New Manhattan: The Opening

Finally I was able to unveil New Manhattan! It will be exhibited until the 10th of February 2019 at Groninger Forum (Public Library), Oude Boteringestraat 18, 9712 GH Groningen.

Unveiling the fictional city of New Manhattan, a 3D-printed artwork (photo by Bob de Vries)

Approximately 70 curious people visited the opening and I really enjoyed watching them discover New Manhattan. Had some good talks, but the time flew by. I just wished I could have spoken with everybody.

Curious people (photo by Bob de Vries)
3D-printed Web Space of groningerforum.nl (photo by Bob de Vries)
More curious people (photo by Bob de Vries)

Before taking the cover off, I did say a few things about the project. Mainly to thank everybody involved. Thanks again! I also said that I’ve been investigating the architecture of webpages for a while. And that I’ve expressed this in a variety of ways, like interactive installations and 3D-prints. But now it has also lead to a book, titled: New Manhattan/The Web Space Never Sleeps.

Launching the book (photo by Bob de Vries)

People who chose a book during the crowdfunding phase could pick one up. For the rest the book is available to buy (contact me) or available to lend in the library.

The books (photo by Bob de Vries)

The book provides additional context to the exhibited work. So it’s great to have while exploring the city. It contains a map and shows the Web Space from each web page. By Web Space I mean the 3D architecture of the web page. In the book you’ll also find, for each Web Space, a quote I’ve chosen from its web page. These quotes give identity to the building. Furthermore, the book contains the project description (in Dutch). You can find the translation at the end of this post.

Looking at New Manhattan (photo by Bob de Vries)
The right page belongs to the red print above it (photo by Bob de Vries)
Talking (photo by Bob de Vries)

In addition to the book and the 3D-printed artwork, I’ve also made an interactive installation of New Manhattan on a big 55″ TV screen. It’s the same architecture as the physical print, but this time the 2D image of the web page is projected on top of each building. You can run, fly and climb around in the city of New Manhattan. And discover which webpages are part of it and how they’re built.

Exploring New Manhattan in the interactive installation (photo by Bob de Vries)
Photo taken from the screen of the interactive installation (photo by Bob de Vries)
Climbing a Sky Scraper in New Manhattan

New Manhattan/The Web Space Never Sleeps

Together we’re building a digital city

We’ve built New Manhattan together: one large artwork, consisting of 60 small works of art. It is a 3D-printed scale model of a fictional city, based on the architecture of web pages. The goal: to bring web pages (and people) together to reflect on our position in the world of the internet.

The City That Never Sleeps

New York, the city that never sleeps where you can get everything. This also applies to the internet. Because of the connectivity we are all neighbours, as it were, and we live in the same city that never stands still. But that is exactly what I want to do with New Manhattan: to reflect on our digitised society that we have designed ourselves.

The world of web pages reminds me of Manhattan, New York City. Just like a web page, Manhattan is very systematically built. A rectangular pattern forms the streets and city blocks and the buildings are towering cubes. Web pages were built exactly like that, but then by stacking virtual blocks.

Web Spaces

I transform the virtual blocks that make up web pages (such as images, links and paragraphs of text) into three-dimensional spaces. What emerges from this underlying architecture is what I call a Web Space. Sometimes it looks like a building or a spaceship. In the accompanying book (available to lend in the library or available for sale via me), the corresponding Web Spaces of all 60 web pages from New Manhattan are depicted, which served as the starting point for the 3D-printed art objects.

New Manhattan

The city planning was decided with the help of an algorithm that I have written. The lowest buildings have taken place around the centrally located park. The higher buildings are more towards the edge of the city and the four Sky Scrapers mark both ends of the island. The color depends on the complexity of the architecture, with the white buildings using the least digital building blocks in relation to their surface area, and the burgundy relatively the most. The buildings are numbered from 1 (top left) to 60 (bottom right).

The city is, as it were, a selection from the infinite universe of web pages. A selection that I made together with the audience. The artwork is in fact created through crowdsourcing. Backers not only contributed money, but also determined which web pages took place in the city. These backers each have a sixtieth of the total artwork in their possession: the 3D print based on the web page of their choice. The physical meeting of these 60 Web Spaces is a unique occasion. The artwork will be exhibited in a single place only: the library of the Groninger Forum (the largest public information space in Groningen). But the work will keep it’s unity thanks to the book.

Published by Jip de Beer

Jip de Beer, initiator of MADtech.me, is an artist who operates on the intersection of art and computer science. He's fascinated by automation and attempts to optimize his artistic work(flow) with programming. His work usually involves a Web Browser and tends to be generative, interactive and strongly visual. In his daily life, Jip tries to have a positive influence on the world by living a vegan lifestyle.

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