From Metaphysics to Metadata – #2. Infrastructure and Flow. The Channels of Metadata

On: September 5, 2010
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About Nicola Bozzi
I was born in Catanzaro, Italy but I was raised in Milan. I studied Arts and Multimedia at Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, where I achieved a BA and then an MA in Cinema and Video. I have collaborated with magazines like Zero ( and Exhibart (, writing art and cinema reviews. I was part of the Check-in Architecture editorial staff ( , and I now work for, an online architecture magazine.


This is the second part of my thesis From Metaphysics to Metadata. Aesthetics and Politics of Interface. Here’s the first part.

ABSTRACT [Or download full PDF: NicolaBozzi_MP2MD_Channels]

Starting from the example of urban simulacra (in form of virtual environments, mapping applications, or augmented reality renderings), in this chapter I introduce how a virtual infrastructure actualizes into an interface by means of metadata. Relying on Gilles Deleuze’s concept of virtual as used by Pierre Levy, and especially on Michel Foucault’s heterotopia, I also explain the connections between urban simulacra and some emerging practices in urban design and architecture. In particular, I highlight the relationship between the XML node and the shipping container. Referring to Alexander Galloway’s Protocol, I point out how the use of informational units as both a communication device and a content shape is a common protocological practice in both urban simulacra and actual globalized urban landscapes.

In this chapter I also give a detailed definition and concrete examples of how metadata affects space and people in global cities through the rhetorics of the creative industries, explained by David Harvey, Matteo Pasquinelli, and Bas van Heur. In highlighting the dynamics by which such rhetorics spread, I also describe the folksonomical production of metadata and, by referencing again to Pasquinelli, the parasitical nature of infrastructure.

By providing a deeper analysis of the three layers constituting infrastructure, interface, and metadata, and by explaining the relationships between them, I introduce the main problem of the thesis: the compromising nature of metadata and the limiting boundaries of stereotype. Such topics will be more clearly discussed and problematized in the following chapter, by way of analyzing four different figures and as many issues in urban living and identity building: the Nerd, the Hipster, the Comedian, and the Gangster.

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