Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Deconstructing computer space

I've been working on a paper and re-reading Lev Manovich's excellent book, The Language of New Media, and specifically the chapter on navigable space, in which he writes:

"Computer-generated worlds are actually much more haptic and aggregate than optic and systematic. The most commonly used computer-graphics technique of creating 3-D worlds is polygonal modeling. The virtual world created with this technique is a vacuum containing separate objects defined by rigid boundaries. What is missing from computer space is space in the sense of medium: the environment in which objects are embedded and the effect of these objects on each other. This is what Russian writers and artists call prostranstvennaya sreda. Pavel Florensky, a legendary Russian philosopher and art historian has described it in the following way in the early 1920s: 'The space-medium is objects mapped onto space... We have seen the inseparability of Things and space, and the impossibility of representing Things and space by themselves' ... It is important that the ontology of virtual space as defined by software itself is fundamentally aggregate, a set of objects without a unifying point of view. If art historians, literary and film scholars have traditionally analyzed the structure of cultural objects as reflecting larger cultural patterns ... in the case of new media we should look not only at the finished objects but first of all at the software tools, their organization and default settings. This is particularly important because in new media the relation between the production tools and the products is one of continuity; in fact, it is often hard to establish the boundary between them."

And so now I embark on a deconstruction of some descriptions of mobile and ubiquitous technologies being used to "augment" city spaces ... Stay tuned to this channel for updates.

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