“(…) Beobachten ist nichts anderes als das Handhaben von Unterscheidungen. Ob dies im Prozess des Herstellens erfolgt oder später angesichts des fertigen Kunstwerkes oder ob durch den Künstler oder durch andere, ist ein Unterschied zweiten Ranges. Aller Umgang mit der Kunst ist zunächst ein unterscheidendes Beobachten, auch und gerade während des Prozesses, in dem die Herstellung des Kunstwerks sich vollzieht. Der Künstler ist daran als Beobachter beteiligt.” Niklas Luhmann
At the beginning of 2010 we were awarded a two-year grant for the research project Public Space 2.0 which enabled us to pursue artistic-scientific basic research in the thematic field of “Public
Space and Technology”. In our research work we investigated current describing conditions that allow to experience public space of today. We formed an interest group consisting of different disciplines – urban planning and design, architectural theory and computer science – set out to study various procedures of observing and visualizing. Public space is a product of delineations; not the space as such but inscribed delineations and how they occurred became object of our observation. Space is not something vis-à-vis; thus public space represents neither an external object nor an internal experience. Socio-political and technological conditions obviously play a significant role in the process of creation and transformation of public space. However, as operational principles and rules they can hardly be grasped. Our arts-based research is thus based on exemplary observations and seeks to make visible the boundaries of publicly negotiated spaces.
Space as a linguistic phenomenon
We understand communication as decisive modality for social exchange and observe public sphere as a sort of linguistic phenomenon. With Martin Heidegger, who refused to accept language mainly as instrument to convey something, we learn to consider speakers as participants and not as producers of their own language. »Die Sprache spricht, nicht der Mensch. Der Mensch spricht nur, indem er geschickt der Sprache entspricht.« According to him language is a process of passing on information, which is why the speaker can only react according to what has been passed on. If we adopt this view, the qualitative study of linguistically structured spaces of experience based on the quantitative analysis of data hardly seems to make sense. But current trends, by contrast, show other assessments: technically inspired artistic approaches in design processes increasingly focus on collecting and processing large amounts of data. On the basis of goal-specific organization of information, they seek to
offer scenario-oriented solutions to urban problems. In the core of such scenarios actors
are as agents conveying information that primarily allow to organize and to control spatial conditions. By limiting the authority of media and information to functionalized variables, the super-ordinate dynamics of public, urban environments appear conducive
to planning and regulation. The phenomenon to be observed becomes limited to an interplay of quantifiable variables. Following this method, subsequent evaluations develop relevance only if they prove to relate to values of quantifiable consistency. Other reference conditions of influence quantity in regards to the existing abstract range of individual choice cannot be documented this way and remain unconsidered. Thus space dedicated to all kinds of different people thus does not relate in any plausible way
nature anymore. This way society seemingly achieves the right to reduce planning and regulation – one of the central control instruments of public life – to primarily forcing human nature to comply to political demands rather than encouraging it to mature. We propose grasping public sphere as reflecting a locus of linguistic phenomena as well as of those pre-linguistic references yet to be made. Individuals partake of collective processes of passing on information, which is manifested in social practices and communication techniques, in collective customs and rituals. To return to Heidegger we could say that such processes of passing on information cannot be analyzed on the basis of logical rules since language is not exclusively based on a chain of content-specific (propositional) statements. Our approach of observing and making phenomena visible is aimed less at arriving at apodictic statements about individual facts but
rather at revealing relationships and thus at living environment.
By deciding to cooperate between space&designstrategies,
the Institute of Architecture Science and the Institute of Computer
Technology, we express our aim to
let artistic and scientific research be informed by different modes of thinking and working. At the same time joint basic research may be guided by creative leitmotifs so that varying methodological preferences can be accommodated. Phenomenological views are confronted with ideas of classic scientific development. As part of a phenomenological approach, our common thinking process was informed by evidence, radical arguments and analysis of meanings; if necessary, such an approach sometimes even led to a reversal of a specific path of investigation. The goal is to grasp observed objects as free of facticity as possible. As methodological instrument, reduction and free variation certainly met a general wish for impartiality in the context of interdisciplinary work. In mainly technical -methodology, by contrast, achieved results operate merely as immanent preconditions for what is to be developed next; those rather scientifically informed processes seek to avoid challenging set prepositions. Conflictuous situations in the joint working process may have proved to be inevitable, making high demands visible along the interdisciplinary research processes. At the same time the two-year conflict-oriented discussions phase has successfully contributed to the updating of given classical terminology originating in varying public space discourses.
“Aus dieser Antinomie zwischen Philosophie und Wissenschaft ist nicht herauszukommen: das Erkenntnisideal der Philosophie widersetzt sich der Methodisierung, die Wissenschaft als der unendliche Anspruch eines endlichen Wesens erzwingt sie.”  In his essay Lebenswelt und Technisierung, Hans Blumenberg describes the demarcation line between philosophy and science as the transition to mechanization in the modern sense as opposed to all previous technology of man. To him mechanization is seen as a consequence of the overall lacking capability to reinforce the binding process, by means of which advancements in knowledge can be pursued detached from the original strict conditions of apriori completed proof. Given the fact that it embodies infinite advancement as mechanistic principle of being, the latent transcending of human resources defined by finiteness implies for Blumenberg:
“Alle Mechanismen sind letztlich auf die Steigerung einer endlich vorgegebenen Kapazität, nämlich der des menschlichen Daseins, angelegt; sie strecken, wenn man so sagen darf, die Reichweite jedes Daseins, im räumlichen wie im zeitlichen Bezug, sie erlauben uns, Sprünge zu machen, statt Schritte zu tun.”
According to Blumenberg it is hardly possible to conceive digital technology as of predominantly neutral
nature. Without being able to determine its full impact, Blumenberg presupposes a technical opus moderandi beyond function and use. Similar to human consciousness in its invariable tendencies to refer to object-like appearances, be it of an inner or outer nature, the technical principle also claims objects for itself, which function as part of its super-ordinate phenomenon. Technology informed actuality, along with all the specific conditions and prerequisites, can be reflected within a sort of multidimensional structure of relationships. In addition to theoretical analysis, we finally worked on accompanying user-oriented layers of prototypical production. We finally produced a wearable artifact, a device that can be worn on the shoulder, which allows to experience additional layers of environmentally based relationships for further purposes of investigation.
 Heidegger, Martin, Der Satz vom Grund. 1955–56, Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 9. A. 2006. p.143. engl. transl.: “Language speaks, not the individual. The individual only speaks by skillfully conforming with language.«
 Blumenberg, Hans, Lebenswelt und Technisierung, in Wirklichkeiten in denen wir leben, Reclam, Ditzingen, 2009. p.42. engl. transl.:»It is not possible to escape this antinomy between philosophy and science: the cognitive ideal of philosophy opposes the methodization, science as the infinite claim of a finite essence forces it.«
 engl. transl.:»Living environment and mechanization«
 original framing: »Technisierung in jenem zu aller vorherigen Technik des Menschen heterogenen neuzeitlichen Sinne«
 Lebenswelt, 2009. p.50.
engl. transl.:»All mechanisms are ultimately geared to increasing a finite given capacity, namely that of human being; they extend, if we might put it this way, the scope of being, in both a spatial and a temporal sense; they enable us to make leaps instead of steps.«
 http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subjekt-Objekt-Spaltung#cite_note-1 (Accessed on: 24.04.2012)