brief description: interspace prototype // space sharing aspects: digital room extension / digital multifunctional hybrid / interspace
Computers and data memories have been used as virtual work and storage spaces since the middle of the 20th century. Later, data networks of various designs came into use as communication and research spaces. The military, the business and science communities are using these new facilities for their purposes, and contributing to the continuous development of software and hardware by specifying requirements profiles. Cyberspace is now open – and everyone is rushing to possess and settle it. What definitely has a claim to reality in the fine arts – media-networked exhibitions with decentralized organization which react to an environment heavily determined by the interactions between material real space and virtual action space – has found hardly any reflection so far in architecture. If architecture wants to maintain its position as both an expression and a mirror of society, this gap in a complex of issues of ever growing importance must be closed. Vilém Flusser proved right in his urgent call for new kinds of buildings and a new architecture. These days, the ‘intact house’ with a roof, walls, windows and a door exists only in fairytales. Material and immaterial cables have punched it as full of holes as a piece of Swiss cheese: the satellite dish on the roof, the telephone line through the wall, TV instead of windows, and a garage with a car instead of a door. The ‘intact house’ has fallen to ruin, and the wind of communication is blowing through the cracks. It is a shabby piece of patchwork. From now on, the implications of electronic communication will determine the strategies of future architectures. The frequency and density of information have become significant design parameters. Questions of the facade and its rhythm are losing in relevance. Digitally informed, switchable walls form both the boundaries of and the connections between rooms, replacing walls and doors, as they are both; they offer natural or artificial lighting, replacing windows and lamps, and they form the surfaces of the individual buildings or of entire complexes – transparent, translucent, mirrored, informed by TV, PC or Internet, colorful or monochrome. “More is different,” as Kevin Kelly would say.
In an era where the increasing mediatization of households entails both inevitable and durable consequences for the individual and the surrounding habitat, critical changes are becoming apparent. On the one hand, the individual is threatened by involuntary solitude – in western cities, singles already account for half of all households – on the other hand, public space is invading personal space by means of the media – the screen in front of you and headphones on your ears, laptop computers and cell phones as distance pieces instead of books and magazines. Sealed off from our immediate environs, in direct contact with a remote environment, the question that imposes itself is both that of life in virtual space, which is in cyberspace, and that of communal life and construction in “Telepolis”, as Florian Rötzer put it. It appears evident that space is undergoing a transformation, a transformation which we describe today as delocalization – with its origins and also its correspondences both in the virtual and the material world.
The question of a home in the midst of a media society obviously organized in an ever more decentralized way is first of all the question of delocalization itself. And in order to deal with the issue of delocalization in its social and therefore also architectural significance, it is essential that we first investigate the principle of place. One way of doing this is the very creation of places – of artificial places. Such creations of a topos are combined to form a topography, and only this artificial landscape allows us to perceive the place in all its complexity. It makes no difference in this context whether we are dealing with real landscapes, or creating virtual topographies. If the structure and poetry of a real landscape consist of materials and distances, perceptible with all senses, the virtual landscape on the screen consists of pixels and time itself, perceptible as colors, contrasts and design. Mountain peaks as opposed to linking depths, landforms as opposed to document and file structures, the rhythmic repetition of landscaping elements as opposed to the rhythms of colors and words, and travel speeds through these real landscapes are comparable to loading times and image formation when surfing the Net. We consider virtual landscapes, formed of places, people, things, concepts, verbs, figures and symbols, a first step in exploring the phenomenon of delocalization. Virtual regions are characterized by the combination of individual landscapes with one another, and by outlooks, that is links to other places on the Internet, as well as by their surface design. In future, the issue of delocalization, and the related question of a home in the midst of a homeless architecture, will lead to the exploration and design of new life and action spaces. It will be the task of designers and planners in the 21st century to design a binary world – a global, electronically communicated environment with omnipresent networks, where most artifacts (of any size, from the nano to the global scale) will be equipped with intelligence and means of telecommunication. According to William J. Mitchell, this hyperworld will superimpose itself on the agricultural and industrial landscapes which humanity has inhabited so far, only to replace them in the end.
During the war, Sarajevo was a media city which worked according to its own rules and imposed those rules on the world. If the Gulf War can be considered the first virtual war in the history of humanity, then Sarajevo existed as the first and so far only virtual city on earth between 1992 and 1996. Contrary to the artificially initiated digital binary cities, such as Amsterdam, Tokyo, New York and all the rest of them, Sarajevo was cut off from the outside world for the entire duration of a civil war, yet linked to the rest of the world as never before and as no other city before it. Linked by the media. Poly-directionality via ‘interspace‘. Sarajevo existed a million times over all at the same time. The town of Sarajevo slowly mutated to become the multiple space Sarajevo. Thousands fled from besieged Sarajevo to save their lives, fled to Vienna, Graz, Munich, Los Angeles. Sarajevo fled into the world, Sarajevo dispersed. Sarajevo, a delocalized city. The refugee from Sarajevo in Vienna and his mother who had stayed in Sarajevo, the journalist from Berlin in Sarajevo and her father in Germany, they all heard the same news in the same voice at the same time: “The block of the building of assembly and government of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina will not be rebuilt.” Sarajevo became a delocalized city. And not just in theory, or for freaks, or as an event, but every day, every evening, throughout long years of war or elsewhere in the world, on the TV sets, the radios or the telephone. Information could be received and sent in virtual space with the help of the media. The people in Sarajevo were part of this media reality; were they aware of it? They were. We can only suspect today what they knew.
