Ussing and Hoff introduces ‘cyberspace’ more than a decade prior to Gibson, the fact that they present a far more optimistic and humane concept of cyberspace is even more fascinating.
The term “cyberspace” first appeared in the visual arts in the late 1960s, when Danish artist Susanne Ussing (1940-1998) and her partner architect Carsten Hoff (b. 1934) constituted themselves as Atelier Cyberspace. Under this name the two made a series of installations and images entitled “sensory spaces” that were based on the principle of open systems adaptable to various influences, such as human movement and the behaviour of new materials.
Atelier Cyberspace worked at a time when the Internet did not exist and computers were more or less off-limit to artists and creative engagement. In a 2015-interview with Scandinavian art magazine Kunstkritikk, Carsten Hoff recollects, that although Atelier Cyberspace did try to implement computers, they had no interest in the virtual space as such:
To us, ‘cyberspace’ was simply about managing spaces. There was nothing esoteric about it. Nothing digital, either. It was just a tool. The space was concrete, physical.
And in the same interview Hoff continues:
Our shared point of departure was that we were working with physical settings, and we were both frustrated and displeased with the architecture from the period, particularly when it came to spaces for living. We felt that there was a need to loosen up the rigid confines of urban planning, giving back the gift of creativity to individual human beings and allowing them to shape and design their houses or dwellings themselves – instead of having some clever architect pop up, telling you how you should live. We were thinking in terms of open-ended systems where things could grow and evolve as required.