advantages brought by real-time technologies to the field of music its most profitable use 50
resides, essentially, in digital lutherie: the building of digital musical instruments and their association to the traditional instruments. On the contrary, real-time compositions or certain methods of sound production, more specifically related to several families of sound synthesis, do not really find, in my opinion, the space of reflection and construction/deconstruction, from a real-time perspective, inherent to musical creation and composition. Even if, from a certain point of view real-time technologies introduced the concept of flexibility and intuition in musical composition, I think nevertheless that the use of real-time requires apprenticeship and the substantial mastery of different fields of knowledge. This approach is also valid for the composer as for the computer scientist, but most of all for the performer. In this sense, considering the costs, especially the time costs and the compositional complexity implied by the real-time when composing a musical piece, each time I have to begin a new project, I have to reconsider and to exactly forecast the consequences of such a choice. I quote for example my work Sotto Voce, for which the production time and the time of setting the digital instrument was so long, that certain technical solutions adopted at the beginning of the project were simply outdated after almost 20 months of work. 4. Paradigms and models of interaction There have been almost twenty years since electronic technologies were present in my creative work, simultaneously associated with reflections of diverse natures. The introduction and use of digital technologies in my work starts with the beginning of the nineties, being interested in real-time technologies since 1993, especially those involving multi-channel distribution, what is more commonly named spatial rendering. As far as my whole body of reflections is concerned, the topic of interaction has a very important role. In this sense, and as a result of my observations, the musical composition often compels the composer to develop models, evenit doest do it in a systematic way. These models, 51
adapted to specific situations, enable the establishment of a catalogue-memory or of a musical notation which generally and musically reflects the paradigms of interaction between the composer, the composition, the musicians and the instruments. In this way, I developed a classification model for an interaction paradigm (Ferreira-Lopes: 2004) founded on two main typologies: genre (discrete or non-discrete) and directionality (unidirectional/multidirectional). The typology concept, tries to explain the types of interaction and communication models, which are the basis of a relationship formed on principles of cooperation and exchange between two realities: • the performer through his music; • the digital musical instruments. These two typologies enable the standardization of: • the global process; • the local process; • the micro-local process. As for the global process, one can remark that it is associated with non-discrete time developments, while a local or a micro-local process is associated to discrete time developments. Among the analyzed cases, which are quite different from a multicasting device such as an interactive CD or DVD, one can deduct that the configuration of an interactive device, and more specifically that of a digital musical instrument, reflects undoubtedly a rather formal choice than an aesthetical one. In this sense, one can conclude that realtime and the consequences of its use dont allow us to infer an universal aesthetic status. Not only did this kind of reflection have an enormous influence on the creation and the composition of my musical pieces and of the instruments involved, but I also introduced the computer as a means of expression and as concert instrument since the computer may simultaneously be the creative instrument and my ideal digital musical instrument. This is a consequence of my intervention, via the computer, during the concert, in the creation of musical pieces along to the other performers, and aside my interventions in setting the acoustic levels (on the mixing console) or in adjusting the equalization. In this context, 52
the computer integrates functions similar to those of the musical instruments as it not only is the means of connecting traditional instruments to the musical device, or only transformating the interventions of the performers, but it is also an autonomous instrument, which I control in a unique manner. That is, when I use the computer in concert, I control it and interact with it as well, using peripheral devices (sensors, joystick, mouse, etc.) that are especially configured and assembled ergonomically for a specific work. On the other hand, the integration of the computer in the concert as a musical instrument, implies that the quality of the musical outcome and the quality of the interactions, especially those resulting directly from my intervention, depends entirely on the quality and on the complexity of the surface structures or on the deeper and more abstract structures of the musical instrument. The quality of the musical outcome during the concert also depends on the time that I spend rehearsing on my instrument, often very intensely, before the rehearsals. My presence in the realization of my musical pieces, during the a concert, implies the specific construction of the instruments, and the development of (quasi meta-technical) strategies in order to play my instruments, and thus, acquiring the status of performer along that of composer. 5. Conclusions As for the specific aspects concerning my instruments and the particular objectives of each instrument, Id especially like to mention in this article two projects: doN and Sotto Voce. Concerning my composition doN, the main objective of the project was that of confronting the musician with the possible extensions of his instrument, some of them of a material nature, like the mutes of the trumpet, and other virtual, as digital filters modeled after the mutes of the trumpet. Within this structure, the construction of my digital musical instrument and of the global system aimed to model the mutes by applying filters on the trumpet signal. The solutions for constructing the instrument, as described in my research paper from 20002, followed 53
several stages. At the beginning of the project in October 1998, I tried the implementation of filters using the Fourier transforms as well as general techniques of convolving the signal, based essentially on Gérad de Caussés work. Finally, at the end of 1999 I abandoned the transforms trying to establish the functional basis of the instrument on the FIR IIR filters, connected to tools of spread modulating spectrum (the ring modulation principle). This solution allowed me to have quite a flexible instrument when it comes to calculating the computational power of the computer and the musical outcome, as well as, the aspect of communication between performers and instruments, according to my research. The modeled mutes enabled an outcome similar to the acoustical reality of the trumpet reaching dissonant paradoxes opposed to the source. In the case of Sotto Voce for cello and live electronics, the paradigms are completely different from those of doN. In this composition I wanted to work on two aspects: the first aspect being the 3D spatial rendering, the second that of instrument replication in realtime. As for the 3D spatial rendering, I actually wanted to create an environment different from the common models, whose spatial modelling signifies either a movement of the source, or a model of acoustical space, or both at the same time. My idea was to split an object in four dynamic segments which enable us to monitor its evolution in the field of time/frequency. Then, after the splitting using the band-pass filter and after treatments based on the FIR and IIR filters, I relaunch in the space the outcome of the aforementioned operations using four speakers. This operation, globally speaking, enables the spectator to acoustically rebuild the disjunctions initially operated, using the acoustical multiplicity spread in the space. Thus, throwing in space residues generated by a sound source which is the cello, the audience must assemble the resulted fragments in a single point where they can rebuild the pieces of a previous deconstruction. As for the second aspect, the main objective was to combine the musical structure of the instrumental part and the coordination of each of the four instruments, whose modules included each an IIR FIR band pass filter, using the cello. 54
Considering that signal processing modules (the filters) are fed acoustically by the cello signal, this operation enables the reproduction of the cello signal x times, as well as autonomously duplicating the associated instrument. This means that the cellist plays simultaneously five instruments independent from one another. This type of challenge is only possible thanks to the principles according to which I specifically structured this instrument: • the principle of non-causality between the manipulation of the instrument and its impact on the musical outcome; • the non-synchronization in time of the manipulation of control interface and its impact on the musical outcome; • the diminishment of musicians gestures as they relate to the evolution and the development of the musical content operated by the digital musical instrument. 6. Acknowledgments We are thankful to Horacio Vaggione for his precious advice and orientation. I would also like to thank ZKM for hosting my projects. This research was developed with the support of Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, in Lisbon and of the POCI2010 program. (Text translated from French by Patricia Comãnescu) 7. References
Ferreira-Lopes, P. ; Étude de modèles interactifs et dinterfaces de contrôle en temps réel pour la composition musicale. PHD ; Paris ; University of Paris VIII - Dep. of Sciences and Technologies of Art, 2004. Ferreira-Lopes, P. , Coimbra D. and Sousa Dias, A. : Music and Interaction: Consequences, Mutations and Metaphors of the Digital Music Instrument in ACTAS do 2º Workshop Luso-Galaico de Artes Digitais; Vila Nova Cerveira / Portugal ; 2005. Garnett, G. E. ; The Aesthetics of Computer Music in Computer Music Journal vol 25 no. 1; Massachusetts : The MIT Press, 2001.
Goebel, J. ; The Art of Interfacing : Senses, Sense and the Discipline of Playing Interfaces in The Sciences of the interfaces (p. 306-314) ; Tuebingen : Genista VERLAG, 1999. Jensen, J. ; Interactivity ; Tracking a new concept in media and communication Studies in Computer Media and Communication ; Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1999. Manoury, P. ; De lincidence des systèmes en temps réels sur la création musicale in Actes de la Conférence ARTE E TECNOLOGIA ; Lisbonne : Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian ;1987. Vaggione , H. : Lespace composable sur quelques catégories opératoires dans la musique électroacoustique in M. Solomos et J-M Chouvel (Ed.): Espace : musique, philosophie. ; Paris, LHarmatan ; 1998. Rafaeli, S. ; Interactivity : From New Media to Communication (pp110-134) in Sage Annual Review of Communication Research ; Beverley Hills - Newbury Park : Sage ; 1988. Risset, J. C. ; Evolution des outils de création sonore in Interfaces homme-machine et création musicale ; Paris : Hermes; 1999. Weibel, P. ; The Art of Interface Technology in The Sciences of the interfaces (p. 272-281) ; Tuebingen : Genista VERLAG ; 1999 . Winograd, T. : Interaction Spaces for 21st Century Computing, in John Carroll (ed.), Human-Computer Interaction in the New Millennium, Addison-Wesley, 2001.
We highlight the concept of interface as one of the most important concepts introduced by the research on the diffrerent aspects of the interaction within the musical composition. 2 http://ima.zkm.de/~pfl/publications3/rap00.html
CHAPTER II. Spatial Forms
DIGITAL SURREALITIES. DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE: ARTS OF F[R]ICTION
Sophie Fetro If certain digital images are based on the simulation of the reality, others, on the contrary, are designed to introduce a part of fiction into reality. The digital representations that imply directly the question of mimesis in the deign1 arts become sometimes so autonomous that they confirm Georg Simmels considerations related to the work of art as existence par-delà la réalité2 (existence beyond reality). A new form of imaging is being created due to digital design. The spaces, digitally defined, seem to move away from reality and to generate unlikely, almost fictitious spaces. However, the arts of design that involve the digital realm in their creative process, dont give up reality entirely. On the contrary, they count on the abstraction and fictional power of digital representation in order to enrich the architecture, and the perceptible and practicable environment with a new dimension. Not only did the development of the CAD challenge architects and designers relationships to the traditional operating modes, but it also questioned their capacity to change their work habits and approach to reality. 1. Digital Utopias Developers, architects and designers have high hopes in the representational and programmatic possibilities offered by new media, es57
pecially the 3D software and modeling programs. They base their dream of a neverland and set off to conquer new territories on these technologies. Intimately connected to utopia through invention and prediction the arts of design unveil new ways of organizing the space and the human environment, somehow akin to the utopian worlds described in literature 3 or seen on film 4, or to the ideal cities imagined by Étienne-Louis Boullée and Claude-Nicolas Ledoux. The architects and designers who propose to both transform reality through their designs and to create new realities, developed new methods which highlight this relationship between design and utopia. The digital world and Thomas Mourus visions have two features in common: rationalizing reality and introducing Science Fiction5 in this process. The utopia6, namely the imaginary island invented by Morus, found in the digital space a place of possible existence and visibility. This purely fictitious space could recall the nowhere-space of the computer networks. Marked by the search of the ideal city, by the echoes of Eden and of the lost Paradise7, as well as by eschatological visions, the present digital utopias, although removed from their religious origins and their biblical models, remind us of the prophetic traditions as they make out of computer imaging the measure of a new eloquence. Messenger of both the worst deviations and the most promising visions, digital imaging reveals the ambivalent characteristic of the utopia, where the nightmare intersects the dream. Fostering the imagination of the ideal city, the digital space may be a refuge from reality, the nowhere-space, as Marc Augé8 puts it, of a cathartic deliverance from contemporary fears and anxieties. The 21st Century inaugurates a new utopian age thanks to the development of the digital world and of computer graphics imaging techinques. Despite previous totalitarian drifts caused by the materialization of certain political and social utopias, the hope for the successful application of visionary projects is still there. A good example is the project to rehabilitate a housing complex in Netherland by the Greg Lynn FORM9 architecture firm, or the energy saving BedZed garden-city in Great Britain10. 58
2. The Art of Representation The Subordination of the Project to the Image The media coverage of the projects, their digital broadcasting on the Internet and the use of competitions are challenges that determine architects and designers to develop their projects through digital imaging technologies. They engage thus, in producing overwhelming images, that give their projects the necessary attention grabbing shine. The design or architecture projections are more than ever so dependant on the image, to the point that the projects dont even need to be executed in order to exist. Either they could not be materialized for budgetary reasons or due to modification impediments, or even because these projects assume their virtual existence as is, for many, the digital space is a voluntary exile. This existence, dependent on the image, does not deter the interest from these projects, nor from their possible posterity. Like the previously non-executed projects11, they are a visual testimony that enables the understanding of the age and of its practices. The use of synthetic images in the arts of design and the visual proliferation enabled by the computer leads to a state opposed to the lack of iconicity12 mentioned by Cyrille Simonnet, namely to a surplus of iconicity. This type of reasoning that values the visually attractive object excludes from the beginning the modest object. This hierarchy imposed by the image, even if not new, dominates and opens the way to the a visual overload at the cost of less demonstrative projects, or of projects that dont privilege the image. The Photogenic Object Designers fascination with computer tools leads to a new form of seduction of the project by the image. With the wider introduction of CAD in the deign process, the flattering characteristic of the realistic representation was amplified more than ever before. If, up to then, the architectural photographer was the one capable of enhancing a buildings 59
appearance thanks to exposures, framing or to favorable lighting, nowadays the photographical quality of a building is predefined and refined by computer programs (that enable the choice of the best vista, light, skin effects, etc.). This is transposed in the digital projects to a specific luminosity, properly or metaphorically speaking. As opposed to the film camera, which functions based on the light sensitivity of the medium, the 3D modeling software is based on an internal luminescence that give the virtual objects a particular aesthetic quality. As Mark Wigley puts it in his text, Back to Black13, a new iconography is born, founded on a process of inverting the principle of drawing with black on white. With digital technologies, a project is no longer solely marked by the architects or designers gesture or imprint, but also by the computer programs employed. Seeing the Landscape Through Virtual Perspective The 3D and CAD programs are new visualization devices producing not only original imaging but also largely modifying our perception of the real environment. Illustrating the artistization that Alain Roger debates in his Court traité du paysage (Short Treaty on Landscape)14 there is a similar phenomenon that perceives the landscape through the virtual grid filter. So, what one sees is no longer a work of art or a building, but, mainly a virtual design that has first of all emerged as an image. Although this vision requires a certain level of visual education (a culture of the virtual image), the media, via advertising, the cinema via special effects or even the whole visual media environment (architecture, design, visual communication, etc.), are the promoters of a passive but effective education of the eye. New household and outdoor and indoor landscapes are about to flourish both in real life as well as in the virtual environment. A new surface quality appears, as for example in Arik Levis Meteor series of tables featuring mirrored and faceted surfaces or even Jean Nouvels Agbar tower in Barcelona. 60
3. Digital Surrealities The digital promises: images more real than nature itself. Each designer has a different relationship to the digital image. Some aim to design projects close to reality, whereas others have a different goal, namely to design projects purposely removed from reality and thus embracing a different logic. For the latter, the computer, due to its features, may enable the creation of new identities. This operating mode functions based on the figurative capacities of the representational tool employed, and is typical for the 20th Century design process. As axonometry, according to Yve-Alain Bois15, initialized a new vision of the space, especially with artists like Gerrit Rietveld, contemporary architects and designers consider the digital tool not only a simple representational device, but also an essential part, and sometimes even the main part of the project. The computer tool, able to produce images more real than nature itself, facilitates a digital overtaking of reality. It invites designers to dismiss the imitation of reality and invent a new one. The project of designing a Reebok store proposed by the American studio CAP16, which consists of rendering an athletes spatial and vectorial dynamics juxtaposes athletic performance with visual performance. Its strangeness, partially caused by the distortions of the volumes, by the bluish reflections, by the dim light and absence of any object or individual, reminds us of the unprecedented characteristic that Aragon was referring to when analyzing the surrealist artworks. These images, which one doesnt know where to really situate, somewhere between reality and fiction, introduce a doubt in what is being perceived. Actually, they claim an indescribable and singular quality which questions the visual experience. Surreality, the Indetermination Principle and Random Processes The approach of the projects which tackle the field of surreality share with the surrealist conceptual adventure the same desire to dismiss 61
