City Is a Hybrid Interface

City Is a Hybrid Interface

Hybri-City: City Is a Hybrid Interface

[CULTURE Programme 2007-13, European Commission Education, Audiovisual & Culture Executive Agency (EACEA)] (Nov 2011 – Nov 2013)

The aim of the project was to develop a creative and technologically informed look at several european cities (Athens, Prague, Istanbul, and Marseille), in order to create innovative forms of interactive representations for the processes that shape these cities. In the context of this project, the Spatial Media Research Group and the NTLab (in collaboration with the University Research Institute of Applied Communication) organized an academic conference (“Hybrid City 2”) and a series of workshops (May 2013) with several noted researchers and artists as invited/keynote speakers and/or workshop organizers. Invited keynote speakers included Steve Benford (UK), Eric Kluitenberg (Netherlands), Julian Oliver (Germany), Stephen Kovats (Germany), Dietmar Offenhuber (USA), and Nikolaos Avouris (Greece). The Hybrid City Conference 2013, in Athens, Greece, consisted of three days of paper presentations, discussions, workshops and satellite events, under the theme “Subtle rEvolutions”.

The web site of the conference is at:

The Hybrid City 2013 events also include an oline exhibition ( and a series of workshops, relevant to the theme.


Theme – Subtle rEvolutions

ICTs, whether mobile, wireless or embedded in persistent architectural forms, facilitate the collection and dissemination of data, infusing the physical expression of the city with digital layers of content, contributing thus to the emergence of new hybridized spatial logics and novel forms of social interaction. These systems and the hybrid spatial experience they afford, encourage encounters among users; both embodied and mediated, and influence community dynamics, giving rise to networks around common interests and collectives of affect. Sometimes, such groups, irrespective of how ephemeral, unstable and dispersed they may be, negotiate a new kind of engagement with the urban environment and civic life, suggesting thus an organizational paradigm that manages to surpass traditional vertical hierarchies of space and consequently of power and control. Such configurations among communities, locations, contexts and intentions were manifested intensely in the interlinking of protest events around the world since 2011, the Arab Spring uprisings, the Occupy movement and anti-austerity demonstrations in Southern Europe, but they also gradually permeate everyday life in the contemporary metropolis. As sharing and collaborative tactics migrate from online culture to the urban realm and ICTs become increasingly open and personalized, rich opportunities for new forms of participation in civic life arise. Citizens are enabled to access information about the city but also to become involved in the production, collection and distribution of data related to urban matters. The Hybrid City Conference considered a further investigation of such processes of crucial importance, so as to gain a deeper understanding of the effect they have on the urban experience and to explore their contribution in shaping the future cities. In this respect, Hybrid City invited papers both of a theoretical and practical approach that present concepts, case studies, projects, works of art and best practices that promote the discussion on the theme. Emphasizing the inherently interdisciplinary nature of technologically mediated urban activity, we welcomed proposals which critically examine the following topics:

• Open cities, open urban data.

• Environmental sensing and the Internet of things.

• Urban data visualization.

• Environmental perception, cognition, immersion and presence in the context of hybrid urban spaces.

• Citizen science and peer production of knowledge.

• Psychosocial perspectives into the impact of locative and pervasive media use.

• Placemaking, place attachment and place identity in the hybrid city.

• Cartography of hybrid spaces.

• Mobile commons and wireless practices.

• Public spaces and mediated presence.

• Gamifying the urban space: playful engagement and game-like citizenship.

• Hybrid spaces of conflict: forms of power and counterpower in the networked city.

• Tactical media practices in the urban context.

• From open data to data commons.

• Open source models of policy and governance.

• Emerging currencies and values.

• Issues of data ownership and copyrights in hybrid urban contexts.

Global Gateway

Global Gateway

[Civil Society Dialogue, TR0803.03/100] (2010 – 2012)

This action was undertaken in the context of the Global Gateway project and of the EU-funded program “Civil Society Dialogue – Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture” in which NTLAB participated. The Global Gateway project was closely connected with the fact that Istanbul was proclaimed the 2010 European Capital of Culture. Therefore, besides promoting the EU-Turkey Civil Society Dialogue as such, one of the project´s main objectives was to foster the Turkish capital´s role as a cultural catalyst within emerging creative domains such as experimentation with mew media interfaces and techniques as well as art/science.

In this project the NTLAB (in collaboration with the University Research Institute of Applied Communication), under the direction of D. Charitos, organized a series of workshops and an academic symposium, titled Hybrid City, on the design and use of location-based activities in an urban environment.

The primary goal of the symposium was to highlight the potential transformative shift of the urban condition, as a result of recent developments in information and communication technologies (ICTs). Urban life is in a state of flux. The widespread adoption of technologies that facilitate social activity among prospective users influences community dynamics and introduces the emergence of novel forms of social interaction. The city is augmented through multidimensional processes. Digital information is embedded in persistent architectural forms (the built environment), while at the same time, representations of the urban setting are displayed on the screens of mobile communication devices.

