Call for Papers: 15-17 May 2008 Ghent University, "Analogous Spaces"

15-17 May 2008 Ghent University
International Conference

Architecture and the space of information, intellect and action

Call for Papers

The International Conference on Analogous Spaces interrogates the
analogy between spaces in which knowledge is preserved, organized,
transferred or activated. Although these spaces may differ in
material, virtual, or operational ways, there are resemblances if one
examines their 'structure,' 'form' and 'architecture'. How do these
spaces co-exist and interrelate?

The conference seeks papers on the following types of spaces:
? architecture and elements of the built environment (museums,
libraries and archives, warehouses, ministries, administrative towns,
world capitals, physical infrastructure, functionalist urbanism,
? information storage and data processing (databases, information
retrieval, data mining, conceptual maps, scholarly communication,
search engines, etc.);
? the architecture of "the book" (contents and layout of atlases,
scientific and scholarly treatises, encyclopedias, guides, manuals,
children's books etc.);
? organizational schemes and diagrams (organigrams, functional
diagrams, visual language, interfaces, artificial intelligence,
taxonomies, classification systems, itineraries, etc.).

Conference papers should examine analogical relationships between
these types of spaces by investigating how they produce, accumulate,
order, conserve, distribute, classify, and use knowledge.

The conference will be organized around three main themes:
1. The first theme explores spatial analogies in terms of social
and intellectual networks. What are the geographic relationships
and/or technological affordances that support or inhibit the
development of such networks? What constrains their development and
effectiveness and how do different kinds of network models help in
understanding their formation, evolution and dissolution.
2. The second theme deals with the space of knowledge and memory.
How can we compare the encyclopedia and the museum, the book and the
library, the diagram and the database? How do they use architecture to
structure knowledge and how is architecture used as a metaphor of
3. The third theme explores the space required for speed, action
and decision making. In modernity, fast and effective action generates
its own space of organization, intelligence and feedback. What does
this space look like, and what are the different ways in which it can
be represented?

The Paul Otlet Case Study > The conference considers Paul Otlet
(Brussels 1868-Brussels 1944), Belgian intellectual, utopian
internationalist and visionary theorist about knowledge organization,
as a stepping stone. The live and work of Otlet are an inspiring case
study, however they certainly do not delimit the issues addressed in
this colloquium. Otlet, together with Henri La Fontaine, developed the
Universal Decimal Classification system for bibliography and
documentation, and founded the International Institute for
Bibliography and the Union of International Associations. He and La
Fontaine were also influential in the movement that led to the
creation of the League of Nations. Otlet was also the co-founder of
the Union Internationale des Villes. In the field of architecture he
is especially known for his collaboration with Le Corbusier in
creating plans for a Mundaneum or an international centre for
information, education and science in Geneva. He was also a leading
figure in the architectural design and urban planning of a model
seaside community at Westend before World War I. All of his endeavours
aimed at the international development and centralization of
scientific and cultural networks.

Session Themes

1. Spaces of Intellectual Networks > Papers in this session of the
conference will examine theoretical and historical perspectives on
intellectual networks. The focus is on (but not limited to) the early
twentieth century when European intellectuals such as Paul Otlet,
Edmond Picard, Emile Vinck, René Worms, Patrick Geddes, Wilhelm
Ostwald, Otto Neurath and Le Corbusier not only participated in, but
also founded and developed different (trans)national networks. How are
we to capture the dimensions and interconnections of the networks in
which figures such as these were involved? And how do other
intellectual and cultural networks centered in different nations
function in terms of cooperation or competition? How can we map or
describe the space of these networks which was often physically
operationalized by the creation of institutions and associations,
scholarly journals or bibliographical services, conferences, lecture
series, and (world) exhibitions, but which also had an informal,
interpersonal dimension? What was the impact of geographical scale on
the development of these networks (local, national, transnational,
international)? How were they influenced by changing technologies of
communication (rail networks, the telephone, the telegraph, postal
services, periodical publications, news bulletin, etc.)? How did
individuals position themselves within these networks? Papers may
utilize new conceptual tools to help us understand the modern physical
and organizational spaces of intellectual networks, and authors are
encouraged to include more recent theories of network analysis and
social transformation stimulated by the virtual and online
technologies of information.