the permanence of the known world. But, as opposed to the surrealists, the designer using digital tools within his creation in order to enhance the quality of reality, focuses less on a the process of introspection and searches inside the machine the means of stimulating his imagination. If the surrealists overtook reality by means of guided writing, the unconscious and the dreams, contemporary designers find the subjects of a new, oneiric, and creative power within computer programs, mathematical models and algorithms. Even if reality is still the main guideline, the designers who work with digital tools also work to overtake them and thus emphasize the surrealist expression. The principle of reality is questioned not by the unconscious but by the way in which the user explores the formative and informing potential of the virtual environment. In architecture, there are many who orient their research towards the programmatic indetermination. This way of creating, based on mathematical models and the generative and dynamic possibilities of the software, becomes, paradoxically, a means for the designer to determine the evolution of conventional program development methodologies, by associating data in an original manner in order to espace pre-established outcome. The computation level, provided by the computer and which consequently eludes the designer, becomes for him a means of escaping from pure intentionality and predetermination. Greg Lynn FORMs works (the complexity theory)17, or Oosterhuis.nls (who aims to produce a live architecture, e-motional)18, demonstrate that digital means, despite their mathematical expression, can produce, in spite of any preconceptions spaces in permanent interaction with the humans. New Processes of Formatting and Manufacturing With the development of 3D imaging, the creative and conceptual models are updated. While designers of digital spaces borrow concepts from architecture and urbanism (website architecture, digital space, website construction, networks), inversely, architects tend to borrow principles of organization from the digital field (ramification, 62
stratification, connection, virtuality, etc.). These exchanges are translated into architectural projects through interwoven structures, spatial structures with complex connections (bridges, gateways, embankments), through the stratification of levels and surfaces, and very often through seamless19 spatial and formal continuity. Ensure the Transcription of Distortions and Digital Continuous Forms Rendering digital visions into reality not only involves the research for new materials and new physical properties (acoustic and formal qualities, sizing, wear and shock resistance, thermal and phonic performance, etc.), but also pushes designers to find new ways of modifying the already existing material. The flexible materials, the resins, the linoleum, the textiles, twist, twirl, bend, while the rigid materials are fragmented into facets in order to render the formal continuity and the flexibility of digital projections. The New Fiera Milano exhibition complex, designed by Massimiliano Fuksas and Schlaich Bergermann und Partner, illustrates magnificently the digital strangeness originating from this works transposition of the virtual into reality. Computer Science - Strangeness Factor in Industrial Design In design, the upheavals may be represented, as asserts Frédéric Migayrou, by the emergence of a possible digital continuum20 in the production flow of the project. The projects made through digital production, or the projects using the techniques of stereolithography initially employed in the fast prototyping field (M. Faltasis objects, Skets furniture by Front Design, or Patrick Jouins Solid chair) directly link the conceptual and the manufacturing processes of the object. Actually, the introduction of biological data in the programming of design objects (application of the osteoporotic damages on a plastic 63
garden chair by Robert Stadler), as well as the use of variables in the process of formatting an object (i.e. EZCTs project of computational chair design using genetics and Greg Lynns one-of-a-kind tea & coffee towers designed for Alessi) challenge the fundamental principles of the industrial manufacturing production (serial conception, pragmatic relationship between from & function). They also bestow it an unprecedented strangeness. The digital processes generate paradoxical objects in the field of furniture design. As opposed to the digital continuum mentioned above, they value first the conceptual process over production and manufacturing methods. It is the case of several projects engendered by the computing of the extrusion. The Frédéric Ruyants Mobilier en ligne Radi designers Ray stool, YED Transalpins Living in a box or Marc Newsons extruded furniture series are symbolic for the way in which the computing tool induces the forms. In these four projects, there is no effective extrusion but an imaginary one, virtual, enabled by the representation of digital forms. Thus, the manufacturing method doesnt correspond to the virtual generative process of the project. These projects seem actually to illustrate this difference between the digital visualization, the conceptual approach of and the technical processes of industrial manufacture. As opposed to Alvar Aaltos furniture made of bended glued-laminated timber or Marcel Breuers furniture of metal tubes, which are based on the exploitation of the physical, structural and formal properties of a specific material, the furniture digitally conceived highlights mainly the designing process that has created them. Consequently, with CAD, it is not always the material that dictates the formal and structural identity of the project; it is rather the virtual design that defines the forms the materials need to take. Surreal Experiences While the surrealist experiences tend to reduce the difference between inner life and lived experience, as Marguerite Bonnet says about the surrealist adventure, they tend to weaken the opposition between what is inside us and what is outside us21, the digital projects arent 64
always based on reducing the difference between themselves and reality. Digital projects sometimes seem to come close to the ideal22 existence, as mentioned by Georg Simmel regarding the work of art, reflect a constant tension with the reality. The architects and designers using digital means devote themselves mainly to explore the multiple links between reality and fiction. They search for possible relationships between the two, aware of the the simultaneity between the inside and the outside, to put it in Georg Simmels terms. The computing applied to architectural and design projects is not a tool of extreme rationalization of reality but rather of interpretation, allowing reality and fiction to relate. Front Designs chest of drawers could put into phisical form this complicity between digital design and reality. Andrea Branzis Culture of Surreal The projects using the abstracting power of digital imaging could be integrated into the surreal culture23 invoked by Andrea Branzi. The strangeness of certain images and the fascination induced by them, contribute to the overtaking of the reality by the digital tool. For Branzi, the surreal culture, whose fundaments originate in the Latin culture and start from the international Surrealism including the Dadaism and the Metafisica art movement, employ methods of creation founded on the convergence of heterogeneous elements, which greatly enhance the consistency of reality. This surreal culture which tends to make reality more complex and richer could be continued by digital practices. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLPs24 project of Shanghais Aeroport 3rd terminal, reflects the architects and image creators capacity of producing representations of the project that illustrate an extraordinary degree of strangeness in spite of an entirely rational construction. Multiple white sloping panels compose a roof with no boundaries covering an artificial Eden where luxurious vegetation shelters an idealized population. With the development of new technologies, this surreal culture seems to have gone beyond its Latin origins and to have flourished in international architecture and design. However, the use of 65
computing is not enough to warrant the interest of a production. For Branzi this ability, identical with the one of a master of ceremonies, adorning a reality consumed by others, creates poison or pleasure by skillfully and mysteriously issuing relationships and becomes finally the soul of the banquet, the grey eminence of the encounter.25 4. Hyperreality: Age of Digital Mega-structures If for Andrea Branzi, some artistic manifestations could generate a surreal culture which enhances reality, or its consistency, according to his expression, contemporary architecture and design projects, whose ambition seems to be the enhancement of reality, are easily confronted with the issues of gigantism and excess. This is no longer a spiritual enhancement, sensitive and metaphorical as Andrea Branzi understood it, but a physical and spatial growth serving a political and commercial intention. The many projects effectively executed, as well as the many complexes, as those planned for the Olympic games in Peking, the airport areas, and the different cultural and touristic complexes of Shanghai mark the beginning of an demonstrative age, now more than ever. As it was the case with 19th Century universal exhibitions, the architectural projects and their execution are involved in an eloquent demonstration of the last technical innovations. The excess and the oversizing prolong the tradition of an architecture of power. An Art of Computational Performance The quality of the digital imaging, its hypnotic character, the graphical and constructing potential of digital programs, the resourcefulness of those who make use of the computing equipment, make of the architecture of today an art of the computational performance. The improbable visions that result from it (architectural promenades, dynamic lighting, etc.) attract our curiosity. Design studios and designers employ multiple artifices and effects capable of adorning their projects. The mastering of computer modeling tools can generate projects and achievements that overrule traditional references. The 66
overhangs seem to defy the laws of nature. The more and more complex building coverings and the multiplication of resin structures are true challenges to the engineering skills. However, the grandiloquence of certain propositions puts into question the interest and the validity of spatial and physical transcriptions of certain virtual designs. Even if they have a delightful appearance, the proposed spaces look often immoderate and impracticable for the pedestrian. On the other hand, the execution of certain projects which need considerable prodigality of means (monumental building sites, quantity and importation of raw material, wasteful use of glass surfaces, etc.), seem to ignore contemporary ecological problems. Degenerative Amplifications: Apotheostrophical Projects The vast complexe of Abou Dhabi, where big names of architecture (Frank OGehry, Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel and Tadao Ando) gave an example of their art, is symbolic of this current performative art. The juxtaposition of projects having in background the sea, aligned and equidistant is grotesque. These projects whose appearance is impeccable, bear inside the signs of a degenerative amplification of the computing potential applied to architecture and to the organization of human spaces. Often elegant and highly seductive, these projects display grand formal and spatial qualities, but also illustrate the subjection of the architecture and design to the commercial and political authority. Resulted from the sublime blooming of the design, conception, and building techniques, they also may be considered dystopical deviations of digital delusions. The gigantic size and the spectacular effects they employ hide sometimes the scarcity of the proposed device and or of the actual service. These projects that we may call apotheostrophic, as they assemble contradictory qualities which mix in the same project, perfection and folly (apotheosis and catastrophe) are emblematic for the beginning of 21st Century. The drama of digital utopias, if there is such a drama, resides in the power of illusion and of bewitchment of their images, capable of fascinating whereas their content may be questionable. 67
Computing may be then identified to a hallucinogenic device capable of amplifying reality beyond the reasonable. If architecture has always been the place of manifestation of power, the digital and virtual images that it employs and that it produces, have a seductivity that makes possible the its manipulation. Hyperrealism and Hyperrealities The designers and architects who currently employ figuration digital visualization techniques, may favor the development of what Jean Baudrillard calls hyperreality26. The critical analysis he makes without concessions, doesnt forecast a very bright future for the arts of design that use digital means, especially when these arts take the hazardous path of simulation. For him, the age of simulation opens on a liquidation of all the frames of reference ( ) so this is no longer about imitation, nor about duplication, nor about parody. This is about a substitution of reality with the signs of reality. The tendency to imitation and the attempts to revive reality via digital reproduction leads precisely to the disappearance of the objects in the process of representation. In this context, the arts of design could participate and encourage the elimination of the references mentioned by Jean Baudrillard. But, if certain projects seem to take refuge in an art of simulation and justify this flee from content and finality, hyperreality could actually be the that visual quality of digital images which generate a perceptive confusion thus enabling a differentiation from the reality. This way the simulation of reality and reality itself are not confused anymore but able to generate a new parallel esthetic experience>: a counter-reality. Critical Utopias and Counter-utopias: Between Denounciation and Fascination If the projects may create signs and raise questions through images, they can also be the critical expression of a clear-sighted look as they question the world as well. Didier Fiuza Faustinos projects (Corps en transit or The 1m² House) could be called hyperreal, as they are based 68
on the power of virtual representation and reflect a possible critical quality of digital images. The counter-utopian characteristic of his digital visions, close to sci-fi imagination, remind us of the reality of Thomas Morus utopia or of the critical utopias of the Italian (No stop-city of Archizoom Associati, or Superstudios Continuous monument) and Anglo-Saxon (Plug-in City and Archigrams Walking City) radical movements. The utopia does not represent any longer a finality in itself, but the means of a clear-sighted reflection on the functioning of the society and on its possible contradictions. It would be a shame then to reduce the content of virtual images to senseless signs, as in computing simulation and especially in 3D modeling one can find the search for new experiences and an original interpretation of reality. Hyperreality could represent this visual quality of the projects as related to digital design. This quality interprets reality through the image and transforms it proposing original forms, situations and environments. Thus, beginning with André Breton, continuing with Georg Simmel and Andrea Branzi and passing by Jean Baudrillards hyperreality, there are several possible degrees of relating with reality. Reality does not dissolve into the digital world, but instead it multiplies and becomes more complex. The neo-figuration produced by contemporary designers and architects by means of digital technologies, even if is sometimes related to an invocation of the simulation as Jean Baudrillard puts it, it is also marked by a process of remoteness and differentiation from to reality. 5. An Art of F[r]iction Already based on a balance between imaginary projections and reality, the architecture and design projects have seen the digital world amplifying the come-and-go sway between projection and reality, between formal ideal and material technical solutions. In this relationship between designer and computing environment there are several come-and-goes based on the alternation between reality and fiction, and on the constant interpretation of information. The role of the designer 69
is then, to guide these intersections and to modify not only his virtual representations so that they elude pure abstraction, but also to translate them into reality in order to so that they become meaningful and find a reason to be. The designers and architects work, as they employ computer science according to modern technologies consists in transforming the virtual and the reality alternatively, and the permanent connection of these two universes so that the feasibility of the project and the palpable real world could inspire each other. The arts of design are not only fictional arts, but the manifestations of a possible friction between reality and imagination, which implies a mutual enrichment. It is this conjunction between reality and imagination that is reflected by computer generated projects more than ever. In resonance with the idea of digital space, a reciprocity between real space and visualized space is established. Of the Necessity of Digital Utopias Not only did digital technologies facilitate the design and conceptual work of designers and architects but it also represented the starting point of a reflection on reality and imagination. Initially stimulated by the search for realism, the 3D modeling seems aimed to go beyond mimicry, to imagine new horizons and to seek adventure in surreality. If some may be tempted to think that virtual reality may prove to be more desirable than reality and could even replace it, we prefer to think that the virtual manifestations do not deny reality but rather highlight differentiated, parallel and simultaneous existences. The fear of seeing the digital world substituting reality, is replaced by the necessity of accepting its multiplication and fragmentation. Some theses seem to question the positive qualities of digital imaging, we have tempted to prove that different projects which use digital technologies in their conceptual and in their methods of visualization, could actually enable an endorsement of reality rather than its rejection or negation. (Text translated from French by Patricia Comãnescu) 70
We understand by « arts of design », all artistic activities, as architecture and industrial design which are based on design work aimed for usage. 2 Georg Simmel, La Tragédie de la culture, Rivages poche editions, Petite bibliothèque, Paris, 1988. 3 Le meilleur des mondes, 1931, Aldous Huxleys. 1984, 1948, George Orwell. 4 Metropolis, 1927, Fritz Lang. 5 Catalogue of the exhibition « Utopie, la quête de la société idéale en Occident », directed by Roland Schaer, exhibition presented at BNF from April, 4 to July 9 2000. Cahier pédagogique. 6 Ibid. Utopia : Latin neologisme quotation from ou-topos (the place of nowhere) and eu-topos (place of hapiness). 7 The utopia, long identified in medieval tradition to the earthly paradise of Adam and Eve, may still appear in the idealised contemporary visualizations, through the presence of idealized vegetation and a luxurious and flourishing flora. 8 Marc Augé, Non-lieux : introduction à une anthropologie de la surmodernité, Seuil editions, Paris, 1992. 9 Greg Lynn FORM, renovation of the Kleiburg, Bijlmermeer building, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2001-2005, in Catalogue de lexposition Architecture non standard, éditions du Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 2003, p.96. 10 Project BedZed, Beddington, Great Britan, 2002. In À vivre n°30, mai-juin 2006, file Pour une Europe durable, proposed by Éric Justman. 11 We think of Cénotaphe de Newton by Étienne-Louis Boullée or of Plan Obus by Le Corbusier for Alger city. See the review Architecture dAujourdhui, n° 354 - septembre 2004 - Le pouvoir des images, documents et fictions. 12 Cyrille Simonnet, Le béton histoire dun matériau, Parenthèses editions, 2005, chapter Un matériau sans image, p.115. 13 Mark Wigley, Back to black, in Architectures expérimentales 1950-2000, collection of Frac centre, éditions HYX, Orléans, 2003, p.27. 14 Alain Roger, Court traité du paysage, éditions Gallimard, 1997. 15 Yves-Alain Bois, Avatars de laxonométrie, in Images et imaginaires darchitecture, éditions Centre Georges Pompidou/CCI, Paris, 1984, p.129. 16 Technique et Architecture n°479, Imaginaire scientifique, article Cinématique, Concept de boutique Reebok, Shanghai (Chine), p.44-46. 17 Greg Lynn, Variations calculées, in Catalogue de lexposition Architecture non standard, éditions du Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris 2003, p.90. 18 Oosterhuis.nl, Une architecture « e-motive», in Architecture et numérique, collection Frac centre et SCEREN CRDP académie Orléans-Tours, Saint-AmandMontrond, 2005, p.46-47.
Gilles Delalex, La rue sans couture, Catalogue of the exhibition La rue est à nous...tous !, éditions Au diable vauvert, 2007. 20 Catalogue of the exhibition Architecture non standard, Frédéric Migayrou, Les ordres du non standard, Centre Georges Pompidou editions, Paris 2003, p.26. 21 Margueritte Bonnet, André Breton et laventure surréaliste, 1975, 1988 José Corti editions. 22 Georg Simmel, Op.cit. 23 Andrea Branzi, Nouvelles de la métropole froide, design et seconde modernité, traduit de litalien par Christian Paolini, éditions du Centre Georges Pompidou, Les essais, Paris, 1991, p.59. 24 Revue H.O.M.E. Wohen Architektur Media Mobil, n°8, 2007, projet du terminal 3 de laéroport de Shanghai par les architectes Skidmore, Owings&Merrill LLP. 25 Andrea Branzi, Op.cit. 26 Jean Baudrillard, Simulacres et simulations, Galilée editions, Paris, 1981.
