Non-Locations/Event: Under Construction

Text fragments by Knowbotic Research, for the publication "Interfacing Realities," 1997.

Non-Locations/Event: Under Construction

Interfacing Realities

Knowbotic Research wish to emphasize that their texts should not be read as definitions. In this case the text fragments represent, like Knowbotic Research's projects, rather a means of constant questioning, destabilizing, opening up and condensing, with-out providing answers. In their projects Knowbotic Research do not deal with text-based realities and can therefore only formulate conjectures about conditions and qualities.


NL-1     Non-locations are a coequal part of urban realities. Non-locations are cross-sections, aggregates of multi-layered occurrences in physical and electronic space. Non-locations are non-homogeneous, fragmented, incomplete and at the same time they are continuous, hermetic and flowing. They blend the urban with the machinic. S11

NL-2     Non-locations cannot be represented on the surface, neither literally nor figuratively. They are ephemeral, and can only develop through forms of activities and collaborations with different realities that become possible in them (Interfacing Realities).

NL-3     In non-locations there is a constant fluctuation of compressed, distributed, granulated and self-annihilating information and data. They are modified and reworked by singular individual users. Out of this convergence of social and technological machine structures emerges a hybrid occurrence. It cannot be located nor does a factual enumeration of its possibilities do justice to its complexity. We are facing the indescribable.

NL-4     The confrontation with the indescribable has always been an aspect of architecture as well. The constructability of the (physically) unconstructable or the potential "presence of the absent" in architectural objects for instance are examples of differentiations that need not be deconstructed or solved per se in order to remain capable of acting. Accepting contradictions like the constructability of the unconstructable appears as a much more productive attitude, as it calls for more differences: e.g. the abolishment of the "separation between inside and outside" and the opening of the architecture towards the medialized space of non-locations. We then see "another kind of event, that positions itself between the sign and the subject."1 The fields of events however that are made possible by the potential of computer networks have one advantage over architecture: they coincide with the event itself. Or, in the words of Isabelle Stengers: "They don't explain themselves, they declare themselves."2 P06

NL-5     Knowbotic Research put forward testing grounds, possibilities of activity-oriented formations for discussion, in order to approach the phenomenon of non-locations. Changing and multiplying positions, transversal mobility through different systems and the ability to ignore questions of scale are characteristic operations which a user can perform in non-locations. If metaphors were introduced here, they would only serve to smooth over stimulating differences. They would have the effect of illustrations, which might conceal these non-locations and the occurrences taking place within them. P09

NL-6     Non-locations can best be compared with the sprawling urban structures of megapoles. However, the concept of a city is not introduced in order to get a grasp on complexities in data space. Non-locations are part of the city itself. In this sense, the urban is not something which is present separately in the real and in the virtual, but which exists in the interchange between systems that are supported by technology and systems that are not.


T-1     The technological developed from the confrontation between what man deems possible and what machines offer him as makeable. The interface between the possible (potential) and the makeable (functional) has to be reformulated time and again. Realities are constructions that negotiate between the potential and the functional. Technology offers extended possibilities for articulating transversal concepts and constructions of reality.

T-2     Technological models generate (virtual) phenomena and enable their experience. For instance: non-linearity, multi-dimensionality, acceleration, compression, multiple layers, poly-perspectives, multi-functionality ... However, we need intermediaries and interfaces for a dialog with this virtuality in order to vary our concepts of reality and to understand complex interactions.

T-3     The technological supports and enhances the subjectifying negotiation and behavior within manifold realities. It is this "other negotiation" that has to be researched, not the definition and re-invention of "new" hermetic forms of reality. In "Interfacing Realities" Knowbotic Research emphasizes INTERFACING, not REALITIES. Interfacing doesn't deal with negotiating between realities, but acts in a field of effects where the human and the machinic can no longer be easily distinguished. P07


IR-1     There are no two separate, isolated worlds which can be bridged, connected, interwoven and related in one, or at best two directions. The activity of "Interfacing Realities" therefore cannot be localized. "Interfacing Realities" are chains of actions, triggered by the "event-generating mechanism" as described by Stephen Perrella. This event-constituting force unfolds only when data space exists simultaneously and emancipated in relation to real space. Interfacing however, is not a homogenizing process that eliminates the specific components of the reality-data space aggregates. The qualities of these aggregates are a result of the collision between urban (which stand for the fragmented, discontinuous, incomplete) and technological fields (which stand for the closed, discrete).

IR-2     The interface is not a border. Z03 It is a field of fluctuating activities. Here, within this contextualizing, volatile qualities (differences) between the possible and the makeable may emerge. It is by working at and in the difference between the possible and the makeable that the room for agencies is opened up. The interface can have effects when it doesn't play games with the illusion of virtuality.

