Metropolis: Digital Cities of the Imagination


Session Title:

  • Digital Geography

Presentation Title:

  • Metropolis: Digital Cities of the Imagination



  • Inhabiting Metropolis is an ongoing Internet project which aims at supporting new work and facilitating a cohesive form of on-line publishing and exhibition. Inhabiting Metropolis has been designed as a series of artists’ projects to explore the metaphoric space of the Internet.The projects, called for by open commission, had the brief of examining, or challenging, the Internet as a construction of public and private spaces, dominated by questions of navigation, information flow and access. In particular, this is a representation of space which fundamentally presumes that, as a common denominator, it can be figured as a cyber-urban space which people move through, inhabit, structure, and colonize. This presentation will present the Inhabiting Metropolis project and address its underlying strategy:to build a comprehensive website which integrates critical texts with artistic material on a common theme which can be built upon over an extended period of time.The presentation will look at how and why it came about. It will also address the way that artists have responded to the project, taking on board not only the representation of the cyberspace but also the implications of networking upon real communities and real forms of navigation. Inhabiting Metropolis is organized by Channel, a UK based Internet arts agency, which is funded as a public arts organization to develop creative work on the Net. Channel has a specific way of working: to always develop projects in collaboration with other arts organizations (which may include galleries, events organisers, broadcasters, or publishers).The aim is to create web projects which operate as integral works in their own right and which appeal to an on-line audience, but, also, to use the Net as a valuable adjunct to the existing arts infrastructure. To this end, the artists commissioned by Channel to develop Inhabiting Metropolis projects were invited to work in conjunction with arts organizations. Sometimes this took the form of a virtual residency, through presenting or publishing interpretative material or through educational projects that worked with the organization’s existing audience base. The commissioned artists and their projects for 1997 include Heath Bunting, CCTV David Bickerstaff, Ubiquity, Susan Collins, Pedestrian Banter, Akke Wagenaar, Requiem for the Car, and David Rhinehard Digital Sewers. Critical texts are by Caroline Bassett and Carey Young.