Reality versus perceptibility!
We have instruments of synchronicity today which make all spaces present at the same time, spaces which have a transcendental identity according to Kant, that is, spaces are nothingness as soon as we eliminate the conditions of the possibility of all experience, and spaces are therefore the pure a priori eidetic image of our outer senses. Architecture and urbanism have become disciplines which have to work with these framework conditions, conditions which not only require a change in spaces, but also a change in the availability of spaces. The transition from handling to determining the availability of spaces is tantamount to the dissolution of the immediate distance from objects. If we take it as given that space as real space is a limited resource, that the post-industrial process of mobilization has already transgressed its boundaries, and that the need of people for mobility – meaning also imagined diversity and curiosity – will increase rather than decline, we are faced with the necessity of accessing new spheres of experience in living space experience. These are about to emerge in the new digital world, they are surfacing from a theoretical technological feasibility into a reality that appears ever more real. Screens have begun to replace not only windows, but also the door in the classical sense. Reality is replaced by perceptibility.
Meanwhile, the surfacing information society is forming itself from image recipients and data informers. Only when the significance of the introduction of own data stock is recognized as a socio-cultural opportunity and used as a matter of course, will the probability of a fundamental change increase in the way we deal with mediatic spaces. Special attention should be devoted to the contents transported by media machines and generated by the individual, as they are capable of exerting a decisive influence on the meanings of ‘interspaces‘. The active communication of information (informare, ‘to give form’ in Latin) includes the poly-directional generation of data. Making spaces available could be based on the transformation of media spheres of existence which allow an evolutionary treatment of the phenomenology of places. With the help of digital information technology, we succeed in generating ‘common spaces’, in keeping them open to inter-activation, in giving them access to isolated spaces of imagination, and in experiencing how new levels of action can be made available that can be changed individually and experienced collectively. The individual’s sphere of occurrence is transformed into levels which transform space into common space through the attention accorded by others, which develop and nurture it, which excite it by means of intervening processes, combine it in new constellations and orders, thus making it a computerized space.
A new reality of architecture!
As a function of these places, a new material reality of architecture with conflicting functions is dormant in physical real space. Hybrid action and living spaces are waiting to be designed in the shape of grid plans, corresponding to a mobile society of thought and reflection. In interaction, digital grid designs and material real space will determine a new architectural living and action space in combination with newly available design parameters such as real-time, speed, and scenarios.‘Interspace‘ as an immediate spatial transition zone will become the stage of this new interactive spectacle and define a new sphere of reality. Socially distinct functions such as apartments, production sites, research and administration, service facilities, offices, consumption, publicity, culture etc. can once again interlock in a highly complex transformational structure. At the same time, the spatial decentralization of facilities currently in functional interdependence will become possible.
Parallel to the existing interfaces between the digital and analogous worlds, such as the fax, telephone, TV and computer screen, a new acceptance of digitally transmitted realities of image and function and their effect on architectural real space is emerging. By real-time transmissions, which make possible a stationary present, parallel connections of spaces are created next to new forms of human communication. Direct communication, which requires the biological presence of a partner, is only one means of communication amongst many. The digital world is about to become the new medium of human communication, experience and action. The fact that this new form of interaction dissolves the local relation of real space means a revolution for architecture, an architecture of local decoupling, the design parameters of which must be newly defined. What architectural designs will become possible? What new functional connections will lead to the emergence of new architectural realities? It is the attempt to access this new field of symbiosis between the digital and analogous worlds which has already begun to shape the future of humanity as a new revolutionary design parameter for architecture by means of new realities of function and image, and the action contexts emerging from them.
‘Interspace‘ is understood as only one potential and temporary reality. While the efforts of cyberspace designers are currently focused on reducing ‘interspace‘ to zero with the aid of data helmets, data suits, and in future probably direct brain adapters, hardly any attention is paid to the window seats at the various interfaces as regards their architectural relevance. Interspace as a potential of an infinite number of doors. As long as the individual still exists as a biological being, it allows us to perceive the data space passing by in digital images. Yet why do we speak of virtual spaces with reference to the images of these digital worlds? To refer to them as spaces is certainly incorrect if we see the latter as traditional, geometrical spaces. However, if we consider space as the third dimension, spanned by time and surface, then the designation of space is definitely adequate, though still confusing and ambiguous. Seeing in these technological images means seeing films, seeing films of digital images.
VerfasserIn: Natascha Peinsipp // Bild & Text: SPLITTERWERK