RE: FW: [-empyre-] architecture, place and 'urbanised' space
- To: Melinda Rackham <email@example.com>
- Subject: RE: FW: [-empyre-] architecture, place and 'urbanised' space
- From: Stephan Doesinger <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Mon, 13 Aug 2007 20:16:49 +0200 (CEST)
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I am currently supervising the diploma of a student
from the Technical University in Munich, who is
exploring urban process in SL. He allowed everybody to
build there just to see, wether a urban rules and
structures could be established in a free / anarchic
(Check it out at: SLURL public townscape or
Since the basic elements of urbanism in RL such as
transport and infrastructure are not relevant in SL
(we all know about flying, teleporting..) the
experiment turned into a race of occupying space
(through the limitation of prims).
So he was asked by many who would build there that he
should install rules. Such as "no terraforming!", etc.
This demand for control, which is ultimately crucial
to urbanism in RL became an interesting question to
Other than in SIM-City, which is a game, where we
learn about the structural economics about urbanism,
SL seems to be a mimetic space: When we visit an
"Irish pub" in SL we play "going out and have a beer".
If we reconstruct a urban situation we play "urban
life" and "urban lifestyle". Which obviously is
something very different from urbanism in RL.
The notion of control in that experiment made me again
thinking about the relationship between interactive
media spaces such as SL and the physical space. All
these representations of space are audiovisual. What,
if something like SL is a "trainings-camp" for the
perception of space in RL?
What, if this audiovisual training dominates and thus
limits our other senses?
Subsequently, could it be that we also expect the
spaces in RL to be similar to the spaces we explore in
interactive media landscapes?
A good example might be the generic spaces of an
airport (as a central urban zone). It is a very
controlled environment, designed to organise the flow
of masses of people. This space is not as simple as
e.g. the organisation of our streets, which are
controlled by traffic rules. The airport is a complex
environment, which has many other functions. It is not
a place to stay but a place to transit and waiting.
And yet this space should give us feeling of safety
and comfort. In this space everything is controlled:
the artificial climate, the functional(!) music, the
(plastic) food in Potemkish´stage sets of its
restaurants, etc. (wooden decorations in steel frames,
etc.). This audio-visual space surrogates are
installed to create an image. But most important it is
an alienated environment, that frees us from taking on
responsibility. ("Take on responsibility of your life,
or others will do...!") The space-surrogates are
comfortably numb. There are no free decisions to make.
It is like a labyrinth, where one is also constantly
So, one could ask, what´s the problem with that?
Well, as a result this real space becomes structurally
- in Foucaults sense - an "audiovisual prison". Maybe
the audiovisual trainig of urban representation help
to shift the paradigmas of how we experience and
construct spaces and urbanism in RL.
So your students dismissive 'it's not real - it
doesn't matter' seem in fact to be wrong...
> From: linda carroli <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Reply-To: soft_skinned_space
> Date: Tue, 07 Aug 2007 08:05:04 +1000
> To: soft_skinned_space
> Subject: [-empyre-] architecture, place and
> 'urbanised' space
> I have been giving some thought to architecture,
> place(making) and
> 'urbanised' space or design - my caveat is that it's
> only thought,
> not research. my current studies are in urban design
> and planning -
> when i try to introduce discussions about second
> life into my
> tutorials, there is a dismissive 'it's not real - it
> doesn't matter'
> reaction. that's a very interesting reaction because
> it denies any
> awareness or potential of mixed or augmented
> realities ... that these
> multiple worlds do inform each other. I've had a few
> thoughts and here are some fragments.
> "What will it feel like to live in a city, where
> houses court each
> other in springtime?"
> (I don't know who said this but it's beautiful)
> Urbanism & Design
> It's apparent, when I look at Second Life (my next
> caveat is that I
> have never visited SL, just looked at documentation
> on youtube and
> heard stories), that the space is being urbanised in
> similar ways to
> first life eg elite developments on waterfronts, the
> same patterns of
> roadways and grids reappear, perhaps even the
> emergence of cbds (or
> concentrations of business/residential activity) and
> there is an
> apparent conflict of property use in some instances.
> why do 'structures' or 'constructions' in SL have
> steps when everyone
> can fly? do the steps provide choice or are they are
> a design element
> or something else? perhaps some of john rajchman's
> ideas are useful
> to revisit - folding, lightness, ground, abstraction
> and future cities.
> Flusser wrote a marvellous essay about walls and he
> writes about
> 'living between walls' as part of the human
> condition - "walls are
> the borders of a stage on which the tragedy of the
> human striving for
> beauty is enacted".
> Vera Buhlmann says "Virtual houses are houses that
> are becoming,
> transforming, and through that: individualising ...
> Virtual houses, if they will ever come to be, will
> be some sort of
> Some architects have expressed concern about the
> quality of housing
> design in SL. Here's some thoughts about this from
> the Second Life
> School of Architecture:
> (part 1)
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ts7fXh5cPo4 (part 2)
> In first life, about 85% of housing is not designed
> by architects.
> Another short video about architects in Second Life
> (showing houses
> that seem to be designed for first life)
> "For all the grand dreams of what life could be in
> Second Life (SL),
> this metaverse, as it's called, is decidedly more
> geared towards the
> exploration of post-silicon body modifications than
> the possibilities
> of spatial experience free of gravity, budget, and
> all those
> persnickety details. When it comes down to it, from
> an architectural
> perspective, Second Life just sort of replicates
> suburbia. In a
> universe built from free and easily manipulated
> virtual building
> units, there is a surprising lack of interesting
> work going on.
> Evidence, perhaps, that spatial banality is not just
> a symptom of
> something larger, but an affliction in and of itself
> ... With the
> combination of jump-cut transportation and avatars
> which are
> overwhelmingly more interesting than the
> architecture, Second Life
> presents the ultimate indictment of public space:
> why shape places
> when it's all about the people, anyway?"
> As with first life, moving through spaces (in
> various speeds) should
> produce a particular awareness of space/s. For some
> time now, a trend
> in Western cities has been about speeding up some
> parts eg
> transport/commuting/roads while slowing down others
> pedestrianisation. I've never seen a vehicle in any
> Second Life
> documentation so I presume they don't exist.
> I am thinking that when it comes to an idea of the
> city or an
> urbanised environment, virtual as it is, Second Life
> is producing an
> awareness and experience of the Teleport City.
> It reminds me of The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili by
> Francesco Colonna,
> produced in the 15th century. The title translates
> as The Strife of
> Love in a Dream. For those who don't know, it is one
> of the first
> printed books (by Aldus) to experiment with design
> and include images.
> The story takes place in a dream state and, while
> ostensibly a
> romance, is also regarded as a treatise on
> architecture with several
> descriptions of various kinds of structures
> including a temple, a
> pyramid, a triumphal arch, a hippodrome, a
> propylaeum, a palaestra,
> two colossi, a gigantic building in the form of an
> elephant with an
> obelisk on its back, a bathhouse, a palace, a two
> temples, some ruins, and an amphitheater ...
> The buildings are described in excruciating detail
> and scholars have
> tried to reconstruct some of them but they have
> proven to be
> impossible. Perhaps these impossible architectures
> can now be
> constructed in Second Life.
> empyre forum
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