The Legible City is one of the major works of the Australian media artist Jeffrey Shaw and a milestone of 1990s interactive media art. With this groundbreaking digital installation, Shaw explores the connections between the physical and the virtual realms.
In The Legible City the visitor is able to ride a stationary bicycle through a simulated representation of a city that is constituted by computer-generated three-dimensional letters that form words and sentences along the sides of the streets.
Using the ground plans of actual cities - Manhattan, Amsterdam and Karlsruhe - the existing architecture of these cities is completely replaced by textual formations.
Travelling through these cities of words is consequently a journey of reading; choosing the path one takes is a choice of texts as well as their spontaneous juxtapositions and conjunctions of meaning.
The handlebar and pedals of the interface bicycle give the viewer interactive control over direction and speed of travel.
The physical effort of cycling in the real world is gratuitously transposed into the virtual environment, affirming a conjunction of the active body in the virtual domain.
A video projector is used to project the computer-generated image onto a large screen.
Another small monitor screen in front of the bicycle shows a simple ground plan of each city, with an indicator showing the momentary position of the cyclist.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is a Mexican-Canadian electronic artist who works with ideas from architecture, technological theater and performance.
Vectorial Elevation" is an interactive art project originally designed to celebrate the arrival of the year 2000 in Mexico City's Zócalo Square.
The website www.alzado.net enabled any Internet user to design light sculptures over the city's historic centre, with eighteen searchlights positioned around the square. These searchlights, whose powerful beams could be seen within a 15 kilometers radius, were controlled by an online 3D simulation program and visualised by digital cameras. A personalised webpage was produced for every participant with images of their design and information such as their name, dedication, place of access and comments.
These web pages were completely uncensored, allowing participants to leave a wide variety of messages, including love poems, football scores, Zapatista slogans and twenty-seven marriage proposals. In Mexico, the project attracted 800,000 participants from 89 countries over the course of its two-week duration.
Carsten Nicolai and Marko Peljhan refer to Stanislaw Lem’s science fiction novel Solaris (also Andrei Tarkovsky’s film adaptation, as a source of inspiration for their own work).
In their digital art installation called Polar which premiered at the Canon ARTLAB Exhibition, Tokyo, 2000, they recreate dataspace in a physical environment. They are ultimately exploring how to create a responsive “intelligent environment”.
The ocean on the uncharted planet Solaris in Lem’s novel is a mirror that reflects human desires, and hints at the paradox of the expedition into the unknown as an exploration of mankind itself.
Polar interprets the exploration of the ocean as an investigation into human existence in the information society in the year 2000, and questions the modes and ideas we may formulate in our future explorations of an increasingly unknown planet Earth composed of data.
Arranged in the exhibition space are several devices related to radiation and electromagnetic waves, and in the back, two cubic structures.
They function as self-sustaining creation systems, and illustrate the phenomenon of earth and cosmic radioactivity and electromagnetic waves, both man made and natural.
The spatial transformations manifested in elaborate motion graphics and sounds disclose new views of earth and cosmic radiation and radiance data.
Adrift was an evolving multi-location Internet performance event that combined movement through 3D space, multiple narratives and richly textured sound streaming between virtual and real geographies.
Adrift can be imagined as lying in a therapeutic floatation tank surrounded by projected images and light. Adrift, works somewhere between theater, cinema, and 'drifting' or 'surfing' the web. The work creates a connection between virtual and real geographies by mixing imagery recorded by cameras in public spaces with virtual 3D spaces, along with text and sound.
Making use of the output of 3 VRML cameras, Adrift was received by three computers and projected by three projectors onto a semicircular screen. The work focused on multiple journeys through a harbor and through virtual space.