Friday, July 30, 2010

Re: [Yasmin_discussions] hybrid city as interface

hello all,

On Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 4:26 PM, Daphne Dragona <>wrote:

> "the city is not just a built environment consisting of buildings and
> streets and subways and parks
> and waste systems and communications cables but also a living dynamic of
> cultural practices,
> intellectual circuits, affective networks and social institutions. These
> elements of the common
> contained in the city are not only the prerequisite for biopolitical
> production but also its result;
> the city is the source of the common and the receptacle into which it
> flows."
> and also
> "the politics of metropolis is the organisation of encounters. Its task is
> to promote joyful encounters,
> make them repeat and minimise infelicitous encounters"..
that was exactly one of the main points we tried to investigate and confront
when we built the Atlas of Rome and in the development of its continuation,
called ConnectiCity (and, referencing some of the past posts, i find it
quite refreshing that the name of the event in which we created the
installation was "Index Urbis" and that it was produced by the order of the
architects of Rome, probabily one of the most difficult western cities in
which to try to implement such a process).

creating wonder, joy and other playfully stimulating experiences is a tool
that can be used to break down barriers to experiment adoption processes for
new interactions, technologies, practices.

in a continum that extends from architecture, art, performance,
communication sciences and back to rave parties and interstitial practces of
the metropolis, the cities becoming displays offer novel forms for
expression, experimentation and research.

we actually could focus on simpler technologies to investigate all this:
urban graffiti and skateboarding can be seen as augmented reality practices
adding layers of meaning to the city, layers of stories, voices,

"Architecture must articulate the relationship between body and landscape.
It must ground us. Morphosis: translucency is a quality of the floating
world. Floating world comes alive at night, in secret courtyards and in
rooms that open up beyond shoji screens. It is concentrated in certain
quarters but permeates the city with a sensual reality." (A. Betsky - E.

it is probabily a form of erotic relationship that which allows street
artists to relate *through* the city to other human beings, a visual fetish
that is enacted through dresscodes and drawings, establishing discourses
that are based on reenactment, recontextualization and, most of all, by the
continuous creation of urban displays and of mind maps describing
territories, domains, influences, capabilities, possibilities,
relationships, arguments, critiques. The layering of graffiti on a wall, or
the reenactment of the acrobatics of freestyle skaters transforming badly
mantained urban furniture items into magical places for expression tell
stories and bear opportunities for expression that are practical examples of
the theories expressed by the situationists as well as the ones narrated by
the most advanced forms of contemporary, technologically and
communicationally hybridized forms of architecture.

many other forms of communication enact this sort of interstitial narratives
in interesting ways: flyers, stickers, stencils are all temporary, mobile,
disseminated narratives that create interpretative layers of meaning onto
the given reality, that suggest relational communication practices and
aesthetics, transforming the city's looks, creating temporary performative
spaces/times, happenings and ephemeral networks.

in all this, the work of prof. Massimo Canevacci is enlightning:

"the burning relationship between education and research moves along the
connections and possible exchanges between anthropology, tecno-communication
and architecture: architecture, as textuality that partly informs
anthropological representations, partly incorporates ethnographical
researches, and partly remixes both using new technologies" (M. Canevacci in
"architecture must burn")

i particularly value the term "architeXture" as it also voluntarily points
in the direction of "texture", mixing the idea of text and the sensorial
characteristics of the surfaces of our buildings, turning every urban
surface into a possibility for a display. concrete, steel, glass all
disappear, leaving only information and communication, temporary,
recombinant, interactive, open-ended, multi-authorial, interstitial,
arythmic, visually and sensorially fetishist.

"Quando l'architettura si anima, il corpo fa altrettanto." (When
architetture comes alive, so does the body)


"in the relationship between moving architecture and metropolitan
communication (that has very little to share with the old urban
anthropology) the concept of society - on which social sciences, politics
and the entire modernity are based - has been dissolving for a long time,
allowing for the emergence of something that is less solid and "dualistic":
the communicational metropoliss. Its boundaries are faded and full of holes:
its concepts are liquid and burning, its spaces digitalized, its identities
Some new anthropology tried coming out around the half of the '80s. But even
if it did try to confront the relationships between writing and authority,
poetics and politics, art, ethnography and museum, it left out other forms
of visual representation (that, with time, turned out to be progressively
more dynamic and conflictual), it merely evocated the new
self-representational subjectivities, and it excluded the possible grafts
among tecno-communication and metropolis. Here lies the sense of empasse
that has been lasting since too much time."

