Joshua McWhirter is a planetary urbanist, hyperreal geographer, tone assembler and texture builder. He makes and shapes sounds and words about infrastructure, technology, media, culture and politics. Sometimes he just makes noise.
Satellite positioning systems, embedded sensing technologies, mobile interfaces and digitally-networked objects have effectively “augmented” contemporary cities with pervasive digital infrastructures of surveillance, advertising, data capture and, increasingly, location-based mass media. The dominant imaginary surrounding this ensemble of technologies is that of the “smart city,” wherein these government- and privately-owned infrastructures thread virtual networks and urban space together into a dragnet of commercial logistics, big data governance and immersive digital spectacle — the city as a computer, to be re-coded for maximum efficiency and profit.
This talk will propose an alternative narrative: The City Deep. A sly nod to The City Beautiful movement of the late 19th- and early 20th-century, which sought to harness architecture and urban planning as tools for producing “harmonious social order,” The City Deep is at once a socio-spatial imaginary and conceptual map for rescripting our “augmented” urban condition into something capable of supporting networks of mutual aid, dissent, and immersive platforms for pedagogy and organizing. Drawing from the examples in art, radical tech, science fiction and speculative design, this talk seeks to provoke an understanding of cities as complex, unevenly developed assemblages of digitality, virtuality, and reality; and to begin exploring points of entry and possible agencies within this thickened geography.