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Informationalizing Space: Lebbeus Woods and Photosynth

Speaker: Andy Engel, Wayne State University. Moderator: Madeleine Clare Elish, MIT. Abstract: When physical space is digitized, tagged, and reassembled, as in Microsoft's photo-stitching technology Photosynth, it is likewise reified, extended, and damaged. The byproduct of this digital reassembly resonates with Aleksandra Wagner's description of the work of conceptual architect Lebbeus Woods: "What is of interest are not the objects destroyed, but the inability or impossibility to see the world differently without destroying them." For Woods, spatial violence is an opportunity for learning how to re-inhabit damaged spaces in non-traditional and non-mimetic ways. How, then, do the new spatial relationships of Photosynth, which are communally atomized and reassembled, challenge how we communicate and cohabitate in physical space? Re-habitation following informational violence becomes a uniquely powerful concept for interrogating the processes and products involved in collectively transmediating space and information. This presentation will investigate how the spatialization of information—using the reconstituted images and arrangement of physical space—leads to a reciprocal informationalizing of space. Digital and physical spaces, I will show, enter into a relationship of remediation, each responding to and affecting the other as the result of the logics and violence of information. By putting Photosynth in conversation with Woods, I will interrogate how the violence of transmediation causes us to inhabit information differently, and, equally, how it causes us to access physical space in new ways as well.

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July 14, 2010 15:18
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