The Mixed-Reality City

The contemporary city is constituted by multiple overlapping, intermixing realities, articulated between built form and imagined space, individuated experience and collective memory, embodied sensation and digital mediation. Often, these multiple realities are invisible or illegible in physical space, with certain narratives dominating particular environments. However, realities always leave traces, to be excavated or constructed. This hybrid seminar/studio focuses upon new media art and architectural production, resulting in final projects that remix reality in public spaces through novel combinations of mobile devices (e.g. iPhones/iPads), networked technologies and material artifacts. We will deploy media archaeological methods to uncover suppressed, neglected and forgotten places and stories, and design urban interventions that transform the perception of specific sites. We will also probe historical and theoretical conceptions of constructing urban realities, with particular emphasis on the documentary arts, critical conservation and experimental mapping. Artists, architects and theorists to be discussed include: Janet Cardiff, Archigram, Fluxus, Blast Theory, Chris Marker, Thom Andersen, Denis Cosgrove, Jacques Ranciere, Michel de Certeau, Friedrich Kittler, Sigfried Zielinski, Kazys Varnelis and others. This course is affiliated with the Sensory Ethnography Lab, an experimental laboratory that supports innovative combinations of aesthetics and ethnography, and within which open-source software for artists and scholars engaged in critical media practice is being developed. Note: Previous computer programming experience is not required, as easy-to-use digital tools will be made available to create new media works on iPhones, iPads and other platforms. Students interested in hacking and developing their own technologies are also more than welcome.