But Is There Room Service?

A new hotel opens today, at the Chapman Gallery in Manchester (England) and also in cyberspace. Devised by Andrea Zapp (the artist who gave us the world's first 24-hour online surveillance soap) with coding by Onno Baudouin, the Imaginary Hotel is shaped by its guests. Gallery visitors choose images, sound and video elements while online users can modify the hotel web site, changing existing details or uploading new material. Guests, wherever they are, communicate via a web-telephone interface, and a streaming webcast documents the changing environment. Zapp has chosen the social flux of hotels as a platform to explore digital travel between physical and imagined spaces. The hotel room becomes a blank canvas on which the real and virtual guests leave traces. -Helen Varley Jamieson