Session 3.4.1: PANEL: Infiltrating Smartness: Performative Urbanism and the Smart City

PANEL: Infiltrating Smartness: Performative Urbanism and the Smart City
15:30, Saturday 8 May 2021 (1 hour 30 minutes)
  Virtual session
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Organizer: Allison Peacock PULSE - Concordia University

What capacity do critical artistic and spatial practices have to offer forms of tactical autonomy in the anticipatory and surveillance laden context of the smart city? In what ways can efforts to ‘outsmart’, ‘sm-art’, and ‘perform’ create meaningful ways to intervene with the seduction of enacted environments and “smart” urban technologies? Since 2019 PULSE researchers have been engaging with current social, political, and artistic situations pertaining to smart cities. Led by Professor Shauna Janssen, PULSE presents a panel of research and creation projects that critically engage with current variations of sentience and smartness that infiltrate experiences of urbanism.

Who is the smart city for?

Shauna Janssen, Theatre, Concordia University, Canada

The politics of the smart city discourse are deeply entangled with ideas of the ‘right to the city,’ and brings into question: ​who is the smart city for? ​ ​What is a smart city? ​ In English the word ‘smart’ goes beyond the generally received definition of modish and intelligent as it relates to current trends towards connectivity and mediated urban environments, generally predicated upon a ‘digital agenda,’ wherein the privileged position of smart and intelligent technologies is being furthered. How might performative or scenographic understandings of urbanism and urbanity open up intersectional perspectives and inclusive ways for how we experience “intelligent” cities?

Smartness in a world of surveillance: Mapping Gorilla Parc

Christian Scott, INDI program - Concordia University, Katrina Jurjans, M. Design - Concordia University, and Eduardo Perez, Independent artist, Canada

In the fall of 2019 researchers at PULSE Concordia University hosted a workshop with guest researchers Kristine Samson and Niels Jørgen Gommesen to explore acoustic urban ecologies and the ways that sound(s) locate us in space and time. Drawing from the fields of urbanism, performance design, architecture, spatial and sound art practices, this ongoing project examines concepts of smartness to problematize surveillance capitalism, concepts of the visible/ invisible and the ‘overheard.’ (Labelle 2018) For this presentation, we will discuss our process of critically engaging with the site of Gorilla Parc (located within the Mile-Ex district of Montreal, CA) through a combination of devices and situated methods—from using Google Earth imagery and ​hacked/DIY ​ sound recording/projection equipment, to Zoom meetings and situated writing and walking. For this presentation, we will elaborate on the findings, conversations and theoretical musings that have emerged from this ongoing work.

The Performativity of Smartness

Allison Peacock, CISSC, Concordia University, Canada

The Smart city is a relatively recent urban development phenomena that offers promises of everyday environments infused with connectivity, ease, and responsiveness. The label of ‘smart’ ambiguously describes a range of projects and innovations from automated data collection to embedded forms of sentience in the built environment. How can J.L. Austen’s original definition of performativity, a word that does something, help conceptualize the semantics of ‘smart’ in the marketing of digital infrastructure as a way to obfuscate, confuse, and embed sentience in the built environment? Following the critical outline of ‘smartness’ from Halpern, Mitchell, and Geoghegan (2017), and drawing from walking observations of a parking lot that was the site of a now defunct Smart city development on the Lakeshore in Toronto, this paper will consider the performativity of smartness that is driving controversial urban developments.

concordia university
concordia university
PULSE (Performative Urbanism Lab)
concordia university
PULSE (Performative Urbanism Lab)

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