[-empyre-] Missive 2: Bastard/alien spaces and Sl - based art

This is a fascinating thread, the role of architecture in SL reminds me
of the ArchOS project which gathered data about any number of data sets,
such as airflow, temperature, population density, sound pressure, light
levels, and so on throughout the given building.   In so doing, the
infostructure of the physical space is laid bare and is made available
for possible cybernetic interaction.

The curious thing about architecture in SL is its multivalence.  For
example, I can think of it as information-ordering, epistemological
ergonomics, avatar ergonomic, and so on.  Novak broke the doubling of
the physical in the virtual long ago into liquid architectures and
"alien" spaces, and truly opened up the notion of virtual architecture.
Why do we need rectilinear, static architecture with _stairs_ (in most
places) when avatars have some fundamentally different user experiences
than flesh-bodies?  Teleportation, flight, and the fact that the POV
requires more expansive interior spaces _should_ alter the architecture
of virtual worlds, although many have not.

For instance, I am still deeply influenced by Benedikt's "Cyberspace:
Fist Steps", and Anders' "Envisioning Cyberspace".  The cover of the
first book, with it's looming, rectillinear data structure seems more at
home in SL than Ars Virtua or the BitFactory, but in considering Anders'
proposition of the Anthropic principle in 3D virtual spaces, it's not
surprising that so many SL practitioners choose to reconstruct with
varying levels of verisimilitude.  Because of the perception of human
embodiment, space, gender, time, etc, forms seem to take on familiar

But as I travel SL, I see it almost like the final scene of The Matrix,
when Neo sees The Matrix for what it is, a swirling data construct.
This is what is fascinating about Annabeth's work, as persistent data is
collected and reconstructed from interactions to shape the given project
- it reveals the hidden currents of the infotecture.  This interaction
with infotecture is what I find is interesting in regards to tapping the
fundamental, formal, structural aspects of virtual worlds to explore
alterior communications methods.

For a little background on my interest in narrative infostructures, 
(Event-Spaces 1: (re)cursor, 1994-5)
Metaphor and Terrain: Interface as art object 
Grasping @ Bits 1.1 
Sprawl: The American Landscape in Transition (Smithsonian AAM)

(Although I have been doing performance in SL, the narrative/space
component seems to be staring back at me...)

And I agree that this can be highly problematic when it comes to
"Bastard Spaces", or when the human perceptual frame gets its supports
knocked out from under it, leaving a sort of existential limbo.  Perry
Hoberman's "Systems Maintenance" did this really well.
When I played with the installation in 1998 at Cornershop in Manchester
UK, I found the tripling of trying to align the virtual, physical, and
miniature rooms highly disorienting and challenging.  I actually love
Perry's assertion that there is something (joyfully) "ridiculous" about
virtual spaces that take the idea of verisimilitude seriously at all.
>From a personal perspective, perhaps this is why I may be more
interested in Novakian/"Alien" architecture in SL (as part of my
interest in infotecture/narrative structures), although I have not yet
done more than continue my experiments in relatively conservative
avatar-centric architectures at I Am Columbia Island.  

As an aside, after working heavily in SL for most of Spring, I felt that
I was LIVING in a sort of "Bastard Space", in a number of levels, from
space, to time compression to the desire of the various spaces to have
my concomitant involvement.  I found it very distressing, and caused my
pulling back a great deal over the summer, retreating into the all-too
physical (but is it non-bastard?) space of New Orleans French Quarter.

Patrick Lichty
- Interactive Arts & Media
  Columbia College, Chicago
- Editor-In-Chief
  Intelligent Agent Magazine
225 288 5813
"It is better to die on your feet 
than to live on your knees." 

-----Original Message-----
From: empyre-bounces@lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
[mailto:empyre-bounces@lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] On Behalf Of Stephan
Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2007 3:52 PM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Welcome to the Bastard Space!