2. Space of Knowledge and Memory > Papers in this session of the
conference will examine spatial analogies related to the architecture
of accumulation (archives, warehouses, etc.), the document as a space
of knowledge (books, objects, images, documents, statistical data,
etc.) and the space of memory (libraries, museums, databases, records,
etc.). The museum can be considered as an atlas or an encyclopedia.
The space of the library is organized in part by systems for the
classification and arrangement of documents. The space of the book is
like that of a library where knowledge, texts and images are
differentially situated and interrelated physically by conceptual
structures (indexes, lists of figures, tables of contents, footnotes,
bibliographies, and so on). The architecture of databases is made
comprehensible by means of diagrams. Architecture can be used in all
of these cases both as a means of and a metaphor for storing and
making information accessible. As a means, architecture expresses the
function of an archive: the structuring, putting and holding of things
in place and providing routes of access to and between them. But
buildings and towns are also metaphors forinformation space, as
reflected in, for example, Castells's concept of the informational
city, information highways, and modern notions as information
architecture or website architecture. Moreover, architecture, the
city, information, and even philosophical texts and psychological
theories have been represented in spatial terms by maps, guides,
diagrams, classification and index systems, etc. How do requirements
for the storage, management and accessibility of knowledge produce
their own spaces? How are these spaces represented? What has been the
impact of the development of artificial memory sciences and computer
technology on the art and discipline of architecture itself?

3. Space of Action and Decision Making > The third session addresses
the space of action, speed and decision making in the city. In order
to govern the city or to make decisions on urban processes, procedures
or mechanisms that guide these decision processes are needed. Not only
are these processes themselves subjected to permanent managerial
controls, but so are the different data networks on which they are
based, such as those for water, electricity, telephony, traffic,
meteorology, sewage, roads, land ownership, police, etc. To develop
these networks with high precision, to legitimate choices in town
planning practice or to develop effective urban planning policy,
information and data must be gathered from different places,
practices, institutions and disciplines. The descriptive tradition of
the survey in the history of town planning for example, illustrates
the importance of accumulating documented evidence. Its aim is not
only to amass extensive knowledge about the city, but to synthesize
and organize it in a goal-oriented way in order to be able to take
action. The speed of information processing becomes a strategic
dimension of decision making. Government bodies and administrative
institutions look for ever more rapid and effective monitoring tools
and expert systems. The papers in this session will deal with such
questions as: How do these systems influence the organizational,
legislative, bureaucratic and political structures responsible for
city planning? How is this space of action and decision making
supported, organized and represented?

Abstacts >

Papers: Participants in the conference will submit abstracts for the
papers they wish to present. Abstracts will normally be not more than
750 words. Abstracts will explain the methodological or conceptual
goals of the papers and may use a combination of text, diagrams,
illustrations, schemes, etc. to do so.
Posters and multimedia presentations: however this call is not only
for formal papers but also for abstracts for posters, slideshows,
movies, installations or other types of visual media relevant to the
themes of the conference. Provision will be made for their display and
presentation in the conference venue and for their authors to explain
their work to the public.

The International Conference on Analogous Spaces aims to provide an
interdisciplinary forum for researchers and practitioners from
different disciplines such as Art and Architectural History, Urban
Planning, Library and Information Sciences, Computer Science, Cultural
and Urban Studies, Cultural History, Sociology, Knowledge
Visualization, Information Architecture, and Cognitive Art.

Calender >

? 31 July 2007 Deadline submission of abstracts
? 31 October 2007 Selection of papers
? 31 March 2008 Submission of final papers and other contributions
? 15-17 May 2008 Conference Analogous Spaces

Practical Information >

? Conference language: English
? Conference venue: Ghent (Belgium)
? Publication: A selection of conference papers will be published
? Information:
? E-mail:

Conference Committee >

Alistair Black, Koos Bosma, Pierre Chabard, Pierre Delsaerdt, Guy De
Tré, Steffen Ducheyne, Bernd Frohmann, Giuliano Gresleri, Janusz
Kacprzyk, Gert Morreel, Boyd Rayward, Dominique Rouillard, Pieter
Uyttenhove, Wouter Van Acker, Charles van den Heuvel, David
Vanderburgh, Herbert Van de Sompel, Sylvia Van Peteghem, Nader
Vassoughian, Christophe Verbruggen, Hans Van de Voorde, Volker Welter,
Lofti Asker Zadeh, Slawomir Zadrozny

Organizing Committee >

Guy De Tré, Pieter Uyttenhove, Wouter Van Acker and Sylvia Van
Peteghem of Ghent University.
The International Conference on Analogous Spaces is an initiative of
the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning in cooperation with
Ghent University Library and Computer Science Laboratory, Ghent

| Neal Thomas
| PhD Candidate, Communication Studies
| Department of Art History & Communication Studies
| McGill University
| Montreal, QC Canada