Sigradi 2000 - LAb[au]

SiGraDi 2000 _ publication

year: september 2000

published statement: the urban as an hypertextu(r)al environment

authors: LAb[au]
Manuel Abendroth, Jérôme Decock, Naziha Mestaoui

0.1, the urban as an hypertextu(r)al environment

The increasing implication of communication and information technologies in the process of production and knowledge leads to the fundamental re-thinking of the organisation and the definition of space. Technology based on the transmission and computation of information influences organisation models (modes of production, of work and of knowledge) and affects the communication process (code, symbol) as well as the social relations and their spatialisation. The affectation of the traditional articulation between information, space and time leads to the augmenting need to flatten the electronic realm into the concrete space.

The increasing condensation of space more and more define urbanity by transforming the social model 'city' from a static and localised state into a temporal dislocated condition - a support of event and information. The deterritorialisation of space and the dematerialization of signs even more erase the local space in its economical, political, social and cultural signification. The local matrix of the city, the con[text]ure, constantly exposed to the global condition of information flows, the hyper[text]ure, mute into a glocal system of interconnected entities. The urban as an irrigated field of dynamic spaces and simultaneous times merges alternative worlds into a new-global semantics, where technologies have


turned into the inseparable interface to create urbanity. In this case urban density is a mediated, rather than an architectural device, juggling with the densification and expansion of information and networks - intensification of space, as its major condition.

In consequence the city, by plotting geometric and topological space and entropic times (entropy), will take the form of a n-dimensional matrix. To describe the city as a relational field is the cogent causality of a formal thinking, perceiving space as a differentiated interactive matrix, a dislocated media of bit.second.

The 0.1 mode of communication flows and computation therefore will no longer only describe an electronic environment but will turn into an important parameter of our conception and understanding of space and in particular of the social model of the city. Urbanism can so no longer be obsessed with material 'appearance' and 'representation', but has to deal with dislocated, disembodied and transmissible systems. The classical question of articulating public and private space, localising boundaries and identifying build entities, now is a question of being in dynamic space(s)-time(s) matrix of connectivity, interaction and imagination.

The comparison between communication modes (the hypertext) and the spatial models (the city) questions the structural and semantic mutation of our environment. Comparing the hypertext (as polysemic support of scattered but interconnected fragments) to the spatial and social structures of a city allows us to ponder on the possible spatial implications of the new information technologies and to extrapolate several various characteristics of the hypertext, based on a new understanding of the city, its coherence and signification. The structuralist thinking turns into a view in system, based on complex interaction modes inside a hybrid and digital medium, restructuring our social and spatial environment.


The hypertext model is understandable as a support collecting apparently conflicting parameters, whose combination produces a new synthesis between communication, technology and space. By substituting the hierarchical conception of relations for a fragmentation into interactive systems (network), it transforms the perception and conception of our environment. The shift from text to hypertext, from analogic to digital technology, replaces the notions of linearity, hierarchy and order with the notion of multilinear structure, combination of fragments, coexistence of difference, generation of interaction and simultaneity of possibilities. Hypertext is an interactive communication model between an environment and the individual, participating in the continuous recentering of information around the individual, his perception and his main concerns.

Hyper(text)ure doesn't operate as a structural articulation tool but as a generator of textured zones and fields formed by interconnected codes and systems. The representative signification of space has shift to the hybrid signification of a translocal matrix, interweaving the specificity of the context as well as the global digital environment. 0_1 therefore turns into the main public code of the social matrix overlaid to the existing urban environment, connectivity and interactivity it's most important parameters.


1) lightscapes, displacement maps

data processed light plan, which throughout the spatial and temporal programming of light creates temporal light scapes in the scale of the urban. The project articulates the intervention of light as an urban vector exploiting the possibility of light being a structural as well as a temporal and interactive device. The conception of light within the urban outgrows the simple question of a practical and technical device of security but becomes much more like a polysemic medium broadened to the urban scale, the cultural dimension of the public realm.


2) Transit(e)

The urban restructuring project works out a new understanding of the public realm according to this trans_modern state of hypermobility. The title "Transit(e)" is a combination of "site" and "transit" which stands for intermediary situations of an individual both spatially (being in-between two places) and physically, the condition of movement. The term reflects a particular state, between absence and presence, the belonging to an ephemeral condition. Transit(e) is a spatial concept where the static representation gives ground to sporadic situations of affiliation according to the condition of the contemporary. In addition to mobility, the notion of Transit(e) now integrates the issue of connectivity thus covering a mental sphere. The new technologies place the human in an intermediary zone, a permanent condition of transition, allowing man to be here and potentially everywhere at the same time. The individual is projected into a 'nomadic' space-time popping between local and global, domiciled and nomad. from one virtuality -ambience to another.

3) 'liquid axis'

liquid as the fusion of action and form, time and space, erases the static references of space. The different entities, programs of the project are not simply juxtaposed; they are flattened into a continuous mediated system. Conceived as a fluid network - a circuit, the main axis of the city of Thessaloniki is transformed into a support absorbing and diffusing information and event. The urban condition is defined as an hypertexture, a totally mediated environment where historic and entropic time, geometric and topologic space fuses into a new interactive matrix, which turns the urban into a condition of a trans-local reality.

4) 'I_tube'


interface project for a databank generating in real time throughout user defined parameters virtual spaces. The space-related display of information generate not only a space for individual access of information but enhance the e-space to a collective matrix of social exchange.

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