EXPERIMENT IN ROMANIAN ARCHITECTURE
Augustin Ioan Something in the etymology of the term planning tells us of the necessity to anticipate, to continually pro-pose through the architectural project something permanently innovative, provocative, new. The trendy terms of today are somewhat different: uncanny, unheilmlich or that Heideggerian not-home. It seems paradoxical to speak of not being totally home in a philosophical, or even architectural text that praises the tiny house of the Black Forest mountains (or by extension any traditional culture, as Mircea Eliade knew well), for its capacity of allowing the being to reach its essence through active protection which is, in fact, the act of habitation. And still, the anxiety produced by this projective architecture (considered vanguard in the past, now being called experimental as in the book by Peter Cook from 1970 but always fantastic, as proclaimed by the 1962 Conrads & Sperlichs eponymous book) is, on a long term, a fertile one. Projective architecture anticipates the houses of the future, even if it often gets stuck there without the ability to produce real inheritors. Many sci-fi films are still shot today in buildings belonging to the architectural vanguard. Detroits Renaissance Center - four blue glass cylinders surrounding a central one - is an indisputable star that can be see all too often on the movie screens: the concept of the hotel with an atrium open through the height of the building began in Atlanta, at the Peachtree Center and still gives vertigo to its visitors. Hyatt Atrium 73
Hotels are to be found everywhere nowadays, including in Budapest, but the Renaissance Center still remains the star of the genre. On the other hand, there are new buildings in which one can see the past not the future. The socialist realism, and partly the post-modern era have created this type of architecture of the past, aged and on the most part nonfunctional. At the 1939 World Exhibition in New York, while at the Romanian pavilion one could eat grilled meatballs and listen to Maria Tanase, elsewhere one could see the Futurama - an exhibition representing the city of the future, of the kind that have always intoxicated the minds of dreamers. It should be noted that, similarly to what happened with Antonio SantEllias sketches from the beginning of the 20th Century and those form the Futurism era, this type of architecture does not seem to age. The cars, the fashion, the tastes have changed I would hesitate to use the term evolved but that radical architecture continues to fascinate through its otherworldliness, so well defined in English with one word. Deconstructivists decided to inhabit this rejection of the comfortable shelter, and from the beginning, they did it programmatically. Constructivism wanted to be the travel companion of the Russian communism (and if it did not receive the immediate benefits of what Lenin offered them, it certainly shared their faith under Stalin), while Deconstructivism is a cynical demonstration of the intellectual ability invested with the power to manipulate the shapes in ways never seen before. In extreme, with the couple Eisenman Derrida we can speak of the construction as philosophical object of the newest kind; the architecture seemed to come out of a millenary inertia during which it only imported concepts, themes, styles and judgment criteria from everywhere else but itself. Not in Romania. Romanian architecture is, with the exception of Marcel Janco, one that has refused to experiment, to project, to anticipate. Lacking the traditional engine of a respectable avant-garde, it was content to import, copy, vary, or simply stagnate. We discuss influences and reactions to these influences, but never priorities. The source of this lost cause, and especially, the possible solutions for this fight against the wind, are coming soon. 74
Prof. Alexandru Sandu, urbanist and past Dean of the Institute of Architecture in Bucharest, noted often in his interviews that no cultural achievements have been made in Romanian architecture of the past three or four decades. Interestingly, this lack of cultural dimension of our architecture does not imply necessarily a complete lack of theoretical research. On the contrary, the 60s, 70s and even 80s, are periods in which the efforts of architectural research sporadic and individual, but especially without consequence for what was being built at the time are rediscovered only now, after they overlapped almost two post-1989 decades. While doing research for an exhibition (so far remaining virtual) dedicated to the post-war Romanian architecture, I received many drawer documents from my colleagues of the 80s generation because it exists even an unknown 80s national architecture style, of which no one seems to have written, besides my modest attempts to document it. Studies, projects, texts of the times, local exhibitions and participations in international competitions (who knows today that Romania had more participants in the Tête Defénse competition organized by Mitterand then the US? Or that Romanian architects have regularly won prizes and awards at the glass architecture completion in Shinkenchiku, Japan?). Only now, the interdisciplinary experiments of Mircea Enescu from Costineºti gain the importance they deserve, as well as the surfacing of technological experiments with atypical structures viewed also, in an unfavorable light by comparison to modernity - made for the social, cultural, sporting, and industrial projects of the time. This is an exploratory effort that seemed to be a relief valve against the pressure buildup caused by the dysfunctional situation of the Romanian construction industry. Thus, these explorations functioned as an avoidance from reality and not as they should as an engine for the improvement of the current practice. That is why this type of research was one that more often would offer utopias than solutions: those clusters of neo-medieval apartments with workspaces at street level, surrounding communal courtyards for which Florian Biciuºcã received a prize at the International Biennial in Sofia (Bulgaria); how could they be anything but evasions from the ghetto apartment blocks of the last decade of dictatorship? 75
The way the architectural experimentation needs to be discussed is thus tainted by the meanings that the historical avan-garde, especially the Western one, has conferred to it. As a consequence, we discuss the experimentalists as vanguard battalion of the artists, those that detach themselves from the status quo seen without exception as retrograde, academic, historically exhausted in order to leave it behind. Politically, they are radical and excessive: revolutionaries of all kinds regularly found on the left of the political spectrum, practicing a rhetoric of demolishing the status quo - the manifest, the slogan and using its fragmentation as the motif of their art. The rule is to oppose, breaking away from the dominant discourse both in society (from which they break off through a bohemian lifestyle), as well as in art. They want to re-define the society along with the art that it - horribile dictu! - favors. At this point, it would be good to mention, that in the strict sense of the word, the experiment does not exist in the post-war Romanian architecture. Neo-vanguard does not exist, the radical experiment does not exist, and least of all, a complete, open opposition to the dominant discourse. Whenever there is a distancing from the discourse of the establishment, it lacks program and coordination, it is isolated, being hidden inside the realms of the totalitarian society: concealed. I believe though, following the thematic article offered by Dragoº Gheorghiu1, that the key term with which to begin a conversation about the Romanian experiment is context. Thus, we cannot speak only of experiment, without referencing the context that it addresses and to which the experimenting artist is mandatorily referenced against. Dragoº Gheorghiu makes a solid analysis of what, outside context, could be investigated while looking for the experiment; on the other hand, he sees the official discourse as one in perpetual relocation, capable of colonizing those folds of society that might escape its control, which is otherwise complete. Seen, in Deleuzian terms, as spaces of flight, during the dictatorship the artistic genres have been under stricter control than the overall society. As soon as it seemed that an escapist discourse would gel, it was immediately incorporated in the official rhetoric or silenced. The areas of society that could easily be controlled were allowed to 76
survive as possible release valves both for the artists as well as for their public, and this especially when the power could foreseen any possible gains. This would be the case with all those experiments related to folklore, vernacular architecture and that entire field of neo-primitive investigation that has so powerfully impregnated Romanian architecture of the 70s and 80s, to the point that it persist to this day, unchanged. There were mixed: Blaga with Noica; transcendental meditation with Matyla Ghyka and his divine ratios; the Masons with the Pythagoreans and the structural paths of the traditional Romanian house with those of Cheopss pyramid via Brâncoveanu and his villas surrounding Bucharest. The Romanian postmodernism, as it has been2, and as much as it has been, was informed by this snobbish, traditionalist discourse which, with regards to what was going on in the mainstream architectural theroy, embodies even if it seems paradoxical - precisely that different perspective inherently implied by the experiment. At the farthest conservative end of this type of discourse, the experiment is defined also as a hybrid of the most resistant traditionalism which is not foreign of past political associations with the extreme right - and contemporary architecture. I understand that it is risky to speak of experimentation in the case of Constantin Gojas work, especially in regards to its theoretical aspects. Still, his studies for the renewal for of artistic expression through a seemingly indirect route: by exploring tradition deserve more, despite being obsolete and forgotten, along with the nationalist communism from which, unfortunately, they cannot be dissociated. During the same time, an interesting experimentation device used much more in the past than now were the architecture competitions. It is a little known fact that there were more Eastern European architects participating in the contest for the Defénse district in Paris than Japanese and American ones. During those years (the 80s) the attempt can seem almost heroic. Going abroad meant evading the vernacular rhetoric, with all its limitations and risks; thus it could have become a good chance for an alternative. The awards received by the Romanian teams at the contest in Schinchenciku (Japan) prove the same interest in escaping geographically, but also from the excessive order of the communist rhetoric. 77
I place in the same context, but with more precaution than when discussing the contests, a significant part of the works exuberant, but especially never executed destined for foreign lands. The third world, North Africa or the Arab peninsula, contain a significant number of works by Romanian architects. Octogon magazine dedicated them a special issue, because they did not confirm completely the criteria for experimentation: made by state governed enterprises, strongly controlled both when leaving (i.e. Romania) as well as on their arrival (i.e. often to countries with an even harsher totalitarian regime than Romania), the Romanian works abroad were most often a collective product. Consequently, they are clearly different from contests, where the participants were individuals or small teams, outside of the state directed theme and without its assistance or control. It is evident that some of the participants in these obscure contests ended up designing what would become The House of the Republic Victory of Socialism, were convinced they are experimenting and they really did, unknowingly participating in the invention of a new state conformism: anti-modern, retrograde, lacking architectural culture and anti-urban. Probably devoted comrades or just manipulative people they were convinced of possessing the necessary abilities to manipulate, on their turn, the client/the state, which in this case was the head of the regime. Some believed themselves to be close to a Faustic pact, the type made by Speer, like poor Anca Petrescu. Others thought they will have the freedom, in this ocean of verbal confusion, to sneak in the strictest bofillisms3, as it seems to transpire from a series of interviews I have done during the 90s with architects who have worked there. But, it later became clear they were terribly mistaken. Some of them have admitted it, like Mr. Alexandru Beldiman. Many more are still perpetuating this belief, explaining, explaining, explaining Still, all post-war years, beginning somewhere in the early 50s, propose an unusual type of experimentation. Withdrawing into those areas of architecture that least interested the totalitarian power to monumentalize, some architects practiced their craft in industrial architecture. The fact that there is a clear break between the monumental architecture of the administrative or political power and social 78
architecture, respectively technical, is not a secret to anyone. Similarly, the fact that some social programs, secondary to Partys objectives, became theories for experimentation is also well known. To this lack of social and urban conspicuousness we owe, for instance, many of the successes achieved by the successive teams of architects under Emil Barbu Petrescus direction during the 80s in sporting, industrial and especially youth programs. In the homonym issue of Arhitext magazine dedicated to Email Barbu Petrescu, Radu Drãgan called this gentle form of escape, able to produce remarkable works, parallel architecture. This expression remains valid even if we define the missing element, the context to which it was parallel to, this architecture that escaped (not always completely) the strictest state control. Of course, not all this architecture fulfills the criteria for experimentation, even when it was particularly rigorous and interestingly solved. The use of structures atypical in the Romanian practice of the time, including tridimensional metal elements (strangely little used in a country with so much steel as Romania during those years) as in the case of Ion Mircea Enescus sports halls, is an experimental approach that should be revived. From all the material I was able to collect for this text limited compared to what I know as drawer projects very few confirm the theme, even in the absence of traumatic circumstances. If we include this context circumstance in our calculations, these works become blindingly experimental. I leave to the reader the pleasure of discovering them. What should be pointed out though, is that after almost two decades4 the experiment has not been practiced or encouraged. The Biennial of Architecture organized by URA5 does not have to this day a section for projects/experiments. Why? Only the Annual contest organized by ORA6 in Bucharest has opened the door to projects, but it doesnt count, yet, on experiments either, only on the fact that so far they have not been produced. Encouraging only finished works, or works not yet finished, helps in establishing a terrifying conformism, one that fills the exhibitions rooms and isolates the few remarkable works that exist. The school is a favorable space for practicing experimentation, and the last years seem to have setoff a series of initiatives in this direction. Changes in the curriculum will certainly produce positive 79
effects in a medium term. Maybe, some teachers should worry that the students who stood out in the treehouse contest in US were those that received low grades in class for sketches on the same subject, and thus were not considered among the outstanding (according to their instructors). The Romanian participation in architectural contests like Europan or the one in Schinchenchiku, Japan remains to be seen, especially when there is a strong component of experimentation and conceptual investigation in architecture, urbanism, technology, and material science. I believe that architecture cannot survive without constant attempts to renew itself, to put itself into discussion repeatedly. If this self-reflecting dimension lacks in a field of any type, but especially one already conservative, like architecture it will cease to generate interest, more likely imploding. Art survives by getting rid of itself repeatedly. But, Romanian architecture is, unfortunately for its future, lacking from the beginning the research gene. Since the work of the National School, investigation has not been seen as the foremost tendency in architecture. What could it mean to experiment in a systemic crisis? Case study: Romania Due to globalization, the land of innovation coming from the second and third worlds narrows down more and more. The reasons for this are not always, and not totally, their responsibility. More and more people will leave abroad usually it is the cream of the crop that does it, precisely those that could have had the ambition to experiment and we will be more and more colonized by architects and corporations lacking any hint of ambition to reform. What remains between these two opposing colonizations is too little for a long term survival. Statistically speaking, a guild in which only one out of a thousand pushes ahead by himself unknown and/or completely unappreciated at his true value by his colleagues while the others are waiting for the future to go by for the sake of a mediocre present, it is not, Im afraid, a group one should place any bets on. 80
1. Virtual Heritage Virtual Heritage (hereafter VH): this is the subject my friend Alexandru Nancu has directed me to in the wake of the project ReSITUS he coordinated. My technical contribution to the most effective way of virtually replicating the scanned monuments is minor, but I do have an advantage over my younger colleagues, because I have been exposed to the VH concept since 1993, when I was in Cincinnati, Ohio, at one of the most important research centers on this subject. During the following years, as well as in my subsequent visits in 1999 and 2004 I was able to closely observe the work of one of the frontrunners of this virtual restoration technique, my professor Mr. John E. Hancock. Through this technique he was able to reconstitute archeological sites of the Hopewell culture that have been partially destroyed by agriculture or urban expansion. What exactly does VH do? It reconstitutes in virtual reality (VR) those archeological sites and/or monuments that are in an advanced state of degradation or have even disappeared. This type of reconstruction has a large array of potential clients. On the commercial end would be the tourism industry. It is one thing to see the ruins of Micene and another to travel through the virtual rendition of the site (before or after visiting the real site) as it looked when was built or in its subsequent reconstructions. At the other end it is obvious that the VH technique could be used most sophisticatedly in research. VH allows us another extraordinary thing, which is the ability to experiment with restoration, in the sense that, based on varying criteria more than one virtual restoration proposal could be made. I will not go into all the archeological details. But I have given the example of Troy, one of the VH projects that were in works in Cincinnati. It is known that there are a number of successive archeological layers, each representing a different stage in the development of the city. Lets imagine such a site. What does it mean to restore Troy IV or V? Obviously the two cities are not completely different. The previous city was used as quarry for the new one, in the same process that formed each previous state before. And so, when we restore, how do we decide if a column, a 81
sculpture, or any other recycled piece belongs to Troy IV or Troy V? To whom do the columns of pagan temples, deliberately brought as symbol of subordination from all over the new Christian empire to support the cupola of Santa Sophia cathedral in Constantinople belong to? To the temples from which they have been removed, to the cathedrals, or to the historical process that led to these temples? Most likely the answer here would be: its impossible to decide. John Hancock worked for the tourism industry, but not from a commercial standpoint. He prepared the VH material for the National Parks that protect the remnants of the Hopewell culture. Contemporary with Jesus, the Hopewell is a strange and extinct culture. No one knows who they were, certainly not Native American Indians, and especially why they disappeared completely. They knew enough sacred astronomy to be able to orient their temples after the Moon and its natural cycles or after the equinox. The European colonists have plowed their sacred earth mounds and erased their traces. Some have remained under golf courses or under some schools. Prof. Hancocks studies are an introduction for the park visitors to this culture, done in a way that emphasizes the qualities of the VH technique, as well as pointing to some of its limitations. Depending on ones point of view, these qualities and limitations could be hard to distinguish from one another. Too many alternatives of virtual restoration could complicate the decisions in a real restoration case, or they could even hold them back completely: why should we invest in restoring a site or building if we could walk through it via VH as if we would be in that remote, inaccessible, ruined place? Furthermore, a high resolution image of a scanned object brings into discussion the concept of immediacy. In other words, the virtual image of an object returns the object to mark 0, the moment of its scanning. The excess of physical detail is limited by the extremely short period of time registered by the process. If our aim is fidelity, time-wise, its range is very short. A similarly accurate registration done after a certain period of time would differ dramatically from the previous one because time changes the geometry of an object and decomposes its matter. Similarly to the quantum physics paradox in which it is impossible to determine the physical position of a 82
sub-atomic particle and know its speed in the same time, too much detail in a VH project is sabotaged by the short time span it covers, because bringing something into being and its opposite are processes, not instantaneous events. The marble is a process not an object, wrote Lee Smolin in a book about quantum cosmology translated in Romanian. The houses are processes, and not all the processes involved in imagining a house are achievable; many, as proved by the VH technique can only exit in virtual reality. For those, few or many, who might be, like me, admirers of Antoni Gaudi, I would like to give you hope after my last visit to Barcelona. Yes, La Sagrada Familia cathedral will be finished as planned in 2020. It already exists in a kind of finished state, one that fits our times so well: as a souvenir of the completed construction, available in all the tourist shops in Barcelona. I believe that by the time of its inauguration we will be able to experience it via VH. A virtual patrimony means that historic castles and buildings - especially when a physical reconstruction is not possible anymore - are reconstructed in virtual reality the way they would have looked at some point in their history. Do you think it is easy to translate architectural plans intro 3D? No. It involves as much creativity and decision work as architectural research. I have participated in many study sessions in the Virtual Heritage lab at the University of Cincinnati regarding some building in some archeological layer of Tory, debating how could it be known if a certain stone in a certain building was new. Could it be a reused fragment from a previous temple, or from a previous iteration of the city, which in time has become quarry for the new buildings? Indeed how could it be known? After a major cataclysm (or after few more decades of neglect), the church of Densus, will become a ruin, and the archeologists of the future will have the same dilemma: are they looking at a Roman temple that became a church or are they looking at a church? And how will they know that there was a church? Of many basilicas we still dont know if they were meant to spread justice or, after they have been taken over by Christians, meant to offer salvation. Another example would be the upside-down tombstone used at the foot of an altar table in a church, as can be seen at the Romanian 83
Peasant Museum. How should we define it? And from what state of the building process was it removed in order to be incorporated in another? Of course, you will note that this type of questions do not apply to Gaudi: in the end, we are discussing a projection into the future, through virtual reality, of a building7 which the devout architect did not finish. Consequently, is it possible to reconstruct through virtual reality something that has not yet been consecrated by being brought into being? While youre thinking of an answer, here is another example: there is an online Palladio museum where some of his architectural dreams are made visible, not as they have been build but as the maestro imagined them in his four books on architecture. Is this virtual patrimony? Yes. And what does this VH tell us about architecture? If it is to compare the (quite significant) differences between virtual and real villas, we will maybe discover something about the many changes that a project goes through until it becomes a building, with the approval of both parties. Lets return to Gaudi. Gaudi did not build the whole cathedral, but he has designed it in its completeness. Discovering his atypical geometries, similarly to the geometry surrounding the black holes in contemporary cosmology, the architects that try to understand Gaudis drawings can understand and translate them into stone only now. This is how it was possible to execute the light lotuses, (which represent both cosmic explosions and/or black holes) from the deep seated ceiling of the cathedral. Only now! After the discovery of fractals, of foreign attractors and of the bending of the time-space continuum, it is possible to understand the drawings and models of an artist that died more than a century before these discoveries in math and physics, least in architecture, were made. Thus, VH is in this case, a method of anticipating the final look of a monument or its possible image, different from the way we see it now, or will be seen in the future. This is precisely what my colleagues at the Foundation for Habitat and Art in Romania, (IMUAU) at the institute of Opt-Electronics at the University of Piteºti have began to research in the project on the Barbaþia from Cîmpulung Muºcel and the church from Corbii de Piatrã, from which have resulted a series of scans of these monuments. I believe this practice of experimenting with the virtual processing of reality, 84
