IS IT JUST A VIRTUAL REALM? OR IS IT A NEW “SPACE” GIVING POSSIBILITIES FOR PRODUCTION OF NEW “PLACES”?

Cyberspace as an Aesthetic Phenomenon Serhat KUT1
ABSTRACT Due to recent developments at the area of communication and information technologies new possibilities are arising for production of space. Cyberspace is the key term argued currently regarding the production of the new space. The term cyberspace coming from two words cybernetics and space was first coined by William Gibson, a cyber punk novelist, in his book Neuromancer. This new realm providing “space” for real communication in virtual space, includes many new tools for the possibility of “new space” experience. The design problematic starts at this point. How does the physical space and cyberspace come together and within which possibilities they can co-exist. In another way, can the pattern of relationship of these two spaces (physical space and cyberspace) extract a new understanding of space? And in the context of this new understanding of space, can we develop a new point of view for the architectural design problematic. Aesthetic phenomenon can be explained through the means of experience, discovery, getting in to relation, production of sensation, rereading as text and hermeneutics. The authentic experience of a place, its multilayered and narrative structure and the pattern of relationships within this place accounts for the aesthetic phenomenon of space. The infinite layered structure of cyberspace, the patterns of relationships regardless of the geographic location, point out a new trans-aesthetic condition. But confronting this infinite layered structure can cyber space provide a new sense of place? The main goal of this article to discover the possibilities of a new space by overlapping physical space and cyberspace, and in this process of discovery, to understand the conditions one space dominating the other and to form a new understanding within a holistic point of view in the context of pattern of relationships between cyberspace and physical space to the aesthetic experience phenomena. Keywords: Space, Cyberspace, Aesthetic Experience, Actual, Virtual, Reality, Co-Existence, Sense of Place, Hermeneutics, Digital Culture. Introduction

Due to recent developments at the area of communication and information technologies new possibilities are arising for production of space. Cyberspace is the key phenomenon argued currently regarding the production of the new space. This new realm providing
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PhD (İstanbul Technical University – Institute of Science and Technology – Architectural Design Program - Ongoing), Research Assistant at İstanbul Kültür University since 2004. E-mail: s.kut@iku.edu.tr

black boxes and derived concepts such as communication and control in living organisms. Its focus is how anything (digital.( http://en. mechanical or biological) processes information.“space” for social interaction also includes many aspects for the possibility of “new space” experience. characterizes cybernetics as "the art of ensuring the efficacy of action"(Couffignal. steersman. one of the pioneers of cybernetics. President of the American Society for Cybernetics such as.(Kelly. governor. "Cybernetics is the study of systems and processes that interact with themselves and produce themselves from themselves" (CYBCON discussion group . In another way. It includes the study of feedback. The following article will be searching to understand the authentic experience of space by means of existential phenomenology in order to reveal the dynamics of space turning in to a place and further discussions will be made for searching answers for the following questions: How does the physical space and cyberspace come together and within which possibilities they can co-exist. pilot. can the pattern of relationship of these two spaces (physical space and cyberspace) extract a new understanding of space? What is Cyberspace? The term “cyber” comes from the word Cybernetics stems from the Greek Κυβερνήτης (kybernetes. or rudder — the same root as government). as the study of control and communication in the animal and the machine.wikipedia. in his book of that title.org/wiki/Cybernetic) Cybernetics was defined by Norbert Wiener. Cybernetics is a broad field of study. reacts to information. but the essential goal of cybernetics is to understand and define the functions and processes of systems. The portion of Neuromancer cited in this respect is usually the following: . and changes or can be changed to better accomplish the first two tasks .2007) The word "cyberspace" (from cybernetics and space) was coined by science fiction novelist William Gibson in his 1982 story "Burning Chrome" and his 1984 novel Neuromancer.1994) Louis Couffignal. 1958) A recent definition has been proposed by Louis Kauffman. machines and organizations including self-organization. Stafford Beer called it the science of effective organization and Gordon Pask extended it to include information flows "in all media" from stars to brains.

