On this notion of "real' :
Some time ago, some fifty years ago, something strange happened in a small
village in the Mid West of England. It is not very well documented. It
appears that eleven women found themselves pregnant at the very same time.
There was gossip, strong words, the occasional blow as the men in he village
could not understand. However as one of the pregnant women was fifteen and
one over sixty, the village descended in a kind of enforced dreamy sleep.
The women stuck together.
The children were born and did they come shining though! They looked the
essence of a boy, the essence of a girl. The people rejoiced in prayers,
silently thanked their Gods and got on with their lives.
It is documented that one of the villagers, a retired philosopher, did keep
Every friday from when they were very young he'd play movies for them to
draw them into discussions. There was something about them, he knew not
quite what. They learned so very quickly, it was as if only one boy had to
read a book , and in a debate suddenly any of the girls would have the same
arguments. They kept to themselves, yet always seemed to know where the
others were. When they were about fourteen one of the boys was hit by a car.
It may have been quite unintentional. The driver drove straight into a brick
wall of a farmhouse a few days later, no note.
The philosopher began to play back in his mind some other incidents and
although he could forestall the thought for a long time, he had to conclude
that the children were telepathic, able to communicate in some way without
words, sounds or signs one could notice. If one girl knew fact a on Tuesday
10: 12 then the entire tribe would know it at 10:12 too.
He began to consider the implications. Looking back he realized he had know
all along that it must have been something like this. The pregnancies, so
improbable, so timed- their similar appearance, their way of communication
silently and swift. What else could they be but alien? Not unlike the
villagers as maybe city folk, or a different kind of human, but deeply and
truly alien to their parents, their families, their villages, counties and
I have been paraphrasing The Midwich Cuckoos (1957) by the author John
Wyndham - this is the document I'm referring to. In his novel the
philosopher packs his truck one day with film equipment and explosives. A
loud bang. He has taken them out and himself with it. In his goodbye letter
we read that he has come to the conclusion that the children are in the
possession of such superior tools that they cannot but either enslave or
disrupt their host civilization to breaking point. He sees no other way but
to blow them to pieces, counting as he is on the deep friendship grown over
the years between him and them that will blur their readings of his
We now set to scene to 2010.
(say it out loud four times, then turn to your right smiling from ear to ear
Always when I'm in the middle of this story, my students (whether in
Eindhoven, Yerevan or Timis) intuitively get the story immediately. They do
not understand their parents. They do not understand the way the world
works. They cannot understand the insincerity and clumsiness of the
procedures needed to check and check if everything is ok. They are
intrinsically motivated, they can not believe the state the world is in.
They see through the lies of the adult world so easily. They have grown up
in the network and when one of them knows something, the rest of the tribe
knows it too, in a second flat.
Hey, I'm not going to blow you up, is how I end my tale, but you got to
promise me something: take that attitude to the streets and better be quick
about it. You are very nice, you collaborate and share out of sheer
inevitability. You are able to hold lots of data handy for when you need it.
You have all the qualities that we need to build a more balanced world and
crack all the formats of the old hierarchical systems that put either money,
ego or enforced collectivity on top. But this is only a moment in time, a
brief hippie moment, and if it is not articulated it simply does not exist.
Not even in writing I guess for that would be like falling back into as ifs
and once upon a times.
We have lived in an age of time as chronology, time as empty space or place
on an imaginary stretch of occurrences behind us and an unknown beyond which
we believe we are walking in or up to. We can call this Renaissance time.
This notion of time has build our Western culture, our notions of progress
and has formed the basis for vindicating unethical actions in the name of
equality, peace and universal truth. Pre Renaissance time was quite
different: "For the Hebrew, to know the time was not a matter of knowing
the date, it was a matter of knowing what kind of time it might be. Was it
a time for tears or a time for laughter, a time for war or a time for
peace? To misjudge the time in which one lived might rove to be disastrous.