beginning with visualizing a historic monument and ending with the virtual reconstruction of all its potential restorations is very favorable to our time and space and expected to produce surprising results in the future. The VH data in Romania is very different form that in the US. But paradoxically, the few similar aspects can enhance a vanguard approach in restoration: there are many monuments that could be researched, modeled, and restored. Investing in a VH laboratory is significantly less expensive that doing the actual restoration. The practice of restoration in Romania is lagging. Lagging as well are the policy, the patrimony legislation, the public discourse. So far, the best answer (as long as the experts, lawmakers, and patrimony administration still remains blind) is Virtual Heritage. 2. Experimenting with Sustainable Architecture a) The Poor Architecture Suddenly, poverty has become fashionable. Adding to that, the natural disasters, which are surprisingly effecting us too this year, and peoples migrations put us in unimaginable situations, which we thought could not happen to us. Characterized by a minimalist aesthetic without a social mission and autistic artistic expression lacking aesthetics (i.e. an extreme form of modernism), the architecture dedicated to those social segments (that elude the architect whose compensation is a percentage of the projects cost), has all of a sudden become fashionable. Of course, a certain coquettishness with the people exists (Marxist expressions taught by a very prized communist critic of capitalism, Fredric Jameson), all of this being the common denominator of the American intellectual resistance, especially in universities. What seems to be evident lately is that more and more nonprofit organizations, foundations and other voluntary organizations have become involved in residential architecture; moreover, the result of their work tends to be incorporated into mainstream architecture, as we can easily observe in the book The Next House8 which proposes this approach as a model for the future. 85
Today, social activism in the developed Western countries is concerned, perhaps, mostly with the narrower problem of creating permanent or temporary shelters for homeless people, but there is a an area of concern that unites both the Western developed countries (including here Japan), and the developing states in the East, that is the emergency shelter, needed in large numbers in the aftermath of a natural disaster or war. The recent earthquakes in Turkey and Greece, for instance, have transformed the drama of suddenly loosing ones home into a major crisis for the respective countries. The answer: shelters being built on hundreds of square miles9, without any other concern than to provide basic protection. This is why a preventive thinking based on which the state would finance the research and construction of a sufficient number of prefab shelters is necessary10. Some architects, like Gans and Jelacic (from New York) work on an even more basic level than that of emergency shelters for the survivors of natural disasters. Starting, probably, from the premise that not all people in need of a shelter are in this situation against their will, they have designed a shelter that emphasizes even more its temporary nature. Labeled extreme housing, they refer to a certain type of shelter with is less then a house and this is, possibly, because it is more urgently needed that a house. Emergency architecture needs to take into consideration: speed (that of on-site construction or of assembling prefab parts), portability, as well as temporality (inherent to its very existence). Moreover, the portability and mobility of such a construction are inversely proportional with its lifespan11. As an example are to be seen the medical structures designed for catastrophic events like September 11, 2001, which use military trucks as structural elements12. In other words, inflatable or flexible architecture can be thought of in terms of strength of its components or materials. Inversely, fixed architecture is by necessity thought of in terms of its durability. The materials and the construction methods used in emergency architecture bring into discussion the concept of ephemerality and disappearance. These characteristics define some predictable materials like earth and wood, but contemporary architecture has come to favor others even more perishable that these. 86
The architects who investigate the limits of durability dont always have their own tradition as an inspirational source, as it happens with Shigeru Ban, as well as his Metabolist predecessors (from whom he redeemed himself at least in terms of his ability to conceive of a movable, temporary architecture). The Japanese architects are able to equally relate to both the contemporary space they try to address as well as to its traditional past (the temple in Ise, with its paper walls is one such example). Such an approach would define the Japanese architects as retro-futurists, at the intersection of archaic and modern. According to Newsweek magazine, a new roof material resistant to tornados was conceived by two professors at the University of Delaware. It contains: soy straw, down, newspapers and waterproof adhesive. The use of straw bales, wattles and other temporary materials is still practiced in rural areas of Romania. They are mostly used for buildings and shelters farm annexes but not for houses. The modernization has practically eliminated the use of natural/local materials and the inherent construction techniques from the architecture of the rural house, and has replaced them with concrete, tin, and double-pane windows. The strange combinations that I have seen in the 90s, like a concrete structure covered in bricks of clay and straw, or the proud church in Urziceni (designed by me), covered, in a rush, with cemented cardboard because the construction funds have been prematurely depleted, give an idea of the confusion that exists regarding the use of materials, a confusion that architects have the responsibility to clarify. There is an element in this (re)architecture (the term was proposed by ªerban Cantacuzino as a book title regarding conversions) that is concomitantly contemporary and archaic. The final stage of an architecture is often times seen as a great opportunity for the next. A city or a building could become the site for a new construction (normally in the aftermath of a natural disaster), or could become a quarry for another settlement or building. Sometimes the more or less innocent incentive for recycling abandoned buildings is the inflated price of construction materials (a frequently seen process in Bucharest during the 90s and the predominant source of brick for new residential architecture). I myself have used perfectly intact bricks, still baring the 87
proud stamp of its pre WWII manufacturer. I have recycled it from a previous neighboring demolition, using it towards a new house as it was free, and evidently superior in quality to the mostly broken brick one could purchase as new. There is nothing special in recycling modern buildings, especially modern industrial buildings, which should not impede the creative use of any construction materials, natural or artificial, new or recycled, regardless of their previous use. We have at our disposal whole quarries of such materials, as proved by the project in Cãlãraºi which nostalgically, due to it being exiled from the city - I would call remarkable. One of the most serious problems of contemporary Romanian society be it national or local - is its complete disinterest in social housing in the true sense of the word, meaning housing for those who depend on social services. Similarly, there is no preoccupation in researching emergency housing in a country haunted by the specter of devastating earthquakes. That is why every catastrophic event catches the government and local builders unprepared, and their solution is pitiful: building long term, expensive and, useless to say, ugly housing. Instead of a strategic preoccupation for a responsible administration of such construction, the situation is solved small-mindedly and without any overall perspective. In architectural contests, while those afflicted by a catastrophe sit outside without shelter, the criterion requested is local character. The only class dedicated to extreme housing and emergency architecture is taught by me at IMUAU13. I am not aware of any coherent effort on behalf of the state or city authorities to indentify those who could offer a solution from architects and builders to possible donors and the army. Recently, the president of ORA14 has shared his concern regarding this dreadfully irresponsible lack of interest from on the part of authorities. We are not leaving in times of generosity or of Christian self-sacrifice (or social-democrat for that matter). Now is the time of the wolves and scavenger vultures, while there still is something to take or destroy in the country. But when natural disasters will come one after another, and therell be need for such housing, we want it to be 88
known that we did not sit when we should have worked, like the others, that we did not build houses for the nouveau riches while those leaving under the poverty line survive in indescribable conditions, that we have not taken part in the general indifference, be it on the left or on the right. b) Extreme Housing Goal of the Median Inhabitation? The term extreme housing (used by the architects Gand & Jelacic in their project for shelters in Kosovo (see www.architectureforhumanity.com ) is meant to become part of the theoretical architectural lingo. Thus, lets try to peel off its layers of meaning and in the process add to them. Extreme housing refers to a certain type of shelter which is less then a house, and that is probably because it is more urgently needed than a house. In other words, extreme references the need more than the solution. The temporary shelter questions the very definition of inhabitation. If the temporary shelter the basic form of inhabitation which does not need more then minimal preparation to take place is seen on one extreme of the process of habitation, then we must meditate on what is to be found in-between. Instead of defining the architecture of the home as an enhanced shelter (by decorating it with symbols, as proposed by Robert Venturi), in the term discussed we are faced with a reversal of meaning: we are expected to know already what it means to inhabit in order to be able to speak about the shelter in its radical form. And what does this extreme mean exactly? Does it mean reducing the elements of inhabitation to their minimum, to the point of discussing an inhabitation of crisis, and implicitly temporary, or does it mean something more, maybe a proposal for a new way of habitation? If we were to speculate, since we are not discussiong the house per se but the act of inhabitation in an extreme form, we could safely say that it is the process not its cover that concerns us here. Extreme inhabitation might not mean sheltering from crisis as it could mean inhabitation in crisis; not a protective, calming refuge which could divert the attention from the emergency situation, but on the contrary, an anguished habitation, in which the shelter does not protect anymore, being itself affected by the extreme situation in which it exists. 89
Years ago, in a conversation with Christopher Alexander, Peter Eastman hoped that the housing architecture would resist its seemingly predestined tendency to evade the social anguish particular to its location. If architecture is a mirror image of society, why should the house be different by retreating from society and refusing to reflect its positives and its negatives? In other words, by extrapolation, could we ask that the process of habitation itself be more active rather than reactive/ passive? Retreating, hiding, resting all actions traditionally and almost unquestionably associated with the duties of the house are questioned by that active habitation exposed by Heidegger in Building, Dwelling, Thinking15. For Heidegger, the habitation space is active, one that transforms the being in an almost agrarian way, as he puts it, invoking the Latin term colere (culture). Through an active habitation and through building for an active habitation, the act of habitation evolves towards the full realization of its essence. (Heidegger, 2001, 145-6). It is hard to imagine a bigger difference between the ways Heidegger saw the problem of habitation and that proposed by Eisenman, during the same conversation. Still, something profound ties these two perspectives together: the idea that habitation implies action, engagement (even physical), openness, and not passivity, detachment, and introversion. In this sense, could extreme housing possibly be a goal for contemporary habitation? The apartment tower proposed by Santiago Calatrava in downtown Manhattan is a type of rise against, different from that practiced by Neemia in the reconstruction of Jerusalem. Living at such height and in such a charged area (in the proximity of Ground 0) will be a radical act, almost a manifesto for habitation. The radical quality of this type of habitation continually engaged in a complex socio-economic net, implies participation, engagement with the community problems beginning with its close vicinity and ending with its placement in ensemble but in the same time, implies a fertile territory for investigation, introspection and self redefinition, in and through the process of habitation itself. The house, in extreme habitation, becomes a nodal point for opening the self towards the other, opening the self towards the world, opening the one towards the many and vice versa opening the community towards the individual. 90
The shelter proposed by Gans & Jelacic does not solve the problem of those without a home, as the charity night-shelters dont do it either. On the contrary, it creates a situation in which it attracts attention to itself, not as a symbol of personal/collective drama that needs to be treated or healed through blame or pity, but as a form of habitation. On its own, such a shelter may bring fame to its designers who show it in a gallery or on the web, but it does not solve the lack of shelter. Maybe because in their understanding, the term extreme housing is not something less than a permanent house, but something more then a temporary, mobile shelter. On the contrary, the term I propose here is that of hyper-housing, in which the home is more than a house, it includes the social, economic, and spiritual trajectories of the neighborhood as a unit, of the community as a site and as a universe. The house becomes then, the center of my world, and by analogy the public space becomes the center of our worlds, located openly. The shelter is not only a) individual, the way it was described so far, but exists as b) community/collective shelter (in the care of the community, of the church, and not of the states social services), as a sanctuary and as a right to the comfort of the sacred space. We thought it important, for example, to propose for the pilot project done with Habitat and Art in Romania foundation (HAR) in Bujoreni/Vâlcea not only a house for crisis situations but a spiritual space as well, a church. The church is a privileged space of shelter for individual or collective psychological dramas, a space for the healing prayer (or just comforting prayer, in such situations), the presence of such a space alongside a basic shelter, in the context of extreme housing, can help in facing the trauma rather the ignoring it. c) Extreme Architecture in Romania Due to the modern construction technology we are able to detach the architectural design from the materials involved. The world is full of famous buildings that push the limits of materials, sacrificing comfort for a powerful image. Of course, we can build glass towers in Dubai, and of course that glass has reached the strength of many materials with good thermal variation. But glass will never behave as well as the 91
materials that, from the beginning, have provided thermal resistance similar to a solid wall. We already know that our energy resources are limited and, where they still exist, they come with heavy political agendas. Only a few days ago the Ministry for the Environment has discovered that the sources for renewable energy are not easily available to the consumers and will propose legislation to encourage their use. Not only does the Ministry for the Environment need to support this inevitable process, but so does the Finance Ministry, because good policy cannot be implemented through the benevolence of the investors or by force, but through an intelligent taxation system. For example, the use of at least one alternative energy source needs to be mandatory by law for all buildings in Romania, or at least for those over a certain size (and for all public ones). Reducing the taxes for those that comply should also be mandatory in order for the use of green technology to be cost effective compared to the traditional sources of energy (because we also have bad traditions that have killed the independent thinking of pre-modern architecture). On the other hand, increasing the taxes on the already prohibitive price of gas and electricity should encourage a faster transition to the use of alternative energy. Abroad, solar energy and the heat pump are the norm. Houses that are completely independent of the electrical system are more and more common and better designed; finally, we even have as lifestyle model the house that not only uses, but generates energy. It is inadmissible that in places blessed with good exposure to wind and sun power plants still burn heavy oil in order to produce thermal energy. Principles of Planning We know that even in Romania the climate is changing towards extremes, with sudden variations in temperature. The South of the country is becoming dryer. The forests, at this point, can be renewed only through political decisions (which, for now, do not exist), because we have long since crossed the limit of natural self-renewal for this living resource. In conclusion, even the architects need to reconsider their planning models. Claiming that we are designing based on the models of Western architecture does not apply anymore: please look at 92
the current Western architecture and you will see that in Romania everything, from the tall office buildings to the villas are still built based on the pre-WWII and immediately post war architecture, often poorly assimilated. Intelligent facades that collect and store solar energy are doubling their positive impact on the site. We should, perhaps, think of the architecture of the traditional dirt hut, not only as a form of poor architecture (as it is seen at the Village Museum, for example) but as a form of contemporary eco-architecture as well, for the absence of walls make these buildings a vessel for conserving the internal energy of the building. We need shade and coolness. The solution is not the air conditioning system that avidly consumes electrical power at prohibitive prices. A well designed house, even in desert conditions, does not need the artificial cool air (which, we are constantly told is harmful to our health). In conclusion, the volumetric articulation of the buildings themselves needs to change. I feel its obvious that we should stop using terraces only for their modern look (meaning stylistically obsolete, for lack of a better argument) and that the awnings need to be designed in such a way as to provide appropriate shade based on the sun exposure of the house, besides their traditionally use. A simple look over the border at the traditional architecture of Bulgaria, Greece, and Turnkey can teach us how to design an extended awning supported on wood consoles, and how expressive these consoles could be. If climatically speaking we are migrating South, we need to follow the time tested architectural models of the South, which are still remembered and used by traditional architects. The solid space conserves more than the empty space. We should maintain a well balanced ratio between the solid and the glassed surfaces or walls. And especially, we need to use internal courtyards. A good ventilation of the interior is achieved if we orient the building, and all its adjacent units (i.e. apartments), towards at least two cardinal points. In the Middle East are used other forms of air circulation, using the vertical movement of the air through ventilation wells between the basement of the building (which could even contain a body of water) 93
and the levels above. The light-well courtyards of our pre-WWII buildings play this useful role to the day. In any case, gathering more buildings into one block surrounding a courtyard, as opposed to the building with four external walls, conserves more energy. Interior courtyards offer, on the one hand, shade and cooler temperatures for the interior spaces, and on the other hand more intimacy from the public space. Maybe we should give up, in the urbanization plans proposed, to the independent house with smaller and smaller plots and to give a chance to the surrounding-building, the introverted building, or the house-garden ensemble with internal shade. The Roman villa knew already all these principles and it is not at all shameful to admit that it was right, and the architecture of today is not. We need vegetation. If we end up using terraces, it would be a good idea to use them as green surfaces, which should also extend to facades as sun protectors. If we deplore the loss of green spaces, we should act not by limiting construction but by intelligently using the construction site. Interior gardens have long been used in office building architecture, just that we seem to be looking only at old architecture books not the most recent examples! A viable garden is not necessarily tied to the ground, and thus we should not automatically reduce it to the available size on the construction site. Gardens can also be vertical surfaces (facades and fences but also multi level structures traversed internally by promenades). Already existent surfaces can be covered with vegetation and recovered as parks for the city unlike anything built so far. The facades of apartment buildings could be transformed from radiant heat sources into lungs of the city. The viaducts near the Bastille opera in Paris offer one such solution, while the urban policies practiced in Bonn, Germany where covering the terraces of apartment buildings with vegetation is deliberate are another. The construction materials, their textures, and colors could be, as well, the keys of an instrument that the architect could play a cooling music. Natural materials first of all the earths, from the unfired clay to ceramics, but also the stone and the wood are all here, waiting for our awakening. They are waiting for us, the architects, to cease to be salesmen for a dumb-down industry that poisons our air in order to 94
make the concrete and asphalt from which we ultimately end up running from. Why does the Danube delta need to be covered in concrete when we could built good houses on stilts and stone like always? Why does the mountain need to be covered in concrete when stone and wood are all there, under our eyes burned by the light of a dying modernity? All these questions would be rhetorical but in Romania and some tropical countries. As one who has written the architectural norms for the Danube Delta area, I know what resistance anyone can encounter when it undermines a tradition wrongly built on the idea of modernization, to which communism was only its gangrenous stage. I also know with what awe my colleagues discover the forming qualities of the earths, and how the simple proximity of a castle, like the one from Argamum (Capul Doloºman, Jurilofca), poses the same questions I am posing here after two thousand years of proud endurance. In a way, this text is an indirect homage to the Foundation for Habitat and Art in Romania, and to all those who, for the last few summers, taught us slowly, almost against the will of those who feel that such experiments reveal their own traditions, that the architecture needs to change in Romania too in order for it to fit or not, when necessary the place and the climate. If the place and the climate become extreme, similarly our built environment needs to rethink itself. If critical thinking succumbed under the fascination with producing a maddening technology, it needs to be reinvented. These are the premises of the text I proposed to Tincuþa Heizel: a synoptic map of the post-WWII Romanian experimentalism, followed by a panorama of the experimental potential in contemporary Romanian architecture. I hope that such a project does not seem outdated compared with the most recent experiments of my other colleagues represented in this publication. During the conference in Sibiu, which is the source of the present volume, I have given a talk together with Ciprian Mihai about the inherent complexities of philosophy and architecture. For this volume though, in the absence of Ciprian I thought it fit to present this site-specific text, discussing the experimentalism as a hidden aspect of post-WWII Romanian architecture, respectively after 1989. (Text translated from Romanian by Barbara Bartos) 95
Context and Experiment in Architecure in Experiment in Romanian Art after 1960 (Bucharest, CSAC, 1997), p.108-112. 2 I am sending the reader the a text dedicated to this subject in my book: Bizatium after Bizatium after Bizatium (Constanþa: Ex Ponto, 2000). 3 Reference to Ricardo Bofill (translators note). 4 Since 1989 (translators note). 5 Architects Union of Romania (translators note). 6 The Order of Romanian Architects (translators note). 7 La Sagrada Familia (translators note). 8 by Lola Gomez & Cristina Montes (translators note). 9 The neverending forest of houses between Istabul and Ankara was a postapocalyptic sight for the professors and the students of Ion Mincu University of Architecture with whom I was travelling on this route in 2001. I do not know how much did this sight change since. 10 In Romania, non only this way of thinking does not exist at an official level, but from my experience working with the Foundation for Habitat and Art in Romania, I could see the fury with which the local authorities of Vâlcea (county and city) have responded to such a project on the day of the opening (the fall of 2001), claiming that it misrepresents the efforts of the government to engage with a similar problem in the county specifically the collapse of a settlement situated over a abandoned salt mine, and where the reconstruction costs have been much more than the sum granted to the HAR Foundation. On the other hand, the wood church that accompanies the pilot housing in Bojoreni had been promised by Sen. Adrian Paunescu to a community in Serbia that had previously offered him an award, and which strangely has forgotten to built an Orthodox church in an Orthodox country, fact that would have transformed a project financed by EU money in one of fiscal evasion. Alexandru Nancu and I have vehemently denied our opposition to the ex-commissioner of PUR announced donation during the opening, which led to the denigration of the project by the bullied employees of the city hall for the remainder of the evening. We have been lectured in cosmopolitanism and false orthodoxy and other 50s accusations. For details about this incredible episode, see the magazine Ianus/2002. Of course, not even the publication of this project in mainstream media had any effect on the MLPTL, the company that builds this social housing - simple apartment buildings identical with those built before 1989 at much higher prices that they would go for on the market! 11 For more detials see Robert Kronenburg, Portable Architecture, Oxford: Elsevier/Architectural Press, 2003, 3rd edition.
