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TeleZone — an architecture for net architecture


an architecture for net architecture


ars electronica center

project lead:

peter purgathofer

design team:

rudolf greger,

tom haberfellner,

denis mikan,

nestor pridun,

peter purgathofer,

jörg piringer,

georg stidl

TeleZone is a telerobotic art installation that creates a parallel between the real and the virtual. visitors design architectural structures using a cad interface. these structures are carefully constructed by an industrial robot arm which cements 1cm rectangular elements within a 2 meter building area.

structures thus exist in two forms: within the virtual space of a 3d simulator, and within the real space of the ars electronica lobby. the result will reflect both the complex social interactions of the builders and the contrast between the cartesian world of pure design and the realities of mass, gravity, and imprecision.

the project TeleZone contains a robot, at the ars electronica center, which serves as an interface between the physical and virtual spaces. acting as an avatar on behalf of users in the community, it arranges and places together building blocks based on design decisisons made on the TeleZone web site. the actions of the community are visible both in the virtual and the physical worlds.

modular interface

the modular interface to TeleZone — the TeleZone web site — is designed to allow each user to arrange it individually in accordance with his/her needs at any moment. thus, the "construction tool", various camera settings and views of the actual model, chat channels, specific help functions, and additional features can be arrayed in a window as a particular situation demands. these "design-building blocks" ease the creation of new tools by giving the community leeway with the interaction design while maintaining the formalaesthetic framework.

prix ars electronica award

TeleZone was awarded a distinction in the category .net at the prix ars electronica in 2000

virtual communities

one observable phenomenon in this context is the formation of "virtual communities". questions concerning possibilities of expanding the sphere of effectiveness of human actions in connection with "new" media, and the role of the individual in these communities, suggest themselves as topics of discussion. TeleZone represents the creation of an experimental situation meant to take up and shed light upon aspects of the formation and development of virtual communities.

the community is provided with a framework of rules which mainly contain "basic physical conditions". the open nature of the framework of rules complies with the target of self-organization inherent in the system, which is part of the experiment. the participants are asked regularly to decide on modifications of the rules by a democratic anonymous online-vote. the underlying concept of TeleZone motivates each user to interact with other participants in the project in order to expand his or her possibilities of discussion. the process of development from an empty space to a complex architectural structure reflects the degree of self-organization and activity of the participants in TeleZone.

screenshot of TeleZone


a robot at the ars electronica center acts as "interface" between real and virtual space. representing the user, it arranges and sticks together the building blocks on theTeleZone site precisely in accordance with the respective planning input. the robot makes visible the efforts undertaken by a self-organizing community. the joint actions of the community are reflected both in the real and in the virtual world; in other words, the architectural structures created in the process are not only built in reality by the robot but are also shown in a vrml world on the TeleZone web site.

the fundamental approach — the primary generator — was to reflect the building block as the integral "building block" of the TeleZone in the structure of the user interface. this starts with the conceptual level: the playful-technical character of the installation is sensible in the interface, thus making the interaction with the TeleZone web site part of a consistent experience.

we have been invited to collaborate on the concept, functionality and complexity of the project and to design and implement the interface of the TeleZone web site. as the remuneration was only symbolic the project got realized mainly with voluntary contribution from igw, student apprentices and us.

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