Today, computers, cameras, geo-locators, and sensors – as well as human texters, micro-bloggers, and social networkers – are creating a new type of city. Rather than being monolithic and collective, each of these new cities has only one occupant (but many visitors). As we set our personal preferences, friend our way into communities of our choosing, and receive personally targeted media messages, we are each growing our own personal metropolis – a virtual/physical hybrid within (but also beyond) the material infrastructure of our original, physical cities.
What exactly are these cities? How can a city be part physical, part virtual? Where are the intersections with the collective, physical city? What are the constraints and parameters that define their form?
It wasn’t always this way. The modern metropolis was born in the 19th century when, for the first time, a typical urban dweller could encounter only strangers while moving through his or her city. Since that time, the modern city has been associated with the unfamiliar, the alien, the other.
Though populated by strangers, the modern city was, however, a shared context for the countless subjective lives of its occupants. The logics by which these cities evolved may have been complex, but it was generally transparent: over many years innumerable forces molded wildernesses into organized and navigable environments. Because of the many interests acting on the environment, even the most planned cities transcended authorship. And, while their organization may have benefitted some inhabitants more than others, they were (perhaps accidentally) always democratically impersonal and inherently collective.
Working from the premise of a new type of city, this studio speculates on how we will identify, research, seek out, and find things, places, ideas, and people in the near future: What can influence us in cities of our own making? Where will we look to learn more about the things we need or want? How do the far-flung elements of this city – from digital interfaces to physical spaces to live humans to robots to objects – all collaborate (or conspire) to participate in an everyday quest (or even a once-in-a-lifetime personal journey)? How will we navigate this new city? How will the city communicate to us? What helps or hinders us along the way? How does the journey shape the goal? What is discovery?