xstarshub.com Digital Media Art in the Upper Rhine Valley.
Conservation – Restoration – Sustainability
Gideon May

The Legible City, the evolution of an interactive installation

In "The Legible City", an installation by Jeffrey Shaw with Dirk Groeneveld, the viewer navigates through simulated city streets of one of three cities, Manhattan, Amsterdam or Karlsruhe. The existing architecture of each of these cities is replaced by three dimensional text that form work and sentences which are shown on a large screen. The viewer rides on a stationary bicycle and reads as she navigates through this text-based virtual space. From its inception as an installation where the viewer navigates through just Manhattan by means of a joystick to its final form with all three cities present and where the viewer uses a bicycle to ride through the virtual representation of the landscape, the Legible City evolved over a period of six years from a simple line based animation shown on a computer monitor to a visually complex real-time generated landscape projected on a large screen placed in front of the bicycle. This presentation will focus on the technical challenges which are faced on maintaining and transforming the software code of the Legible City, from running on early PC based computer platforms to executing on high end computer graphics work stations.


Gideon May was born in 1964 in Amsterdam. In his early twenties he worked as an assistant to a fashion photographer as well as a camera assistant for film and television in the Netherlands. Since the late eighties he worked as a programmer on a variety of interactive art projects for a large number of artists. Between 1992 and 1999 he was affiliated with the ZKM in Karlsruhe as a software developer and researcher. From 2000 until 2003 he held a teaching position at the department for New Media, Academy for Art and Design in Zürich, Switzerland. Currently he resides between Montreal where he is a senior researcher and engineer for Antimodular and Amsterdam where he runs his company which designs and manufactures luminaries and interactive lighting installations.

The project is supported by:
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