the plastic device on your desk. The term recently has been defined philosophically as. in some other city.. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind. in every nation. Like city lights. receding. during the 1990s.. so that a web site. might be metaphorically said to "exist in cyberspace. ’Virtual' has a similar meaning to ' quasi-' or 'pseudo-' (prefixes which themselves have quite different meanings). particularly when used in the adverbial form. events taking place on the Internet are not therefore happening in the countries where the participants or the servers are physically located.wikipedia. "artificial reality". The concept of virtual reality was popularized in mass media by movies such as Brainstorm and The Lawnmower Man and the VR research boom of the 1990’s was motivated in part by the non-fiction book Virtual Reality by Howard Rheingold.“Cyberspace. Not inside the other person's phone." According to this interpretation.” (Gibson. A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system.(Sterling. The origin of the term virtual reality is uncertain. by children being taught mathematical concepts.org/wiki/Virtual_reality) . The VR developer Jaron Lanier claims that he coined the term. but "in cyberspace". clusters and constellations of data. the term is often used to refer to objects and identities that exist largely within the communication network itself.1982) Cyberspace started to become a synonym for the Internet. (http://en. A related term coined by Myron Krueger. meaning something that is almost something else. but may display the full qualities of the real. Unthinkable complexity.While cyberspace should not be confused with the real Internet. has been in use since the 1970s.org/wiki/Cyberspace) In the simplest understanding Cyberspace is the "place" where a telephone conversation appears to occur. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators. 1992) Virtuality and Cyberspace Virtual Reality and Cyberspace are often used together as similar concepts but a broader discussion should be made to understand virtuality and its relationship with cyberspace. for example.. Not inside your actual phone. The place between the phones. and later the World Wide Web. that which is not real.( http://en.wikipedia.

Here we might say that we turn a geographic location in to a place by the means of dwelling and this is the way of our –being in the world-. The virtual place at Cyberspace turns into an actual place just when we start to experience it. Dwelling. A bridge is a thing turning a specific point of space to a ‘location’ and this location turns to be a site. Purely actual objects do not exist. Bauen. This cloud is composed of a series of more or less extensive coexisting circuits. creation and destruction. the mortals. Furthermore Heidegger discusses the –fourfold.it’s a pure ontological issue. and around which they run.(Deleuze. only then can we build (Bauen)”.According to Deleuze. It turns a location in to a place. As a result bridge is a “thing” giving space to fourfold. Being. occur in a period of time shorter than the shortest continuous period imaginable. Bauen also relates to the Old High German word for building. our –being-in-theworld-.and turning a location in to a place with the example of bridge. He discusses the notion of dwelling and contends that “only if we are capable of dwelling. “baun. 1977) As we understand from Deleuze’s notes virtual always caries the potential turning in to actual and indeed what we call reality is the possibility of the virtual turning in to actual. These virtuals vary in kind as well as in their degree of proximity from the actual particles by which they are both emitted and absorbed. along which the virtual images are distributed. He argues the bridge as a being. each of which is composed of actual and virtual elements. . says Heidegger. 1971). to preserve and care for". (Seamon. Heidegger tells that the bridge enables the space to gather the fourfold. Philosophy is the theory of multiplicities. 2000). Every virtual realm has a possibility of turning into an actual space when we dwell in cyberspace. The bridge is an outcome of human dwelling and dwelling is the way of our –being in the world. They are called virtual in so far as their emission and absorption. Every actual surrounds itself with a cloud of virtual images. relates to nearness and neighborliness and also implies "to cherish and protect. Space and Place In “Building. it is a product of our dwelling. it is this very brevity that keeps them subject to a principle of uncertainty or indetermination. Thinking” Heidegger associates “Being” with dwelling (Heidegger. it makes the space possible for the fourfold. the earth.” which means “to dwell” in the sense of remaining or staying in place.. the sky and the divinities.

