Infospace: Hybridizing a physical space with its info-representational other
King, Jon Alexander
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Our built environment is being sterilized, supplanted, and erased by its competitor. Interactive satellite maps, Google Streetview, and social geolocative services have begun to generate a convincing alternative landscape for us to co-navigate. Yet, to our dismay, we can still feel the difference between what we see on the computer screen and what we physically inhabit. This is a distinction which will soon be erased. Display technology has leapt from the desk into our pockets almost without our notice. It's something we now carry everywhere. It may pull itself literally over our eyes with devices such as Google Glass. Indeed, the great attraction of these mobile and wearable interfaces is that they blur the boundary between displayed content and embodied experience. We seem to desire, at least once in a while, to live in a Google map. Our mobile devices, meanwhile, are serving to develop an alternative digital realm of past activities linked to the physical spaces we use. Location data has emerged as a 21st-century resource which is ever more valuable. We've internalized this wealth and have begun to track our locations and events ourselves. When we do so, we reduce our situational history to statistical data, which is then conflated with lived experience. With each new point of data available for our review, we feel that we've learned more about our lives and habits, and those of our friends and neighbors. The systems for revisiting these moments deceive us. We begin to believe that we are omniscient, or even omnipresent. We will expect to use infoSpace as a tool, take advantage of it, and emerge unscathed. We imagine ourselves as trans-dimensional masters who travel between realities and extract the best from each. Symbolically, our world will grow much richer, as we surround ourselves with icons, thumbnails, and captions of abbreviated past experiences. Our mental maps will be written for us in a reality digest that generates its own paths, edges, districts, nodes, and landmarks. We will become desensitized to our own mental maps. As we move toward augmented reality, walls will lose their mass, and eyes will be free to wander across a landscape of desire. New Babylon will come without announcing itself. We will no longer call the physical world our home. As far as we know, it will have been transformed. We will live in infoSpace. An interactive installation which demonstrates a stylized augmented reality has been made to develop a narrative of how a physical space can be screened and replaced by its representational other. This effect has been reconstructed in drawings which contrast this narrative of future use with past and existing architectural paradigms.