All posts for the month September, 2019

Together with Jan Misker of V2_Lab for the Unstable Media, I will be giving a talk in the Beyond Smart Cities Today symposium, organized by the Centre for BOLD Cities (a collaboration between Erasmus University, Leiden University, and TU Delft). The symposium is headlined by Rob Kitchin, with keynotes by a host of super interesting speakers (program here as PDF).

The talk is titled Alternative Imaginaries for the Smart City. Here’s the abstract:

The rise of the smart city as a dominant urban development paradigm has raised concerns about the public’s capacity to make sense of the technologies and policies involved. Accordingly, most efforts to engage the public with the smart city tend to focus on demystifying urban technologies – opening up the technological “black box” for public scrutiny. But what if we consider the smart city not only as a collection of intelligent technologies but as a social imaginary – a set of collectively held beliefs about the world and how we can act on it? What new opportunities for art- and design-led interventions emerge if instead of concentrating on the technologies we have, we focused on the city we want – on what urban scholar Saskia Sassen calls “cityness”?

In this presentation we will illustrate some of the possibilities, challenges and benefits of engaging with the smart city as a social imaginary, with an eye on translating the SHARED principles for public engagement into concrete activities. We will discuss several current and upcoming Dutch art and design-led interventions that aim to disclose, problematize and pluralize the social imaginaries that guide the development and deployment of urban technologies. We will do so while drawing a distinction between interventions that imagine alternative smart cities for, and those done by, the public.

The symposium takes place Sept.18-19, 2019, at the New Institute in Rotterdam.