Neuralisms Shenzhen: Fictions of Type and Territory

Shenzhen is China’s city of the future, a manufacturing and product development hub unlike any in the world. It is a place where innovation in the material world is increasingly enabling an entirely new vision of culture. Perhaps there is no better place to anticipate the lifestyle of the future—and how the city is integrated with the countryside—than the place where that future is being manufactured. 

This studio will consider AI, data science, remote sensing, and other new modes of encoding and representing landscape and architecture as the raw material for a fictional and imaginative lifestyle futurism emerging in Shenzhen. Leveraging technologies of deep learning, neural imagination, and recombinant gaming, the studio will also draw on speculative fictions to imagine types and territories for the lifestyles of Shenzhen’s coming golden age.

Shenzhen is a planned city par excellence, created almost ex nihilo forty years ago from a framework of overlapping national and local mandates and policies. The result of this strict and fastidious planning logic is an archipelago of architectural, urban, and landscape monocultures, blocks of single types set in surprising juxtapositions to each other. Taking these individually homogenous and collectively diverse blocks as fuel, we will embrace ways to recode, remix, and recombine these strict distinctions into hybridized and interleaved inter-territories and between-types. 

The project should consider the unique relationship of Shenzhen to the larger Pearl River Delta region, playfully rethinking near and far, locality and territory. In a sense, each project may become a network of territories shrunk to a microcosm, a specific view of the entire region distilled to an intensified block.

From our menagerie of mutant types and territories, we will speculate on the rules of life in Shenzhen’s coming golden age. Drawing inspiration from but moving beyond computational precedents, we will use gaming engines to develop logics of mutating and recombinant urbanism grounded in a projection of leisure and culture. Here we will anticipate a future in which innovation, industry, leisure, and agriculture are all intensely local and densely intermixed, a state in which dozens of territories are interdependently stitched together through electronic and biological technology. 

These speculations will be represented in media appropriate to them—using dynamic projection mappings, film, and advanced simulation—in preparation for a major public exhibition of the studio’s work in Shenzhen in the fall of 2020.