Hi James,

regarding your comments I would like to adress two
issues that I feel are worth reflecting:
1) "presence"
2) "interaction"

Just to illustrate: One of my first experiences with
constructing a virtual world is back in 1998. For an
art event in Munich me and my partner recronstructed
the architecture of one of Germanys biggest
techno-club, with the 3d modelling programm of the
ego-shooter game "Marathon". You all may know that
Then we installed the game within the physical club.
The virtual reconstruction was very detailled, we even
integrated the art works of all the other artists, who
presented their work in the "real club". We installed
more than 30 screens and projectors and everybody
could play this LAN game. Needless to say it was a
fairly agressive game...

The Marathon scenery somehow began to merge with the
real space it only copied. A bit later it even
occupied the real space... 

Everybody who played the game in this "doubled
environment" was flashed by the experience of a
"double floor" that emerged. After having played the
game, one couldn`t go around the corner in the "real
club" without some sort of caution or even anxiety.
This feeling off-game was enhanced by a crowded space
filled with techno-music, fog, etc.... 

But there were two other experiences which we found
striking in terms of "presence" and "interaction":

1) The power of the simulation of space created a
feeling that we lost the sense for the "genius loci" -
the presence of the real space. We were overwhelmed by
the games´audio-visual world, which took control over
all other senses. All those other senses how we feel
and experience space and our intuition, were
2) The interaction of the game demanded our full
concentration. This media space was about instinct and
reaction. One's own associative mind was completely

I am aware that SL is more than a LAN game is in many
ways much different but there were clear paralells to
dedect. Presence became something like an "alienated
presence" - a similar feeling that occurs in SL. In
that respect I would subscribe to G.H. Hovagimyans
comment that emotionally this sort of presence is
indeed very poor.

The Bastard space is defined by media that demands
interaction - which forces an involuntary
concentration. Once you are stripped of all media that
surrounds you (no cell phone, no nothing...) you will
experience physical space and the people you meet
there differently. You realize that you are not an
At least I did, when I stayed in a very remote place
in wild nature in Turkey recently. No media space
would indrude there. So yes - there is a non-Bastard
space - although it may have become an exceptional

Join me for a beer now?

Well, only that which is absent can be imagined!


--- james <empyre@factorynoir.com> schrieb:

