[YASMIN] The Hybrid City as an Interface

[YASMIN] The Hybrid City as an Interface with Daphne Dragona, Haris Rizopoulos and Iouiliani Theona; moderated by Dimitris Charitos and Martin Rieser.

In the beginning of the 21st century, urban environments, within which social life evolves, are radically being reordered by technological systems and networks. Mobile telephony has restructured the way people socialize within urban space (Plant, 2001). Multi-user virtual environments redefine the meaning of mediated communication by immersing communicating participants into a synthetic spatial context. ICTs and new media may also be used for augmenting physical environments in order to communicate meaning. The contemporary urban environment already incorporates various kinds of representations of reality, communicated to us all via various media and appropriate display systems (most of these representations are visual, i.e. billboards, video projections, wall paintings, closed circuit TV, touch screens, etc). These environments may also incorporate systems that capture visual, auditory, and other types of information regarding human activity and, consequently, utilize this input to affect the process of generating digital representations. The most advanced form of such systems is pervasive and ubiquitous computing systems (Weiser, 1991). It could then be suggested (Charitos, 2005) that the incorporation of information and communication technology (ICT) systems results in an electronic enhancement of the everyday urban environment and that communication with these environments and with other citizens who exist and act within them is mediated by these systems.

The convergence of new mobile telecommunication networks, geographical positioning systems and interactive graphical interfaces on mobile devices, as they are already being utilized in a series of location-based activities, have begun to reveal the potential for new forms of interpersonal communication. These systems may allow groups of people to interact with each other, while being aware of each other’s location at all times via representations on mobile interfaces, which have a predominantly spatial character. The synchronous experience of a mobile spatial interface and of the non-mediated physical environment, ultimately affords a hybrid (synthetic and physical) spatial experience, in the context of which novel forms of social interaction and cultural practices may occur.

Hybrid cities could therefore be seen as spatial interfaces affording experiences which involve both virtual and physical spatial elements and information and which may synchronously support computer-mediated and interpersonal communication. Such emerging types of communication may lead to revolutionary new ways of inhabiting urban space, ultimately transforming the way we perceive, experience and think about our cities and our everyday life within them. These developments certainly call for reconsidering the way in which urban environments are conceived of and designed, by taking into account the incorporation of these ICT systems, since they are inseparably woven into the fabric of everyday life within the urban context. What is even more important, however, is the impact of these phenomena on everyday life in the city, at a social and cultural level.

The Hybrid City as an Interface discussion will attempt to approach a series of issues relating to the emergence of these phenomena and will mainly focus on the following topics:

  • user generated maps & collective cartographies: issues of appropriation and expropriation
  • the internet and the metropolis: similarities between the virtual space and the real space as factories of knowledge and information
  • the city as a gamespace: tracing the playful features of the new modes of interactivity and participation
  • psychogeographies & the contemporary city: discussing the wide use of a 60s situationist notion for the definition of digital city interventions and applications
  • Whose city exactly? Reconsidering spatial production processes through ludic, user inter-actions within the urban context
  • Which side are you on (on the threshold)? Outlining the relations between the virtual and physical experience of the city, as well as the new social dynamics of this hybrid urban context for everyday life.


Charitos, D. (2005). Virtual reality: A new kind of human-computer interface or a new communication medium? Issues of Communication, 2, 83-99, Athens: Kastaniotis.

Plant, S. (2001). On the mobile: The effects of mobile telephones on social and individual life. Study commissioned by Motorola. Retrieved August 2, 2007, from

Weiser, M. (1991). The computer for the twenty-first century. Scientific American, 265(3), 94-104.


Dimitrios Charitos is an assistant professor at the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies of the University of Athens. He teaches “Human-Computer Communication”, “Art & Technology”, “Visual Communication”, “Mediated Environments”. He has studied architectural design, computer aided design and has a PhD on interactive design and virtual environments. He has taught at an undergraduate and postgraduate level since 1994 in Scotland and Greece. He has authored or co-authored more than 70 publications in books, journals or conference proceedings. His artistic work involves electronic music, audiovisual, non-interactive or interactive, site-specific installations and virtual environments.

Professor M. Rieser is a Media Artist and Theorist based in Bristol. Professor of Digital Creativity at De Montfort University. 2000-7 Professor of Digital Arts and Senior Teaching Fellow Bath Spa University , was Principal Lecturer in Digital Media at Napier University in Edinburgh at the Department of Photography, Film, and Television 1997-2000. and in post as Senior Lecturer in Electronic Media at UWE Bristol between 1986 – 1998. He set up one of the first post-graduate courses in the country in Digital Art and Imaging at the City of London Polytechnic, now the London Guildhall University 1980-85. His teaching and practice centres on new types of interactive art which use non-linear narrative in new media through Locative, interactive installations, networked art projects and collaborations with architects. He has acted as consultant to bodies such as Cardiff Bay Arts Trust , NESTA, Arkive, AHRC the Photographers Gallery London. External Examiner at UIAH Helsinki, St Martins University of the Arts and Glamorgan University Professor of Digital Ats at Bath Spa University 2000-2007. He recently edited: New Screen Media: Cinema/ Art/Narrative (BFI/ZKM, 2002)- which combined a DVD of current research and practice in this area together with critical essays . He was on AHRB research leave during 2004-5 creating a new locative work for Bath Abbey called Hosts 2006, which used mobile and positional technologies combined with interactive sound and video and has just authored a book on Locative Media Arts called The Mobile Audience shortly to be published by Rodopi.

Daphne Dragona is a media arts curator based in Athens. Her exhibitions and events the last few years have focused on the notion of play and its merging with art as a form of networking and resistance. She has worked with Fournos Center for Digital Culture (Greece) , LABoral Art and Industrial Creation Centre (Spain), Alta Tegnologia Andina (Peru) and with the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens. She is also a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Communication & Media Studies of the University of Athens and a member of the Personal Cinema collective.

Charalampos Rizopoulos is a researcher at the Department of Communication and Media Studies of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. After graduating from the aforementioned department in 2003, he obtained a MSc in Interactive Multimedia Production from the University of Huddersfield, UK. He is currently a doctoral candidate, conducting research on the communicational aspects of interacting with intelligent environments. His research interests include human-computer interaction, ubiquitous computing, virtual reality, multimedia, spatial cognition, adaptive systems, and computer games.

Iouliani Theona is a practising architect and a researcher. She studied at the School of Architecture of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and later obtained a Degree from the Inter-Departmental Postgraduate Programme: Architectural Design – Space – Culture, in the School of Architecture of the National Technical University of Athens. She is currently a PhD Candidate in the aforementioned institution, focusing on subjects such as pervasive games and spatial perception.

Jul 15, 20:45
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