Stephen Verderber, Compassionism and the Design Studio in the Aftermath of 9/11", Journal of Architectural Education, volume 56, isue 3, February 2003, pp. 48-62. 13 Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest (translators note). 14 The Order of Romanian Architects (translators note). 15 Martin Heidegger, Building, Dwelling, Thinking in Poetry, Language, Thought translated by Albert Hofsadter, London: Harper Perennial, 1976. Republished in 2001.
ON FLOWS, PLACES AND SPACES: TOWARDS A FRAMEWORK FOR LOCATIVE MEDIA ARTWORKS
Gemma San Cornelio, Pau Alsina Abstract Information and communication technologies have redefined our understanding and relationship with space as much as (far from techno-deterministic approaches) the other way around, in reciprocal co-production with the social and the technological. The networked society and its specialization on information flows have brought us new territorial configurations through processes that are being constantly recreated by the variable geometry of global information flow. Mobile phones, wireless networks, or GPS technologies have made possible the instantaneous connection between location dependent information and physical spaces. New forms of cultural production and consumerism are being explored in association with those new spatial practices. Geomatics, the incessant tagging of objects and the world itself, have delivered new forms of representing the space as much as new forms of perception of that space through tools and techniques used in land surveying, remote sensing, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or Global Positioning Systems (GPS). The use that artists make of media technologies in relation to space interventions suggest a stimulating 99
way of approaching the study of how these technologies shape and affect our everyday life, and by extension, the creative practice. In this context, art practices using what has been defined as locative media, or in other words, locative media artworks, should be regarded as a set of emerging practices that deal with our relationship with space in varied forms and that may be challenging current and previous theoretical approaches to space. The aim of this chapter is two-fold: first of all, we want to dig into an archaeology of space-related concepts throughout history, establishing connections between theoretical sources and artistic interpretations of space. The question of experiencing and representating space has been at the heart of many debates on technological developments in our contemporary societies, being approached from very distinct disciplines: from philosophy to architecture, including social sciences, such as anthropology, sociology or geography, or even media studies. We will focus on such theories and interpretations in order to highlight different layers of space-related concepts in relation to the practice of art. Secondly, we will investigate the transformation of the subjective perception of space, through the study of different locative media artworks, as case studies for the use of information and communication technologies. Through the analysis of these theories and practices we will further seek to outline a proper and useful theoretical framework for the current practice of locative media art. 1. The nature of space Throughout history, the concept of space had different interpretations in the Western philosophical tradition. Western philosophers raised different questions about space, particularly initiating a discussion about its objective nature. The main positions can be summed up as follows: space was understood as position of objects, as enclosure of objects, and as field. 100
The first one to be considered was space as a positional quality of the material objects in the world, an affirmation made in order to find a particular way to solve the problem of the nature of space. We can find this concept in Aristotle, regarding the nature of space as a place, as the immobile limit that embraces a body, which was identical with the notion of space for Plato. There is no space without material objects, and therefore there is no possible void, as Aristotle explained in his Physics. This notion became established through some authors of the Renaissance and then, also by Descartes in his Geometry. Descartes defines it in a more expressive way than by size and figure, and we end up thinking more on the lines of the latter definitions when we think of space. But both are identical, and have just a nominal difference. Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz argued against the existence of the void. Leibniz, against Newtonians, said if space is a property or an attribute, then it must be the property of a substance. The limited empty space, whose defendants believe exists between two bodies, would be the property of which substance?.1 This concept almost disappeared in Western philosophy, with the exception of Heidegger, who said that being-there, the human reality, is unique in its nature through its relationship with things. The second position considers that space is the enclosure. This position was supported by the old Atomism that believed in the existence of the void and its infinity. Epicurus, Zeno, Lucretius, and later Giordano Bruno followed this concept. Then Newton, against Leibnizs arguments, extended this notion in science as did Kant. For Newton the absolute space, by its own nature without relation with anything external, is always the same and immobile. The relative space is a mobile dimension or measure of all absolute spaces, determined by our senses through its position respective to our bodies, and that is commonly considered as immobile space.2 Absolute space is then the measure of all dimensions of space. 101
The third understanding was the concept of space as field, which in some way, represents a return to the notion of space as place. The forth dimension adds time to the traditional three-dimensional understanding of space. It is illogical to think of space without implying a field, when the possibility of measuring it through non Euclidean geometries exists. Therefore the notion of field paradoxically substitutes the notion of space, and the fusion between space and time as a continuum makes its appearance in the Physics of Minkowski, the Theory of Relativity, or the undulatory mechanics of Schrödinger for example. Nowadays it still is the most comprehensive notion of space applied to contemporary physics. During Renaissance artists like Leonardo da Vinci or Alberti used the system of geometric perspective as a tool for the representation of space in their artworks. The mathematization of the representational space is, as Panofsky explains, the expressive force of a particular notion of space completely different from the modern concepts, as it also represents a totally different conception of the world itself. In art history, we could think of many artists being inspired by Euclidean geometry, as a way to visualize and measure the space. But the non-Euclidian geometries of Lobachevsly or Rienman also captured the attention of artists, especially when Einstein and his Theory of General Relativity were used to explain the physical space. As the space is wrinkled by gravitational fields, generated by massive stars and galaxies, in the cosmic space the shortest distance between two points is not a straight line anymore. This way of representing space also had a tremendous impact on German idealism, as it did for Kants philosophy and its Euclidean geometry, as well. Artists around the world tried to inspire their work on these ideas, as a new way of explaining the universe and the nature of space and reality. For example artists and architects as Le Courbusier and Ozenfant (through their magazine LEsprit Nouveau), the De Stijl group and Theo van Doesburg (with his design for a house in the 4th dimension of space-time), Laszlo Moholy Nagy (through his art and 102
design classes), Max Bill (in his art and math series as the Moebius strip), Kazimir Malevich (with his Suprematist Machine) , El Lissitzky (with his Proun artworks and his manifesto of A. and Pangeometry, honoring Lobachevsky), Naum Gabo (with his kinetic sculptures) André Breton and Marcel Duchamp (and the ideas of mathematician Poincairé) or Salvador Dalí (through many of his artworks like The Persistence of Memory) amongst others, got inspired by these ideas generated by the Theory of Relativity and the non-Euclidean understanding of space. 2. Social space and its dualities We could also consider space through social theory, as linked to the different notions of space mentioned above. For example, social theories on space focus on the conventional understanding of space provided by institutions (states and governments)3, and differentiates them from the spatial practices of ordinary users (the citizens). The accent on the personal and subjective experience of space, and its separation from institutional or panoptic consideration, is one of the most important features that define the diverse concepts on space in social theory. Anthony Giddens, one of the most prominent contemporary theorists, in Modernity and Self-identity, distinguishes three elements to describe the dynamic character of modern social life: the first one is what he defines as the separation of time & space. Giddens states that in the pre-modern society, time and space were connected through the circumstances of place, but in the late capitalist societies there is a separation of these two spheres. This separation involves, above all, the development of an empty dimension of time, the main lever which also pulled space away from place4. In this sense, a universal dating system (the calendar), the clock, and maps are just some elements that have contributed to the separation of time and space, so that it provides a basis for their recombination in ways that coordinate social activities 103
without necessary referencing the particularities of place.5 In this way, as he points out: Modern social organization presumes the precise coordination of the actions of many human beings physically absent from one another, the when of these actions is directly connected to the where but not, as in the pre-moderns era, via the mediation of place6. Thus, one of the most relevant consequences of the separation of space and time is that, actually, it is not essential to overlap in space and time in order to share a (collective) experience. Related to this, there is another result of the transformation of space: the coexistence of what has been labeled as globality and locality, two concepts originally introduced by Giddens and used very commonly nowadays by scholars, regarding a social and economic model. The coexistence of locality and globality, as McLuhan initially proposed, is facilitated, or partially caused, by all the different media that have emerged during the twentieth century. This thesis has been later supported by K. Gergen, Anthony Giddens, and more recently by Manuel Castells. The mediated practice of space, that is, the experience of space through media points to one of the most relevant questions regarding space in contemporary art and culture: the distinction between the visual and the corporeal understanding of space. This duality is expressed by some authors, like David Clarkes or Alois Riegl. David Clarke talks about visuality and hapticality in cinema; to Clarke, the concept visuality recalls the space perceived by the detached, voyeuristic eye, and hapticallity defines the space perceived by the mobile, living body7. Haptic space is also a central concept in Alois Riegls writings, one of the important authors in the modern aesthetic theory, who defined the artistic evolution in the visual Western arts in terms of a shift from haptic space to optical space. In haptic space, exemplified in the primitive systems of representation, the objects are isolated inside the visual field. The scenes are formed as links to the objects, and accumulate one above the other, without being organized in a homogeneous and, unitary space. In the optical space, on the contrary, the space is 104
represented using the perspective system, defined by the Renaissance painters, and used until today, particularly by means of photography or films. Considering this approach, Clarkes concept of hapticality would recall that of Riegl, in a way that an image (a shot) taken from a very close distance may appear incomplete, unorganized, and sometimes distorted. In our view, this distinction (argued elsewhere by San Cornelio8) it is not only due strictly to the different systems of representation, but also to how images allude to sensuality and evoke emotions. Visuality, thus, would refer to an optical and pretended objective way of understanding the human experience, while hapticality would refer to the body, and the other senses of the human being. Following a similar duality, Michel de Certeau, in The Practice of Everyday Life, analyzing spatial practices in the city, elaborates a theoretical model where he distinguishes two types: voyeurs and walkers. Borrowing from Baudelaires notions the voyeur and flaneur, De Certeau describes the city experienced by either voyeurs or walkers9. The voyeur point of view is defined as gazing at the city from above, transformed into a solar eye and looking down like God. That is the way Walking in the City begins: the author is standing at the top of the World Trade Centre gazing over Manhattan. From this vantage point, the city is offered up to the voyeur as a whole, a graspable image, in contrast with the messy city that one moves through down below. The walker, hence, is the anonymous person walking and experiencing the city. In the authors words, walkers are practitioners that make use of spaces that cannot be seen10. The voyeur would be the figure representing an optical point of view, a representation with perspective, holistic, but not paying attention to small things or particularities. The walker is a person who practices and lives the space from the inside. As proposed by San Cornelio11, applying these theories to film analysis throws light on the particularities of the image and shifts from the voyeurs to the walkers perspective as it is shown in the following examples. 105
Fig.1.voyeur perspective People from Rome 2003 © Istituto Luce y Roma Cinematografica
Fig. 2 walker perspective Caresses © Els Films de la Rambla, S.A
Fig. 3 and Fig. 4 the shift from voyeur to walker perspective in Wings of Desire © reverse-angle pictures
Finally, Henry Lefevbre, talks about production of space and distinguishes between absolute and abstract space. Absolute space defines the space as lived, as opposed to abstract space, in which space is conceived rather than lived, in other words, absolute space is a representational space, rather than a representation of space. Following Lefebvre, the representational space is more related to nature and fertility, and the representations of space are geographic or transportation and communication route maps. Absolute space (pastoral, agricultural, or space in origin) shows the relationship between urban space and its surroundings: the nature, forming a texture that encloses them both. Absolute space has dimensions, but not the dimensions of the abstract or Euclidean space12. For instance, as Lefebvre defines it, Greek temples are absolute spaces because they imply notions of divinity; the same 106
occurs with tombs and funerary monuments that also belong to the absolute space. Absolute space addresses not the intellect, but the body (threats, punishments, emotions) In absolute space people inhabit nature, but retaining a bond with their severed surroundings, governed by the logic of capitalism. On the other hand, abstract space is political, instituted by state. On first impression it appears homogeneous, eliminating differences, but after a closer look it becomes illusory because it is defined through empirical metaphors13.
