Connecting Cities Urban Media Lab

Connecting Cities Urban Media Lab


During two days, artists, researchers and thinkers will share their experience and thoughts about urban media and interventions, the smart city and other techno-urban utopias, participation and engagement of citizens, urban devices and interfaces, augmented reality, ...

Detailed information about each presentation & speaker


Friday 13 June
09:30 - 10:00: Participants Registration
10:00 – 13:00
Yves Bernard (iMAL's director): short introduction
Katía Truijen: Urban Dialogues. Media Interventions as Assembling Devices
Niels Wouters: Media in Public Space: Towards Bottom-Up Strategies
Tobias Revell: Designed Conflict Territories

13:00 – 14:30

14:30 – 18:00
Nanna Verhoeff: Below the Surface: Criticality in Cultural Interfaces
Martijn de Waal: Idealizing the smart city
Mark Shepard: Sentient Urbanism

Saturday 14 June

10:00 – 13:00
Michael Smyth: Urban Interaction Design :: Exploring the Space between People and the City
Ali Momeni: Center for Urban Intervention Research
Sander Veenhof: Augmented reality beyond the visuals :: connecting location, data and people

13:00 – 14:30

About the presentations & speakers
Katía Truijen - Urban Dialogues. Media Interventions as Assembling Devices

Cities have always been spaces of friction where people encounter others as strangers in physical public space, and must find a way to deal with each other. Mediating the tensions between different urban publics has been one of the most difficult projects since the earliest days of urbanization. One way of addressing these tensions, is by means of urban media interventions. These interventions can be understood as artistic practices that assemble new urban publics of strangers, by the creative and critical use of media technologies.

About Katía Truijen
Media theorist, editor, instigator and music maker. She worked for Museum Boijmans Van BeuningenVirtueel Platform, CJP and she has been teaching New Media at the University of Amsterdam and the Nederlandse Filmacademie. She is currently working at Het Nieuwe Instituut (Research & Development, Actualities and Policy). In her MA thesis Urban Dialogues and research blog, she explores the ways in which urban publics are assembled by artistic media interventions.

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Niels Wouters - Media in Public Space: Towards Bottom-Up Strategies

In recent years, various digital media have been introduced in public space to facilitate communication with and among citizens. Typical examples include public displays, but extends to more abstract forms such as integrated media facades. While most media are introduced to serve commercial, cultural or economic interests, the social and societal values are often undervalued. This talk discusses the qualities and challenges of involving citizens in the design of media interventions in the urban environment, and situates itself across research, design and practice.

About Niels Wouters
Media engineer, architect, researcher. Niels Wouters has a background in computer science and architecture, and is currently pursuing a PhD that investigates social and architectural qualities of media architecture (Research[x]Design, University of Leuven, Belgium). His research is characterised by a critical, explorative approach to the various aspects that are involved in design, integration, and continuity. |  


Tobias Revell - Designed Conflict Territories

Designed Conflict Territories is a proposal for new forms of agonistic conflict taking place in the vertical structure of new geopolitics. Tobias will outline a loose structure of our current political landscape and pose questions about the role and spaces for critical approaches to design to fit in it.

About Tobias Revell
Tobias Revell is an internationally exhibiting critical designer and futurist. He's a designer with Superflux, a tutor at the Royal College of Art and the London College of Communication and a researcher with Arup's Foresight group. His practice looks at critical debate around geographies of networks, technology and politics. His latest work, The Monopoly of Legitimate Use looks at three speculative scenarios where these overlaid geographies might start to merge or conflict with each other.

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Nanna Verhoeff - Below the Surface: Criticality in Cultural Interfaces

In my presentation, I will propose a perspective on interactive and location-based urban projects in terms of cultural curation that, by means of a layering of space, allows for a critical engagement with urban culture. Departing from my work on navigation as a cultural form that entails mobility, participatory agency, and self-reflection, I will explore how this contributes to, what we may call, a criticality of urban projects.

About Nanna Verhoeff 
Associate professor of comparative media studies at the Department for Media and Culture Studies at Utrecht University. Her book Mobile Screens: The Visual Regime of Navigation (2012) focuses on a wide range of screen phenomena such as car windows, the screens of early cinema and television to interactive installations, and touch screens on smartphones. She is researcher within the project Charting the Digital on digital cartography, funded by the ERC. For my her next book on LAYERS, she is interested in interface/screen culture, mobility, and cartography from a media-archeological and media-theoretical perspective.

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Martijn de Waal - Idealizing the smart city

Urban technology is often presented as a neutral problem solving tool, or even a kind of ‘magic’ that makes our lives easier. However, it always implies a particular idea of what a city should be, and how social relations ideally should be organized. By comparing interfaces of urban media with historic planning ideals such as those of Archigram and the St. Petersburg Boulevard De Waal will show various urban ideals at work in the design of smart and social city technologies.

About Martijn de Waal
Writer, researcher, and strategist based in Amsterdam, he works as an assistant professor at the department of media studies at the University of Amsterdam. Together with Michiel de Lange, in 2007 he co-founded The Mobile City, a think tank on new media and urban design. He also runs The Public Matters, a bureau that carries out research on the role of new media in society. In 2009 he was a visiting scholar at MIT’s Center for Future Civic Media, a collaboration between the Medialab and Comparative Mediastudies.