Emphasizing the inherently interdisciplinary nature of technologically mediated urban activity, the symposium aimed at exploring the emergent character of the city, addressing resurfacing questions on the nature of the urban experience, as well as outlining strategies and tools for future social interaction and participation.

Invited keynote speakers at the symposium were Professors. Richard Coyne and Martin Rieser (UK).


The “Codes of disobedience & dysfunctionality” workshop:

Technology reconnecting the personal with the political in a contemporary metropolis

In the context of the Hybrid City symposium and the Global Gateway events that took place in Athens, a workshop titled “Codes of Disobedience & Dysfunctionality” was organised from the 28th until the 4th of March 2011. The workshop was directed by the British artist Martin Rieser, in collaboration with an interdisciplinary team of artists, researchers and postgraduate students, from the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies of the University of Athens, the School of Architecture of the NT University of Athens and the Athens School of Fine Arts.

The aim of the workshop is to study the elements of the urban environment of Athens and to form a new trail as a structure of narrative, thus enriching the city with interactive content that reflects its contemporary transformations. Inspired by the posters and the graffitis encountered in the city, and taking advantage of the possibilities given by mobile communication technologies (GPS, QR codes etc) and the internet, the workshop aims to connect the urban surroundings of Athens to opinions and statements of its inhabitants regarding the challenges imposed by current social, political, and financial circumstances; anger, disobedience, opposition, dysfunctionality. The features of the contemporary metropolis in the midst of a period of crisis will be the main focus of the project, posing at the same time questions about the role and mediation of technology in urban everyday life. Can the new possibilities offered by technology really capture the needs and the atmosphere of a city like Athens? Can patterns and characteristics of urban life be identified when studying the use of these communication systems?

The work that was created after the completion of the workshop was presented at the premises National Museum of Contemporary Art, on the internet and in the center of the city (at Skoufa – Navarinou – Tzavela streets). From the 5th until the 25th of March the visitors of the museum and inhabitants of Athens were invited to follow the project’s trail and discover the different parts of the project’s narration. Special QR codes were placed in selected locations of the city and by scanning them with a mobile phone, access to the audiovisual material created during the workshop was provided to the audience. Combining elements of installation art, urban intervention, gaming and performance, “Codes of Disobedience & Dysfunctionality” reflects Rieser’s long term practice on art and technology.

The work can still be experienced online at:


Workshop and Symposium Coordinator: Asst. Prof. Dimitris Charitos
Symposium Organisers: Iouliani Theona, Haris Rizopoulos
Workshop Organiser and Curatorial Advisor: Daphne Dragona
Workshop Conductor: Professor Martin Rieser
Workshop Assistants: Phill Sparks, Empedia locative walk implementation            
                                  Jackie Calderwood, video development and user evaluations
Exhibition Organised by: National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST)

Hackable City

Hackable City

The Hackable City was a research project, initiated in late 2012 by One Architecture and The Mobile City and which explored the potential for new modes of collaborative citymaking, in a network society. It aimed at investigating the impact but also the challenges of the emergence of “smart’ technologies and of new instruments for an open, democratic process of collective production of urban spaces. The key research question was about how citizens could work with planning specialists, local governments and other stakeholders and use technology tools to develop cooperative urban planning, management and social organization processes and to contribute to a sustainable city woven with a strong social fabric. Inspiration and program manager was Professor Martijn de Waal from the University of Applied Sciences in Amsterdam, in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University and other Dutch institutions. The program examined relevant spatial examples from the cities of Athens, Senzen and Sao Paolo and towards this goal, our research group (Spatial Media Research Group, Faculty of Communications and Media Studies, National and KapodistrianUnivesity of Athens) was a local partner that collaborated with the main research team for conducting the research in Athens and for organising a symposium and workshop in Athens, along with all relevant research activities.



Available downloads:

The Hackable CIty @ Athens.pdf

The Hackable City @ Athens Schedule.pdf



Spatial Media Research Group

(D. Charitos, I. Theona, C. Rizopoulos, P. Papageorgopoulou)

In the exhibition: (OUT)-TOPIAS: Performance and Public /outdoor Space, at  Benaki Museum during 22/09/2016 – 20/11/2016

Curated by Thanos Vovolis and Geert Vermeer

“Polispective” is an interactive audiovisual installation in the form of a virtual environment. It investigates a hybrid type of space, in which abstract synthetic spatial elements are interwoven with urban physical environmental imagery for creating an audiovisual spatial experience. Each member of the audience can playfully interact with and manipulate the aforementioned elements, thus altering the three-dimensional solid form of the digital artifacts. Furthermore, the installation supports interaction between two or more members of the audience, hence fostering some form of social interaction amongst them, while they are transforming the audiovisual composition. This collaborative process may culminate in a synchronization of the audience members’ movements, thus diminishing the distance between the two environmental contexts of the installation; the digital and the physical. Therefore, audience members assume the role of performers, pushing the boundaries between the creators and the audience, virtual and physical space, the spatial context of the exhibition space and the urban environment, eventually becoming engaged in a hybrid spatial artistic experience.