IR-3     Agencies - techniques of "Interfacing Realities" - are methods of intervention. The projects of Knowbotic Research present indications of reality constructs that invite interventions - but don't call for the construction of an entirely new world. Expectations of unknown, as yet unopened worlds, that need only be discovered and, be it metaphorically, described in order to be accessible to all, are inappropriate!


O-1     Knowbotic Research are against the idea of placing the new, the unknown, the surprising exclusively in data space. The interfacing of realities evolves from the collision of what is the unknown and unusual in both reality and data space.

O-2     The intangible also shows itself when having to operate in the face of failing action models, when dealing with complexities, when working in distributed fields of events, when confronted with unclear moments that emerge in the mixture of activity and passivity, when empirical conventions no longer apply.

O-3     The differences that are a result of the co-operation between the real space and the data space need to be given the chance to develop through interacting with them. If we smooth out these differences by using metaphors, we abandon the possibility to experiment offered by the existence of these non-locations.

O-4     Knowbotic Research do not wish to solve these differences. The projects of Knowbotic Research involve a co-operation with machines in the search for generic and open sets of rules. However, contrary to cybernetic principles, it is not the values which define the variables, but the rules themselves. This leaves the field open for the unplanned and the intangible to unfold their potential as events.


M-1     Metaphors are literary means that help us to approach the indescribable. If we disengage ourselves from language and insist upon the experiential, we should develop a metaphoric for said agencies and dynamics of behavior. Agencies however are subjective activities and cannot be communicated. The necessity of describability changes into the ability to be sensitive to what is happening. P24

M-2     Metaphor building cannot be effective for the construction of non-locations. As a literary technique it cannot be simply transformed from the Gutenberg galaxy to the hybrid environments of the Turing galaxy. S06 This would effect the "homogenization and standardization of subjectivity modes"3 which tends to serve the interest of those who are primarily commercially concerned with the field of the machinic. The development of all kinds of patterns and models precludes the use of the machinic (e.g. the Internet) as a domain of experimentation. Metaphors could be used for that purpose, as they do nothing to make the intangible dynamic but rather solidify it in concepts.


N-1     Computer networks, although they are regulatory systems, can no longer be regarded as totally controlled or grasped as a whole. They have integrated failure and interruptions. Networked environments offer extra connections and nodes, leading to relational concepts of agency.

N-2     The Internet is a transport medium between physical and electronic space, formulating as it were an agreement between the human and the machinic. Z19 Activities can no longer be categorized as unequivocally social or technological. The position of the agent is not that of the outside observer, but that of the participant who is situated within the system and its transversal structures and who becomes part of the event. This inside position offers unclear connections between the possible (human) and the makeable (machinic). Although it refers to the potential that can be activated, it does not assume a given situation - the Situationist tactics of strolling and wandering about have to be modified. What should be developed from this open situation are not analytical descriptive tools, but rather possibilities to outline technologically supported agencies in non-locations. S10 In this sense operational and relational behavior replaces the need for metaphors as it seeks to resolve the situation of the yet indescribable through experience, and provokes individual articulations that can change their position in-between different regulatory systems of technology.

N-3     Penetrated by Intranets and firewalls the Internet can hardly realize its potential as it has been described above. Already too many copies of everyday life are circulating on the Internet. This is the result of the widespread building of metaphors and their application. Moreover, they are becoming the objects of reflection in social and cultural theories that declare the Internet as an already completed development. They equate the phenomenon of "wired communities" with telecities: next to the digital cities we find virtual museums, electronic libraries, and digital playgrounds (dungeons). They effectively serve to hermetically seal the Internet.


Technologically supported environments develop a potential for realizing public fields of agency which are "under construction." This concept of "under construction" is not the same concept architects use. It does not lead to material constructions but to immaterial interventions.
"Under construction" offers clues to what could happen publicly but is not imaginable in the sense of conceptualization. Publicly, because this technology allows for the extension of public fields. Not because it connects virtual worlds to real worlds, so to speak, but because the so-called real world becomes multi-layered through technology.

"You have to fly your airplane closer to the limits of its capabilities than your opponent (history/capital) does, without crashing it. Right on the edge, in the same world, is where one form of materiality fights another, where freedom borders directly on catastrophe, optimism and danger: two heads of the same beast." (Sanford Kwinter) 4

1. Peter Eisenman, "Aura und Exzess," Wien: Passagenverlag, 1995.
2. Isabelle Stengers, "Du marriage des heterogenes," 1994, in Chimeres, 8 (Nr.21).
3. Nicolas Bourriaud, "Le paradigme esthetique," in Aesthetik und Maschinismus, Texte zu und von Felix Guattari, Hg. Henning Schmidgen, Merve Verlag, Berlin, 1995.
4. Sanford Kwinter, "Flying the bullet - oder wann begann die Zukunft," Arch+,132/96.

© 1997 Knowbotic Research / V2_

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