What constitutes the "urban" today? How can it be described? Urban life has become increasingly entangled with mobile, embedded, and networked media, communications and information technologies. Yet we often refer to these conditions in terms of social interactions mediated by an immaterial informatic space overlaid onto a physical, material network of buildings, sidewalks, streets and public squares. Doing so not only maintains established dichotomies (between virtual and actual, material and immaterial, social and physical), but also elides some of the more subtle and nuanced modes of encounter and relationality that make up a contemporary urban experience composed of actors, practices and situations that are recurrently performed and enacted. How does a situation matter? What action does it call for? How are its priorities revealed?
Honorary Resident Jordan Crandall is an Associate Professor of Visual Arts at University of California San Diego and 2011 winner of the Vilem Flusser Theory Award. Fellow Mark Shepard coordinates the MArch+MFA dual degree program at University of Buffalo and recently edited Sentient City, published by MIT Press/Architectural League of New York.