'the medium is the
McLuhan, understanding media
In his writings, McLuhan develops a media determinism based on technological innovations as fundamental vectors of civilization processes. Technology is not conceived as an external or alien object, but as complete extensions. It complements integrally our sensitive apparatus; as a medium, it thus conditions not only communication modes but also the way we perceive and conceive our environment. As Marshall McLuhan underlines, communication and computation technologies are all related to a proper structure, transmitting, apart from a specific message, its own significance. Consequently, the signification of the message depends not only on the intentions of the author, but also on this meta-construction, which, independently from the subjective intentions, determines the field of communication.
Like any media, they produce an auto referential development of communication systems, of specific codes and symbols as well as their own transmission channels and their own modes of participation and interaction, new cognitive and sensory experience, through which the society constitutes its functional subsystems as well as its conceptual, semantic and informative inscriptions which influence our space-time representations. As extensions of human capacities and senses, media thus reconfigure and anticipate the transformation processes of the very society that created them influencing not only social and psychic behavior patterns, mental structures of thought (knowledge and memory) and cognitive settings but also their forms of representation such as architecture and town planning. Obviously, if they have such effects on our society, communication and computation technologies are not meaningless technical supports, and the passage from analogical to digital technology can directly be related to the transformation of an industrial society to a post-industrial society, from modernity to trans-modernity.
"The science of endophysics claims that the world as it is given to us is only a cut, an interface, a difference inside what is real (the whole). This has some powerful implications, including the possibility to change the whole world (i.e. the interface world). "
Otto E.Rössler ,"the world as an accident" in the art of the accident, NAI Publisher, page.172
According to Otto Rössler, the world ' is not the world in which we live' but the interface through which we perceive and act, and the electronic realm induced by computation and communication technologies are not ' the world of data and information' in which we are brought to live because the real world 'doesn't function anymore', but the interface to a set of symbolic and expressive 'processes'. Consequently, O.Rössler describes a system depending on the particular observer position for which the projected universe is perceived through one among many possible cuts, an interface. This relationship between the observer and the external world through an interface is a determining factor, since a microscopic change inside the observer's world can drastically modify the interface and thus the perception and conception, the cognitive and mental set , whereas the universe as a whole remains unchanged by this fact. It is a transmitted reality, depending on the interfaces, as a condition of 'assignment' which determines the models and concepts of reality. In fact, the medium determines and controls the scale and the forms of human associations and actions as well as their forms of representation. The interface thus affects the relationship between man and the external world, thereafter extending the notion of interface to the very human senses and spirit, the brain, from senses (perception) to senses (cognitive and mental set of signification).
"Media, by altering the environment, evoke in us ratios of sense perceptions. The extension of any one sense alters the way we think and act - the way we perceive the world. When these ratios change men change."
Marshal McLuhan, playboy interview march 1969 http://www.mcluhanmedia.com/mmclpb01.html
Mc Luhan's quotation underlines the close relationship between our sensitive apparatus and technological extensions of our body, our functions, which directly conditions our perception and behaviour, the psychic and social effects. In this manner technology constitutes the interface to the external world. Otto Rössler, like Marshall McLuhan (" the medium is the message "), starts thus from the fact that the interfaces determine our perception, conception and practice of space. In this manner new technologies are the confrontation between what man regards as possible and what the machines present as feasible. Technologies thus permanently shift the relation between the possible (potential) and the feasible (functional), where the construct of the real constitutes such a "negotiation" between the potential and the functional, being constantly reformulated according to technological progresses. The cut, (assignment condition) can thus be modified by technology, augmenting cognition and perception through multiple potentialities. These considerations lead us to conceive the conditions of assignment in a broader form, such as Marcos Novak describes them through the concept of the screen display - ' screening':
learn through a logic of selective reductions :
projections, screens, interfaces are at the same time reductions and
clarifications of worlds in the broad sense, with which we never have direct
contact. Any reality, including self-knowledge, is only available through the
mediation of interfaces and screens: the projection of senses, sensorial and
hermeneutic filtrations, personal and political veilings. The very question of
conception and representation itself is an incommensurable question of
Novak classifies interfaces, screens, as filters acting as follows: · the sensitive screen constituted by our nervous system, synaptic networks, filters and membranes, perceiving a small section of a broader spectrum, or a congruous caption of the rough data constituting our environment · the cognitive screen of our interest compared to world, building our piece of knowledge constrained by the filter and the magnifying glass of our temporary attention ;· the faciality screen (representation and self-knowledge), our face being screens which veil and unveal identity, the character and the expression with the double purpose to mask and become, protection and vision.
