Migration + Mobility in a Digital Age: April 10-11

Migration and Mobility in a Digital Age: Paradoxes of Connectivity and Belonging Conference

Heyman Center @ Columbia University
April 10-11, 2018

The image of Syrian refugees with a smartphone shooting ‘selfies’ upon reaching dry land has captured the international imagination (Chouliaraki, 2017; Kunstman, 2017; Risam, forthcoming 2018). It suggests an image of the ‘connected migrant’ (Diminescu, 2008), which is shaped by a profound ambivalence: migrants are expected to be people fleeing from war, violence, and poverty; they are not expected to be ‘digital natives’, equipped with technologies to navigate their difficult journeys. While smartphones are accessible, affordable, and easy to use, in the realm of the public imaginary the image of the disenfranchised and disconnected migrant remains that of the ‘have nots’, and therefore subject to ‘high tech orientalism’ (Chun, 2006, p. 73). This posits the figuration of the migrant as outside the realm of development and modern forms of communication, disenfranchised and vulnerable in order to be worthy of international aid and pity (Boltanski, 20000; Ticktin, 2008). And yet smartphones are ubiquitous, and migrants have been early adopters and heavy users of technologies for the simple reason that these technologies are ingrained in their daily practices and everyday lives, which often involve perilous crossings but also the need to keep in touch with the home front and their diasporic communities. The promise of connectivity that is guaranteed even under duress becomes fraught with the profound disconnection brought about by the disciplining gaze of Western media and publics.

It is, therefore, crucial to focus on the specific way in which digital technologies bridge or magnify the gap in migration between geographical distance and digital proximity. How are affect, intimacy, and belonging negotiated online in the face of forced migration and expulsions (Sassen, 2012) but also of circular migration, expatriation, and transnational movements?

This conference aims to cover a broad range of conflict-related issues on migration in a digital age. Using the latest insights from a range of interdisciplinary fields, it will explore theories of displacement such as diaspora, cosmopolitanism, and nomadism, and the transformations brought about by the digital revolution, through the analysis of virtual communities, social media platforms, and digital activism. It will also focus on media production and the regulation of information on forced migrants in a ‘post-truth’ era: fake news; the humanitarianism-securitization nexus, migration management, social and political conflicts related to migrant and diaspora communities, radicalization and online counter-terrorism, hate speech and racism, but also solidarities, activism, and protest.

For the schedule and RSVP info

Image: Bouchra Khalili

Four Months of Harun Farocki @ NYU and Anthology

April 8 – July 15, 2018

Over the next four months, 80 Washington Square East and Anthology Film Archives will screen films and videos by Harun Farocki. Screenings will take place first at Anthology Film Archives and later at New York University.

Harun Farocki was born in 1944. He lived in India and Indonesia before moving with his family to Germany at age 10. In his early twenties, he left for West Berlin to further his studies in cinema, and spent most of his working life there. By the time of his death in 2014, he had a prolific body of films to his name. Laboring under the burden of Europe’s history, a history in which the Holocaust loomed large, Farocki was a naturalist of loss. One’s ability to forget what they do not want to know, to overlook what is before them, was seldom put to the test better than in Germany’s reconstruction after the Second World War. The writer W.G. Sebald said that postwar Germany was “an almost perfectly functioning mechanism of repression.” Farocki, on the other hand, did not sweep things under the rug. His work, often graceful in its observations, was never far from the injury of our world. “He was endlessly patient,” Antje Ehmann wrote, “with the strangeness, the beauty, the stupidity, and even the unbearable cruelness of our world.”

His films often track the effects that free markets, war, and their attendant technologies have on the individual. His films invariably reflect on the methods we use to construct and distribute images and the uses to which these images are put. Frequently, he went to places of focused production – a prison, a virtual reality facility used to train soldiers, a commercial photo shoot – and managed to describe the abstractions, the rules, the exercises and negotiations of power behind the surface of such images. About his method, Farocki once remarked, “My maxim was: I tell a company that the movie is an advertisement for what they are doing and tell the TV station [Farocki’s employer] that the film is a criticism of this practice. And try not to do either one or the other.”

For the list of screenings and RSVP info

Aerial Futures: Urban Constellations

Date: Friday, April 6, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Location: At the Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Pl., NYC
Price: Free for AIA members and students; $10 for general public


In cities where demand for air travel is high, it’s not uncommon to find two, three or even—as is increasingly the case in some metropolitan areas—six airports. These multiple-airport cities present new challenges for passengers and urban dwellers who may struggle to navigate their aerial infrastructure. The fragmentation of airports in a single city, frequently owned and operated by different governing bodies, can lead to unpredictable and even confusing experiences.

Despite the ambitious renovations and annexations underway, from London to Tokyo and Istanbul to New York, a city’s metropolitan aerial infrastructure is rarely understood as a single urban system. How should we rethink multiple-airport cities more holistically?

With seven airports in its metro area, New York City offers a perfect case study to reimagine airports as a choreographed urban ecosystem, which relies as much on architecture and urban planning as it does on technology and data-driven design. A panel of experts will discuss challenges and opportunities for the future of New York City’s aerial infrastructure, drawing from the think tank’s focus on urban design and digital interfaces.

This panel discussion is presented as part of the AERIAL FUTURES: Urban Constellations think tank taking place in New York City between April 5-6, 2018.

