Nowadays space researchers and modern artists no longer seek to change city space in a political way, as Guy Debord and French Situationists did in 1950s. It was a movement of activists who explored city space, created new maps based on emotions, opened new routes and tried to change city space practically, developing a theoretical framework at the same time. However, favorite Situationists' practice of exploring and interpreting cities psychogeography is still used but with different intentions. It has acquired new goals in the digital age and in this essay we will turn to the experience of Russian artists and look at these new goals and techniques, considering philosophical theories.
New spatial practices emerged as a result of changes in the very space and time in which we live. Space of modern big cities is characterized by a dynamic and turbulent condition, so the aim of exploring space has been transformed into an attempt to capture details and make sense of it. At the end of 20th century, French anthropologist Marc Augé called our era 'supermodernity', determined by universal redundancy and acceleration. He also offered a concept of non-places that we come across in our everyday life. Non-place is a public place wherehuman beings remain anonymous and this is not an anthropological place in the usual sense.
The major factor of a renewed perception of space is technological development. Technology itself has become a participant in the exploration and representation of spatiality. French cultural theorist, urbanist and aesthetic philosopher Paul Virilio problematised technological perception by calling it ‘vision machine’. He problematized automated perception and developed the idea of merging the actual and the virtual. The attempt to capture the environment and the self in it involves a material space expanding into a virtual one. Real and virtual space have now finally merged. American urbanist and space researcher EdwardSoja introduced the concept of 'the third space' that is neither virtual nor real at the same time. Therefore spatial practices have been extended to virtual worlds, which digital artists propose to explore like physical places and use new instruments and strategies.
Digital artists and researchers apply spatial practices in close connection with data processing: information about space is recorded on special devices, further processed, presented and stored. Thus, all cycles of exploring and perception of space involve working with data. As a result, it can be represented as a map, for example, or information about geolocation, attitude and emotional feelings of pedestrians in public places, photos or videos taken while dérive (from French.; a common Situationists' practice, which means walking spontaneously without a set route) and many other forms technology-mediated.
This diversity and the possibility of creating new software and algorithms to capture and process data leads to a variety of ways of representing spatiality in digital art, among them are psychogeographic maps, soundscapes, computer models of cities, photo and video documentation, applications for exploring the city space and other hybrid art forms. Digital artists are no longer limited by dérive and creating psychogeographic maps, although this can be a part of their practice.