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Themesicon: navigation pathMapping and Texticon: navigation pathBeyond the Archive
The Legible City (Shaw, Jeffrey), 1988IO_dencies (Knowbotic Research), 1997Wegzeit (Offenhuber, Dietmar), 2000

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Shaw's «Legible City» builds urban architecture using letters, thus rendering spatial data into symbolically readable data; however, this aesthetics of navigable space is based on the idea of an ethics of the virtual, i.e. virtual worlds (should) keep a memory of their corresponding counterpart in the real world, recoding this aura. [5] But if anything at all of virtual space is rooted in the real world, it is the materiality of the computing device itself; [6] 3D spaces always autopoetically reflect the graphic power of SGI workstations. If there is space, then it is in hardware architecture. Is the wiring of microchips already «mapping»? Flow charts in programming surely mean diagrams; but the autobooting mechanism, which allows computers to start at all, is «burnt into silicon and thus form[s] part of the hardware.» [7]

An alternative model has been developed by the media art group Knowbotic Research under the idea of non-locatedness online. Their «IO_dencies» project on rebuilding a Tokyo neighborhood is a data-clouded challenge to the mapping paradigm. Truly cybernetic architecture, thought from within the medium of computing and not referring primarily to interface


design, no longer represents anything—or rather, for human senses only, remetaphorized in interface design. The digital is neither necessarily coupled to spatial or humanoid metaphors nor is it bound to verticality or horizontality as is the human body (the theatrical paradigm of «computers as theatre,» according to Brenda Laurel). Lev Manovich points to the difference between isotrope space (which is mathematical, Cartesian, logical) and anthropological, relative notions of space (see «Wegzeit» by Dietmar Offenhuber, below [8] ); most cyberspatial interfaces or computer games try to undo this difference. From a media-archaeological perspective, why not accentuate this man/machine difference in interface design, arriving at a media culture which at last acknowledges that the logic of computing is not alien to human intuition, but rather dis-covers (with Alan Turing) human cognition as a mathematical machine itself?

Mapping as mathematical topology

Cyberspace is fundamentally spaceless, or rather a media theorization of space. It is purely relational, thus not representative in terms of mapping. Geometries are

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