Fig. 5. Google map from aerial perspective, representing Lefebvres abstract space Actually, the empirical representation of space has been critically observed, both in social and art practices. The main assumption of such critical approaches is that conventional cartography, which aims to achieve objectivity - as it is commonly understood - is, in fact, influenced by a subjective view, related to power (for example the northern hemisphere is situated at the top of terrestrial globes, while the 107
developing countries are at the bottom). Thus, there have been some alternative responses, such as feminist geography (D. Massey), or the situationist movement in the Fifties of the Twentieth Century. Particularly, Guy Debord, proposed the Derive as a method for exploring space, as an alternative to journeys and maps. This experience consisted of a rapid passage through varied environments of the city by a group of people, letting themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they found there. Chance is a less important factor in this activity than one might think: from a derivés point of view cities have psychogeographical contours, with constant currents, fixed points and vortexes that strongly discourage entry into or exit from certain zones. In this sense, Dérive would be connected with psychogeography, that is, the study of the effects of geography on individuals14. This way, it could be stated that Situationist practises are, to some extent, a response to the theories previously drawn, as well as other art practices related to space, such us performances and interventions (installations) in public buildings and open spaces. Furthermore, many appropriations and personalization of maps are currently taking place, thanks to location-based technologies. 3. Transformation, substitution and disappearance of place Some other contemporary authors go a step further and point to the transformation or possible disappearance of the notion of place. This position is overtly represented by Marc Augé definition of non-places. In an anthropological sense, the place is a symbolic space, where one can read, partially or totally, the identity of its inhabitants15. It is also a rhetoric territory where the practitioners share signs and have things in common. Thus, the basis of Augés theorization of non-places is based on their contrary conditions, that is, spaces where the identity, relationship, and history of its practitioners can not be read. Within the category of non-places, he includes three types of spaces: spaces of circulation (motorways, airports, petrol stations ) spaces of consumerism (super markets, hotel chains ) and spaces of 108
communication (screens, cables, waves ) 16. Augé states that in a first level of analysis, these are not places where long-term social relationships can be inscribed. These places have empirical existence and they are spreading towards the suburbs (peripheries) and characterizing what he defines as super-modernity. Nevertheless, the opposition between places and non-places is relative; it depends on the place and the moment of the day17. This assertion opens the possibility that through an intense experience of these spaces by its practitioners, they can be turned into places. Auge draws on Rem Koolhas idea of generic city 18, which is defined as a uniform model of a city where the skyscraper is the definitive typology. It is a city without history, without layers, superficial like a film studio, in a process of never ending self-destruction and renewal. Other post-structuralist authors, such as Lyotard, deny the category of place, although with different arguments. Concretely, he claims the dissolution of epistemic coherence. For him, narrative elements disintegrate into clouds of linguistic combinations, and heterogeneous moments of subjectivity that do not cohere into an identity19. This way, he criticises the notion of domesticity or dwelling, thus denying the category of place as source of identity. For him, the notion of place is a nostalgic response to the conditions of late capitalism, or in other words, it is a product of the market. In a more general perspective, Poststructuralist geography emerges from the deconstruction of pointilistic articulations of space, time, and place. Immutability gives way to fluidity, and the poststructuralist space is broken up into discontinuous elements that are branching without an unifying frame of reference, breaking up a given space into fragments. This leads to a non-unified final form, which could be conveyed in terms of heterotopia, or a manifold space without a common measure. The manifold spaces are folded in many ways as the model for the material sciences is the origami or the art of folding20 as Deleuze and Guattari affirm. Many artists or architects, as for example Peter Eisenman, have been extensively inspired by these ideas, as much as by the non-Euclidean parameters hidden inside them. Marcus Novak is another architect directly inspired by the ideas of Deleuze and Guattary, exploring the 109
immense possibilities of the folds and multiplicity as key factors for his creations. From an aesthetic point of view, Baudrillard points to a spatial representation and experience based on the idea of simulacrum, as he explains broadly in his work, Simulacra and Simulation (1981). His work is based on the prominence of the image in our society up to the point that images substitute reality, thus living in a continuum of simulated experiences. His work has been extremely influential not only in sci-fi or futuristic films like the Matrix trilogy, but also in the conceptualization of the cyberspace as a disembodied space, strongly determined also by the technological developments of Virtual Reality. 4. The opening and the ubiquity of place In recent years, the empirical information and descriptions of space have increased spectacularly: mobile phones, wireless networks, and GPS technologies have introduced the possibility to instantly connect ubiquitous information with physical spaces. As Felix Stalder affirms, the effects are dramatic and are still unfolding. What logically belongs together no longer needs to be in one place in order to function as a single unit ( ). For the first time ever, it is becoming possible to be geographically distributed and still act as a unit in real time.21 As many authors have already stated, ITC and the transportation systems have defined a new space for social interaction, in the last decades. In this space, interaction takes place in real time across very large distances and is shaping and shaped by the flow of information, people, and goods. It is, in Manuel Castells words, the space of flows: a space that is organized for, and created by the constant movement of people, goods, and information over large distances. The space of flows is not so much organized to move things from one place to another, but to keep them moving around. In the space of flows, arrival becomes elusive, virtually indistinguishable from departure. Castells writes: Our societies are constructed around the concept of flow: flow of capital, flow of information, flow of technology, flow of organizational 110
interactions, flow of images, sounds, and symbols. The flow is not just one element of social organization: it is the expression of the processes dominating our economic, political, and symbolic life.22. Castells proposes a new spatial model that characterizes what he defines as the network society. In his own words it is a new spatial form characteristic of social practices that dominate and shape the network society: the space of flows. In this model, he recalls also Rem Koolhas generic city, for considering it the architectonic expression of the space of flows in the information age23. The meaning of the term stresses particularly the idea of flows, where flows are understood a purposeful, repetitive, programmable sequences of exchanges and interactions between social actors holding spatially discontinuous positions.24 Castells defines the space of flows in relation to the space of places, which is considered a previous paradigm where the physical localization was a determinant factor. This position has been criticized by other authors, because, in a way, he is still supporting the idea that places have lost their identity due to the use of technologies and have become a sort of abstract places not linked to a particular location. For Moores, Castells is quite right to begin by identifying the relation between flows and places as central to any social theory of space in the network society, but quite wrong to think of the space of flows and the space of places as diametrically opposed forms with completely separate logics25. Moores considers that they are not opposed because place is not self-contained, (as Castells suggests) but has extensions outside (emotions, livings ). In other words, places are open, as Massey defines them: places should be thought of as not so much bounded areas, and she points to the openness of places in global times26. 5. Defining a theoretical framework for locative media artworks Recalling the last theories, it would seem at first sight that the conceptualization of space of flows is a suitable framework for locative 111
media projects, as far as they deal with space, through technological devices, such as mobile phones, GPS, PDA, or computers, which are constantly sending and receiving data flows. Nevertheless, this would be a shallow approach, only based on the technological side of these artworks, and would leave aside their aesthetic and conceptual components. Although there is not an official definition of the term locative media its initial use is attributed to Karlis Kalnins in 2003 and it was the 2006 topic of a special issue of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac. In the Wikipedia the term is summarized as media of communication functionally bound to a location. They are digital media applied to real places and thus triggering real social interactions. While mobile technologies such as the Global Positioning System (GPS), laptop computers, and mobile phones enable locative media, they are not the goal for the development of projects in this field. Ben Russell puts it in other words: Locative media is many things: a new site for old discussions about the relationship of consciousness to place and other people; a framework within which to actively engage with, critique, and shape a rapid set of technological developments; a context within which to explore new and old models of communication, community and exchange; a name for the ambiguous shape of a rapidly deploying surveillance and control infrastructure.27 In a technical sense, locative media is closely related to augmented reality (reality overlaid with virtual reality) and pervasive computing (as in ubiquitous computing). Yet, whereas augmented reality strives for technical solutions and pervasive computing is interested in embedded computing, locative media concentrates on social interaction with a place and with technology28. Hence, from a conceptual point of view many locative media projects have a social, critical or personal (memory) background in relation to the notion of space and place, which links them with other contemporary practices, such as land art, or interventions in the public space. As Manovich points out29, although place-based arts have long and rich histories, the novelty of locative projects seems to be in the way they include technological agents to express and index spatial relationships, in order words, these projects have the possibility to augment or enhance the notion of space. 112
For Manovich the context for exploring new aesthetics of space is provided by augmented reality techniques, constituting - beyond its technological side - an aesthetic paradigm: The previous image of the computer era VR user traveling in a virtual space- has become replaced by a new image: a person checking email, or making a phone call ( ) while in the airport, in a street, car, or in other actually existing space.30 With the previous assertion Manovich describes what he understands as a shift from the Virtual Reality paradigm to the Augmented Reality paradigm. For Manovich, Augmented Reality becomes, in a way, opposed to Virtual Reality because in a typical Virtual Reality system, all the action is done in a virtual space, so that physical space becomes unnecessary and its vision is completely blocked. In contrast, Augmented Reality systems help the user to do the work in a physical space by augmenting this space with additional information. [Although] physical space was always augmented by images, graphics and type; ( ) substituting them with electronic displays makes possible to present dynamic images, to mix images ( ) and to change the content at any time.31 This way, the difference between the Locative Media approaches to space and that of other non-technologically-mediated interventions in public spaces would be the interchangeability and dynamics of data. Moreover, for Manovich, Augmented Reality is conceptually very similar to wireless location services, in other words, to locative media: the common idea is that when the user is in the vicinity of objects, buildings or people, the information about them is delivered to the user32. Thus, augmented space and locative media are absolutely related, and they can be regarded as the same aesthetic paradigm. One of the key notions where these aesthetics can be explored is public space, in consequence, Manovich proposes to learn from architecture - and commercial branding such as Pradas - what kind of strategies are more suitable to provide an extensive use of these public spaces. Overlaying dynamic and contextual data over a physical space is a particular case of a general aesthetic paradigm: how to combine different spaces together. ( ) it is crucial to see it as a conceptual, rather than just a technological issue, as something that already was often a part of other architectural and artistic paradigm33. 113
In the following paragraphs we provide some examples illustrating, on the one hand, how locative media artworks are dealing with this aesthetic paradigm, and on the other, how these projects are related with previous reflections on space. Trying to establish a temporary perspective, the audio walks by Janet Cardiff may one attempt to include narratives (in this case fictional) in the experience of walking along a city. Generally audio walks are pieces that suggest to follow a trajectory through spaces where a narration recorded in an audio track - leads the action. One of the pieces is The Missing Voice (Case Study B), commissioned in 1999 and continues to run. These narrations are listened by earphones connected to a CD player or iPod, combine instructions to the user (go down the stairs, look through the window ) with fragments of a story, sound effects, and other types of data. Although technologically these are not complex projects, their own nature reveals an absolute immersion with the spaces that the spectators experience. The importance of the place, cannot be denied in this project, as far as every point in the narrative is conditioned by the very spatial coordinates the spectator is covering. Walking in the city, inspired by different sources or motivations was the premise of the project 1000 Joyce Walks34 . It was a participatory global intervention aiming to create a day of psychogeographical exploration with 1000 interventions in 24 hours across the globe. The project, performed initially on June 16th 2008 (Bloomsday) aimed to remap routes from James Joyces Ulysses to any city in the world cited in the novel, to be used as the basis of walks which navigate urban space in a new and unexpected way. The technique used in this project is what is commonly known as geotagging, that is, tagging specific spots into Google or other online maps, its theoretical source of inspiration being Situationism. Another project which is also based in exploring and augmenting the experience in the city is Interurban by Jeff Knowlton and Naomi Spellman. The project was initially presented in 2004 at FutureSonic in Manchester UK. Utilizing a Tablet PC, GPS card and custom software, 114
InterUrban plays back pre-recorded narrative elements read by voice actors to weave a story structure in Manchesters historical city center. This location aware narrative unfolds as the user/participant moves through real space. Environmental factors such as time of day and user/ participant location, distance traveled, heading and proximity to hypothetical or historical events determine how the narrative unfolds. The discontinuities on the reception of this information have to do with specific points of wireless connection, thus providing a mixed experience to the participant. Although the previous examples illustrate the aesthetic potential of overlaying information over a physical space, so that its exploration connects interactions between the two spaces, between vision and hearing, and between present and past35 the project more evidently linked to Manovichs suggestion to learn from architecture and commercial strategies is The Artvertise, a project that is currently being developed by Julian Oliver, Clara Boj and Diego Diaz. The main idea is taking sites dense with advertisements as an exhibition space. The procedure will consist of training a computer to recognize billboard advertisements, logos and other commercial images, and then, replace them with alternative material. These images will be seen through a device of augmented reality visualization, currently a kind of binoculars, as depicted in the following image (fig. 6) of a simulation of Time Square in New York. The project is at the moment being tested in different sites
Fig. 6 Simulation of The Artvertiser
and its appearance would look like in (fig. 7) which is a test in Madrid.
Fig. 7 Test of the Artvertiser in Madrid
In order to complete this framework it would be useful the recall the idea of place duplication suggested in the work of Scannell36. By this concept he meant that public events now occur, simultaneously, in two different places: the place of the event itself and that in which it is watched and heard. Broadcasting mediates these two sites37. The place duplication is at the heart of the experience in the project Can You See Me Now? by Blast Theory. This project started in 2001 and it has been performed in many different locations. A loose narrative framework is established requiring players to answer the question, is there someone you havent seen for a long time that you still think of?. Participants can then access an online virtual environment constructed to replicate the actual streets of the selected city. As they navigate the virtual city they are chased by members of the Blast Theory team who appear as avatars in the virtual world. The remote participants must avoid the Blast Theory chasers; if a chaser gets within five meters of an online player, the player is seen and is out of the game. When it occurs, the Blast Theory victor takes a digital photo of the real space where the participant was seen and this photo is displayed on the webpage38. Participants are also able to see the avatars of other players and runners, and can chose to exchange text messages with them and hear the verbal commentary of the Blast Theory runners via audio-stream and via 116
walkie-talkie. Klitch describes her own experience in the game this way: I have the uncanny realisation that I am running alongside these performers, I have become a material-informational entity that exists not only in the virtual world, but also elsewhere in the real world39 In a sense the project Can You See Me Now makes more evident the colliding of the two spaces at the same time by connecting both the experience in the physical space with the online space. This is not a trivial observation, because despite the fact that there has been a lot of research based on the Internet in the last years, there is still a tendency to separate virtual space from the so-called real space, whereas the experiences on both sides are equally real. Much of the early academic literature in this area has tended to focus on the nature of spaces or places apart from the rest of social life, rather than treating the Internet as continuous with other social spaces, and as part of everyday life. As previously said, this idea is highly influenced by the notion of simulation but also of simulacrum as a paradigm of a detached representation of reality. In contrast, it does not make sense any more to believe in this concept since the Internet is full of geographical information, as Townsend and others suggest. Furthermore, as it has been argued along this chapter, locative media projects propose a complete fusion between places and, in our view, there is no doubt that their experience should be considered as a whole and not separately. As Miller and Slater state, only understanding this connection we will be able to understand that the openness or the possibilities of being interconnected are part of the same experience40. 6. Conclusions As implied above, the different examples of locative media introduced in this chapter, constitute a very complex and diverse set of artistic practices that are currently emerging, and consequently there isnt much research done on them. One of the main reasons, in our view, is that they can be examined by many different disciplines and points of view and consequently put in different frameworks, or approached them in an interdisciplinary way, as we intended in this 117
chapter, bringing together theories from social and aesthetic perspectives, trying to overcome technological determinism. Although precisely their technological orientation would suggest that we are facing a new body of art practices, the truth is that there are many references to both space theories and contemporary art practices in them: from a historical and conceptual point of view they are related to public space interventions, happenings, land art, and performance art. Furthermore, and drawing on Manovich insights, they are framed in the augmented space aesthetics, constituting a new paradigm of space experience based on the interconnection of physical spaces and virtual data. Related to this, from a theoretical and social point of view, these practices although they are close (or part of) the conceptualization of space of flows, their practical and evocative approach would suggest the opening of the place, rather than its disappearance, as Massey or Scanell have suggested. This is another line of research we are currently exploring. We definitely believe that locative media allows the rethinking of some artistic practices, but at the same time, these artworks provide scholars with the opportunity to explore suitable frameworks in order to analyse them from diverse perspectives. We have tried to shed some light on these projects and to demonstrate how artistic practices can contribute or can reflect on the social experience of place through (new) media, but there are other aspects to be explored (Manovich proposition on archaeology could be one approach) in the current media practices. In this broad framework, and analysing some individual projects in depth we will be able to come to more conclusions and critical understandings not only of locative media art, but also of contemporary and media art in general. References
Augé M. (1995). Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. London / NewYork: Verso. Augé, M. (2007). Sobremodernidad. Del mundo de hoy al mundo de mañana.
Contrastes: Revista cultural (nº 47, p. 101-107). Baudrillard, J. (1978). Cultura y simulacro. Barcelona: Kairós. Castells, M. (2001). La galaxia Internet. Reflexiones sobre Internet, empresa y sociedad. Barcelona: Plaza & Janés Editores. Certeau, Michel de (1984). The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press. Clarke, D. (1997). The Cinematic City. New York: Routledge. Coverley, M. (2006). Psychogeography. London: Pocket Essentials. Debord, G. (1958). Internationale situationniste (no. 2). Paris. Deleuze, G. (1989). El pliegue: Leibniz y el Barroco. Madrid: Paidós. Descombes, V. (1989). Philosophie par gros temps. Paris: Seuil. Eckardt F. (ed.) (2007). Media and Urban Space. Understanding, Investigating and Approaching Mediacity. Auflage: Frank & Timme. Foucault, M. (1995). Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage. J. Gergen, K. (1991). The Saturated Self Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. New York: Basic Books. Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and Self-Identity. Cambridge: Polity Press. Hemment, D. (2006). Locative Media Special Issue. Leonardo Electronic Almanac. (vol. 14, no. 3) [Last accessed: 5 august 2007] http://www.leoalmanac.org/journal/vol_14/lea_v14_n03-04/guested.asp> Klich, R. (August 2007). Performing Posthuman Perspective: Can You See Me Now?. Scan Journal (vol. 4, no. 2). [Last accessed: 10 may 2008] http://scan.net.au/scan/journal/display.php?journal_id=91> Koolhas, R., Sigler, J., Mau, B. (1997). S,M,L,XL: The Generic City. The Monacelli Press. Lefebvre, H. (2004). The Production of Space. Oxford: Blackwell. Leibniz,W.L. IV Lettre à Clarke. (op. 8, p. 756). Ed. Erdmann. Lyotard, J. P. (1992). Domus and Megapolis. En: Inhuman. Stanford: Standford University Press. Manovich, L. (2002). The Poetics of Augmented Space: Learning from Prada. [Last accessed: 20 May 2008] http://www.manovich.net> Massey, D. (1995). The Conceptualization of Place. En: Massey D., Jess P. (eds.). A Place in the World? Places, Cultures and Globalization. Oxford: Oxford University Press/Open University. Miller D., Slater D. (2000). The Internet: An Ethnographic Approach. Oxford: Berghan. Moores, S. (2003). Media, Flows and Places. MEDIA@LSE Electronic Working Papers. Londres: London School of Economics. [Last accessed: 10 February 2008 http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/media@lse/pdf/Media@lseEWP6.pdf>
Newton, I. (1687). Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica. I, def 8, scol. Olin, M. (1992). Forms of Representation in Alois Riegls Theory of Art. University Park. Russell, B. (2004). Transcultural Media Online Reader Introduction. TCM Online Reader 2004. [Last accessed:: 15 August 2007] http://parth.wordpress.com/2006/07/25/tcm-locative-reader/> Scannell, P. (1996). Radio, Television and Modern Life: A Phenomenological Approach. Oxford: Blackwell. Stalder, F. (2001). The Space of Flows: Notes on Emergence, Characteristics and Possible Impact on Physical Space. Conferencia en c I T y: reload or shutdown?. 5th International PlaNet Congress. [Last accessed: 10 July 2007] http:/ /felix.openflows.com/html/space_of_flows.html> Sennet, R. (1992). Personal Identity and City Life. New York / London: W.W. Norton. Towsend, A. (2006). Locative-Media Artists in the Contested Aware City. Leonardo. (vol. 39, nº 4. pp.. 345-347). Tuters, M., Varnelys, K. (2006). Beyond Locative Media: Giving Shape to the Internet of Things. Leonardo (vol. 39, nº 4, pp. 357-363).
Michel Foucault (Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison, 1995), Michel de Certeau (The Practice of Everyday Life, 1984), Henri Lefebvre (The Production of Space, 2004) or Marc Augé (Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, 1995) are just some references. 4 Giddens, A. (1991) Modernity and self-identity. Cambridge: Polity Press p. 16. 5 Giddens, A. Op. cit. p. 17. 6 Giddens, A. Op. cit. p. 18 7 Clarke D. (1997) The Cinematic City. New York: Routledge. p. 8-9 8 San Cornelio G. (2008) Live Cities: Film and Media Approaches to European Cities, in Shifting Landscapes, Christensen and Erdogan (eds.) Cambridge: Cambridge Scholar Press, p. 198-220. 9 Baudelaires voyeur is a sort of distant observer who is not concerned with the life of the city; whereas the flaneur is a person who walks among the people in the street and in contact with them (he is quite interested in prostitutes and beggars, whom he considers to be very important in the portrait of the modern
Leibniz, W.L. IV Lettre à Clarke., 8,Op., ed. Erdmann, p 756 Newton, I (1687) Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica. I, def 8,
city). In fact, both figures (voyeur and flaneur) are essential in the description of his notion of modernity. Some decades later Walter Benjamin also talks about the flaneur. 10 Certeau, M.(1984) The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press, p. 93. 11 San Cornelio, G. (2008) op. Cit. P. 201 12 Lefebvre, H. (2004) The production of space. Oxford: Blackwell, p. 235-236. 13 Lefebvre, op. cit. p. 285. 14 Coverley, M. (2006) Psychogeography. London: Pocket Essentials. 15 Augé, M. (2007) Sobremodernidad. Del mundo de hoy al mundo de mañana. Contrastes: Revista cultural, no. 47, pp. 101-107 16 Augé, M. op. Cit., p. 105 17 Augé, M. op. Cit., p. 106 18 Koolhas, R., Sigler, J. & Mau, B. (1997) S,M,L,XL: The Generic City. The Monacelli Press. 19 Lyotard, J. P. (1992) Domus and Megapolis in Inhuman. Stanford: Standford University Press. 20 Deleuze, G. (1989) El pliegue: Leibniz y el Barroco. Madrid: Paidós. p. 6 21 Stalder, F. (2001) The Space of Flows: notes on emergence, characteristics and possible impact on physical space [online document] see references. 22 Castells, M. (2001) La galaxia Internet. Reflexiones sobre Internet, empresa y sociedad. Barcelona: Plaza & Janés Editores p. 412. 23 Castells, Op. Cit. p. 421 24 Castells, Op. Cit. P. 412 25 Moores, S., (2003). Media, Flows and Places. MEDIA@LSE Electronic Working Papers. Londres: London School of Economics. p. 4. Stalder also points to the influence of the spaces of flows on the space of places. London and New York are becoming more integrated ( ) its a indication how the space of flows connects places to one another that are similar and thus how the space of flows is actively reconfiguring the space of places. F. Stalder, 2001 (see references) 26 Massey, D. (1995) The Conceptualization of Place, in D. Massey and P. Jess (eds) A Place in the World? Places, Cultures and Globalization. Oxford: Oxford University Press/Open University, p. 59 27 Russell, B. (2004) Transcultural Media Online Reader Introduction, TCM Online Reader 2004. [online document] see references 28 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locative_media 29 Manovich, L. (2005) The poetics of augmented space: Learning from Prada, p. 1 30 Manovich L., op. cit., p. 1.