To continue to mourn and fast during a time of blessing would be like sowing
during a time of blessing would be like sowing during harvest time (compare
Zach 7:1-3). Time was the quality or mood of events." (Albert Nolan in Jesus
before Christianity, The Gospel of Liberation, p.141) This shift is an
ontological break, a move towards, or rather a rude awakening in another
world with other rules and rewards. It is not so much a notion of time that
has changed but the very prerequisites for a human consciousness to feel at
home, to belong, to da-sein. Our current shift towards a 'smart' world,
'ambient intelligence', an Internet of Things could be felt in the past
decades, was noted by science fiction authors and is engulfing itself
towards the more 'normal' notions of the 'real'. As more people are 'getting
it' this eschaton "a real future event which will be qualitatively different
from all previous events and which is the only event that can give ultimate
meaning to one's present situation." (p.76), is beginning to work its way
into finding interfaces to make the transition from Renaissance time to
Realtime possible as a foundation of a new kind of order, in the plain sense
of the word; ordering space, body, movement and action. In this light we can
understand the notions of endtime, end of times, or the 2012 ideas on
radical change; we are moving to, or will awake in a world with a
qualitatively different notion of time as experiencing multiple and
consecutive events become the default of ordinary experience, a kind of
experience that in Renaissance time was the stage of the visionary, the
tools of the creative painters, the psychotic trance of self salvation of
the manic mind. The exception becomes the rule in Realtime. The question is
who can live there? And what kind of solidarities will be forged in a world
where multiplicity of experience and identity is the default? This is the
space after all where everything lies painfully shining in light and
transparency is radical. It took Nietzsche a lifetime to painstakingly
conquer it, and in conquering 'it' losing himself as self.
On Wed, Aug 4, 2010 at 10:36 AM, Martin Rieser <firstname.lastname@example.org>wrote:
> Dear Yasminers
> Many thanks for the lively discussion of hybrid cities and I look forward
> the extension of debate in september that Dimitris proposes. I would like
> drop one more thought into the mix:
> Paul Virilio termed the bifurcation of the "real" that ocurred with the
> invention of Virtual reality as "The Accident". My contention is that with
> the development of mobile hybrid environments , particularly augmented
> reality, but also through linked technologies of materialisation such as
> rapid prototyping and of tactility- through haptics and touchable
> and emotion sensing, that split is being transformed into a new hybridity
> which will become ever more seamless, so that we will soon no longer be
> to separate "realities" in the manner Virilio postulates, in effect they
> will have rejoined into a new "real". This is both an enthralling and
> frightening prospect, and we appear to be entering this space far faster
> than anyone imagined just six years ago.In this we are returning to a
> tangible imaginary which echoes that of the medieval religious experience.
> Have a good summer!
> On Mon, Aug 2, 2010 at 11:11 AM, XARITOS DIMITRIOS <email@example.com
> > Dear YASMINers,
> > As scheduled, the "Hybrid City as an Interface" discussion would conclude
> > at the end of July and (depending on the interest it would raise among
> > it would continue in September. As we all have witnessed, there has been
> > lot of interest so far and I would like to thank you all for your great
> > efforts and contributions which have made this discussion a successful
> > according to the comments we read in some of the last messages. I
> > propose that we continue the discussion in September and will inform you
> > accordingly about the particular dates.
> > In an attempt to identify key issues relating to the "Hybrid City" which
> > were made so far, Martin has appropriately articulated three main issues
> > which mainly refer to the creation, use and appropriation of mobile and
> > locative media as well as other web-based applications involving
> > location-based activities and content, around which this discussion has
> > far evolved: • real depth of audience engagement, • the radical
> > potential of these new technologies and • the quality of existing
> > of interventions
> > The discussion also expanded towards • context-aware systems which
> > patterns of activity of any sort not perceptible to humans and the
> > of these data to all
> > • the process of creating maps, emerging cartographies, design
> > aspects and politics • the role of Situationists' theory and practice
> > the creation of such interventions
> > • the use of ubiquitous computing systems in creating hybrid
> > experiences, in the form of connections/bridges between the real and the
> > virtual
> > • the politics determining who has access to these environments and
> > how
> > • the potential for a passage from the public to the common through
> > the use of these media
> > • the potential of multi-user location-based activities for
> > generating new forms of social interaction
> > • the concept of "hybrid space", the spatial character of the
> > of "hybridity", the "hybrid city" and its definition and whether this
> > discussion should be limited to the urban realm.
