Sunday, June 12, 2011

Analog database

city as an analogue database

I am very happy that I've seen this poster, because it changed my perception of the city. In my translation:

Inside the "global village" the city is an analog database. All urban architecture and all architectural elements, from bus shelters to transformer houses are potential carriers of information, images and adventure. Logo's, brand names, billboards, marquees, murals, graffiti and stickers have transformed the city into a mass medium.

Amidst its overkill of media and information the metropolitan area requires a new talent from its users: the ability to learn to read the city. Information must be filtered from the noise: how do we "hack" the codes of public space? How do we transform the noise into pink noise?

But my interpretation of this text by Siebe Thissen is slightly different. The original meaning of the text is that the city surfaces have become carriers for human-created information. My personal interpretation is that the city itself is a storage vat of regional history that can be decoded by practising deep topography (1).

For example, below are two pages from the city's stone book of recorded events (2). The writing is beautiful, asemic (3) and reminiscent of Chinese calligraphy. Does it contain a message from the city? Is it decodable? Can we learn to read it?  Or is it only accessible through the imagination, like Kafka's message from the emperor (4):

But you sit at your window and dream to yourself of that message when evening comes.

De Hofbogen - the poster series containing the analog database
De bekladde stad  - the original text of "the besmirched city" by Siebe Thissen - PDF format
Analog computer - the "analog database" does not really exist in practice, but it is a beautiful idea
[1] The concepts of "storage vats of regional history" and "deep topography" have been coined by Nick Papadimitriou. Video clip here and here.
[2] A shameless rip-off of the "stone tape theory".
[3] Some examples of asemic writing: thenewpostliteratewikipedia asemic writing.
[4] Kafka: an imperial message.

No comments:

Post a Comment