In Lev Manovich’s article, he talks about how the language of computer interface is drawn upon cinema, print words, and the tradition of HCI. This is a way to place the development of computer interface on top of our development of media in general. We have seen this line of argument in Cramption-Smith (who proposes computer interface to have a language of its own), and Bolter and Grusin write a seminal book called Remediation to discuss the notion. Among all these studies, computer interfaces are thought of analogues to book, painting, and cinema, but I thought it might be interesting to add another category to it: Michael Benedikt thinks of computer interface in spatial terms. For him, computer space can be thought of as a socially shared architecture, as a city, or as “a common mental geography.”

In Benedikt’s seminal essay “Cyberspace: First Steps” (1991), he speculates cyberspace before it has ever come into being. The essay is the editorial essay for the self-proclaimed first conference on cyberspace (1990). He calls it “cyberspace” instead of interface, first of all, marking his background in architecture. Benedikt, too, places the development of cyberspace on top of four human histories, among them are language/myth, media technology, architecture, and mathematic. Notably, he argues that the advent of cyberspace signifies our cultural impulse of “dematerialization” of architecture, long existent in our imagination of “the city of heaven.” Cyberspace marks also the efforts of mathematicians to specialize their understanding of math.

I quote a passage from the Benedikt and you could see how he conceptualizes computer interface in the language of space. It is conceptualizes in spatial terms mainly because it is social shared as city does. Also, see how the fact that computer interface is an immaterial, virtual, and mental space fascinates Benedikt.

“Cyberspace: A common mental geography, built, in turn, by consensus and revolution, canon and experiment; a territory swarming with data and lies, with mind stuff and memories of nature, with a million voices and two million eyes in a silent, invisible concert to enquiry, deal-making, dream-sharing, and simple beholding.”

Advertisements