Manovich L., op. cit., p. 2 Manovich L., op. cit., p. 4 33 Manovich, L. op.cit., p. 6 34 http://www.stunned.org/walks/bloomsday.html 35 Manovich, L. op.cit., p 7 36 Scannell, P. (1996) Radio, Television and Modern Life: A Phenomenological Approach. Oxford: Blackwell. 37 Scannell, P. op. cit., p. 76. 38 Klich, Rosemary (2007) Performing Posthuman Perspective : Can You See Me Now?. Scan Journal, vol. 4 number 2, August 2007 39 Klich, R., op. cit. 40 Miller, D. & Slater D. (2000) The Internet: An Ethnographic Approach. Oxford: Berghan. pp. 4-7
CHAPTER III. Types of Memory
ANARCHIVE - DIGITAL ARCHIVES ON CONTEMPORARY ART
Anne-Marie Duguet anarchive is a series of DVDs and Internet projects designed to explore an artists overall oeuvre via diverse archival material. The project is an historical and critical research whose main purpose is to record and to increase public awareness on some of the most important developments in contemporary art such as performances, works in public places, video, installations, experiments with new technologies. Beyond a mode of preservation and beyond producing important databases about a whole body of work, the project aims to incourage artists to develop new works through the use of digital technologies. Each production in the series is an archive, but its mainly an anarchive, meaning, approaching artworks from new perspectives, and trying to uncover unprecedented relationships between the works. This research which belongs yet to archeology, is also an original art project. The artists contribute to the creation of the DVD at different levels, by allowing access and commentary their own archives, and mainly by assuming the art direction of the project. The titles in the anarchive series published so far: - Muntadas Media Architecture Installations by Antoni Muntadas (Centre Pompidou, 1999) 123
- Digital Snow by Michael Snow (Centre Pompidou, 2002) - Title TK by Thierry Kuntzel (Anarchive/Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes, 2006) - On the Concile of Nicea by Jean Otth (Anarchive, 2007). The series will continue with: Fujiko Nakaya, Masaki Fujihata, Peter Campus, Victor Burgin, Jochen Gerz, Joan Jonas, Norman White, Paul de Marinis, Bill Viola, Jim Campbell, Mona Hattoum, Gary Hill and others. An historical and critical approach The archives of these artists, often quite extensive, provide the opportunity for an historical, theoretical, and critical study based on the existing works, in order to complete and synthesize them. It has to preempt the loss of information as well as, supplement, incomplete or poor quality documentation, which would not allow for an accurate estimation of the different elements involved in a work and their relationship. Sometimes new documents have to be produced with the artists precious collaboration. anarchive aims to develop new approaches for describing works by using, for example 3D simulation to explore and understand how installation elements are displayed and function together, or by producing a kind of equivalent simulation of to an interactive action. The software allows the interweaving of multiple relationships between the works, and mainly between the projects and their diverse historic, social, economic contexts. Each DVD includes an important database, which without pretending to be exhaustive, represents a significant part of the artists work. The research aims not just to establish chronologies or to reinforce already established categorizations, but to offer new perspectives on a work or body of work. An original work Experimentation with interface design and systems interactivity plays an important role in the series. Each work is based on the individual 124
approach of artists who have developed personal conceptual frameworks and guidelines throughout an entire career. That is why, these authors are more likely to suggest non-convetional proposals. The developers involved in the project will be inspired by such approaches to engage in research in their own field. The involvement of such high caliber artists and the quality of the teams working with them, facilitate an original approach and a multimedia production exploring all its possibilities. The fundamentally pluridisciplinary nature of such a project requires expertise in many fields: art history and theory, computer programming, graphic design, writing, video production, etc. For this reason, a team has been assembled to assist the artist for each DVD. A reference and educative tool These computer archives, which aim to expose the general public to topics and questions in contemporary art, are also an educational tool, as well as, a precious source of documentation for researchers, critics and curators. Schools of art, art departments in universities, libraries, media and art centres constitute the major audience of this project. Anarchive n°3 - Title TK Book (648 pages) + DVD TITLE TK by Thierry Kuntzel, is the third volume of the anarchive series, both a new work and a database covering all of artists works. First known for his work as a film theorist, Thierry Kuntzel is one of the most important artists working in France today. He produced most of his videotapes between 1979 and 1980, and since has created installations with projected images, light and sound. The book (648 pages) includes the transcription of about 600 of his working notes, more than a half of them translated into English. The DVD also presents these manuscripts, some of them being read by Kuntzel. Through video excerpts of the works that are revealed 125
interactively by the reader, there are main possible paths: body, representation, and time. The variations in light and the changes in the speed of interaction, the multiplicity of points of view and the place of the viewer, the apparition and disappearance of traces, highlight the processes of memory and perception, the fragility of all images, the futility of any attempt to hold on to an image. In addition, the description of nearly forty works, several theoretical texts by Kuntzel being collected here for the first time. A selection of texts referring to his works by authors such as Raymond Bellour, also can be accessed in the database. This DVD-ROM is both a database of Thierry Kuntzels entire oeuvre and an artwork in itself. Through images and sounds taken from his videos and installations, interspersed with some of his notes, either written or read aloud, the DVD offers three ways of approaching the work, highlighting some of its key aspects. Each path has two entries. A few connecting points along the way lead from one path to another, and imperceptibly guide the viewer to other themes. At any moment along the way, the viewer can set off on a new path.
Fig. 1 Fig. 2 Using as background the last visualized documents, four functions can be activated in the four corners of the screen: beginning on path, start another path, exit, artists biography and access to the database.
1 - The body and its distortion. Here we find skin and detail, the caress of a gaze, but also a face erased by too much light, the body split in two, reduplicated, transparent, beneath a sheet, behind a frame, leaves, 126
glimpsed. At times a self-portrait, often caught in an electronic disturbance, or seen from behind, as a child. All activity is minimal, unhurried: smoking, contemplating, reading, passing by. The activity of thinking, of desiring. Entry 1: the body present, a hand touching a naked arm (Spring). Entry 2: light-traces of what must have been another arm, a hand holding a cigarette (Nostos 1). 2 - Landscape and representation. Here we see the horizon, a panorama of San Francisco or Tampico, perspective, framing, windows. The view and its obstruction, or simply the light that filters through a door ajar to perhaps reveal some secret. Projected light, tracking light, colourful variations, they transform a studio as they do the landscape. Between dazzlement and darkness, another space, foliated, blurred, sometimes takes shape. Entry 1: the sea, waves and surf (The Waves) Entry 2: the sea once again, with the laguna and Venice on the horizon (Venises) 3 - Speeds. This would be the flutter, the intermittence, the series, the tension between movements - of the camera or in the processing of the image - and stasis, extreme slow-motion, the tomb. Time and memory, between acceleration and freeze-frame. Entry 1: The flutter of a heart and of a light on the inscription Nevermore (Edgar Allan Poes Tomb) Entry 2: the flicker of projected light (Still) The association of these fragments is based on thematic or formal affinities, or on the emphases particular to Thierry Kuntzels work. Unaccompanied by reference notes or commentary, each image appears in an almost random way on the screen, never returning to the same place, it seeps from the edge or the interior of another image - the blue of one merges with the ocre of another. Clouds of colour take shape and form an image as we pay attention to them (for example if we hover over them or click on them to accelerate the appearance of the image emerging). Discovery is the guiding principle: elements appear, attract our gaze, but it is up to the viewer to seize them to make the image truly appear. It is left to the, viewer to free the image from the 127
matter of the screen. If the viewer doesnt intervene, the images simply continue their interaction and incredible unfolding. Theres nothing excessive here, no click, no menu. Operating procedures: Four functions can be found at the four corners of the screen: Right-hand top: go back to the beginning of a path, start another one; Left-hand top: exit; Left-hand bottom: Thierry Kuntzels biography; Right-hand bottom: database; The database gives access to: - documents about Kuntzels installations, videos, video installations and other projects;
Fig. 3 Screenshot with one of the artists sketches for Ete installation. The page gives access to the database which includes documents related to the artists works, his writings, some critical texts related to his work and a list of exhibitions.
- a collection of 600 of the artists notes, handwritten or transcribed, all his theoretical essays on cinema and video, compiled for the first time; - a selection of texts about his work; - a list of exhibitions; For each work, a variety of resource materials are available: - a brief technical description; - a commentary that may be a note by the artist, an excerpt from a review or another short text; - one or several excerpts from the video, or photos of the installation; - several descriptions of the installations based the artists sketches; - the artists notes - handwritten (that can be enlarged) and transcribed - which directly refer to a specific work or are related it; - additional documents: scores, drawings, photos; - a few reviews or criticism or excerpts from essays directly related to the work in question; - works that are linked to it. Thierry Kuntzel often creates series: the Nostos, the Tombeaux, the Saisons... Language options (French or English) must be selected at the beginning; Working notes read by the artist; When opening the DVD, an entry allows to hear the voice of Thierry Kuntzel reading 67 of his working notes.
SEARCH AND REPAIR. DIGITAL HERITAGE AND TIME BASED ART.
On the evening of September 2nd 2004, a disastrous fire broke out in the original building of the Herzogin Anna Amalia Library in Weimar and developed into the largest library fire in Germany since WW II. The historical building, which belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage, was damaged by fire and water, the third floor, and attic were totally destroyed. Literary and musical manuscripts and artworks from the 16th and 17th Centuries up to the 20th Century were completely destroyed or seriously damaged. This tragic loss of cultural and historical inheritance in a spectacular fire attracted a great deal of public attention. The losses were obvious and everybody could immediately see and understand what happened to the physical objects of a precious archive. With the great help of the public, huge parts of the historical building were restored and in October 2007 the library was officially reopened. Today the library runs a database of the Catalogue of lost and damaged books.1 It seems that this physical connection between the object and the information is easy to understand. But what if the object is no longer physical and information is transformed into data? As long as information is decipherable by humans the access to the resources is 131
direct and can be followed by everyone. But when the essence of information is separated from its carrier or medium in form of data, it has no physical presence anymore and becomes machine-readable only. Video art, in its physical presence, lies somehow in between. Stored on reels or cassettes, the magnetic tapes are not readable by human eyes. Machines must be used to get access to the artworks. And of course it has to be the right machine for each of the diverse formats. But more and more, the technical equipment for playing back the tapes is no longer available, and therefore the piece of art is hidden in some electronic coffin. Digital heritage This is where 40yearsvideoart.de2 comes in, organizing a project on digital heritage that archives German video art from 1963 to the present. Memory is an important term in the field of heritage, regardless if it is digital or not. Memory is used in a technical sense as storage of data or as a reservoir for the images that have to be remembered. But we are also talking about memory in terms of recollection and time. In creating an archive or a compilation like 40yearsvideoart.de we are preparing now the memory of the future. Like most projects on cultural heritage 40yearsvideoart.de is designed to store or even re-store objects from the past, to combine them with current pieces and to prepare them for future use. The project focuses on saving, maintaining, and mediating the cultural heritage of video art, which has become one of the most influential art forms of the Twentieth Century. The project consists (or consisted) of three major features: a symposium, an exhibition and a research edition of video art in Germany from 1963 to the present. This complex project was carried out by five museums in the Federal Republic of Germany: the institutions responsible for the overall project were the ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe and the K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen Düsseldorf. They worked together with three partners Kunsthalle Bremen, Lenbachhaus Munich, and the Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig. 132
Saving the cultural heritage of video art what does this mean? Video art nowadays is one of the most popular forms of expression in contemporary art. You will find it in most contemporary art shows or biennales. However as simple and easy the presentation of video art might seem to the public, because of its apparent immateriality, this genre has its inherent troubles. Sometimes, it turns out that a video work is just as ephemeral as its time-related perception. Down in the archives and cellars, a dramatic decay of historical works of video art is constantly taking place. Due to their physical condition, videotapes require professional help (at the latest 20 years after their origination). Typical examples of the process of deterioration are the loss of magnetic signals or the sticky-tape-syndrome.3 Today, numerous works of art are preserved only in a damaged form, and continue to disappear because their support materials decomposes more and more quickly. This process of decline affects, above all, the early original tapes. The progressive destruction of video works poses an acute threat to a significant element of 20th Century art. In order to save the content, the works have to be transferred to another physical format. Today, this means digital storage. What is carried into the future is not the physical tape or the reel containing the signal; it is the magnetic information of the image. In order to save great parts of the genre of video art, the urgent steps of digitization, restoration, and storage have to take place. One may raise the question: can our heritage be digital? In the case of video art, it will have to be digital or it wont be visible anymore in the future, like Rudolf Frieling, head of the project, tirelessly points out. The project was carried out over the course of two years from 2004 to 2005 as an initiative of the German Federal Cultural Foundation. During this time a lot of decisions had to be made. First of all, an independent jury met to highlight the works that represent the diverse aspects and decades of video art in Germany. What came out was an exemplary selection of works, a panorama of 59 historic but also current works ranging from 1963 up to the present. This initial, 133
overview-oriented selection is now traveling around the world with the help of the Goethe-Institute. As soon as the selection was made, the research for the original master tapes begun in a confusing field of copies, masters, sub-masters, copies of copies, new archive masters, etc. The aim was to restore or, if not necessary, to store the works in the best possible quality. Another objective was to try out and find an exemplary method of restoring video material and preparing it for long-term storage. In most cases the tapes were cleaned and digitized at ZKM by the laboratory for antiquated video systems before the restoration process took place. This was realized image by image in the digital state. A special software named DIAMANT (by HS-Art, Graz, Austria) was specifically modified for the particular problems of early magnetic videotapes. This process was documented with the assistance of the project conservator Patrícia Falcão, and can be found on the website.4 Concerning the practical, as well as, the theoretical issues of preservation, restoration and archiving of video art, a symposium was held in Düsseldorf in order to bring together international experts in the field. It also tried to analyze todays technical possibilities and future perspectives of maintaining archives.5 To bring up one issue that turned out clearer and clearer while dealing with these questions Id like to quote Rudolf Frieling: The field of technologies has always been a dynamic one. In the meantime, however, we have learned to no longer rely solely on the hypothetically best possible archiving medium, but rather to develop a strategy with many complementary options. But the aim of the current research will be, as far as possible, to store uncompressed data in order to be ideally prepared for a future change of format.6 Another important concern of the project was not only to assemble and store an overview of German video art and to maintain it, but also to make it accessible to the public. Major problems in teaching video art history are the problems of unavailable or illegal copies of the video works. A research edition in DVD format was produced as an overview of video art in Germany. It includes more than 28 hours of historic, as well 134
as, current works by 59 artists, distributed as a box set of 12 DVDs. The DVD research edition is directed to the study and discussion of video art in academies, universities, schools etc. Due to copyright restrictions, the set can only be ordered by institutions from the fields of research and education for internal viewing. Finally the overview of the works was exhibited at the same time by the five participating museums. Apart from this, each museum presented its own perspective as an extension and contextualization of these videotapes. The spectrum of these exhibitions embraced the 1960s (Bremen), the 1980s (Düsseldorf) as well as the present Update 06 (Munich). Held in two locations was a revision of the selection in light of the chosen artists from the former GDR (Leipzig), and with regard to the existing collection of video art and restoration practices (Karlsruhe). The attempt to exhibit early video art leads to another question of preservation of time based artworks: The question of experience and authenticity In a way the notion of work and original stands against the concept of version and occurrence. We are talking about the ambivalence between the historicity of the work and the need for protective processing to enable its adequate experience. To give an example I want to mention two CD-ROM archives that were also realized at ZKM by Dieter Daniels and Rudolf Frieling. The first was Media Art Action and the other Media Art Interaction. They were released on CD-ROM, designed to run on computers with specific operating systems and programs. Nowadays these operating systems are outdated and obsolete and only historic computers, at least from the year 2000 are able to display the CD-ROMs properly. If one tries to run the CD-ROMs on a current computer the speed would be too fast and the menu wouldnt be navigable anymore. To keep the material accessible anyway, it was migrated and incorporated into the follow-up project MediaArtNet7 which is an online project. 135
Store, emulate, migrate, reinterpret are the catchphrases for the preservation of media or time-based art. The Variable Media initiative8 appropriatly calls this process, in their 2003 publication, Permanence Through Change9. Or, to outline the field currently questioned by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research: ... how far [can] time based projects be preserved not only as documentation but also as potential for actual experience? Could an actualization, re-enactment, or translation of the work to the contemporary context and technology provide a more adequate experience of the work than the extensive documentation of its historic presentation and reception contexts? How do artists, curators, researchers, and archivists balance the quest for historical authenticity and contemporary readability? Which role can digital archives and platforms play within this context?10 These are questions which are currently discussed by people who have to handle time based art. Recently there was a conference on exactly these topics in the frame of the re:place conference in Berlin organized by LBI. And of course there is no general solution to these questions but the attempt to find individual solutions for specific projects. Another strong issue is the question of contextualization. There have been extended discussions about the information a media art database should contain in order to provide thorough information about often unstable and hybrid types of works. ...What additional information is necessary in order to describe the socio-cultural and institutional framework of art-production and presentation? Is it useful to save and add as much further details as possible? Do we have to make strict choices in order to avoid information excess? And if so, what are the meaningful criteria? What different kinds of additional information do exist, and what can we achieve by adding them to the content of a media art database?11 All these questions were also lively discussed when developing MediaArtNet12. Although this project is not meant to be an archive in terms of collecting artworks but rather their depictions in documents and excerpts, 136
it deals with the question of contemporary re-presentation of time-based art. MediaArtNet is an online platform that tries to give an overview of media art while using means of presentation adequate to the specific source medium. MediaArtNet does not only offer information on audio-visual material in text form, but presents them audio-visually if possible. Again, the intention was to make resources of media art accessible. During the process of development, endless questions about the inner and outer structure of the project have arisen. What is the focal point of the content? How can this be specified and at the same time kept open for future expansions? This must be taken into consideration already during the design of the interface or the online appearance. So we decided to give space to future amplifications in a very early state of the development. What is the additional advantage of an online resource like MediaArtNet? It is not only the online accessibility and the attempt of a proper way of representing media art. It also carries the potential of creating additional content references. How can these cross-references be generated and displayed? We decided to work with different layers of information. A basic level is showing the scientific text of a specific topic, and the other concentrates on the artwork and the artist, which is linked to the text. These layers are displayed in different windows in order to be able to get back to the base text as easy as possible. Thanks to the fact that a database supplies the information at the work-artist level, other connections can be originated from this context. Editorial supervised links, as well as, automatically created semantic relations can be placed. But the condition to achieve a function like the creation of semantic relations is to have reasonable metadata of all the material that you hold in the database. A useful balance between necessary and unnecessary information has to be found. You can never be sure if a future theme or chapter will not bring up a new keyword, item, or technique you have to explicate. Dealing with archives is acting within a paradox. It means to look backwards and forwards simultaneously, and to transform in order to 137
Fig. 1. Screenshot of the welcome page of MediaArtNet with random image from www.mediaartnet.org
Fig. 2. Cover of the book 40yearsvideoart.de - Digital Heritage: Video Art in Germany from 1963 to the Present (Edt. Rudolf Frieling, Wulf Herzogenrath, Ostfildern 2006)
maintain. It implies to be strict in order to keep a consistent structure and to be flexible in order to adjust to future requirements at the same time. The science-fiction author and founder of the Dead Media Project13 Bruce Sterling notes: Curators, conservators, and archivists are much closer to the future than most of us mortals. Thats because they store, catalog and preserve - they physically touch - the objects of the past and present that people in the future will see.14 Notes
http://opac.ub.uni-weimar.de/DB=2.2/SET=1/TTL=1/START_WELCOME http://www.40yearsvideoart.de 3 Magnetic tape construction consists of a thin binder layer comprised of iron oxide or metal particles that records the magnetic signal and is supported by a thicker film backing or substrate. The magnetic layer (or top coat) consists of magnetic particles suspended in a polymer binder. The binder holds the magnetic particles in place, and binds them to the substrate layer. ... Degradation of the binder occurs whether or not the tape has ever even been used or recorded on. Normal humidity in the air seeps into the binder and weakens its physical characteristics - a process known as hydrolysis (bad analogy, but much like soaking the labels off of a glass bottle). When this occurs (its just a matter of time), the binder delaminates from the substrate and turns into (for lack of a better technical term) a gooey sticky mess. The phenomenon is known as sticky-tape-syndrome see: http://www.videointerchange.com/tape.htm 4 see: http://www.40jahrevideokunst.de/main.php?p=2&n1=5 5 for documentation of the symposium see: http://www.40jahrevideokunst.de/ main.php?p=2&n1=4 6 Rudolf Frieling at the symposium on 40yearsvideoart.de, see documentation: http://www.40yearsvideoart.de/main.php?p=2&n1=4&n2=25 7 http://www.mediaartnet.org 8 http://variablemedia.net (Founding Members of the Variable Media Network include Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archives, Berkeley; Franklin Furnace, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science, and Technology, Montreal; Performance Art Festival + Archives, Cleveland; Rhizome.org, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis). 9 Permanence Through Change: The Variable Media Approach, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, and The Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science, and Technology, Montreal, 2003.
