Infrastructures of Illumination: On the Material, Poetic, and Political Valences of Screens in Urban Space

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • Practices and Poetics of Urban Media Art in the Shadows of the Illuminated City

Presentation Title:

  • Infrastructures of Illumination: On the Material, Poetic, and Political Valences of Screens in Urban Space

Presenter(s):



Abstract:

  • This presentation addresses media art practices within a geographic context of “exposure.” “Exposure” is a state-commercial context of illumination, one indicating not only the material illumination – the state-commercial lighting of the city – enabled by public screens, but also the everyday to spectacular politics and poetics that accompany them. In his discussion of recent developments in late capitalism, Jonathan Crary describes a “a contemporary imaginary in which a state of permanent illumination is inseparable from the nonstop operation of global exchange and circulation.” For cities such as Shanghai and Hong Kong, these paradoxes of global capital further impinge on the (trans/national) state. As Anna Greenspan reminds us, the “spectacle” of “future Shanghai” is not only materialized in its most prominently visible illumination – as with Hong Kong, Shanghai’s large-scale to street-level light billboards and LED screens and lights dominate central and transit urban spaces – but is also felt in the continued struggle between light and shadow that form the politics and poetics of everyday experience in urban China. In this state we might enquire into the disenchantment of the city, in the further phrasing of Crary, “in its eradication of shadows and obscurity and of alternate temporalities.” This presentation thus addresses media artists working in Shanghai and Hong Kong as they recognize the need for shadow in the illuminated city, and from here for if not alternative, at least adjacent durations, mobilities, spaces, and experiences for its inhabitants.

Venue(s):


Category: