Volume 8, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1477-965X
  • E-ISSN: 1758-9533


The imagistic promotion of the iconic city form is increasingly achieved by the deployment of the CCTV webcam system. This not only presents new material to mediate people's engagement with this space, but also offers new ways to materialize its actual three-dimensional form.

Recent design-based research conducted at the University of Technology, Sydney, shows that the function of the CCTV Internet cameras can be extended and adapted to provide a type of engagement with urban environments that subverts its more representational role and converts it into one that is qualitative and experiential. The article will discuss how the performative aspects offered by this virtual environment can be productively employed by the Internet user to not only create a new type of engagement with public space, but also, ultimately, to curate this space.

The article will also reveal how the strategic deployment of recently developed non-proprietary software can be used to intervene within the operational logic of the Internet camera to exploit its potential for use as a design tool. By the strategic recruitment of this software, raw virtual qualitative data from webcam images are processed to generate a formal response to civic space. This type of intervention, which utilizes the two-dimensional image as a platform for intervention within three-dimensional space, asks the designer to relinquish the techniques traditionally used to generate urban form and instead to capitalize upon the opportunities for material intervention offered by the spatial ambiguity of virtual and real-time environments. The exploration of the distortional optical properties associated with contemporary camera technology begins to suggest the development of a range of new techniques for design intervention that will continue to evolve in direct relationship to the technology they exploit.

This article will therefore discuss how the utilization of the interactive potential of the CCTV system can produce a new understanding of urban space that replaces any symbolic role for form with the affect of form. This range of unprecedented techniques can be seen to offer a new paradigm for material intervention within both virtual and urban space.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): digital; interactive; materializing; techniques; virtual; webcam
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