Open Sourcing the City: Invited and Uninvited Participation

Hello Friends,
Please join us on Tuesday, August 24th for the launch of our new Fall programming series, Open Sourcing the City: Invited and Uninvited Participation.  We are joined by sociologist and author Miriam Greenberg for a multimedia presentation "Urban Utopia or Luxury City?" in which she investigates the intersection of city branding and urban development plans in NYC.  

Tuesday, August 24, 7:30pm – 9:30pm

The Change You Want To See Gallery  

84 Havemeyer St @ Metropolitan Ave
Brooklyn NY 11211
Global urbanism is one of the most significant trends of this century. For the first time, a majority of people on the planet now live in cities. As populations shift to urban centers, space – which is already at a premium in most cities and dwellings – becomes an even more pressing concern. Short of growing our architecture ever higher and spreading the creep of concrete, we seek solutions that consider size constraints alongside questions of environmental, social and economic sustainability.

Artists and designers, developers and planners, activists and architects respond to these challenges with creative solutions. But our fixed gear bikes and rooftop farms, geo-location apps and LEED certified lofts are lifestyles cum commodities, quickly subsumed into brand campaigns, used to sell a spatial agenda. Kill your Facebook profile, grow your food, you are still a walking talking advertisement for gentrification whether you like it or not.

Inevitably, where people converge, spatial conflicts arise. The ideas and desires of one group come at the expense of another. While social media and technology are heralded as cost-effective means to open-source the city, this participation is only partial, presenting an imagined consensus that obscures deeper forms of social exclusion. Too often, participation affirms a system rather than challenging it. And our contemporary system contradicts sustainability principles with a fundamental and fatal design flaw: that of impossible, unlimited growth.

Given these conditions, how can cultural creatives and spatial practioners participate productively? What are constructive forms of critical engagement? What does an architecture look like that acts not to serve a community but to produce it?  How might we open-source the city in invited and uninvited ways?

Urban Utopia or Luxury City?
Representing and Redeveloping New York in the Bloomberg Era
With Miriam Greenberg
Tuesday, August 24
In her talk, Miriam Greenberg analyzes the use of city marketing alongside redevelopment by the Bloomberg administration, and the peculiar type of urban commodity this has helped produce.  Under Bloomberg, there has been a significant increase in the scale and scope of city marketing, which now includes year-round global operations alongside hundreds of local campaigns aimed at residents and business.  This has coincided with the Mayor's equally ambitious economic development plan for New York.  Informally dubbed "luxury city," this is a plan for high-end commercial and residential development throughout all five boroughs.

Yet interestingly, "luxury city" is nowhere to be found in official marketing. Rather, in a style that harkens back to the 1970's-era "I Love NY" campaign, and that taps into post-crisis desires and anxieties, current efforts are profoundly utopian. They emphasize New York's diversity, creativity, and unity, and present the city as an open, post-class terrain in which all may participate. 
These themes are backed up by user-friendly and extremely popular tech services-from user-driven websites to the 311 help line-all powered by Bloomberg terminals. How do we square this utopian messaging with the reality of the luxury city? If the former celebrates diversity and participation, the latter shows the social exclusion these terms can facilitate in the current period.
About Miriam Greenberg
Miriam Greenberg is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of California Santa Cruz. Greenberg's work lies at the intersection of urban studies, media studies, and political economy.  She is the author of Branding New York: How a City in Crisis Was Sold to the World (Routledge, 2008) and the forthcoming Crisis Cities: Disaster and Redevelopment in New York and New Orleans (Oxford).
Open-Sourcing the City: Invited and Uninvited Participation
A Not An Alternative Presentation Series

August 24 – October 28, 2010

(save the dates)
Tuesday, August 24, 7:30pm – 9:30pm — professor/author Miriam Greenberg (Branding NY: How a City in Crisis Sold Itself to the World)

Thursday, September 16, 7:30pm – 9:30pm — artist/activist Emily Forman (Department of Land Space Reclamation)

Monday, September 27, 7:30pm – 9:30pm — architect/writer Markus Miessen (The Nightmare of Participation)

Friday, October 8, 7pm – 9pm — artist Rick Lowe (Project Row Houses)

Thursday, October 14, 7:30pm – 9:30pm — artist Shaun Slifer (Howling Mob Society) and artist/academic Gregory Sholette (Repo History)

Late-October (date TBA) — Michael Cataldi, John Houck, David Kelley, Hans Kuzmich, Jens Maier- Rothe, Jeannine Tang (Parallel Lines project)




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