Dis­turb­ing Conur­ba­tions: Swim­ming Against the Dom­i­nant Spec­trum


Session Title:

  • Hybrid Spatial Experiences

Presentation Title:

  • Dis­turb­ing Conur­ba­tions: Swim­ming Against the Dom­i­nant Spec­trum




  • Panel: Hybrid Spatial Experiences

    The dom­i­nant dis­course across in­dus­try, gov­ern­ment, cul­ture and acad­e­mia falsely pre­sumes mo­bile telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy to be in­her­ently net­worked, global and urban.  Across these dis­parate do­mains, there is a ten­dency to as­sume an urban con­text, a global con­text, and a tech­no­log­i­cal bias in terms of un­der­stand­ing the spa­tial di­men­sions and im­pli­ca­tions of wire­less mo­bile net­works.  This tech­no­log­i­cally de­ter­mined po­si­tion is partly an ar­ti­fact of the focus on spa­tial di­men­sions as­so­ci­ated with fixed telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion net­works (as in fixed tele­phone or sta­tion­ary com­puter / modem) that have tended to fol­low pat­terns of pop­u­la­tion den­sity.  Also im­plicit in such fig­u­ra­tions is the as­so­ci­a­tion of the ‘urban’ with the ‘rel­e­vant’, sug­gest­ing that mass con­sump­tion or par­tic­i­pa­tion in it­self con­sti­tutes an ‘urban’ con­di­tion that is of in­her­ent value.  Whether overtly or covertly, the ‘urban’ as in­voked in these and other dis­courses tends to sig­nal the pres­ence or po­ten­tial of large-scale and ex­pand­ing mar­kets, a mean­ing that ef­fec­tively dis­places spa­tial and so­cial prac­tices deemed to be less prof­itable.

    Thus, the un­crit­i­cal ap­pli­ca­tion of the term ‘urban’ im­poses an im­plied hege­mony and di­chotomy be­tween the terms urban/non-ur­ban. In every­day terms, how­ever, the lived ex­pe­ri­ence of mo­bile net­works is highly lo­cal­ized to the body of in­di­vid­ual sub­jects, es­pe­cially as such net­works are spa­tially an­chored to the mo­bile de­vice and its cor­re­spond­ing range of net­work cov­er­age and ac­cess which to­gether con­sti­tute a three-di­men­sional dy­namic spa­tial phe­nom­ena.  An­chored to the mo­bile sub­ject in situ the lived ex­pe­ri­ence of mo­bile in­ter­ac­tion, while in­evitably in­ter­wo­ven with the global and urban as fac­tors of net­work so­ci­ety and the post-hu­man con­di­tion, is nonethe­less dif­fer­en­ti­ated in terms of cul­tural and ge­o­graph­i­cal con­text.  In “The Urban Rev­o­lu­tion” Lefeb­vre prob­lema­tizes the city by defin­ing the word “urban” ex­plic­itly as the in­ter­ac­tion of su­per­struc­ture and base in a mu­tu­ally con­sti­tu­tive re­la­tion­ship that is not lo­cal­ized to the city.  This for­mu­la­tion is wor­thy of re­call in con­tem­po­rary dis­courses that con­flate all things with the urban as if noth­ing could es­cape its cul­tural logic or an­a­lyt­i­cal frame­work.  Through the pre­sen­ta­tion of pro­jects drawn from my own prac­tice, I will re­veal mo­bile in­ter­ac­tion as a spec­trum con­di­tion, where the be­com­ing non-ur­ban of mo­bile sub­jec­tiv­i­ties is ar­tic­u­lated through hy­brid and het­ero­ge­neous spa­tial pro­duc­tions of em­bod­ied in­ter­ac­tion in the mag­ne­tos­phere.