They include our skin and its echoes as the ontological set of our self (clothing, architectures, avatars…) - the psychological screens of intersubjective and social reflections, identity constructs and political representation. This assignment of significance transforms all objects into subjects of our conscience.
In a significant manner, this transformation erases the distinctions between physical artefacts and symbolic ones, 'expressions'. For instance, the distinction between a brick and its image becomes a question of perception and cognition, semantic inscriptions, rather than a pre-determined polarity between reality and simulation, reality versus virtuality. Consequently, Novak's classification extends the concept of the 'assignment condition' from sensual perception to the shared and mental conscience, the conceptual one.
"We tend to believe that something is assumed to be real if there is a consensus about it. Reality becomes a problem of inter-subjectivity.You know, in Antiquity, the Unicorn was real because there was a consensus about its existence. It is no longer real because there is no longer any consensus concerning the Unicorn."
Vilém Flusser, interviewed by Miklos Peternak http://www.c3.hu/events/97/flusser/participantstext/miklos-interview.html
The extension of the assignment condition between the perceptible and conceptual to the consensual enables us to tackle the question of interface as a construction between what Gibson's calls the 'consensual hallucination' and the 'cyborg', between the technological extension of our self, mental space and interconnection of individuals and the set of reality (consensual hallucination). Consequently, technologies are not only direct extensions of the body, they also influence our mental processes by influencing the symbolic (representation), psychic and social constructs.
"To say that the images we now produce are simulations does not make much sense. Concretely they affect us just like objects do. This is my constant, let's say, dialogue with Baudrillard. Baudrillard believes that we are living in a world where the simulations hide reality. I think this is a nonsensical proposition. I believe that we are in the middle of a world which is either concrete or abstract. And those images are just as concrete as is the table on which your machine is standing now. We do not have any ontological tool any longer to distinguish between a simulation and a non-simulation."
Vilém Flusser, interviewed by Miklos Peternak, http://www.c3.hu/events/97/flusser/participantstext/miklos-interview.html
The introduction of the ontology description, set, of our self is directly related to the question of interface described by modern phenomenology, conceptualising the real as 'transmission' of information, and particularly on stimulation of our sensitive apparatus. It is the computation of stimulations - inputs which determines our concept of the real, an ontology based on communication processes and the comprehension of their respective synthesis in images, feelings... This process is operated by our nervous system inside which the electromagnetic signals are interpreted by the brain into images, odours, feelings... what we call perception is determined by this process. We do not perceive the world instantaneously but transform 'inputs' into perception. Reality thus is a parameter of transmission and computation. Consequently computation and communication technologies are extensions of our body anticipating mental and cognitive processes; they are the essential interface of world settings, instruments of the construct of an active space-time.
" Trough the sensory experiences, stimulation
became one of the main vectors of interaction and active space".
Marshal McLuhan, playboy interview march 1969
The stimulations caused by information technologies are described in McLuhan's "hot and cool media ". Introducing the stimulation of our nervous system as a parameter of the qualification of a media / technology determines their participative potential. McLuhan characterizes the ' cool media' by low definition and intense participation (e.g: a comic strip) and the ' hot media' by a high definition and a low participation (a photography). This distinction is characterized by the implication of the user in the process of inFORMation. In the case of a medium with weak definition, the user takes part in the formalization process of the contents, he/she is thus stimulated, mentally and emotionally active, while in the case of a high definition medium the user becomes a reactive witness.
The main interest in McLuhan's definition of hot and cool media lies in the qualification of interactivity according to stimulation, including these mental and cognitive processes. Qualifying stimulation in the case of the real defines the active space as a ' cold media', built by interactive and participative interfaces. Digital technologies develop relational systems, determined by a high degree of interactivity and immersion, thus gathering the parameters of an active space. Creating an interface is thus programming human characteristics and behaviours inside the electronic space. The interaction requires a stimulation of the sensitive system - a sensory and mental experience. The interface, related to the assignment condition sets up a relational system in which the cyberspace takes the form of an experimental space, as much through mental processes as through the direct and sensual interaction with information.
