Editorial in special issue of Volume Magazine for MAB20

With my fellow co-organizers of MAB20, I wrote an editorial article for Volume Magazine #59 – special issue “Futures Implied”. In this article, we depart from several recent controversies around smart cities to raise some urgent issues around media technologies in the city that center around (a clash in) public values.

In this editorial, I framed today’s urban situation as follows: “…cities are caught up in a double whammy between technological and societal challenges.”:

From a critical vantage point, by now, these new urban technologies have been criticized for spurring the dystopian logics of ‘three Cs’: Control by states and companies capturing and nudging our desires and behaviors; the increasing Commodification of urban life as a set of individualized infrastructural services catered to – usually the highest paying – customers; and the Capsularization, or splintering of social domains into fragmented silos. These three Cs are antithetical to public urban values that underpin city life, like civic agency, publicness, and communality.

Yet, in addition to the relentless techno-push and its threat to public values, there are also opportunities for new technologies to contribute to public values in the design of urban life. They could play a role in tackling profound global challenges like increasing inequality and exclusion to climate change and loss of biodiversity. Again, central to addressing these challenges is the articulation, discussion and rethinking of public values. For instance, cities are explicitly mentioned in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with the aim of making them “inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” And the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale asks the value-driven urgent question, “how will we live together?”

Check it out here:

de Lange, Michiel, Martijn de Waal, Frank Suurenbroek, and Nanna Verhoeff 2021. Media Architecture And Its Futures Implied. Volume Magazine 59.


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