Subprojects | Project Area B | Spaces of Communication
Smart Cities: Everyday Life in Digitalized Spaces
If urbanization became a hallmark of modernity, then the mediatization of our cities through the ever thicker web of artificial intelligence stands for the late modern transformation. Today the so-called “smart cities” emerge not only via digitalization of existing urban structures but are being built from scratch to integrate the virtual and the real in a way that blurs the traditional boundary between them. In other words, everyday practices and actual cityscapes become ‘augmented’ by a myriad of virtual potentialities. These urban spaces are nowadays being profoundly refigured and with them many human forms of sociability. This ‘refiguration’ literally breaks new ground in places such as the city of Songdo in South Korea. At the same time, it rekindles old modern binary discourses of utopian salvation and dystopian danger. Our project aims not only to document and explain the resulting changes but also to transcend that binary coding. The goal is to work out a rigorous vocabulary in which we can describe in detail how these changes refigure space and time. In order to do that a robust ethnographic approach is needed. Hitherto the scholarly attention prioritized political economy of smart cities, seeing them as reflecting epochal top-down transformations in technology and economy. But once built and populated, cities evince ‘their own logic’ too, one based on a series of contextspecific appropriations of generic technical solutions. This requires to see them as actively inflecting social reality. Combining sociological and architectural approaches to urban planning and city life, our team addresses how ‘smart’ urban life actualizes itself and why it matters.