> Hello Stephan,
> I have been patiently waiting for this discussion
> for a few months  
> now.  Allow me to introduce myself first then I hope
> to address some  
> issues and maybe pose some thoughts.  I.R.L. I am
> known as James  
> Morgan, mild mannered lecturer at the CADRE
> Laboratory for New Media  
> at SJSU. I also have a not so Secret Life as
> Rubaiyat Shatner,  
> director of Ars Virtua New Media Center and Gallery
> located in Second  
> Life (on the border of Dowden and Butler).
> I have been in Second Life for nearly 2 years now,
> and WoW for  
> probably about a year.  I consider myself a gamer
> and have played in  
> other immersive environments in the past.
> I welcome the discussion "beyond the hype."
> Aesthetically SL is a 3d cartoon, a low resolution
> rendering of a  
> vast small place.
> Psychologically it is a game or a first person
> shooter.
> Sociologically it is liberating, anonymizing, and
> egalitarian.
> Architecturally it is no different, the laws of
> physics and materials  
> differ.
> The first show that we did in Ars Virtua was titled
> "The Real."  I  
> curated this show and was deep in the process of
> patting myself on  
> the back for coming up with something so clever as a
> "real" show in a  
> "virtual" environment when in the process of
> collecting the work and  
> laying out the gallery I realized that despite my
> desire to see the  
> work as "virtual" it was in fact as real as any
> other art that I had  
> experienced. That is to say that the experience was
> real, the objects  
> had reality, and the engagement and writing about
> the work were also  
> real.  The simulation had become the simulated.
> It is hard for me to see any mediated interaction as
> anything but a  
> "Bastard Space." Along those lines though I am not
> certain that there  
> is a non-bastard space, or that there ever was.
> The quality of SL (and WoW) that I find most
> compelling is the  
> immersive social quality. It is difficult for me to
> explain the  
> difference that I feel between a phonecall/IM
> conversation and one in  
> SL, but it centers around a difference in the
> medium.  I have found  
> that in SL there is a common experience, one that
> contributes to a  
> sense of presence.
> So if the space is not fundamentally different from
> another mediated  
> space and the primary function is social, what does
> that mean to  
> "native" art in SL?  It becomes a question of the
> mediation and the  
> nature of the social content and context.
> Consider Brad Kligerman's
> Architectural/Sculptural/Mapped/Visual  
> space that would have a hard time existing anywhere
> else and I think  
> we start to see a partial answer, but what is it?
> Truly there is no  
> simple answer, though I would not dare to claim it
> is new it is an  
> amazing extension that begins to illuminate the
> corners of a new medium.
> So what role then does architecture have in this
> space?  What is the  
> purpose of architecture IRL?  The meaning of a
> building is completely  
> without context in an environment where distance is
> deprecated.   
> There is no need to move from point A to B when you
> can teleport, and  
> there is no necessity of a floor when everyone can
> fly.  Architecture  
> becomes a magnificent barrier, an inconvenience and
> a governor of  
> experience.
> Imitation of functional forms from other media
> creates an inherent  
> uselessness.  Mind you I think this can be
> compelling and  
> illuminating but I have classically railed against
> this sort of  
> transliteration.
> James Morgan
> Rubaiyat Shatner
> On Aug 1, 2007, at 2:27 AM, Stephan Doesinger wrote:
> > Hi all,
> >
> > first of all: thanks, Melinda, for your initiative
> and invitation  
> > to this discussion.
> > There are not many forums that discuss Second Life
> "beyond the  
> > hype"...
> >
> > It is obvious that 3D technologies SL are
> multilayered. So to keep  
> > life simple - or at least trying hard - my
> contribution to this  
> > forum will focus on architecture....
> >
> > Aesthetically SL seems to be a mirage of reality.
> > Psycologically it may appear as a stageset filled
> with digital  
> > puppets.
> > In sociological terms SL seems as if it is only
> about "playing"  
> > communication.
> > Architecturally SL appears as a fusion of
> different spatial  
> > concepts - "The Bastard Space"(...).
> > In terms of technology SL may appear as a "3D
> telephone" or maybe  
> > even a new kind of internet-interface.
> > If one imagines a combination of SL (or something
> like SL) with a  
> > GPS navigation system, Google Earth or Microsoft
> Maps, one could  
> > also imagine, that this could create a new
> topography of our real  
> > cities.
> >
> > At the end of the day we realize, that all of this
> "virtual matter"  
> > swaps back to the first world, and somehow fuses,
> creating  
> > something new...!
> >
> > So, as for a kick-off, I want to put forward a few
> thoughts on  
> > Second Life, that I summarized in a text entitled
> "The Bastard  
> > Spaces".
> > It was written for the (not yet pblished)
> catalogue of the Ars  
> > Electronica Festival 2007, where the "1st
> Architecture & Design  
> > competition in SL" will be held. (www.aec.at)
> >
> > Apart from that, I also want to invite everone of
> you to submit  
> > your projects to this competition...
> > Please find all details at: www.sl-award.com
> >
> > Stephan
> >
> > -----------------------------------
> >
> > Bastard Spaces
> > 1st Annual Architecture and Design Competition in
> Second Life.
> >
> >
> > Why are so many people fascinated and at the same
> time alienated by  
> > the virtual world in *Second Life* (SL)? Is a
> deceptive alternative  
> > to physical reality, to so-called ?First Life,?
> being suggested  
> > here? What if this metaverse (1) is an eerie
> mirror of reality?
> > Could it be that Walter Benjamin?s 1929 commentary
> has become the  
> > central metaphor of our basic cultural situation?:
> ?When two  
> > mirrors look at each other, Satan plays his
> favorite game and opens  
> > the perspective to infinity.?(2)
> > I initiated this architecture and design
> competition because  
=== message truncated ===

Stephan Doesinger
Kaiserstr. 44
D-80801 München

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