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Themesicon: navigation pathPublic Sphere_sicon: navigation pathPublic Sphere_s
Access (Sester, Marie), 2003Electronic Café (Galloway, Kit; Rabinowitz, Sherrie), 1984netomat (Wisniewski, Maciej), 1999

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as online, transforming the public plazas into translocal sites.

The Liminal Lobby

The lobbies of buildings have always been ambiguously public space. Technically and legally controlled by the building’s owners, and often only used by employees and visitors, nevertheless, lobbies constitute an important interstitial public function in the urban fabric. This ambiguity is perhaps best captured in Marie Sester’s «Access,» (2003) which lets website users anonymously track individuals in public spaces by pursuing them with a robotic spotlight. While it has primarily been shown in the entries of cultural buildings and events, such the Grande Halle de La Villette, Paris, «Access» perfectly identifies the lobby as a liminal zone in which public discourse can be acted out but which is often tracked and scrutinized and, ultimately, chased away. George Legrady’s «Transitional Spaces» (1999) is installed in the lobby of the Siemens World Headquarters, Munich. The movement of people passing through the space trigger narrative sequences on large projection screens. While


not reactive, David Small designed a text display system for the lobby of the Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity in Boston, where «great ideas from throughout history that have transformed the world in a positive manner» flow from a fountain across the floor to vaulted arches in the walls, where they can be examined like traditional, if changing, carved inscriptions.

The Electronic Café

Since the 19th century, the café has been a commercial establishment important for the public intercourse of a city’s flaneurs. In 1984, Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz’s seminal «Electronic Café» for the Olympics Arts Festival introduced networking and multimedia, multimodal computing to the café scene. They went on to found a commercial version of their café, which hosted hundreds of events over the ensuing years.

Since then, the cybercafe has become a staple of contemporary urbanism, but it is also becoming reactive and immersive, not just a place for some computers. Maciej Wisniewski’s «netomat» can be

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