quoted from the conference program of Online Archives of Media Art: http://media.lbg.ac.at/en/veranstaltungen.php?iMenuID=3&iEventID=91 11 ibid. 12 http://www.mediaartnet.org 13 http://www.deadmedia.org 14 Bruce Sterling: Digital Decay, in Permanence Through Change: The Variable Media Approach, 2003, p.11.
MEDIARC OPEN SOURCE MULTIUSER CENTRAL ARCHIVING SYSTEM: WEB APPLICATION FOR THE ELECTRONIC MANAGEMENT OF DOCUMENTS AND OTHER FILES
Peter Toma Dobrila, Uro Indihar Abstract Mediarc (Media Archive) is an Open Source archiving system that functions as a library of the list of files, into which we can enter new contents and tables from a scanner or other peripheral units, digital camera and digital video camera. It is aimed at various organisations, institutions, foundations, small and medium sized enterprises, companies, public and private legal bodies and individuals. Its applicability is very wide, while it is a completely open system, which gives everybody an opportunity to define his/hers files, subfiles and attributes according to his/hers own needs and adapting to his/hers own activities. 1. Archiving As a Consequence of Celebration KIBLA Association for Culture and Education (ACE KIBLA) has been using and developing open source software from its very beginnings, since its establishment in 1996. We have implemented several projects that were based directly on open source systems, some of them related to education and culture, and have developed a number 141
of software solutions and system applications. The Kibla server system and computer network, integrating the complete system of the Narodni dom Maribor Cultural and Event Centre public institute, has also been based on open source software and GNU/Linux operation system. In 2006 at the occasion of 10th anniversary of Kibla Multimedia Centre (MMC KIBLA) the webpage (URL: http://www.kibla.si/) has been redesigned based on state-of-the-art standards and open source software. This was followed by managing the exceptionally large, and especially diverse archive, i.e. materials stored by Kibla. These are kept in the form of various media, both analogue and digital, from newspaper and magazine articles and clippings to music, VHS and beta video cassettes, films, photographs, slides and in recent years predominantly digital recordings, from photographs and mini DV cassettes to CDs, CD-ROMs and DVDs. In the past year after the webpage was redesigned, a great deal of material was saved on Kibla server, which made it available to public.
Figure 1: Mediarc a screenshot displaying the range of possible selections
2. Archiving as a consequence of quantity Considering the fact that archiving is one of the most current as well as troublesome issues within the digital reality field, we have decided to create software for archiving the materials owned by Kibla. Archiving being the central topic of numerous debates and conferences, and also being discussed in Slovenia at various levels, we are certain that this solution can be a tool or the basis for developing such software. It is primarily intended for public use by organisations and institutions that wish for and need such software. However, they must also be able to use it and integrate it in their operations, and their computing system must be compatible with the applicative solution.
Figure 2: Mediarc a screenshot displaying a range of possible inputs
The archive of Kibla, based on open source software, might present an example of digital archiving, which is undoubtedly the easiest and most economic way. Besides the high level of safety this method ensures an integrated technical reliability of archiving and system stability, a user-friendly updating process, as well as high public accessibility and easy overview of the data. 3. Archiving as a consequence of ecology Since no additional media are required, we can undoubtedly consider this solution economical and particularly environmentally friendly. It is also rational in terms of space and can be easily expanded with additional system memory, peripheral units, or further developed, based on current user experience, new findings, or the needs of both archivists and computer experts.
Figure 3: Mediarc - a screenshot displaying showing possible ways entering data
Mediarc (Media archive) is an open source archiving system, functioning as the file list library. New content and tables from the scanner or other peripheral units can be entered, such as from the digital or video cameras.
Figure 4: Mediarc - a screenshot displaying the list of possible data groups
When working with a scanner, the document to be saved must be placed on it. The person scanning the file puts it in the common folder, from where it is then processed by the media archive administrator, who moves it into a specific folder from the folder list. So far the subfolders foreseen within the list have been Letters, Contracts, Photo Album, Files; and Documents. Additional subfolders with new contents can be added to the list upon choice, existing subfolders can be deleted if not related to the needs or definitions of the working environment. The principle is the same for acquiring data through other peripheral units (camera, video camera). 145
4. Order as consequence of archiving Data is entered into Mediarc by title and that is how the software arranges it. All the key data that is needed and indispensable in archiving must be entered as well. For the section of Letters these are: the title, address, date, place, number, and the subject, possibly also a comment on what the letter is about. For Contracts these are all the information about the contract, a numeric code, the contracting parties and legal representatives, for Documents is necessary to include record and fiscal data about a certain company and its status, such as the registration and tax status, as well as the type of company, e.g. sole proprietor, limited liability company, public company. The Photo Album requires the address, place, time, author and a comment from which project or program the photo originates and whom it is intended to. Files relate to documents that are of key importance and historical significance in a certain company, which includes statutes or rules of engagement, registration, statistical classification etc. For the purposes of each company or person, subfolders can be created or deleted, and similarly the chosen attributes of each individual subfolder can be added or removed. The program also enables arranging and editing the submitted data, in case a mistake occurred or somebody realized the archive would have been more transparent or accurate if the data was defined and classified in another way.
Figure 5: Mediarc - a screenshot displaying possible document search
Mediarc also features an integrated search function. The name of the document must be entered in the browser. If searching for all documents related to one client, the chosen client must be clicked and the program displays all the documents related to them letters, contracts, files, photographs etc. Even more, all the documents are linked, meaning that letters are linked to contracts, files, photos, contracts to letters, photos to files, files to contracts etc., which enables the user to review the complete picture of a business, or project, as well, any personal developments. 5. Archiving for all The Mediarc open source multiuser archiving system is therefore intended for a variety of organisations, institutions, foundations, small, large and medium-sized companies and other corporate entities, public and private legal entities as well as individuals. Its applicability is very wide, one of its best features being the fact that the system is completely open, enabling anybody to define its folders, subfolders and attributes according to their own needs and adapt them to their own activities. We are certain that this software solution by Kibla can be of great help to everybody, also fuelling further discussion on how to deal with archiving and particularly how to accomplish it. Unquestionably, it can serve as an example based on direct user experience, as well as on its technologically available and innovative open source solution. This program is available to all potential users for free on the Kibla server. It can be found on the Internet at: http://www.kibla.org/mediarc/ 6. Archiving presents in public Upon completion of the project, a public presentation was organised in MMC KIBLA and KIT KIBLA Communication and Information Point (URL: http://kit.kibla.si/), the latter featuring a multimedia classroom to implement free computer education programs, courses and workshops. We use it to inform the experts and the general public 147
and integrate it in the program of KIBLIX IT, the Kibla festival related to open source, as well as, program and system solutions, (URL: http:/ /www.kiblix.org/), organised in cooperation with LUGOS Linux Users Group of Slovenia (URL: http://www.lugos.si/). A presentation took place at the 14th Days of Slovenian Informatics with the headline With Informatics to New Business Opportunities, which took place from 11th to 13th April, 2007 at the Grand Hotel Bernardin Congress Center in Portoro. The open source archive was also presented at the conference Areas of Conflu(x)ence - Art, space and technology in the digital era, panel; Types of Memory, 4th October 2007, in the Romanian city of Sibiu within the European Capital of Culture 2007 program. The last presentation was organised in January 2008 in Ljubljana as part of the SCCA symposium on Digital archives within a European project supported by the e-ContentPlus program. 7. Archiving says thanks To implement the open code archiving system, which is now completed and available for use, KIBLA Association for Culture and Education (ACE KIBLA) has received support from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Information Society Directorate pertaining to the Open Source Based Software.
Tincuþa Heinzel (editor) is an artist, theoretician, and curator. After studying visual arts at Arts and Design University Cluj and cultural anthropology at Babes Bolyai University, Cluj, Tincuta Heinzel is currently PhD candidate at Paris1 University Panthèon-Sorbonne under the direction of Pierre-Damien Huyghe. She is the recipient of the French Government Grant (2002-2003) and of the DAAD research grant (2005) at ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany. She initiated and coordinated the Areas of Conflu(x)ence project organized as part of the program European Capitals of Culture, Luxembourg - Sibiu in 2007. Bogdan Ghiu is a philosopher and writer, poet, media analyst, and professor at the University of Bucharest, Faculty of Letters. He is the author of several books of philosophy and media theory. He has translated Bataille, Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, Bourdieu, Paul Veyne, Bergson, Duras, Sarah Kofman, Artaud, Baudelaire, Leiris, Didier Anzieu, Louis Calaferte, Annie Le Brun, in Romanian. Currently he is member of the Administration Council of Romanian Society for Radio Communications. He is also a contributor at Luceafarul and IDEA art + society magazine (Cluj Napoca). Paolo Ferreira-Lopes is a composer and theoretician. He studied composition in Lisabona (with Constança Capdeville), in Paris (with Horacio Vaggione, Emmanuel Nunes, Antoine Bonnet and Curtis Roads) and in Darmstadt (with Karlheinz Stockhausen). He is the recipient of the French Government Grant (1996). He received his PhD from Paris VIII University (2004). In 1997 Paolo Ferreira-Lopes was awarded the composition prize at Documenta X in Kassel, Germany. Since 1998 he is artist in residence and researcher at ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe. Since 2004, he has been the director of CITAR - Research Center for Science and Technology in Art and Professor at the Catholic University, Porto.
Woody Vasulka is an artist and curator. Together with Steina Vasulka he began experimeting with video in the 60s. Woody Vasulka studied metal technology and hydraulic mechanics at the School of Engineering in Brno and filmmaking at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. He lives in USA since 1965. In 1971, together with Andreas Mannik, Woody and Steina Vasulka founded The Kitchen, a non-profit interdisciplinary organization. He taught at the Center for Media Studies at the New York State University. After working with the Rutt/Etra Scan Processor, in 1976 Vasulka collaborated with Don MacArthur and Jeffrey Schier to build a computer controlled personal imaging facility called The Digital Image Articulator. He received the American Film Institute Maya Deren Award in 1992 and the Siemens Media Art Prize in 1995. Augustin Ioan is an Associate Professor at the University of Architecture and Planning in Bucharest, Romania. Holding a MSArch degree (with honors) from the University of Cincinnati, OH (1994), the author also has two PhD degrees in History of Architecture (1998) and Philosophy (2002). He has published extensively in Romania, Hungary, and the US, where his latest book, Sacred Space (2002), appeared at the same time he was winning the competition for the Orthodox Patriarchal Cathedral back home. Former senior Fulbright Scholar at the University of Cincinnati, OH, Augustin Ioan is currently Head of School of Advanced Studies at the University of Architecture and Planning in Bucharest. Sophie Fetro graduated from Ecole Supérieure de Cachan, France in the Art and Industrial Creation department. Sophie Fetro is a teacher of applied arts and PhD candidate at Paris1 University Panthèon-Sorbonne. She participated in Le Temps des Appareils seminar coordinated by Pierre-Damien Huyghe and earned accolades at the fifth edition of the Design Biennial, Saint-Etienne in 2006. Gemma San Cornelio is a lecturer at the Communication Department at Open University of Catalonia (Barcelona, Spain). She holds a PhD in Audio-visual Communication (2003) and a degree in Fine Arts (1999) by Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain). Currently, she coordinates a research project focused on contemporary art practices related to new media, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (HUM2006-02317). Her last publications are: Locative Media and art practice: explorations on the ground Artnodes (2008) and Arte e identidad en Internet (Barcelona, 2008). Pau Alsina is a philosopher, lecturer in the Department of Arts and Humanities at University Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona, and researcher
at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute - IN3. He is the director of Artnodes, an e-journal promoted by the University Oberta de Catalunya which analyses the intersection between art, science and technology. www.artnodes.org. Anne-Marie Duguet is a professor at Paris1 University Panthèon-Sorbonne and Professor/Researcher at the iCinema Research Center, University of New South Wales, Sydney. She is the Director of Centre de Recherche en Esthétique du Cinéma et de lAudiovisuel (CRECA), and the author of several books (Vidéo, La mémoire au Poing, Jean-Christophe Averty) and articles about television, video and new technologies. Published in 2002, her most recent book is titled Déjouer limage: créations électroniques et numériques. She has also curated exhibitions like: Jean-Christophe Averty collages/ découpages - Espace Electra (Paris, 1991) and Thierry Kuntzel - Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume (Paris, 1993). She is Editor in Chief of the Anarchive DVD series, which provides a comprehensive record of the works of Muntadas, Michael Snow, Nam June Paik, Thierry Kuntzel among others. Heike Helfert is a cultural scientist working in the field of media art. During the last few years she has worked for institutions like Expo2000, Edith Russ Site for Media Art, ZKM | Center for Art and Media and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research. For the ZKM she worked on mediaartnet.org and 40yearsvideoart.de. Peter Toma Dobrila is an electronic and IT engineer and a musician who focuses on the creative use of the new technologies. In 1996 he co-founded the Multimedia Centre KiberSRCeLab KIBLA (MMC KIBLA), Maribor, Slovenia. Two years later he co-founded the Association for Culture and Education KIBLA (ACE KIBLA) and became its president. He managed MMC KIBLA and ACE KIBLA until 2004. Since then he has participated in numerous congresses and conventions on Internet and multimedia and information culture. During 2005-2007, Peter Tomaz Dobrila has worked intensively in the New Media Art filed; being adviser for many ART festivals (Ars electronica festival 2005, 2007), actively participating in EVA (Electronic Imaging the Visual Arts & Beyond) and Echilot Conference in Moscow. He acts as consultant and advisor in cultural matters and is a fellow of the European Academy for Digital Media (EADIM). Uro Indihar is a system administrator and IT supervisor at KIBLA Association for Culture and Education, Maribor, Slovenia.
Introduction TINCUÞA HEINZEL ........................................................ CHAPTER I. Types of Imagery and Sound and Their Interaction ...... - Imperceptible, Hyperceptible: the New Hodological Condition BOGDAN GHIU. ................................................................................... - Video Between Utopia and History. Interview with Woody Vasulka. TINCUÞA HEINZEL. .......................................................... - A Gnosseological Approach of the Concept of Interaction. Real Time in Music Several Paradigms and Models. - PAULO FERREIRA -LOPES. CHAPTER II. Spatial Forms. .................................................................. - Digital Surrealities. Design and Architecture: Arts of f[r]iction - SOPHIE FETRO. .................................................................................................. - Experiment in Romanian Architecture - AUGUSTIN IOAN. ................ - On flows, places and spaces: towards a framework for Locative Media Artworks - GEMMA SAN CORNELIO and PAU ALSINA. ................. CHAPTER III. Types of Memory. ........................................................... - Anarchive (Digital Archives on Contemporary Art) - ANNE-MARIE DUGUET. .............................................................................................. - Search and Repair. Digital Heritage and Time Based Art. HEIKE HELFERT. ................................................................................. - MEDIARC Open Source Multiuser Central Archiving System: Web Application for the Electronic Management of Documents and Other Files - PETER TOMA DOBRILA and URO INDIHAR. .................. Authors biographies ................................................................................... 5 15 15 29 45 57 57 73 99 123 123 131 141 149
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