DigiLoci: Spirit of Place in the Digtal Age

Pattie Belle Hastings

This is an attempt to reconstruct a place. The challenge is to lure the viewer with digits and bits into another world - a holographic plane that exists in the mind. The object is a building, “out of place, out of time, and out of plot.” If I can transmit not the building itself, but a cypher, the code for reconstruction at each new site, then I might be relieved of the burden of memory and the data space it requires.1

It is now possible to be two places at once; partially anchored in your immediate environment while your virtual body traverses cyberspace. Eastern mystics have been doing this for over a millennium with no external apparatus or implant. It doesn’t matter where you are as long as you can connect. Old concepts of property, expression, identity, and movement, based on physical manifestation, do not apply in a world where there can be none.2

Doors, skylights, and windows are replaced by monitors, modems and websites. (Only an inside can in fact have openings.)3 The building is rescaled and may change from moment to moment. Devices reveal themselves. Words can be openings. We have now been trained that in certain circumstances a word, phrase or image can transport us to another place, just as a door, hallway, or alley takes you to another location. Text becomes the pathway and narrative moves us through time and space.

“The path is... a fundamental existential symbol which concretizes the dimension of time. Sometimes the path leads to a meaningful goal, where the movement is arrested and time becomes permanence.” Christian Norberg Shulz, Genius Loci

The possibilities of virtual forms are endless. The entire physical world can be recreated in the virtual world with all its glories and monstrosities, but in the end what we may be losing is our relationship to the earth and the sky.4 To feel lost, dislocated, detached from “being-in-the-world,” is the opposite of dwelling. Loss of place can be psychic as well as physical.

“At times I feel your voice is reaching me from far away, while I am a prisoner of a gaudy and unlivable present, where all forms of human society have reached an extreme of their cycle and there is no imagining what new forms they may assume. And I hear, from your voice, the invisible reasons which makes cities live, through which perhaps, once dead, they will come to life again.” Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

DigiLoci was created as an homage to the IceHouse. An old turn of the century warehouse, right on the railroad tracks, that supplied ice to the produce cars traveling from the South to the North. I lived and worked in the IceHouse for five years.

“There was a deed at the county clerk’s office with my name on it, but I never really owned the building - ”

Inkjet, Post Its, Scotch Tape, Hardcover edition of 2, Softcover edition of 5, 7 x 8.5 inches, 1998

1. Novak, Marcos. “Transmitting Architecture: The Transphysical City,” Kroker, Arthur and Marilouise, eds. Digital Delirium. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997
2. Norberg Shulz, Christian. Genius Loci: Toward a Phenomenology of Architecture. New York: Rizzoli, 1979
3. Kapor, Mitch and Barlow, John, “Across the Electronic Frontier,” EF Foundation, DC July 10, 1990
2. Norberg Shulz, Christian. Ibid.

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