The increasing implication of communication and information technologies in the process of production and knowledge leads to the fundamental re-thinking of the organization and the definition of space. Technology based on the transmission and computation of information influences organization models (modes of production, of work and of knowledge) and affects the communication process (code, symbol) and the social relations as well as their specialization. The affectation of traditional articulations between information, space and time leads to the augmenting need to flatten the electronic realm into intelligible space settings.
If, as all communication systems, new technologies induce a transmission channel (signal-medium), a message (information) and a code, their property is to operate on any kind of information, even space, a reduction in a sequence of elementary information coded in a binary language, 0/1 or bit/second. But contrary to its analog counterparts within which information was materially fixed on a medium, digital media celebrates the loss of inscription; it is the transposition of all stable "FORM" into transmissible and editable "inFORMation".
In electronic media, proximity is no longer a concept of space but of time. The instant access to information thus reconfigures the concept of proximity to a question of temporal proximity, instantaneity. Space has turned into a transmissible parameter, a variable of time defining our environment as a mediated device. The implosion of space in favor to time redefines all forms of space experiences by 'here and now' ( hic and nunc). As information is inseparably related to human experience, communication processes through binary codes projects our experience and conception of real in digital media. As extension of our sensible and sensitive capacities new technologies of information and communication transforms our perception (sense) and conception (cognition) of ourselves as physical entity defined by spacetime. Spacetime thus operates as referent proper to our mental and cognitive understanding - to our ontological definition.
Information processes are space-time constructs based on communication and computation technologies inscribing our experiences in a hypercontextualisation where instantaneity, expanded to the global network reconfiguring space by transforming our representations sub-symbolic - mental and cognitive scripts.
In relation to >INFORMation< processes, metadesign is Information architecture, related to the structuring of information and its textual, graphical, spatial, biomorphic transcription and interfacing based on the inherent logics of computation and communication technology in networked societies.
Metadesign deals with the setting of new 'senses' as components of language, while improving, increasing our cognitive capacities and influencing in a major way our psychic state (conscience), our emotional and social behavior and thus takes part as much in the individual project than the collective. Consequently in the field of new media, it is important to understand the relation established between perception (the use of senses), recognition, comprehension and the representation (the extraction of sense/meaning), and the action that is resulted (production of sense/meaning).
In this manner, information architecture deals with intelligible electronic constructs not only as modalities of perception and cognition, but as mental and psychic settings of behavior, ontological concerns, as well as the production of active and functional space settings, spaces of intervention within the constitution of e.SPACE CONSTRUCTions.
Metadesign is information architecture as a mental
and behavior pattern in electronic space, where media
determinism is understood as the overcome of representation (<>'enaction') and metaphors (<>structures and processes)
in shared environments and their social settings. In this manner it deals with
information as meta-inscription, rather than an output of interpretation - and
data as objective reality rather than information as narrative and simulation.
In this manner 'metadesign' displays the theme of new
space constructs relative to information processes, as the formalizations of
communication and computation processes according to social, semantic and
spatial structures (architecture) as much as on the level of language (code,
structure) in order to build up connectivity and effectiveness.
It is a definition of 'info-architecture' as the constitution of codes/languages drawn from concepts of communication and information sciences with that of architecture.
', ... we already live in a rhizomatic
multiplicity of globally mediated mind spaces.'
The weakness of the concept of 'territoriality' and the dematerialization/inscription of signs operated by networked computation technologies, even more leads to the loss of economical, political, social and cultural signification of the local space in favor of new (less 'space' than 'information' related) identities and social cohesion models. As the condensation of space increasingly affects the definition of urbanity; urbanism can no longer be focused on material 'appearance' and 'representation', but has to deal with dislocated, disembodied and transmissible systems. The classical question of articulating public and private space, localizing boundaries and identifying built entities, is now a question of being in a dynamic space(s)-time(s) matrix of connectivity, interaction and imagination. The opposition of real space and virtual space has turned into an inefficient model to describe environmental conditions. The association of information structures and processes with the urban structures and infrastructure flows widens the comprehension of the relation between space-time and information, as well as their multiple implications in behavior and space settings. In opposite to space-based concepts in the digital universe, the increase of information flows and its condensation of space define urbanity as a media. The urban density (congestion) is thus more of a mediated, rather than material setting, being formed by condensing information. Consequently, the social model ' city' changes from a ' static' and localized state into a delocalised and temporal condition of connectivity; a hyper infrastructure generating and generated by material and immaterial flows.
manner the shift of the traditional understanding of material body space to a conditon of fluctual information
fields, hyper[text]ures, transforms the urban model
into a system of interwoven information supports that leads to the increasing
need to flatten the electronic realm to the social and political one.
