The Center for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona has established a prize to recognize and promote “public space that is at once public (open and universally accessible) and urban.” In highlighting the “relational and civic aspects of the typically urban space, it differs from other initiatives that are focused on the figure of the architect, and from awards given for landscape-centred projects.”
A recent discussions on the Technology in the Arts group on Linked In spurred me to explore links to a project called Rebel Cities. It details recent work by a French sociologist building on Henri Lefebvre’s work on “the right to the city,” urban regeneration, and the shaping of social interaction through urban planning.
The topic of the discussion was “Are Virtual Worlds Dying or Evolving?” started by Tessa Kinney-Johnson, COO & Founder of SpotOn3D in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. I told her I see virtual worlds evolving into powerful tools dedicated to creative problem-solving, with inputs for citizens to co-dream with local officials about the shaping of their places. The gamification of urban planning makes good sense given the shortening loop between customer feedback and innovation in other spheres of development.
I also see artists lending their skills to the design of virtual model worlds so that people who do not see themselves as “creative” can still be participants rather than spectators in crafting the design and master narratives from which their urban world(s) are constructed. The focus is urban – because the city, with its layers of shared meanings – is psychogeographic realm set apart, a distinct kind of human invention.
These virtual worlds would, in essence, become cognitive maps or “protozones.” That, is urban zones-in-the-making that might exist – and even become fully-realized – in psychogeographic terms first, not by planners, but by people who then hire the planners – who maybe then need to subcontract artists – to make them occur in actual fact.
The situationists dreamed of an urban life in which public spaces were injected with new life, enriched meanings, and unscripted social interactions through participatory play. The group PublicShape is dedicated to Winston Churchill’s notion that “we shape our public spaces, therefore our public spaces shape us.”
Welp, artists, gamers, citizens, planners…we can do that now!