The City of Abadyl

The City of Abadyl

Michael Johansson
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-077-8.ch016
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In the City of Abadyl we try to explore a complex digital space in a setting that invites to participation. We provide a detailed and complex, yet open world that can be utilized in order to generate scenarios for the temporary co-creators of Abadyl, who would then interact in an optional environment and in the end producing new artefacts. Abadyl is a database that contains all the gathered information in different file formats, it is a storage facility for all of the physical artefacts, it is a website used for communication and documentation, it is a map for navigating the City. This combination of interactive situations and artefactual production we called “fieldasy”. We are concentrated on developing collaboration in the production of new media and it´s artefacts. We try to produce artwork that actually incorporates surprising visual and technical proposals that are unusual, enriching and engaging. By building prototypes and iterate it over time and amongst the co-creators, it let us explore this area in a fruitful way, moving between artistic intentions/screen writing, artefacts and digital generated expressions and script/code writing. Here the virtual object can challenge the physical with qualities that is very hard to achieve in the physical world, and in that conflict, new expressions can be developed. Today Hybrid creations have become a method for working with cultural production not only with different elements of form, but as blending identities of the creators as well. In our prototype work we focus especially on interactive installations and stage design; we realize that the digital design process both demand new forms of conceptualization and prototyping activities to support the design of the expression of the final artwork itself – and maybe in the long run propose a updated and appropriate design theory in this field.
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In my profession I have always had a very close relation with the material I have used for investigating and execute my ideas. For all my works, no matter what material I have chosen for its execution, it is of foremost importance to be in a constant dialogue with them. There should be no difference between the critical mass of once idea and the final outcome of the artwork itself; it should be interwoven unity both in theory and in its form. Since 1984 the computer has played a major roll doing just that. The strategy I have developed is how you as an single artist can set-up a long-term working environment where you want to explore methods for both artistic work practice and technical research&development and in the end produce artworks of relevance?

Figure 1.

A map of the city of Abadyl 1999-2009 Mobela-C version


My approach is to establish an environment which can facilitate artistic work practice in a complex production environment such as the one of digital media, supported by invited artists, researchers and students. In other words, create a kind of gravity around a single project that other easily can transfer their knowledge into without having to provide all of its content from start. Today the city of Abadyl has involved over 120 people, Exhibited internationally as well as in Sweden and China where I recently live and been part of several external research projects in areas of textile, computer science, interaction design, cultural studies, theatre and film. In the chapter I will show how we set up complex and open framework and used a city as a metaphor, to serve as a playground for the ongoing projects and the invited co-creators.

The city of Abadyl is virtual and physical, it is a database that contains all the gathered information in different file formats, it is a storage facility for all of the physical artefacts, it is a website used for communication and documentation, it is a map for navigating, it is a collection of stories extracted by the co-creators, it is a board game that can be played in three different languages; Swedish, English and Mandarin, it is a collection of music and films recorded in Abadyl. The idea in using different form of representation and materials is to achieve a continuously iterative process driving the different parts of the overall art project forward, developing relevant design theory and support innovation in area of technology and new media. In the chapter I put forward a design theoretical model and discuss the use of prototypes as a vital design material in my investigations. The intention is not so far the establishment of a so called great narrative based and extracted from the City. Inspiration has instead been retrieved from the art of novel writing and its practice in constructing worlds. In “Postscript to the Name of the Rose”, Umberto Eco writes on the generative logic he has adopted, a logic both limiting and expanding creativity. The fundamental parameters guide what can and what cannot be included in a fictional but historically plausible universe. In The City of Abadyl we have chosen to focus more on the generative itself in this logic; that is to say, it is not about parameters resulting in a watertight consistent universe, but the main interest is in what can be generated from a number of predetermined parameters. However since the project have been running now for ten years and all of the input has reached a level of complexity and detail where a lot of things can happen and be put into play. In the chapter we give some examples of what has been generated and how I can conduct my work together with the co-creators.



Four things are worth mentioning in relation to this projects development over the years it has been running. They are fully described in different papers and articles through the years, Fieldasy 2004 and are you programmed to speak 2006. First of all it builds upon a former art project called “from an uncertain point in the Cartesian space”. Second the experience we had with looking and talking to people visiting the studio and how they made up their own stories based on our unorganized research and reference material in “My computer is 36 m2”. Third the development of the framework and set of rules in “maps, scales and objects”2005. Forth the method “fieldasy” for working within the framework and how one can extract stories and artefacts from it.

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