> > Moreover, many very relevant examples were mentioned for illustrating the
> > points that each of you made in the discussion and I am sure that listing
> > these examples has been very useful for many in understanding this
> > better.
> > I am also sure there is a lot that was said and I did not include in this
> > short attempt to temporarily conclude this phase of the discussion and
> > the concepts of a "hybrid city" and of an "interface" in relation to this
> > subject need a better clarification as Marcos pointed out in his message
> > I intend to start the second phase of this discussion by working towards
> > such an introduction.
> > But, after thanking all the respondents (Martin, Daphne, Iouliani), Roger
> > and all of you who gave life to the discussion with your very interesting
> > and relevant contributions, I cannot think of a better way to close this
> > phase of the discussion, than with the message that Marcos send (which I
> > paste below), which did really put the subject in a more holistic context
> > asking some very relevant questions: why?, how?, for whom?, as well as by
> > reminding us of the very important issue of sustainability.
> > On that note I would like to thank you all, to wish you a pleasant summer
> > and to invite you to participate again in this discussion in September
> > during the dates that we will announce soon.
> > Best wishes
> > Dimitris
> > ********************************************************************
> > From: marcos Date: July 30, 2010 4:06:57 PM PDT
> > To: YASMIN DISCUSSIONS Subject: Re: [Yasmin_discussions] hybrid city as
> > interface
> > Hello all,
> > I've been following the various Yasmin discussions with fascination for
> > some time now. Congratulations to everyone for making this one of the
> > informed, thoughtful, and intriguing fora for discussions of art and new
> > media. Alas, though I've been tempted to jump in several times, I've just
> > been too busy to do so. This time, though, between the topic and season,
> > can't resist. Here goes:
> > ...
> > The topic of the "hybrid city" is timely and important. Many projects and
> > events have been taking place around the world, indicating a renewed
> > interest in the city. This time around, the terms seem to have changed --
> > these aren't the statistically-driven but morphologically bland urban
> > planning discussions of old ("old" doesn't have to be that old, these
> > -- a recent Venice Biennale of Architecture took on the theme of the city
> > from a statistical vantage point and tried to let the numbers and graphs
> > speak for themselves. They didn't.) The discussions today are energized
> > activated by the overlay of several issues that carry a new urgency:
> > locative media and technologies, social networking,
> > the-city-as-display-and-interface, sustainability and ecological
> > globalization, and also a new sense of empowerment to affect the design
> > cities via algorithmic design, computer controlled fabrication, new
> > materials, and the addition of increasing "intelligence," both local and
> > remote, to what was previously inert form. Of course, one can't have new
> > cities without new citizens, so one of the major factors is the coming of
> > age of a new population that has assumed ubiquitous connectivity and
> > computation from birth. The rise of this group has meant that the inertia
> > resistance that characterized much of the parent generation is rapidly
> > replaced by a dizzying forward momentum by the offspring generation.
> > These and other topics have spurred various voices to try to articulate
> > new conditions of the city. Indeed, acting across Los Angeles and Vienna,
> > the MAK Center, and, in particular, the MAK UFI (Urban Future
> > has just published a book of new "Urban Future Manifestos."
> > For this book, Peter Noever invited numerous voices around the world to
> > each contribute a manifesto. I am one of the authors called upon to write
> > such a manifesto. It was quite a challenge to write a manifesto in the
> > century, but, in the end, it was a clarifying and refreshing exercise. I
> > wish I could share it with this group, but, due to the publication
> > agreement, I can't make the full text available to the discussion right
> > (but may be able to do so soon, if there is interest). In the meantime, I
> > can direct your attention to the book (which, in any case, contains many
> > more manifestos pertinent to this discussion!). I've included some
> > additional information about the book below.
> > ...