 “Polispective” acts as a window to discover the hidden cityscape of Athens, as it is being re-interpreted within the abstract immaterial spatiality of a virtual environment. The window in question assumes the form of a projection through which the audience is able to manipulate aspects of the audiovisual composition by means of their bodily movement within physical space. The visual composition comprises of multiple perspectives of the Athenian cityscape that often escape notice by the citizens during their everyday routine. Photographs of the “ridge” formed by consecutive rooftops, neighbourhood alleys and building perspectives that often go unnoticed by citizens wrap around the digital artifacts, resulting in a composition wherein each artifact hosts multiple perspectives of the cityscape. These artifacts are then held together by a skeletal type structure onto a larger scale composition. Embodied interaction of the audience participants manipulates this skeletal structure, ultimately resulting in a continuous deconstruction/ reconstruction of the overall visual composition. This interaction also formulates the auditory environment of the installation. Each visual element emits a certain sound. As a member of the audience interacts with the virtual environment, changes in the morphology of a visual object also affect certain parameters of the sound that it emits, thus resulting in an engaging continuously evolving audiovisual hybrid spatial experience. The audio composition partly comprises of urban environmental sounds; however, when the installation is inactive, it emits rural environmental sounds, highlighting the contrast between the tranquility of the rural landscape and the intensity of city life.

Lego VR Submersion 1.0

Lego VR Submersion 1.0

Dimitris Charitos, Coti K. (1999)

“Lego_submersion v1.0” was an experiment for investigating the use of virtual environments (VEs) as a medium for creating audiovisual installations. For the purpose of comparing the processes of designing such an installation in real and in virtual space, “Lego_submersion v1.0” utilises the same musical pieces (Coti K., 1999) and aspects of the visual content (stills from the video tapes) displayed within “Lego Kit box”.

This VE installation has been developed for a desktop VR system and uses a 6 degree-of-freedom navigational input device. A series of content-objects function as landmarks (Charitos, 1998) or audiovisual content emitters within this installation. Each object emits one of the sound channels of a musical piece and on its surfaces an image is appropriately texture-mapped. The image, which is mapped on the surface of each object, conceptually corresponds to the sound emitted from this object. These objects are organised into 4 domains (Charitos, 1998). Each domain corresponds to one of the 4 musical pieces and one of the 4 different thematic sets of imagery (nature, city, house, body), presented in “Lego Kit box”. A non-realistic kind of transparency effect has been achieved on the surfaces of these objects by making use of single-sided polygons and by texture mapping the interiors of these objects.

Each of the 4 domains consists of a different universe (WorldUp, 1996). Each universe is spatially established by a spherical border (which is the furthest limit of user navigation) and a series of twisted structures, which create the context where the objects, displaying the audiovisual content, are arranged. Adopting VEs’ characteristic of spatial non-contiguity, these 4 domains are not related within an overall, continuous, three-dimensional spatial context. A visitor can only move among them by means of teleportation via appropriately designed portals.

Following use of “Lego_submersion v1.0” by a small number of visitors, it is suggested that this VE has not provided as strong or effective a spatial experience as the real environment installation. This is attributed to the limited visual output provided by the desktop VE system, the lack of 3D sound localisation hardware and the fact that the auditory display device was merely a set of headphones. Despite these technical limitations however, the intention of positioning the constituent elements of the musical pieces within an environment is clearly satisfied within this VE installation. In order to achieve this effect, the threshold distance from each object at which the sound begun to be audible, was appropriately adjusted. As a result, visitors can substantially differentiate between the sounds emitted by each object, as they move amongst them.

Additionally, visitors were given the impression that they had more active involvement in the way that the overall experience evolved. This was attributed to the fact that the sounds were interactively triggered by user navigation among the content-objects. This positive impact however, brought forward the need for appropriately designing the sound segments in an interactively evolving musical piece, bearing in mind the random manner in which these segments may be triggered.

Charitos, D. 1998. The architectural aspect of designing space in virtual enviroments. PhD thesis submitted to the Department of Architecture and Building Science. University of Strathclyde. Glasgow. UK.
Coti K. 1999. Lego (CD). Athens: Studio 2 Recordings.
World UpTM User’s Guide. 1996. Mill Valley, CA: Sense8 Corporation.