” (Seamon. Seamon adds “If a person feels inside a place. its multilayered and narrative structure and the pattern of relationships within this place accounts for the aesthetic phenomenon of space. and this mode of place experience is what Relph called outsideness. He says “places are fusions of human and natural order and are the significant centers of our immediate experiences of the world" (Relph. 1996) Relph’s most significant contribution over discussion of place was the notion of “insideness”. are places meaningful for people?(Seamon. enclosed rather than exposed. rereading as text and hermeneutics. Relph argues places may be experienced authentically or inauthentically. 1996) Relph classifies the modes of insideness and outsideness in seven various levels according to experiential involvement (Table 1) Aesthetic Experience and Space Aesthetic phenomenon can be explained through the means of experience. people feel some sort of division between themselves and world. 1996) On the other hand. An authentic sense of place. safe rather than threatened. Aesthetic experience is the phenomenon what turns a space in to a place. 1976) . The authentic experience of a place. a person can be separate or alienated from place. (Seamon. is "a direct and genuine experience of the entire complex of the identity of places--not mediated and distorted through a series of quite arbitrary social and intellectual fashions about how that experience should be. What turns a space to a place is feeling here rather than being there. production of sensation. Why and how. discovery. Feeling inside rather than being outside. The crucial phenomenological point is that. he or she is here rather than there. getting in to relation. in other words. Here. 1970) Relph attempted to unravel and describe the essential experiential nature of place. nor following stereotyped conventions" (Relph.Edward Relph argued “place” as a fundamental aspect of peoples' existence in the world. through different degrees of insideness and outsideness. different places take on different identities. at ease rather than stressed.

The deepest kind of place experience and the one toward which we probably all yearn. One is transported to place through imagination--through paintings. Place is "experienced without deliberate and self-conscious reflection yet is full with significances. the physical and designed environments contribute to this kind of experience unintentionally--the sprawl of suburban environments. Place may feel alienating. and policy makers. 7. unpleasant. BEHAVIORAL INSIDENESS A situation involving the deliberate attending to the appearance of place. VICARIOUS INSIDENESS A situation of deeply-felt secondhand involvement with place. the dissolution of urban downtowns.Table 1 (Relph. The interrelationship between object and the subject. For example. 1999). empathy. or oppressive. or other creative media. called as dialectical relationship by Goethe (Seamon. Empathetic insideness is an important aspect of approaching a place phenomenologically. the gathering and dissembling of contrary concepts. unreal. films. or activities. Often. 4." One feels this is the place where he or she belongs. paths. views. 1976) MODES OF INSIDENESS & OUTSIDENESS 1. for example. 2002) The tension of feeling between insideness and outsideness. the decline of rural communities. the approach to place often taken by planners. Place is a thing to be studied and manipulated as an object apart from the experiencer. Place is seen as a set of objects. 6. and heartfelt concern. today. Homelessness or homesickness would be examples. of Monet's paintings of his beloved garden Giverny or of Thomas Hardy's novels describing 19th-century rural England. 3. EXISTENTIAL INSIDENESS A situation involving a feeling of attachment and at-homeness. EMPATHETIC INSIDENESS A situation in which the person. the intentionality of the space getting in to relationship with the subject defines the high potential of a space turning in to a place. INCIDENTAL OUTSIDENESS A situation in which place is the background or mere setting for activities--for example. Ironically. 5. tries to be open to place and understand it more deeply. and so forth all fit together to make one complete place. This kind of experience requires interest.(Aydınlı. understood as aesthetic experience. designers. the dynamism of the dialectal process of aesthetic experience. novels. One thinks. A scientific approach to place and environment. the production of sensation (Deleuze) the openness of a space to be discovered. EXISTENTIAL OUTSIDENESS A situation where the person feels separate from or out of place. music. the landscapes and places one drives through as he or she is on the way to somewhere else. 2. as outsider. the experience we all pass through when becoming familiar with a new place--figuring out what is where and how the various landmarks. . perception and thinking. OBJECTIVE OUTSIDENESS A situation involving a deliberate dispassionate attitude of separation from place. the dynamic process which is explained as the reciprocally replacing of the contrary concepts which forming the whole as subject turning to be the object and the object turning to be subject.