> > Now, to the them of "hybrid" and the hope for converging upon a
> > I would argue that perhaps a definition might only close down an argument
> > that is better left open. The specific term "hybrid" actually contains
> > to the problem I am drawing attention to. A "hybrid" is a creature that
> > the offspring of two related but separate species (which is what appeals
> > all of us in this discussion) but, which, critically, is unable to
> > further on its own. Hybrids are sterile, most often. This morning, in the
> > news, there was word of a new "zedonk" being born in captivity at the
> > Chestatee Wildlife Preserve in Dahlonega, Georgia. The "zedonk" is a
> > of a zebra and a donkey. It is also known as a "zonkey" or, more to the
> > point, a "zebra mule." Mules of various kinds cannot reproduce. For all
> > their utility to humans, we must bring together horses and donkeys to
> > them. Other hybrids like "ligers" and "tions" suffer the same fate.
> > A "hybrid city" thus suggests that some combinations may be attractive
> > useful and yet not sustainable (and I don't just mean this in terms of
> > energy or materials, I mean it culturally and civilizationally) -- and,
> > since we are speaking of living things -- unable to continue to evolve.
> > would be preferable, I think, is not to settle on a term, but to try to
> > understand what principles might be necessary to restore and provide for
> > richness and ever-growing diversity. In my own discourse of
> > I focus on "speciation" -- not the making of hybrids between species, but
> > the construction of ecologies within which genuine, stable, and
> > ever-evolving new species can proliferate.
> > This isn't just a semantic quibble or a fussiness about this word or
> > The difference is real and structural, and hinges on the specific and
> > construction of openness. To give a single example that can ground that I
> > mean this technically, let me add this: we all know about genetic
> > by now. A genetic algorithm may evolve by mutating its own genes, but,
> > unless it actually has the ability to extend its own genome (that is to
> > modify and extend the set of genes whose values are able to mutate), it
> > can't produce anything but variations of the same kind -- it can never
> > produce new kinds, or new species. A closed genome is an industrial-age
> > artifact, focused on optimization. What is needed is a post-industrial
> > construct able to alter itself as it proliferates.
> > Not fixating on a closed hybridity, and instead focusing on the provision
> > of conditions and flexible, mutating structures that ensured the
> > of new species of urbanism and urban life would be a start, but would not
> > the all that we could strive for. Another problem remains.
> > ...
> > The next issue, I think, has to do with how we still exist within
> > structures and value systems that can produce variety without producing
> > difference, and, especially positive difference, by multiple definitions.
> > Guy Debord pointed this out in "The Society Of The Spectacle," and, as
> > as I can tell, we have yet to extricate ourselves from that maze.Whether
> > have 500 channels of unwatchable television or a trillion documents
> > does not matter if everything is motivated by an indifference to quality,
> > and a subjugation of every effort at qualitative assessment to a
> > simple-minded and perceptually and intellectually impoverished logic of
> > counting -- more is better, and that's that. To put it plainly -- it is
> > that we cannot build better cities -- it is that we don't have the will
> > or, to strike more deeply, the value system for. Cities are mirrors, and
> > already have the cities that are the perfect reflections of our
> > values. If we wish to change them, we need to address the value systems
> > which we make urban decisions. Until we do, we will get technological
> > advances that look like visionary avant-garde propositions until they
> > arrive, but that will be commodified into glorified high-technology
> > marketing delivery mechanisms in lived fact -- "cool" for a few minutes
> > (generously), and then abrasive and tiresome, not really pleasant to live
> > in, and next to impossible to thrive in.
> > The question then shifts to a multi-headed problem: how to provide a
> > constructive critique of our global culture and its values, how to assert
> > positive and constructive alternatives, and how to literally structure
> > poetic and technological efforts to realize those alternatives. The
> > I find the most vexing is the problem of values. In our community and on
> > this forum, we are all dedicated to imagining and designing alternatives
> > but the real brick wall is not our ability to imagine and design in
> > and exquisite detail what would be good and beautiful -- it is to emplace
> > our proposals in a culture that does not even seem to know how to value
> > them, let alone desire them and support them, even if the might appear to
> > cost more (though cost is not the real issue, quality is).
