Experimenta, 45
July 2003

Monography on architecture, design and new technologies
Guest-edited by Alicia and Fredy Massad

featured project by LAb[au]:
space navigable music

under the title of:
DeSIGN _ methodology || MetaDeSIGN

page 1 || MetaDeSIGN
page 2 || color-space
page 3 || sonic-space
page 4 || e.motion-space
page 5 || rhythmic-space
page 6 || spa[z]e-music

Meta.DeSign <> Architecture

LAb[au] - laboratory for architecture and urbanism
Manuel Abendroth, Jérôme Decock, Pieter Heremans and Alexandre Plennevaux

...Founded in 1995 LAb[au], the Belgian laboratory for architecture and urbanism, links theoretical

research, the one of a LAB, to concrete works of conception and productions - BAU, german word for construction, in order to examine the transformation of cultural artifacts _ signforms according to the technological progress. The different sectors of LAb[au] thus present the broad range of activities which opens up by the use of Information and Communication technologies in these fields and the emerging discipline _ MetaDeSign.

In this manner the development of the 0.1lab stands for new networked production environments as well as the base for a new matrix of social interaction and collective space; LAb[au] for the creation of a collaborative agency examining these transformations within various disciplines; trans-disciplary processes. According to this method LAb[au] elaborates a ' MetaDeSign ' investigating the implications of new communication and computation technologies within spatio-temporal structures and their multiple forms of representation, such as information architecture, architecture, urbanism...


A technology is not an independent or alien object, it complements integrally our sensorial and cognitive system; as a medium, it conditions not only communication modes but also the way we perceive and conceive our environment.
The technological developments of the last decades are at the base of the shift from industrial to post-industrial information society, where computation and communication technologies extend our very 'senses'.

The notions of body, matter, space and time are increasingly defined by the unit of information; its structures, processes and systems introducing new parameters of space and time - presence, such as immersion (real/virtual) and interaction (real-time/entropy) as well as new parameters of materiality (nano-technologies and smart memory materials) or biological (gene technologies) ones in its definition. Technology based on the transmission, computation and storing of information thus influences organization models (modes of production, work and knowledge) and affects the communication process (code, symbol) and the social relations as well as their spatialisation / representation.

Architecture and Urbanism are structural and functional disciplines involved in the spatial and temporal organization / representation of social, economic, political...structures through which they also constitute a semantic system of signs and codes. The shift from architecture to MetaDeSign is the result of the comparison between communication modes, its structures (indexing linking) and processes (computation communication) and spatial constructs (architecture and urbanism) enhanced by technologies _ and thus is based on its organizational principles binding high level of abstraction (codes) within specific modalities of perception and cognition in the construct of meaning - semantic level.

In this manner the investigation in MetaDeSign is the investigation in design, its methods and processes grounded on the inherent logics of computation and communication technologies in the visualisation and formalisation of inFORMation processes in textual, graphical, spatial representations. In summary, MetaDesign is about the setting of codes / language drawn from concepts of communication and information sciences - cognitive science with that of process methods, design and spatial constructs - architecture in the general cultural paradigm and in the production and conception of sign-forms. It outlines the spatial and semantic mutation provoked by technologies on the perception and conception of our environment. 'MetaDeSign' thus can be understood as a technology determinism that constitutes the main vector/thought in the concern of networked, information-based societies.

From Code to DeSign

In order to illustrate the influence and information mapping ( hypermedia ) _ the assignments of sonic, visual, spatial...parameter, and the determining of sign-forms through programming logics and thus the production and conception cultural artefacts but also our notion of space and the way we experience it, different examples from the recent project 'sPACE, navigable music by lab[au] are displayed:

color-space : assignment of space coordinates _ XYZ to colour coordinates R= 0-255 G= 0-255 B 0-255. This assignment allows to mix the 16.777216 colours of a screen through navigation abut also the representation of electronic space _ the position of a user _ in form of a colour map. It's a representation of space through colours. The projection of these colors enlightening the space of the performance//installation thus relates the electronic-space to body-space on both levels: cognitive and perceptive.