or the virtual realm you have created at second life (www. regarding this feeling of insideness or outsideness we might conclude that cyberspace has the potential of turning in to a place.com) has the potential to turn in to a place where you feel inside. or reading news on the World Wide Web. This is your place in Cyberspace.secondlife. . This experience might lead the subject to a feeling of insideness or outsideness due to the infinite possibilities of the cyberspace. Your personal homepage on the internet your Facebook profile page. Cyberspace as a PLACE What happens at cyberspace? How do we turn a location into a place at cyberspace? How do we dwell in cyberspace? Is cyberspace just a virtual realm or does it give possibilities for production of new “places”? As told formerly virtual always caries the potential turning in to actual and indeed what we call reality is the possibility of the virtual turning in to actual. The virtual realm that cyberspace provides us has the possibility turning in to an actual place within in the notion of aesthetic experience.Through the means of this understanding Cyberspace will be discussed in terms of aesthetic experience in following lines. complex. or might be a dynamic. Referring Relph’s study. dialectic experience) the production of sensation (Deleuze) or Authentic experience (Heidegger) occurs between the subject and the object. As one starts to experience the cyberspace (this experience might be as simple as talking on the phone.

secondlife. www.facebook. www.Image 1 A Facebook profile page. One can feel highly insideness of outsideness in any space at secondlife.com .com Image 2 In secondlife you can have an experience of cyberspace through the avatar you created (the virtual representer of the body at cyberspace) at virtual 3d realms created by others or you can design your own world.

See Table 1) leading to placelessness.  a shift from industrial society to information society. Cyberspace vs. the symbiosis of diverse species. One of the initial problematics of the current situation is the dualistic world we have. from Logoscentrism and dualism toward pluralism. The 28-year-old man collapsed after playing the game Starcraft at an internet cafe in the city of Taegu. The man had not slept properly. In this book I discuss this paradigm shift to the evolving new world order from several perspectives:  the shift from Eurocentricism to the symbiosis of diverse cultures. and had eaten very little during his marathon session.Placelessness and Cyberspace Although cyberspace provides many possibilities of authentic experience of space and a new place for our existential beings.weblogcartoons. 1976.uk/2/hi/technology/4137782.stm Kisho Kurokawa in his book Philosophy of Symbiosis discusses the problematics of the 21th century through the thought he borrowed from the nature Symbiosis (Kurokawa. toward a symbiosis of plurality of values.  a shift from the age of the machine to the age of the life principle.co.  a shift from universalism to an age of the symbiosis of diverse elements. The more one feels inside the cyberspace the more he becomes outside the physical space. according to South Korean authorities. the current conditions of cyberspace and methods of interacting with cyberspace might cause one to fall in to a deep Existential Outsideness (Relph. Physical Space. said police.com/category/technology/(facebook IMAGE 4 http://news. The more someone experiences the cyberspace the less he or she interacts with the physical space.  from anthropocentrism to ecology. 1991). In his exact words “The world is moving toward a new order for the twenty-first century. S Korean dies after games session A South Korean man has died after reportedly playing an online computer game for 50 hours with few breaks.” .bbc. IMAGE 3 ww.

and the human body as a perceiving thing are intricately intertwined and mutually 'engaged'. The gloves used to interact with the computer are a kind of simple cybernetic human body upgrade which provides a better interaction. and the screen. The question is: How can these two worlds –the cyberspace and physical space shift from dualism to pluralism and get into a symbiotic relationship? Overlapping the two spaces might be answer. Here body is not used only for the physical part of our beings. Merleau-Ponty discusses the concept of the body-subject as an alternative to the Cartesian "cogito". Due to recent development of new technologies and increasing mobility with everyday growing wireless networks new possibilities arise to develop new methods of interaction with cyberspace. This distinction is especially important in that Merleau-Ponty perceives the essences of the world existentially. keyboard. . the world. In the movie Minority Report the main computer that the detectives were using with a seethrough touch screen can be an example of body-interacted cyberspace.One of the key principles Kurokawa was mentioning was the need to shift of paradigms from Dualism to Pluralism. Consciousness. The phenomenal thing is not the unchanging object of the natural sciences. but a correlate of our body and its sensory functions. In this point of view it can be told that cyberspace and physical space could be overlapped if only cyberspace could be experienced existentially through our bodies. With a holistic point of view the “body” here includes both our minds and physical presence as philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty argues in his book “Phenomenology of Perception”( Merleau-Ponty. as opposed to the Cartesian idea that the world is merely an extension of our own minds. With this limited interface one can not experience the cyberspace as a whole as he experiences the physical space. We experience the world through our bodies.1962). With currently used technologies we usually experience the cyberspace through our computers and its surroundings like mouse. Some cybernetic upgrades for human body or new cyberspace interfaces developed allowing body interaction and various examples as 3d holograms that can be interacted through our bodies can develop new possibilities of space experience.