from my point of view this is probabily one of the best answers to the
original question proposed by Daphne. Multiple forms of visual
representation, of interaction, of reinvention, of recontextualization and
of stratification of information and communication on territories,
buildings, objects, clothes, devices and bodies can, did and will implement
new practices, build new "common" models and build new spaces and
An idea that can prove helpful in this process is the one of
"micro-politics", in a sense similar to the one described by Guattari in his
Three Ecologies: localized, temporary, nomadic politics with embedded
ecologies and embedded in larger ones, asserting powers produced by "below",
within the tissue of social relations, distributed through network relations
and strenghtened by virtue of the destabilization of pre-existing
distinctions (as described in a nice way by Daniel Barber in his
contribution to "Critical Architecture").
Each intervention, each new "display", each new layer of meaning and
interpretation implemented through a new map or geographical mash-up, each
new interaction mode available, even in its "designed" form, as provided by
its creator(s), can be imagined as an instance of micro-politics, describing
and enacting a new claim, appropriation, chance for expression.

Practices and tactics of mapping, of creating and modifying our own city
> are
> part of today's urban commons.
> As are our disposal & interest for such processes, or our encounters and
> daily interactions.
> The space defined as "public" in a city becomes "common" through the
> contemporary interfaces and our interventions.
> The hybrid city tools and applications that we are critically discussing in
> this list do offer access
> to the formation and use of those commons. But while the power of
> contribution lies to the hands of
> their users/ participants, the ambiguous right of expropriation is also
> present...

i think we can join the two parts of this discourse: moving from the "spaces
of consumption" to the "consumption of space" (as Lefebvre puts it) can be
an interesting starting point. In the contemporary era, this passes through
a reconsideration of some of the classifications of how we use our spaces,
times and energies; leisure, work, relax, private, public. Also stimulated
by the changes in attitude that are also deeply affecting the distinctions
of private/public spaces, with the new emerging ethics and habits that are
clearly visible, for example, in the ways millions of people use
location-based social networks and augmented reality platforms, disclosing
their most intimate data (the location and occupation of their physical
body) and dissolving the boundaries between labour and free time that is at
the base of these kinds of interactions.
The real opportunity here is in the possibility: the possibility to create
layerings, interpretations, wonder, interactivity, insight and excitement,
emotion and relation.
As Borges said in his Aleph:
"In that single gigantic instant I saw millions of acts both delightful and
awful; not one of them amazed me more than the fact that all of them
occupied the same point in space, without overlapping or transparency. What
my eyes beheld was simultaneous, but what I shall now write down will be
successive, because language is successive. Nonetheless, I will try to
recollect what I can."
The amazement of layering meaning onto the given reality, truly expressing
multiple voices/perspectives and making them available and accessible all
"in the same point in space, without overlapping or transparency" is a real
turning point in the way in which you conceive and imagine a urban space (or
even a non-urban space, for that matter). And this is, in my point of view,
a phenomenon that generates deeply morphing processes in society.
In this morphing process it seems clear to me that a continuous loop of
is unavoidable. Ethics change with new "common" practices and new common
practices form new ethics, all redefining times, spaces and matters from the
points of view of multiple agencies, each, in turn, appropriating and
recontextualizing technologies, practices and locations/aesthetics/rythms,
in a discourse that is both global and local.
In this, allow me to make a loop back to the beginning of what i wrote,
reconnecting to the parallels with street practices, such as skating. In the
wonderful book "Skateboarding, space and the city: architecture and the
body", Iain Borden makes a wonderful dissertation of skating practices in
relation to urban architectures and the creation ad adoption of social,
relational and emotional practices, and the creation of new imaginaries and
A wonderful parallel with Lefevbre's production of space is made in the
book, that is also nicely applicable to the ways in which individuals,
groups and entire societies embrace the availability of new forms of
interactions related to their urban environments. In the book, the sequence
ranges from "Found Spaces, meaning the schools, yards, banks, ditches, pools
and pipes where skateboarders' spacial tactics of appropriation and
colonization are enacted", to the "Constructed spaces, focusing on
fabricated terrains, principally the purpose-built skateparks and halfpipes"
in which extreme/illegal/appropriation practices become "common", to the
"Body Space", describing the 'super-architectural space' by which body,
skateboard and architecture are erased and reborn in the encounter between
skateboarder and skateboarding architecture". All in the perspective of
turnig a practice into a lingistic act, into a practice of writing, into an

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