Mittwoch, 8. Oktober 2008


I recently watched Hackers again, a 1995 film by Iain Softley starring Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie. I love this film mainly for 3 reasons.

1. The story-line and acting, like all memorable mid 90s films, are so bad that they're good again. The film doesn't take itself too seriously, and it has an unrelenting retro charm that should hopefully cement its status as a cult hit.

2. The apocalyptic atmosphere is spot on. The derelicte style of the hackers is timeless, and the low tech feel to their environment has a strong pseudo-political undertone. This film was released 4 years before the Matrix, yet it sets the tone for its more successful cousin both thematically and asthetically.

3. My favorite part of the film however, is the spatial representation of data during the hacking scenes. Apparently, the process of hacking is incorrectly depicted in the film, but as a metaphor I find the graphic comparison between our urban environment and our network environment totally appropriate. It gives a haptic quality to a phenomenon that shows strong spatial traits, in the way it is conceived, organised and navigated. Simultaneously it abstracts our built environment to a diagramatic representation. We become insignificant. It reminded me of a scene in another cult favourite of mine, Baraka. The boundary line between real and virtual is blurred, and this is the most groundbreaking aspect of the film. Today we speak of blogospheres and webspace, and recognise to some extent the spatial potential of network technologies, but 13 years ago the internet had barely left academic circles.

visualcomplexity has hundreds of maps and diagrams which present the spatial side of network systems to us. My favourite is this map of the worlds stockmarkets, because it loses any sense of geography, yet sticks to the format of the globe. Network technologies have opened new dimensions, wormholes. Gradually those same technologies are becoming better at accurately representing themselves in a way that we understand, as spaces and territories. Hackers was ahead of the game.
N I made an electric garden in the summer. It never really got fully off the ground (watch this space), and was taken down for the autumn. Anyway, it was nowhere near as good as this one.
N Interesting warped representations of our planet. Question geography!

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