Christian Ulrik Andersen: The Urban Metainterface

Thursday, March 1, 2018, 3:30 pm 

The »smart city« is a term widely used to signal an urban environment that re-invents, or »updates«, itself. The smart city not only embodies techno-visions and uses of urban space, but also signals the existence of different perspectives within itself.

In this presentation, we will seek to outline some of these with an outset in »the urban metainterface«. Examples of everyday urban experiences with interfaces are numerous: »TripAdvisor« provides access to restaurants, and other sights that are otherwise not clearly visible in the urban landscape; with »Airbnb«, any apartment in the city holds the invisible potential of a bed and breakfast, etc. In other words »every street corner and every local pub leads a double life« as expressed by Martijn de Waal. The interface is however not just an interface to the city, but is a meta-construction that within itself holds a particular urban gaze. The urban metainterface depends on an ability to capture the user’s behaviors: the more the interface opens up the city – to diverse behaviors and signification – the more it needs to monitor the users and their milieu, and process these data. The more we read, the more we are being read. But what are the aesthetic mechanisms of seeing and walking in the city, whilst being seen and being guided?

This presentation outlines this new urban gaze of the metainterface. With an outset in the forthcoming book »The Metainterface – The art of platforms cities and clouds« by Christian Ulrik Andersen and Søren Pold (MIT Press, 2018), a theoretical foundation in urban semantics and a number of artworks it will reflect on how the urban metainterface produces a particular territoriality and perception of space.