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At times all I need is a brief glimpse, an opening in the midst of an incongruous landscape, a glint of light in the fog, the dialogue of two passersby meeting in the crowd, and I think that, setting out from there, I will put together, piece by piece, the perfect city, made of fragments mixed with the rest, of instants separated by intervals, of signals one sends out, not knowing who receives them. If I tell you that the city toward which my journey tends is discontinuous in space and time, now scattered, now more condensed, you must not believe the search for it can stop. Perhaps while we speak, it is rising, scattered, within the confines of your empire.

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

ALIEN CITY is an entirely virtual city in cyberspace, its aural and visual appearance composed of elements taken from different cities all over the world in different periods of time. The city is in a hybrid state of constant change, of in-betweens: its shape is a permanent process of morphing between those elements. ALIEN CITY could be all the cities in the world or none; it could have existed for centuries or be just beginning.

ALIEN CITY is not a ficticious city but a virtual one. It really exists, floating in the discontinuity of time and space of the World Wide Web. Every user's visit causes changes in the appearance of this city, every move leads to an alteration, to a slight shift in the fabric of its continuum. But these changes never will appear obviously - they are of a subtle character. Like in all the cities of our world, one never knows where changes will appear next. So maybe after some time, on one of their future walks through ALIEN CITY, the visitors will find an image or a sound never seen or listened to before. But even then it will be impossible to tell if it was they or somebody else who was the reason for it.

ALIEN CITY is equipped with webcams - one of them mounted on the highest building, slowly circling around 360, 24 hours a day - and with open microphones picking up the everyday soundscape of the city. The citymap is the entrance into ALIEN CITY and the main navigational tool. It adapts itself to the expanding city limits with every user's move. Even the documented history history of the city shifts - depending on the moves of the user - thus showing that history is never a linear process of cause and effect but a dynamic fabric of interdependent relations between humans, machines and their environments.

Since 1999 ALIEN CITY occasionally materialises for short periods of time in special locations, giving up its pure virtual character. In return, the very local atmospheres influence the virtual city causing it to undergo substancial new reality shifts. It incorporates pieces of the found realities and morphs them with its historical apperances. Something new emerges - the city is on the move again.

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