[ISEA97] Panel: Peter Anders (moderator) – The Architecture of Cyberspace

Panel Statement

Architecture has undergone a wide range of changes over the past two decades. Whether as the result of new technologies or economic pressures, they force a reassessment of practice and its service to society. The tools for restructuring architects’ role in our culture are already in their hands. Computers, combined with the skills of trained professionals, offer opportunities far beyond their present application as drafting machines.
Using computers architects can now create artifacts which do not model future projects the way drawings do. Instead, these objects function as autonomous artifacts within cyberspace. Current examples of this are the interactive objects in computer games and the graphics used in Windows or Macintosh operating systems. Both represent useful artifacts created for media space. Neither require manifestation in the real world.
The future is likely to bring us a greater variety of these objects. Popular interest in virtual reality and the InterNet will encourage the development of more sophisticated 3D media interfaces. These objects, viewed collectively might form a landscape or urban terrain which will help users of cyberspace to orient themselves within the information environment. The spatial metaphor allows users to get a general sense of information rather than being lost in undifferentiated detail. The creation of meaningful space is the traditional terrain of architecture. The purpose of this symposium is to show how architects, artists and designers have been working to create the landmarks of cyberspace.

  • Peter Anders (U.S.A.) is an architect and information design theo­rist. He received his degrees from the University of Michigan (B.S.1976) and Columbia University (M.A.1982). Anders was a principle in an architectural firm in New York City until 1994. He has received numerous design awards for his work. He has since taught graduate level computer-based design studios and CAD at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan. He currently operates Anders Associates, an information architecture practice with a focus on spatializing networked computing. Anders has written extensively on the relationship between cyberspace and architecture. His focus has been on the cog­nitive space of computer networks, particularly multi-user domains (MUDS), their society and conceptual structure. His work has been featured in professional journals and he has presented his research in several venues including The New York Architectural League, Cyberconf, ACADIA, ACM-Multimedia, InterSymp and the World Future Society. He is currently writing a book for McGraw Hill entitled Envisioning Cyberspace, which presents strategies used by various artists, scientists and design professionals in creat­ing on-line spatial environments.
  • Gerhard Eckel (Germany) received his Ph.D.from the University of Vienna, Austria in 1989. He conducted his thesis research in the field of psychoacoustics at the Acoustics Research Laboratory of the Austrian Academy of Science. At the Musikhochschule in Vienna he studied Electroacoustic Music Composition with Dieter Kaufmann and Sound Engineering. In 1985, a scholarship from the European Committee brought him to the Institute for Sonology at the University of Utrecht,The Netherlands. In 1989 he joined IRCAM, the contemporary music department of the Pompidou Center in Paris, founded by Pierre Boulez.ln 1993 he was invited to work for a three-months period at ZKM Karlsruhe, Germany. At the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada he spent three months as a composer in residence in 1995. Since mid-1996 he works at GMD, the German National Research Center for Information Technology. Eckel is active as a researcher and composer in various fields and interdisciplinary contexts.At IRCAM he was involved in the development of sound synthesis and computer aided com­position systems.There he also conducted research on the relationship of art and technology. His current research activities at GMD include spatial sound rendering and sys­tems design for an integrated simulation of image and sound in VR. In his recent compositional work he concen­trates on music installations which he regards as an ideal presentation context for music with open form. He current­ly experiments with immersive environments as interfaces for audience-driven navigation in music compositions. Documentation on his scientific and artistic projects as well as some of his recent publications are available on-line.
  • Wladek Fuchs (U.S.A.) is a professor of architectural design at the University of Detroit-Mercy. With his students he has created an on-line urban development which is used to situate student projects and provide an interactive method for distance learning.
  • James Leftwich (U.S.A.) is Currently the Director of Orbit Design of Palo Alto, California. Leftwich has worked extensively on user-interface design, particularly in the area of spatial simulation. His use of the spatial metaphor aims to lower the threshold for the use of software.
  • Dirk Lusebrink (U.S.A.) is a computer programmer and member of Art+Com in Berlin. With collaborator Joachim Sauter, Lusebrink has developed a prototype for a film archiving system. Using a virtual reality interface, the system represents camera motion and views as 3D objects situated in CAD models of historic Berlin.
  • Marcos Novak (U.S.A.). Architect and artist, Novak is now a visiting professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a pioneer in the field of Virtual Reality and its implications for architecture and the arts. His work has been recognized world-wide.
  • Wolfgang Strauss (Germany) is an architect and media-artist in the field of Virtual Architecture and Interface Design. Founder of Virtual Worlds Studio in Briey, France, at the Centre de Recherche Corbusier, co-founder of Art+Com, Berlin. Currently he is a guest professor of interactive media stud­ies at the School of Fine Arts Saarbrücken, Germany. His body of work – produced with Monika Fleischmann – ­includes Berlin-Cyber City, Responsive Workbench, Rigid Waves, Liquid Views, among other interactive environ­ments. Strauss is a guest-researcher at the GMD Institute for Media Communication.
  • Nik Williams (U.S.A.). An artist working in New York City, Williams has worked extensively in the area of media and art. His recent work uses architectural forms and methods. He is an advisor in creating new media galleries and in the development of global communications strategies for the EEC.