This looks like such a fantastic project:
Launch of the Center for Public Imagination at the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (IABR)
Friday 17 June, 2016 – 10.00 – 17.00, Rotterdam
You are cordially invited to join the launch of the Center for Public Imagination (CPI) and to participate in the Smart Imaginaries and/in Urban Politics session organized by the CPI in collaboration with the IABR 2016 on Friday June 17, 2016, Rotterdam.
PLEASE JOIN US BY REGISTERING AT firstname.lastname@example.org – ENTRANCE IS FREE
In what is called the ‘smart city’ or the ‘sentient city’, urban politics is increasingly rooted in a network of sensors that monitor processes ranging from traffic flow to public aggression, and from waste disposal to air pollution. In smart city imaginaries, streets are monitored by sensors, some of them hovering over the city in drones; buildings will be connected through the Internet of Things, and urban services will be permanently calibrated on the basis of real-time monitoring data. The smart city is at once a business model, a policy toolbox and an infrastructure for citizen participation. It is part (science) fiction, part political reality, part corporate sales talk, and part techno-utopian desire. City governments, technology corporations and design companies converge in creating the actually existing smart city. But because the smartness of the city is projected into the future, it is key to zoom in on the imagination of smartness, the changing vocabularies of politics in the smart city, and the desires that animate it. Accordingly, this event seeks to highlight the smart imaginaries operative in urban politics. This event, which will be tied to the launch of the Dutch inter-university Center for Public Imagination, explores smart imaginaries by focusing on questions such as:
- What happens to urban politics when government becomes an operating system, urban progress becomes optimization, and policy becomes a series of pilots, experiments, tests and demos?
- Which sites become political in the sense that they instantiate ways of caring for public issues, and how can those sites be interfaced with?
- What does it mean that to be political is to interface?
- What desires and which imaginaries animate urban smartness, efficiency and optimization?
In the morning, lectures by several speakers offer possible answers to such questions. They will be input for discussion and dazzling explorations in working groups in the afternoon. The afternoon sessions are open and structured loosely by the issues and concerns raised in the morning. They allow for a lively investigative atmosphere. Their results will be presented at the end of the afternoon in a final plenary discussion.
Speakers include Karen Maex, rector magnificus of the University of Amsterdam; Willem Schinkel, Professor of Social Theory, Erasmus University Rotterdam; Noortje Marres, Centre for Interdisciplinairy Methodologies, University of Warwick; Huub Dijstelbloem, Professor of Philosophy of Science and Politics, University of Amsterdam; and Maarten Hajer, curator IABR 2016 and professor of Urban Futures, Utrecht University.
For more info see http://iabr.nl/en
The Center for Public Imagination is initiated by:
Willem Schinkel (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Huub Dijstelbloem (University of Amsterdam and WRR)
Noortje Marres (University of Warwick)
Maarten Hajer (Utrecht University, Urban Futures & IABR)
Sarah de Rijcke (CWTS, Leiden University)
About the Center for Public Imagination – preliminaries
What and why?
We seek to establish an inter-university center that investigates the contemporary status of ‘the public’. It does so with active participation of a variety of publics. The Center for Public Imagination (CPI) seeks not only to ‘research’ the public but to imagine it by bringing together scholars, interest groups, designers, artists, policy-makers and activists with a view to, and possibly a stake in, public issues.
All the processes usually called ‘grand challenges’ or ‘wicked problems’, all the major issues from big data and smart cities to climate change and sustainable economies, and all the things now associated with the umbrella concept ‘innovation’ are through and through public. And yet the status of the public has become uncertain. Processes ranging from neoliberalization to the increasing ubiquity of the technological mediation of social and political life have severely problematized received liberal conceptions of the public realm, of the dichotomy public/private and of the public sphere.
The result has been, on the one hand, an increasing commodification of practices formerly recognized as public. What used to be called ‘the public’ has consequently pulverized and has been replaced, for instance when online public formation is concerned, by what have been called ‘networked publics’, ‘calculated publics’ and ‘algorithmic publics’. On the other hand, public practices have become fragmented and ephemeral. That is not to say they have become less important or influential, but rather that their anatomy and material mediation, their mode of emerging and of dissipating, and their effects, have radically changed. Also, it has become increasingly difficult to articulate the public aspects of and stakes in political issues. Often, publics exist in a latent state, prior to their articulation. One example would be the ‘public’ concerned with human enhancement, which connects, amongst others, patients, athletes and scientists, although such connections may remain largely unarticulated. And equally often, the public aspects of political issues are sublimated or coded in private terms. This is for instance what currently happens frequently in discussions about the public role of universities, or about public funding for the arts.
The CPI intends to actively seek out such articulations of the public. Hence its emphasis on public imagination. Publics and public issues need imagination in order to be actualized. This means that CPI is not interested in conducting merely descriptive analyses. On the contrary, it seeks to contribute to the articulation of the public moments in collective life, and to imagine alternatives to current modes of imagining and governing. It does so out of the conviction that whatever we call the public in democracy is in need of imaginative dissent. This translates into the following concerns and questions that characterize the activities of CPI:
– Investigations of the infrastructures of the public. Through which socio-material mediations are publics and public issues shaped? For instance, which natural phenomena, knowledge forms, contestations, organizations and media contribute to the existence of climate publics?
– Reflection and debate on public potentialities, i.e., on existing and possible articulations and translations of publics and public issues (what can be called ‘public articulations’). How, for instance, can algorithmic changes affect the self-observations of networked publics (for instance through Facebook or Twitter)?
– Generating forms of imagination (narrative, critical-conceptual, and visual) aimed at forging new ways of public articulation. This means giving new space to what is today a troubled practice, namely critique, and it involves the visualization of and research into alternative public articulations. How, for instance, is it possible to show that even a neoliberal economy is predatory upon, and impossible to sustain without, properly public processes (economies of excess, forms of trust, informal forms of support and solidarity)? In sum, the imagination of public articulations concerns the question how knowledge of public infrastructures and insights into public potentialities can be accounted for in such ways that they actively contribute to public articulation?
Since public and public issues do not adhere to disciplinary parameters, CPI has no disciplinary orientation and imposes no disciplinary restrictions. It seeks openness to scholars from disciplines such as philosophy, sociology, political science, Science & Technology Studies, history, economics, theology, cultural studies, literary studies, postcolonial studies, public administration, geography, computer sciences, physics, technical sciences, systems science, medical sciences, mathematics, media studies and others, as well as to artists, designers and architects.
For all those involved, CPI is to be a place for serious academic reflection and research, but not for academic hair-splitting or purely intra-academic work. An active concern with questions of public articulation needs connections with publics and requires the the strong desire to search for means to make public articulate or even to support the coming into being of publics when they are unable to organize or to recognize themselves. It is the conviction of CPI that academic work on the contemporary status of the public gains its substance and its relevance from an engagement with such publics.