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»The Controlled Space. Urban spaceguards at work«, 2000


»Chinese scientists have invented the 'supervision carpet', a carpet that secretly takes photos of the persons stepping on it. As soon as the visitor sets foot on it, an optical signal is sent to a camera, the picture is compared to a database and reported to the official Chinese message agency Xinhua. If someone who does not match the visitor list appears on the photograph, an alarm is set off. The 'intelligent carpet' was developed at the technical university of the province capital Harbin and was intended for 'security purposes'. A carpet would be especially suited for this task, as it is an object too common to be suspicious.« [Tagesschau [daily news] June 20th, 2000]

Films like 1984, Enemy of the State and The End of Violence shocked the audience with future visions of the total supervision, yet meanwhile it is becoming more and more obvious that these visions have come closer to reality than we would have imagined. Be it the increasing supervision in the public space, e.g. in Shopping Malls, at street intersections or ATMs, the publication of the private space in talkshows or reality-TV shows like Big Brother or only the daily transmission of private information through entering a page on the Internet, an increasing data current flows daily from every individual in multiple directions. Is it still possible to control this shift towards the transparent human being or is it not desirable to restrict it at all? What does this publication of the private and the simultaneous denationalization of the public space imply for our cities and their inhabitants? Must architects and city planners begin to think in new categories other than »public« and »private«?

What is the meaning of public space today? What is democratic - public - urbanity? Where are the Terrain Vagues, the in-betweens, the ambiguities of the evolution of public-ness? Where is public space challenged, where is the idea of public limited, violated and despised? Where is public space dominated, controlled by a singular interest, idea or power? How can we point out and protect the erosion of a balanced public participation in urbanity?

The »urban spaceguards« - participants of the controlled space competition - investigated and gave answers to some of these questions. Projects were designed and set up mainly in Europe and the U.S. in early 2001. They deal with a wide range of topics from violence in public space to an abstract visualization of the process of supervision. The work shown here was selected in a two-stage international competition.

This competition and exhibition is MADE possible by MADE, an international collaboration of artists, architects and musicians. MADE is a non-hierarchical, worldwide network of equal nodes.

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Copyright 2001 ZKM | Karlsruhe