This was 14 years, 14 days ago

from a conversation on the train today: Interactivity as a medium, yes, yes.

Three flavors of interactivity: Re-experience online, traversing through time but not space, passive reception.

But here's an idea: real interactivity as the process of generating feeling, akin to walking through a Richard Serra sculpture, but instead generative, narrative, live, stochastic, incomprehensible, claustrophobic. Imagine: a 16 x 16 grid of outdoor rooms, open above, white walls. Each room has 2-4 doors open to its adjacent rooms, white opaque sliding doors that do not open to force, closed by default such that each room is an inaccessible cell.

You enter from the outside, into a room. Upon entering the room, only one of the doors opens, leading into another room. As you pass through that door into another room, the door connecting the room to the outside closes, and a single new door opens: you have no choice but to go. You pass through this new door, and enter another room. In this way, a linear path is created through these rooms. For each room entered: a door closes, another one opens, and the process continues. Slowly, you make your way from room to room, passing through rooms that you have entered before, but at a different point in time. Exits are created, then destroyed; in doing so, paths are birthed, overlapping and intertwining. If you enter the same room multiple times, each time it will be a different part of a journey.

There is no real choice but to walk onwards, moving but trapped. Eventually, you exit.

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"From there, after six days and seven nights, you arrive at Zobeide, the white city, well exposed to the moon, with streets wound about themselves as in a skein. They tell this tale of its foundation: men of various nations had an identical dream. They saw a woman running at night through an unknown city; she was seen from behind, with long hair, and she was naked. They dreamed of pursuing her. As they twisted and turned, each of them lost her. After the dream, they set out in search of that city; they never found it, but they found one another; they decided to build a city like the one in the dream. In laying out the streets, each followed the course of his pursuit; at the spot where they had lost the fugitive's trail, they arranged spaces and walls differently from the dream, so she would be unable to escape again.

This was the city of Zobeide, where they settled, waiting for that scene to be repeated one night. None of them, asleep or awake, ever saw the woman again. The city's streets were streets where they went to work every day, with no link any more to the dreamed chase. Which, for that matter, had long been forgotten.

New men arrived from other lands, having had a dream like theirs, and in the city of Zobeide, they recognized something from the streets of the dream, and they changed the positions of arcades and stairways to resemble more closely the path of the pursued woman and so, at the spot where she had vanished, there would remain no avenue of escape.

The first to arrive could not understand what drew these people to Zobeide, this ugly city, this trap."

-Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities