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Dossier Urbicande.be - Introduction

Urbicande.be was named after the Obscure City Urbicande. Urbicande featured for the first time in the Obscure Cities series in the album La Fièvre d'Urbicande, published in 1984.

Benoît Peeters said about the development: “The Obscure Cities were “multimedia” even before that word became fashionable. Like the Network of La Fièvre d'Urbicande, with its constant development and unpredictable consequences just appeared one day, we appeared one day on the Internet. It was with this metaphor we left urbicande.be to be developed. A site with the support of Casterman, the Brussels society Magic Square and a friend, Alok B. Nandi.

In the first approach, the site “Urbicande” borrowed a lot of Le Guide des Cités, which it took over the structure and many elements. But soon it became clear that we had to go further, if you wanted to set up a real interactivity, not the “multi-linearity” you could find everywhere. The site is our site, a permanent forum for dialogue and experimentation. Unlike a relative fixed object as a book, the Internet is based on a living logic, scalable.

En 1985, dans La Fièvre d’Urbicande, nous avions imaginé l’histoire d’une ville totalitaire, coupée en deux par un fleuve que des règles strictes interdisaient de traverser. Dans cette cité à l’architecture écrasante et monolithique, un cube commençait à grandir et à se multiplier.

Structure rigoureuse, il se développait comme un être vivant. Par sa croissance démesurée, ce Réseau bouleversait bientôt Urbicande, abolissant la frontière entre les deux rives et générant de la communication sous toutes ses formes, y compris une série de petites “maisons de rendez-vous”. A force de s’accroître, il finissait par disparaître, laissant les habitants dans une grande nostalgie… Faut-il le dire : nous ignorions alors l’existence d’Internet et les images qui nous nourrissaient étaient d’une tout autre nature (nous pensions surtout à Berlin).

Aujourd’hui, nous sommes frappés, comme bon nombre de lecteurs, par les rapports entre Internet et le Réseau d’Urbicande : c’est cette relation qui constitue le point de départ du site que nous avons récemment lancé sur le Web. (…)

Excerpt from the book « L’aventure des images » by Schuiten & Peeters, 1997

Peeters: “We have gradually developed our site to become a kind of labyrinth, where random functions are essential: when you click on the cube to rotate, we do not know what you're going to do next. We also welcome the Internet for items that could not find a place in the albums, such as “assumptions passages” suggested by readers. We present also, in a specific form, the first pages of an album we work on, L'Ombre D'un Homme, and the work being prepared in the workshop. Gradually, as opportunities develop, we integrate sound, the animated image of 3D. We do not seek the technical hype, but want to play with “the Internet”, by offering something that is rare on the web: fiction.

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