To describe the city as a relational field is the cogent causality of a formal thinking, perceiving space as a differentiated interactive matrix, a dislocated media of bit.second.
The city as a n-dimensional matrix is no longer a common space but a fragmented matrix of multi-temporalities and multi-spatiality's opposing the different forms of urbanity. In the combination of the local and global into a 'glocal' environment the social parameter of space might be the most crucial factor, accessibility and intelligibility of information its focal point - a question of interface.
The interfacing of communication and computation systems, metadesign, transposes these processes in order to built up expressive and symbolic social exchanges - and how these interfaces can be the mean of politics, economics, tectonics… according to the urban field. The networked and digital space is thus not an external space, reality, but an interface of our very understanding according to space-time parameters.
Hypermodernity might be understood, in an unbroken relation with modernity, as continuous transition of our body in accelerated spacetime's, environment that can be transmitted and shared. The blurring of the borders between cyberspace and body space and the fact that it constitutes a new space of intervention and activity has to be seen as the first shared reality since the physical setting of space.
very technological point of view, hypertext is a system of information
organization and transmission based on computation processes (code) and their
interconnection settings (structure / networks). Hypertext is a communication
media of spatially organized data, ensuring the transmission of information,
composed of multiple inter-connected fragments; woven in a network using
It is not only a communication technology delivering specific messages, it forms a real meta-language throughout its code and metaconstruction, primary set up through the encoding/decoding and transfer process.
As Meta language the hypertext incorporates contents and links but also the instructions necessary to its own editing (presentation/representation), to its encoding/decoding (standard of alphabet/language, protocol of transfer) and to its indexing. The hypertext 's characteristic is that each sign, each color, each hyperlink is included in its structure and contributes to the construction of meaning. If the technology itself signifies the manner to formulate and to understand a message, the hypertext as a medium goes beyond in representing through its intertextual and rhizomatic structure, cognitive and mental relationships a production of thought patterns that functions by association (hyperlink).
The hyperlink brings to productive introduction of the user in the system of interconnection (interactivity) and as a system of 'enaction' the hypertext found relation between thought and action. Hypertext becomes thus a language of productive action based on cognitive and mental processes, which enacts significance proper to neuronal operation models. The hypertext as behavioural system based on mental and cognitive processes (neuronal) affects as much the social body (language) than the individual (interaction). As language (code) it not only reconfigures patterns of thought (signification - semantics) but also our senses (perception).
As a polysemic support of scattered but interconnected fragments the hypertext substitutes the hierarchical and material conception of space by a rhizomatic and interactive formalisation of intersubjective communication (network). The hypertext has thus become the emblematic model of a reticular (rhizomatic) thinking, replacing the classical hierarchical conception of relations (analytical sequences) into a system of interrelated fragments based on complex dynamic processes inside the digital media.
Hypertextures formed by interconnected codes and systems therefore questions the signification of space and its shift to hybrid spaces-times within the digital media. The hypertext as a semantic structure of language includes communication and computation processes determining a space-time experience of the digital medium. Through the instant editing related to inFORMation processes and structures, the hypertext projects an active / interactive experience of space flows as a space composed and decomposed by data and the flows that generate them. As the notion of flow is necessarily subordinated to the concepts of space and time, the hypertext can be described as a space-time system which dynamic state results from InFormation processes.
'Hypertextu(r)al environments' can thus be defined as the comparison between communication modes (the hypertext) and spatial constructs ( architecture and urbanism ) which allows us to ponder on possible spatial and semantic transformations of these spacetime systems according to the implications of new communication and information technologies. In this manner they deal with the specific inscription of information processes and the modalities of their transcription in order to render information processes into active space settings, necessary for each social setting.
As a new synthesis between communication, technology and space, they mark the transition from a structural thinking to a thinking in systems and processes gathering processes of computation and communication in a coherent unified model and its transcription in textual, graphic form (two-dimensional), space (three-dimensional) and biomorph (auto-generative and n- dimensional) allows to think of the space and semantic transfers of architecture. It is thus about a definition of architecture like codes / joining together language of the concepts drawn from the communication, of the information sciences (connectivism and connexionism) with that of architecture.