Raiders of the Lost Time: An Introduction

Lars Hubrich

Looking back at what you are going to take a look at, this collection of essays, stories and reflections appears to be more unified to me than it did while I was creating it. Its unity, however, does not result from a coherent theme but from the fact that the individual parts are all reactions in disguise. Some of them may be called essays, others are more experimental, and then, there is the introductory "short story" which, in retrospect, brings up most of the issues that interested me in the Cyborgs, Virtual Reality and Critical Theory class.

One of the main points that it deals with is the idea of the modern flâneur who drifts with the masses, and, while doing so, receives all kinds of sensory input. This input defines his or her experience in a most subjective and intuitive way. This project can be read as my way of expressing this experience without trying to present some sort of closure. It rather points towards the shatterdness of the sensory input.

But beyond that it also points at another main issue: information design and storage and the way it can be experienced by the individual. It certainly is no coincidence that a good number of important works about the future of cyberspace have been written by architects: William Mitchell, Michael Benedikt or Marcos Novak, for, ultimately, the question to above issue is one of designing space (virtual space in this case). The flâneur was a product of the radical redesigning of Paris' architecture, the electronic flâneur is the product of another project which is just as radical: the redesigning of information storage. This project is far from being perfected (Hausmann's boulevard's were not perfect, either.), but it will and already begins to have an impact on the way we experience the world and on how we communicate this experience.

Be that as it may, the City of Bits William Mitchell is prophesying is still only a glimpse at bits of cities that are yet to come. Nevertheless, it gives us an idea of what we might have to expect. My hopes are that the future will look slightly different than the one Mitchell is depicting in that it is not aiming at controlling more and more perfectly, but that there is still room for intuition and contradiction. A cyberspace that is impeccable in design and use is the embodiment of an ideal that can never be achieved in real life and will always be alien to us.

But now it's time to begin. So please fasten your seat belt and enter...

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