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Mark Shepard - Sentient Urbanism

Beyond the false dichotomy of the Smart City and the Smart Citizen lie far more complex entanglements of technology and urban life. Sentient Urbanism affords thinking of urban systems and infrastructures as complex techno-social configurations of people and machines, where people remain in the loop, so to speak. In this sense, the city, its systems and infrastructures, cannot be separated from the citizens by which it is constituted and through whose spatial practices it is given form.  An assemblage of code, people, and space brought into being through specific performances and enactments throughout the course of daily life, this city is not only capable of developing a “mind of its own”—of which we are a part—but also of reflecting (both existing and new) power relations insofar as it actually becomes constitutive of these very relations.

About Mark Shepard
Mark Shepard is an artist and architect whose work addresses contemporary entanglements of technology and urban life. Recent work includes the Sentient City Survival Kit, a collection of artifacts, spaces and media for survival in the near-future “sentient” city. In 2009, he curated Toward the Sentient City, an exhibition that critically explored the evolving relationship between ubiquitous computing, architecture and urban space. Organized by the Architectural League of New York, this exhibition consisted of five newly commissioned projects by interdisciplinary teams distributed throughout New York City. He is an editor of the Situated Technologies Pamphlet Series, published by the Architectural League of New York and co-author with Adam Greenfield of the first pamphlet in the series, “Urban Computing and its Discontents.”



Sander Veenhof - Augmented reality beyond the visuals :: connecting location, data and people

Based on my hands-on explorations of augmented reality, I want to explain that AR is more than just the visual appearance. The underlying fundament is the world of geo-located data, a universe just as relevant as our physical world, because we all can interact with it thanks to an abundant amount of devices that extend our body with the capacity to see and interact with (location-based) data. This is offering amazing opportunities for creatives and audiences, in theory. But the reality is that there's a debate about whether we stare at our screens too much. It's assumed to be non-social. I think it's the opposite. That is, if the right apps are used. Apps that connect us through data to our local environment and other people present there.

About Sander Veenhof
Dutch new media artist Sander Veenhof works at the cross section of computer science and art, using his technical knowledge and intuition to explore the impact of emerging technologies on our radically changing reality and society. In search of new formats unique to our semi-digital world, his projects range from technically driven concept art to geo-based participative storytelling experiences. His recent works mostly exist in the augmented public ("AR") space worldwide, accessible through a smartphone.

To Veenhof, AR provides a perfect environment to work on projects in which virtual elements and physical components truly integrate and mutually empower each other, leading to a result that could not be possible otherwise. Veenhof is one of the founding members of Manifest.AR, a collective of artists creating their works in AR. Best known for their uninvited exhibition in the MoMA NY and Tate Modern. The group showcases the new opportunities for artists and audience in a world in which physical borders and limitations are no longer relevant.
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Ali Momeni - Center for Urban Intervention Research

CUIR is an interdisciplinary hub for theoretical and practical investigation of urban intervention and transformation strategies.  CUIR aims to support interventions whose concerns range from artistic creation and community engagement to political activism and public safety.  CUIR continues the author’s existing work in development of hardware and software instruments for mobile projection. CUIR focuses on free software, open source development, and machine fabricated hardware; these design parameters allow CUIR to disseminate its research findings beyond the localities of its host institutions.

About Ali Momeni
Momeni was born in Isfahan, Iran and emigrated to the United States at the age of twelve. He completed his doctoral degree in music composition, improvisation and performance with computers from the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies in UC Berkeley. He spent three years in Paris where he collaborated with performers and researchers from La Kitchen, IRCAM, Sony CSL and CIRM. Between 2007 and 2011, Momeni was an assistant professor in the Department of Art at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where he directed the Spark Festival of Electronic Music and Art, and founded the urban projection collective called the MAW. Momeni currently teaches in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University and oversees CMU ArtFab. | @batchku


Michael Smyth - Urban Interaction Design :: Exploring the Space between People and the City

This presentation will explore the domain of Urban Interaction Design through the work of the UrbanIxD project. UrbanIxD is tasked with building a community of researchers and practitioners, and the project has as its focus, the point of interaction with and between humans in the technologically augmented urban space of the future. As part of this work the project ran a summer school in 2013 and this presentation will consider some of the research themes that emerged and their implications for continued research in the field.

About Michael Smyth
Michael Smyth is a Reader in the Centre for Interaction Design, Edinburgh Napier University, UK. He has worked in the fields of Human Computer Interaction and Interaction Design since 1987 and during that period has published over 60 academic papers in refereed journals, books and conferences. In addition he has had interactive installations exhibited at both UK and international conferences and arts & design festivals. He is co-editor of the book entitled Digital Blur: creative practice at the boundaries of architecture, design and art, Libri Publishing. Currently, he is the Project Coordinator for the UrbanIxD project, an EU Coordination Action funded under the FET FP7 initiative. The project is exploring what it means to design human interactions in the networked city. & | @michael_smyth