Margaret Newman, FAIA, LEED AP, Principal, ARUP Marcel Botha, CEO, 10X Beta
Robert Chicas, AIA, LEED AP, Director of Global Aviation + Transportation, HOK

Moderator: Ben Rubin, Director, Center for Data Arts, The New School

Organized by: AIANY Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Aerial Futures

Launch Party: LOGIC Magazine’s SCALE Issue, April 26


7PM – WED APR 25, 2018


Talks include:

K. Sabeel Rahman on new tech monopolies and how to tame them

Nina Sparling
 on “open-source agriculture”

Ross Perlin
 on small languages, smartphones and the internet

Moira Weigel
 on #MeToo, the death of print media, and the structure of the internet

Ben Tarnoff
 on how data got “big”, and how we might democratize it

This event is organized by Logic Magazine. For the latest news and updates, check out their event page. Please note RSVP here is required to attend and your email may be shared with Logic for a one-time opt in request.

The Help-Yourself City, Book Launch Monday 3/26 @ 6pm at NYU

Logistics + RSVP on the Institute for Public Knowledge website

NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge invites you to join for the launch of Gordon Douglas’s The Help-Yourself City: Legitimacy and Inequality in DIY Urbanism. The author will be present in conversation with Caroline Lee and Harvey Molotch.

When local governments neglect public services or community priorities, how do concerned citizens respond? In The Help-Yourself City, Gordon Douglas looks closely at people who take urban planning into their own hands with homemade signs and benches, guerrilla bike lanes and more. Douglas explores the frustration, creativity, and technical expertise behind these interventions, but also the position of privilege from which they often come. Presenting a needed analysis of this growing trend from vacant lots to city planning offices, The Help-Yourself City tells a street-level story of people’s relationships to their urban surroundings and the individualization of democratic responsibility.

Gordon C. C. Douglas is Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and Director of the Institute for Metropolitan Studies at San José State University. He is a multidisciplinary urbanist whose work sits at the intersection of urban political-economy, community studies, and cultures of planning and design. Prior to joining the Dept. of Urban and Regional Planning at San José State, he was the Rebuild by Design Postdoctoral Fellow at New York University, where he also served as Associate Director (2015-2016) and Acting Director (2016-2017) of the Institute for Public Knowledge.

Caroline W. Lee is Professor of Sociology in the Anthropology & Sociology Department at Lafayette College. She is a comparative institutional sociologist with research and teaching interests in the following areas: political sociology, social movements, economic sociology, law, sociology of knowledge and culture, urban and environmental sociology, and research methods. She is the author of Do-It-Yourself Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2015) and an editor of the volume Democratizing Inequalities (NYU Press, 2015).

Harvey Molotch is Professor of Sociology and Metropolitan Studies at New York University. His writings focus on cities with special attention to economic development, urban security, artifacts, and product design. He is the author of several books including Against Security: How We Go Wrong at Airports, Subways and Other Sites of Ambiguous Danger (Princeton University Press, 2012), and Where Stuff Comes From: How Toasters, Toilets, Cars, Computers and Many Other Things Come to Be as They Are (Routledge, 2003).

Being in Two Places at Once: Art + Geopolitics of Remote Sensing, 3/20 @ NYU

Being in Two Places at Once: Art and the geopolitics of remote sensing

Tuesday 20 March 2018 — 9:30am – 7pm
NYU Tisch Dean’s Conference Room
721 Broadway, 12th Floor

See Tisch website for Program + RSVP

Scales and subjectivities of vision and photography are transforming under the influence of remote-sensing arrays, machine visions, and global observation systems. Computational and composite photography capture not just an image in time, but also in space, permitting 1:1 digitization and replication of spatial objects, bodies, and landscapes. Remote sensing offers at once extended apparatuses of viewing, feeling, and operating in the world, as well as expanded dynamics of population control. These large-scale spatial mapping technologies are primarily deployed, administered, and understood by economically dominant world powers and multinational scientific consortia. Asymmetrical power relations are thus reproduced and amplified at the planetary scale. There is an urgency for these images and models to be legible to wider publics and constituencies than solely at the levels of industry, military, and governance.

How can artists operate within these scales of perception for new imaginative and political potential? What kinds of interventions, trespasses, transformative subjectivities are occurring through the deliberate decolonization and appropriation of networks of remote sensing by those on the peripheries of power?

Model Cities Program @ UnionDocs, Thursday March 15 @ 7:30pm

Thursday, Mar 15 at 7:30 pm

What is the Model City?

Screening to be followed by a presentation by Susanne Schindler and a discussion with Schindler, Gordon Hyatt, and Rebecca Amato.

via UnionDocs

What was the Model Cities program and why have so few people heard about it? Join architect and historian Susanne Schindler as she explains the origins, trajectory and legacies of the Great Society program launched in 1966. Model Cities’ goal was to improve the quality of life in the nation’s most impoverished urban areas by coordinating federal funding and community participation. Despite the best intentions, however, the program’s implementation was rocky. By 1970 it was considered a problem, and in 1974 it was terminated. New York City had three Model Cities Neighborhoods—Central Brooklyn, the South Bronx, and Harlem–East Harlem—areas that today are once again highly contested in light of municipal planning policies.

The program will include a screening of Gordon Hyatt’s never-before-shown film, Between The Word And The Deed, followed by a discussion with the filmmaker as well as Rebecca Amato from NYU’s Urban Democracy Lab.

Catalogue — Adding Intelligences

The building of our catalogue of spatial intelligences is an ongoing task. Below is the link to the template to download the card to fill out and catalogue other spatial intelligences that come to mind.

To add new entries to the catalog,
1— download a catalog card here;
2— fill it out, and choose the types of intelligence most pertinent to your chosen agent;
3— scan and crop it;
4— then upload it by creating a new post, selecting the scanned card as your “Featured Image,” choosing the “Catalogue of Urban Intelligences” category.