sonic-space : assignment of space coordinates to sound (volume) values. The control of volume according to space coordinates (distance position) creates a spatial system like quadra, octa ...polyphonic diffusion of sound _ spa[z]e music. This spatialisation system of sound thus relates the navigation in electronic space to the physical experience of music during the performance _ a mixed reality through the visual and sonic interrelation of to body space.

e.motion-space : assignment of camera values (field of view) to sound frequency _ the pitching of sound. The Changing of the field of view of the camera through witch one navigate thought the electronic space _ constituting its vision perception inside it, is assigned to the one of hearing - sound frequency. On the camera principals is based the networked real-time 360°projection system but also the general construct of the project where the change of the visual and spatial construct is directly related to the sonic one and thus extend navigation to body perception.

rhythmic space : assignment of real time sound navigation to object behaviour.
The so called ' fast Fourrier transform _ FFT functions ' known from any audio visualization systems allows to analyse in real time the sound produced through navigation and to obtain a string of _ mean values. These values are used to instruct objects behaviour inside the (colour-transparency-position-rotation) and thus related the architecture of the electronic space to the one of sonic structures and the navigation inside them. This principle immerse the public in a sonic and visual space where object behaviours - image mappings... are all related_ synchronised to the sonic structure thus immersing the public in a rhythmic visual and sonic space.

space navigable music

'space navigable music' investigates the impact of IC technologies and particularly, 3D Real Time technologies in the construct of space. According to the objectives of LAb|au| the project constitutes as much a space for theoretical research as a space of experimentation on the forms of spatial, visual and sonic interactions in networked environments. The project thus explores the setting of hypermedia environments and mixed reality spaces combining architecture, music and cinema through user's interactions - navigation within the digital matrix.

In space navigable music, the architecture of the electronic space is generated in real time according to the position and movements of the user (> mix colour, > mix image, > mix sound). Operating on the assignment of spatial (x,y,z), temporal (t-movements) parameters to the visual and sonic ones, each interaction by the user, navigation, transforms the rendered space. The 'Navigable Music' thus constitutes a space, in which the user experiments cyberspace by dropping sounds into space, mixing music throughout navigation, record its movements to produce an animation, a kinetic music clip, a sharable sonic space, where the multi-user space even extend the project to collective interactions.

spa[z]e music is based on collaborations between LAb[au] and different contemporary musicians, who composes specific sonic - spaces, navigable music. The collaboration focuses on the exploration of musical patterns in and through navigation in and relates them to image sequencing in order to create an immersive sonic and visual environment. It thus relates, synchronizes, space to music based on cinematic techniques and movement patterns.

The space 360degree project is based on a software, developed by LAb[au] in order to propose an installation based on a complete immersion of the users/public in the spa[z]e music produced on the one hand through the spatial _ quadraphonic diffusion of the sound navigation and on the other hand the visual _360° panoramic projection of the ; all rendered in real time. In this manner the public gets immersed in the 3D visual and sonic environment of spa[z]e music where the sharing of the rendered music is the sharing of the sensation of movement and speed in the non gravity

This inter-relation/action between the spatial and temporal structures of space and sound creates a mixed reality where the development of new interfaces such as voice recognition systems (navigation through voice instructions), body movement tracking systems (navigation through body movements )... even more merge the experience of to the one of the body space _ a mixed reality.

Based on theses principals the ongoing development of an online community based on recordable and shareable spa[z]e compositions exploring, its social and functional patterns as well its influence in the general field of cultural sing-forms, will successively lead to an online label _ ' spa[z]e music ' _ thus exploring new possibilities in the production, experience and diffusion of electronic music in and through space and thus the general construct of architecture and music enhanced by IC technologies.

Contact Store Facebook Projects pdf en | fr | nl

Metalab02 History Navigator (requires the Adobe Flash Player 8+).