[rohrpost] New Book on "The Architecture of Virtual Space" by Or Ettlinger

Oliver Grau oliver.grau at donau-uni.ac.at
Sam Mar 20 20:02:04 CET 2010

The Architecture of Virtual Space is in fact two studies in one. On one
hand, it is a methodical articulation of the elusive idea of virtual
space. On the other, it is a historical overview of works of
architecture that were made specifically as the content of pictorial
works of art. What brings these two seemingly distinct topics together
is the realization that they are in fact complementary * that is, that
researching one would provide answers for the other, and vice versa. As
such, this study is a work of media theory as well as a work of
architectural theory.

Media Theory: A theory of virtual space. Presently, the terms
*virtual* and *virtual space* are very loosely defined. With
all their widespread use in both popular culture and academic discourse,
what do these terms actually mean? Computer-generated? Online?
Fictitious? Imagined? Metaphysical? In the absence of a consistent
definition, confusion reigns supreme and *virtual* ends up being
just an empty buzzword * meaning practically nothing at all.
Therefore, rather than simply reiterating known technological,
psychological, or philosophical concerns, this study approaches the
topic as an architectural issue; it seeks to define virtuality in terms
of the actual space that is perceived through visual media. It is a
theoretical attempt at defining virtual space itself, in a lucid,
down-to-earth, and systematic manner. The result is a comprehensive work
which restores the connection between older art theories and new media
phenomena, proposing a single coherent theory of the pictorial image.

Architectural Theory: Architectural content in the pictorial arts. The
history of architecture addresses mainly two forms of architecture: the
physically built, and the wished-to-be-built. And yet, in addition to
these two, there is a third form of architecture that has received very
limited attention as such. This is the architecture that serves as the
visible content of paintings, films, video games, and so on *
architectural projects that were designed and intended from their outset
to reside nowhere else but within a pictorial image. Through an analysis
of a carefully-made selection of artworks spanning two millennia, this
study is an introduction to the wealth and beauty of a largely
overlooked branch of architectural creation. The result is both a
valuable reference for the fields of art and architecture in general,
and a theoretical foundation for the emerging fields of virtual
architecture and virtual worlds.

Through both its methodology and its contents, this study seamlessly
combines architecture and media, along with the history and theory of
art, film theory, digital imaging, and information design. By fusing
them together, the book provides a fresh view on each of these fields
and reveals the underlying principles that are common to all of them.
Table of Contents

The book*s table of contents:

Chapter One: Art, Illusion, and Architecture

Chapter Two: A Window to Another World

Chapter Three: Devices of Illusion

Chapter Four: The Contextography of Virtual Space

Chapter Five: Enter Computer

Chapter Six: Virtual Architecture