Urban Feedback

By Pauline van Mourik Broekman, 30 October 2008

From the Digital City project in Amsterdam to the virtual architectural fall-out or Sprawl conceptualised by sci-fi writers (and used as a title for numerous websites), the city can be both a powerful metaphor for the information space contained within the computer and a rich starting point for the construction and navigation within that space.

Urban Feedback started as such a project. Sophie Greenfield and Giles Rollestone (aka "Perfect Indigo) are currently demo-ing the beginnings of a CD-rom which will take the fragmented and fleeting nature of contemporary urban experience as its subject matter and central interface metaphor. They are also inviting contributions and are keen to collaborate in the design of the project with people who are committed to creating similar non-linear, circular and associative experiences.

Urban Feedback

Both Sophie and Giles have a strong interest in collage and film; they would like to further the participatory and randomising possibilities that interactive media are capable of and ultimately make their CD-rom one step in the direction of an image and sound set which could enable users to work relatively independently with elements stored there. This way, so goes their hope, there would be chances for the assembly of something that they as designers had little expectation of at the outset in terms of a final piece. Obviously, this sounds very much like a possible description of non-linear media in general, but let's say that the randomiser will be slightly more revved up for this project.

Both as a navigational strategy and as a creative method, semi- or total random selection can have its pro's and cons. What is currently worst about it, is that most "random" navigation or selection methods have their limits and that, just when the generated connections begin to get really interesting and the user thinks s/he is being shown something unexpected, the devices used to create the illusion of randomisation become all too apparent.

One of the things which might make Urban Feedback less transparent in this respect is Indigo's wish to include both high-level programming and extensive use of the internet into the design of the CD-rom. It will make it something to return to, feedback not something you get allotted at the outset.

If you would like to take part in the Urban Feedback project, get in touch with "Perfect Indigo" on 0171 794 5916 or email: <g.rollestone AT> (Giles) <sophie AT> (Sophie)