displaying images that literally float in the air. an information wall at a metro station and anything only limited with the imagination. . You can walk right through a FogScreen projection screen without getting wet.Image 5 Minority Report (the movie. Image 6 www. 2002) Nintendo’s latest game console Wii also provides a new interface controlled by body movements for interaction with Cyberspace. an interactive map or a hi-fi system in a living room. produces a thin curtain of “dry” fog that serves as a translucent projection screen. All these new technologies and future developments will be providing us possibilities to develop symbiotic places of cyber and physical space.com The FogScreen™ projection screen.nintendo. It might be a computer game. And yet with the interactive fog screen one can interact with the image flying through the fog.

com Conclusion As a phenomenon that takes more place each day in our daily life. Referring to Merleau-Ponty ‘s works Consciousness. the gathering and dissembling of contrary concepts. the dynamism of the dialectal process of aesthetic experience. Within this context Cyberspace has the potential to turn to a “place” of where existentially human beings continue their dwelling as part of their being-in-the world. www. the production of sensation (Deleuze) and the openness of cyberspace to be discovered.Image 7 Several images of fogscreen. However as mentioned before there is a dualistic situation between cyberspace and the physical space. and the human body as a perceiving .fogscreen. cyberspace provides new possibilities for aesthetic experience with the tension of feeling between insideness and outsideness. Symbiosis might be a key concept in order to combine these to spaces. the world.

 Mugerauer. space and the new space that’s born from the symbiotic relationship of the two spaces. New York: Harper and Row. Edward (1976). SUNY Press.  Deleuze G. This new “place” should be discussed by designers. Intercultural Architectur. References                Aydınlı. R. The Phenomenology of Perception. David and Zajonc. Martin (1971). our understanding of place. Neuromancer. New York: Harper and Row. (1991).”The Philosphy Of Symbiosis” Merleau-Ponty. İstanbul  Bruce Sterling (2002). ed. Couffignal. Origin Of The Work Of Art. Dialogues (2nd exp. (1984). Louis(1956). has shifted in recent years with the development of new technologies. Geothe’s Way of Science: A Phenomenology of Nature. Albany. Estetik. Martin (1962). Etik-estetik İç Mimarlık Ve Felsefe Sempozyumu. Maurice (1962).wikipedia. 1984 Heidegger. New York Relph. with Claire Parnet).69. New York Heidegger. 1996. Thought. Arthur (1998).org/wiki/The_Hacker_Crackdown ) Press.(1998) . In a conclusion. etc. Introduction to The Hacker Crackdown. p. Being and Time. Kurokawa. Mimarlık ve Felsefe. Semra (2004). M. SUNY Press. Epistemolojik Açıdan Mekan Yorumu. Deleuze G. Poetry. 1996. Interpretations on Behalf Of Place. Semra (2002). with Claire Parnet). The First . NY: SUNY Press. Dialogues (1977) (2nd exp. “Öznel Bir Beğeni mi? Yoksa Nesnel / Çevresel Değerler Temsili mi?”. İstanbul Aydınlı. within all this aspects. in order to create a holsitic point of view through the design process in the context of existential experience and the notions of place and placelessness. London: Pion Seamon. New York: Humanities http://en. urban designers. USA. "Essai d’une définition générale de la cybernétique". planners. Language. Place and Placelessness.thing are intricately intertwined and mutually 'engaged' and if there are some possibilities created for experiencing the cyberspace with our bodies then there might be chance for us to perceive the two spaces at the same and at that point it can be told that the two spaces are overlapped on each other. Yem Yayınevi. Heidegger. 1977 Gibson W. (1994). ed. K.

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