The machinic city investigates the role of performance art to help us reflect on contemporary urban living, as human and machine agency become increasingly intermingled and digital media is overlaid onto the urban fabric. This is illustrated by several case studies on performance art interventions from artists such as Blast Theory, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and Rimini Protokoll, which draw from a rich history of avant-garde art movements to create spaces for deliberation and reflection on urban life and to speculate on its future. As cities are increasingly controlled by autonomous processes mediated by technical machines, the performative potential of the aesthetic machine is analysed, as it assembles with media, Capitalist, human and urban machines. The aesthetic machine of performance art in urban space is analysed through its different – design, city and technology actants. This unveils the unpredictable nature and emerging potential of performance art as it unfolds in the machinic city, which consists of assemblages of efficient and not-so-efficient machines. The machinic city pays particular attention to participation, describing how digitally mediated performance art interventions in urban space foreground different modes of subjectivity emerging from human and machine hybrids. This highlights the importance of dissensus as a constitutive factor of urban life and as a means of countering machinist determinism in present and future conceptualisations of city life.
[s] true: “technology has got the upper hand on the human for good”’ (Dixon, 2007 : 650).
Early aesthetic machines in twentieth-century avant-garde art movements
In several avant-garde art movements of the early twentieth century, electromechanical machines became not only artistic props in theatre and performance, but also prominent actants with key roles in the mediation of agency and the generation of innovative aesthetic forms and practices. For example, in relation to Futurism, Dixon ( 2007 : 9) states that: ‘Italian futurist performance theory and practice
with south and east
London – was pioneered in Manchester.
As early as the late 1980s, cultural and entertainment spaces
were opening in Manchester’s railway arches. In 1985, the
Cornerhouse cinema built one of its screens in an arch beneath
Oxford Road station; and in 1987, an avant-garde theatre, the
Green Room, opened next door on Whitworth Street West.
Both of these establishments had built upon the momentum of
the Haçienda nightclub further down the road, itself facing onto
the railway viaduct which had defined the ragged edge of the city
centre for well over a
probe the virtues, pitfalls and outcomes of the assemblage of digital media, performance and participation in urban space.
The projects that I have analysed draw from several avant-garde art movements of the twentieth century (such as Futurism and Neo-Concretism) and from the performative turn of the 1960s, yet they also differ significantly from these due to the unhindered potential of innovative and emerging media technologies in the last three decades: the World Wide Web, artificial intelligence, digital video and audio editing, sensor technologies, virtual
hybrid spaces where embodiment intersects with digitally mediated communication machines and artistic narratives within spatial boundaries that are emergent and changeable. These projects draw from a rich history of avant-garde art movements, reflecting on contemporary urban living and also speculating on the future of the city. Therefore the focus of this book is to define the role of performance art – and particularly mediated performance digitally art – towards creating a space for deliberation and reflection on the machinic nature of the contemporary city, where
This book explores contemporary urban experiences connected to practices of sharing and collaboration. Part of a growing discussion on the cultural meaning and the politics of urban commons, it uses examples from Europe and Latin America to support the view that a world of mutual support and urban solidarity is emerging today in, against, and beyond existing societies of inequality. In such a world, people experience the potentialities of emancipation activated by concrete forms of space commoning. By focusing on concrete collective experiences of urban space appropriation and participatory design experiments this book traces differing, but potentially compatible, trajectories through which common space (or space-as-commons) becomes an important factor in social change. In the everydayness of self-organized neighborhoods, in the struggles for justice in occupied public spaces, in the emergence of “territories in resistance,” and in dissident artistic practices of collaborative creation, collective inventiveness produces fragments of an emancipated society.
from a lineage of aesthetic machines that emerged in the avant-garde art movements of the twentieth century in parallel with the evolution of the mediated city and its associated communication technologies, from traditional photography to performances mediated by sophisticated assemblages of software and hardware. However, there are some noticeable differences. For example, the Futurist performances from the earlier twentieth century were marked by an emphasis on the superiority of the machine over human being, driven by radical manifestos and the belief that they
Manchester: Something rich and strange challenges us to see the quintessential
post-industrial city in new ways. Bringing together twenty-three diverse writers
and a wide range of photographs of Greater Manchester, it argues that how we see
the city can have a powerful effect on its future – an urgent question given how
quickly the urban core is being transformed. The book uses sixty different words
to speak about the diversity of what we think of as Manchester – whether the
chimneys of its old mills, the cobbles mostly hidden under the tarmac, the
passages between terraces, or the everyday act of washing clothes in a
laundrette. Unashamedly down to earth in its focus, this book makes the case for
a renewed imaginative relationship that recognises and champions the fact that
we’re all active in the making and unmaking of urban spaces.
by supporting popular participation
in the definition of more inclusive and more just common urban
worlds. In, against, and beyond capitalist enclosures, common
Common spaces of urban emancipation
space can trigger practices that gesture towards an emancipated
Architecture, as an intellectual practice that chooses to take
sides in this process, may indeed contribute today to social experiments that will create glimpses of a liberating future. Equally distanced from both the fantasies of the avant-garde architect as the
chosen creator of the
Heterogeneous temporalities, algorithmic frames and subjective time in
combined, the timelessness of circulating memes that surface time and
again, or the combination of contents on a Facebook profile site that the personal
timeline organises in an only artificial chronology.
Avant-garde adoptions of geomedia, as also discussed in other chapters of
this book, make use of algorithmic interventions to expose the delicacy of the
boundaries among multiple spatio-temporal standpoints. Artists use geographic
imagery as raw materials, which they recombine, modify or alienate in order
to distill their specific medial engagements. One example is