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THE CITY AS INTERFACE

IMPAKT online

In his famous article Walking in the City the French philosopher Michel de Certeau described the city as a social construct by the people living in it. He stated that “Pedestrian movements form one of these real systems whose existence in fact make up the city” (de Certeau 1999).

The urbanites’ everyday interactions with the city define the way it is experienced and lived and thus exists. Layers of information and interactivity extend the city’s character, and connect urbanites in novel ways.

For this year’s programme, Impakt Online invited artists, architects, urban planners, researchers, programmers and the like to submit their proposals for online projects that consider the city as interface, buildings as responsive surfaces, mobile phones as tools for playing and mapping, and technological traces as data for art and research.

This evening programme includes a lecture by MARC TUTERS (who invented the term ‘locative media’) and the launch of the three Impakt Online 2010 projects, with a presentation by CLAUDIA BERNETT on her work Tall Tales and the premiere of Elsewhereness Utrecht. The audience will be the first to participate in CHRISTIAN NOLD’S mapping project Control.

The projects are available on www.impakt.nl/online, accompanied by interviews with the artists. Impakt Online: The City as Interface is curated by Sabine Niederer.

CLAUDIA BERNETT (USA) Tall Tales is based on the notion that cities are multi-layered, dynamic, living things in which stories are told everyday, literally and metaphorically through the daily interactions of the people living in them. Bernett extended the Surrealists’ Exquisite Corpse game model into a collaborative crossplatform, cross-media storytelling experience. “Tall Tales” merges people, locations, and technology to create a multi-faceted experience that adds a virtual layer of stories that live and breathe with the city itself. By submitting short text messages, city residents and visitors compose an online story, which is a continuously evolving reflection of the tone and times that we live in.

Another work that explores the city as an accumulation of experiences is Control by CHRISTIAN NOLD (UK). He sees control as an ambiguous concept that describes both a sense of empowerment (being in control) while, on the other side it refers to oppression (being controlled). Control can be just a personal experience or it can describe people’s relationship to others or towards the city. It can be a physical experience or an amorphous sensation. By letting people mark specific locations on Utrecht’s city map where they “Feel in Control”, “Feel out of control” or “Feel controlled” and assembling the data in an online database, Nold allows people to reflect and respond on the way they and others relate to the world and the build environment.

ANDERS WEBERG & ROBERT WILLIM (SWEDEN) on the other hand take the possibilities of experiencing the city through digital media to an extreme level. Instead of focusing on the physical experience of the city, they focus the experience of the ephemeral, the urban alienation and non-presence. Their project Elsewhereness is made solely from audio and video materials found on the Web. The audiovisual pieces are manipulated and composed into a surreal journey through an estranged landscape, based entirely on the culturally bound and stereotypical preconceptions of the artists about the actual location. After the cities Yokohama, Cape Town and Manchester, Utrecht will be the next to join Weberg and Willim’s collection of digital urban impressions.


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