Emergent Visions: Adjacency and Urban Screens

Krzysztof Wodiczko

Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C. (1988)


EMERGENT VISIONS gathers a group of international artists, curators, and scholars for dialogue and thoughtful critique concerning the diverse frames and practices through which we might recognize the emergent and evocative visions, affects, and practices potentiated in and around urban screens. Hosted by The School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University, with support and collaboration from Indiana University and the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication at University of Texas Dallas, this symposium provides a platform for expanding our conceptions of mediated public space, and for developing modes of inquiry that reflect upon, and even challenge how we might newly engage with these spaces and surfaces – from various scales and contexts and with great sensitivity to a range of perspectives.

Scholarly and artistic concerns for urban screens have addressed their integration into our shifting urban environments.  Not limited to physical technological systems, urban screens are variously understood as material portals  – a range of scales, forms, and functions through which we encounter the flows and infrastructures of the city. They are conceptual fields – whereby the significance of our public and technological environments are both signaled and interrogated.  Urban screens are also located objects (architecturally, bodily, spatially) – practiced in situ, they take on the possibilities and limitations of their particular relational grounds. Acting as interfaces of display and broadcast within global networks, they are simultaneously geographically grounded contact zones for place-making.

The Emergent Visions symposium calls for consideration of how urban screens might be arenas for experiences and relationalities that are not only of the screen but also (and in some cases instead) formed in its adjacencies. The practices, poetics, and politics of adjacency suggest the potentials of approaching that which is felt yet not yet known – that which is at the cusp of understanding – within a given field. On the one hand, Steven Johnson’s adaptation of the “adjacent possible” suggests the assemblages of odds and ends through which we might design and develop our cities in their more official capacities. Often linked to “innovation” and the development of new technological fields, this can include, for example, new and old forms of heritage that affirm the city’s past and present while shaping its global future. At the same time, adjacency can equally bring us to less progress-driven and overlooked concerns. Richard Sennett suggests the ways in which that which is felt yet still unknown can be intuited by “establishing adjacency between two unlike domains.” In this way, a competing multiplicity of entwined, and sometimes shadow temporalities, affects, and ways of being can also be experienced and known in the city.

The hosting of this symposium at the The School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University, with its links to the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Centre for Asian Art and Design and the Global Asia Program at NTU, provides the opportunity to investigate the contours and implications not only of the scaled spectacle of the urban screen, but also of the place-based relations that constitute urban screens through adjacent practices and experiences.  Participants are encouraged to consider collective comparative methods to evoke a diverse range of located screen and urban contexts. While at times understood as a serial form for the media or networked city, urban screens take on, as Anna McCarthy has long noted, the scales, “dynamics and logics” of their practiced places. In attending to such concerns for location, we particularly welcome work attending to intimately-scaled forms or practices linked to urban screens.

Kimchi and Chips

483 Lines Second Edition (2015)