> > I love Venezia and have been there every year for over a decade, and, in
> > parallel, I've lived for over a decade in Venice, California. The
> > between the two cities is instructive. Venice, California is four times
> > bigger than the original, but, though interesting, nowhere near as rich
> > wonder as La Serenissima. One is a human treasure. The other is pleasant
> > beach-town with an unusual origin. Venice, California started off as an
> > effort to create a Venice-of-America, not from any organic will of its
> > citizens, but as a business proposition. Still, it was a pretty
> > effort. Abbot Kinney, the developer who created it, managed to keep it
> > going, in spite of curiously correlated pressure to build oil-wells and
> > arson, until his death, whereupon it was handed over to the City of Los
> > Angeles, which promptly filled in and paved the inconvenient canals,
> > (or, at least, character) be damned.
> > Even where a tangible effort was made to build a timidly unusual city, a
> > hybrid of America and Venezia, and even with a strong and clear precedent
> > mind, the value system of the society it was built within and for could
> > support what was offered. Venice-of-America was not culturally
> > because people simply did not care enough to keep it going. The original
> > Venetians had lesser technology but stronger urban values, and they
> > consciously named their city after Venus, goddess of beauty, and then
> > every effort to make it beautiful. There are places in Venezia where five
> > bridges (almost) intersect. One would have been enough, but five, in
> > counterpoint, are more beautiful, and, though more costly then as now,
> > people chose beauty. All we seem to know to do now is consume beauty, as
> > tourists, not make it, at least at the level of urban will and the public
> > realm. Until we address this, we will do the same with technology, and
> > hybrid city will not be what we really wish it to be.
> > ...
> > Interface? To what? From what? From whom? Toward whom? Of what sort of
> > benefit? Of benefit to whom?
> > ...
> > The questions multiply from here. I can't even begin to outline them in
> > this response. My manifesto offers suggestions and directions, but it is
> > best to leave the questions hanging, and, hopefully, to have many of us
> > engage them. The problem of the city is the problem of "us" -- of how we
> > construct ourselves as a community and a public and how we come to value
> > build the public good. It is the "demos" in democracy. In these troubled
> > times, it may be the most important question of all.
> > Marcos
> > p.s. Some more information about Urban Future Manifestos"
> > Urban Future Manifestos calls upon leading creative thinkers to address
> >> urgent questions about the future of the contemporary city. Contributing
> >> architects, artists, designers, and urban scholars from around the globe
> >> consider the city from a variety of positions and posit their unique and
> >> inspiring visions. Urban Future Manifestos was produced by the MAK Urban
> >> Future Initiative (UFI), which was founded to generate concepts for the
> >> urban future by stimulating international dialogue.
> >> Urban Future Manifestos includes texts by UFI fellows Marco
> >> Urban Think Tank, Ismail Farouk, Xiangning Li, Alexia Leon, Pages (Babak
> >> Afrassiabi and Nasrin Tabatabai), and Alaa Khaled and Salwa Rashad are
> >> featured. Other contributors include Beatriz Colomina, Teddy Cruz, Dana
> >> Cuff, Keller Easterling, Gregor Eichinger, Nnamdi Elleh, ATOPIA: Jane
> >> Harrison and David Turnbull, Zvi Hecker, Gustaff Harriman Iskander,
> >> Anwar Jahangeer, Bernard Khoury, Norman Klein, Herbert Lachmayer, Rick
> >> Mehret Mandefro, Marcos Novak, Edgar Pieterse, Travis Price, Robert
> >> Christian Reder, Karl-Henrik Robèrt, Saskia Sassen, Felicity Scott,
> >> AbdouMaliq Simone, Edward Soja, Michael Sorkin, Jonathan Tel, Tezozomoc,
> >> Wei Wei, Eyal Weizman, Lebbeus Woods. Graphic design by Axel
> >> Prichard-Schmitzberger.
> >> http://makcenter.org/MAK_Bookstore.php#
> > _________________________________________________________
> > Marcos Novak, Professor
> > Director, transLAB
> > http://translab.mat.ucsb.edu
> > University of California, Santa Barbara
> > MAT: Media Art and Technology Program
> > CNSI: California NanoSystems Institute
> > Art: Department of Art
> > _________________________________________________________
> > _______________________________________________
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> Martin Rieser
> Professor of Digital Creativity
> De Montfort University
> IOCT/Art and Design
> The Gateway, Leicester LE1 9BH
> 44 +116 250 6146
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