Mark Shepard

Mark Shepard

West Hall, Room 112

November 8, 2011 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

"Pathetic Fallacies and Category Mistakes: making sense and nonsense of the (near-future) Sentient City"

As computing leaves the desktop and spills out onto the sidewalks, streets and public spaces of the city, we increasingly find information processing capacity embedded within and distributed throughout the material fabric of everyday urban space. Artifacts and systems we interact with daily collect, store and process information about us, or are activated by our movements and transactions. Ubiquitous computing evangelists herald a coming age of urban infrastructure capable of sensing and responding to the events and activities transpiring around them. Imbued with the capacity to remember, correlate and anticipate, this near-future "sentient" city is envisioned as being capable of reflexively monitoring its environment and our behavior within it, becoming an active agent in the organization of everyday life in urban public space. This talk will unpack some of the tacit assumptions, latent biases and hidden agendas at play behind new and emerging urban infrastructures.

Mark Shepard is an artist, architect, and researcher whose post-disciplinary practice addresses new social spaces and signifying structures of contemporary network cultures. His current research investigates the implications of mobile and pervasive media, communication and information technologies for architecture and urbanism. Recent work includes the Sentient City Survival Kit, a collection of artifacts for survival in the near-future sentient city; and the Tactical Sound Garden [TSG], an open source software platform for cultivating virtual sound gardens in urban public space, both of which have been presented at museums, festivals and arts events internationally. In 2006 he organized Architecture and Situated Technologies (with Omar Khan and Trebor Scholz), a symposium bringing together researchers and practitioners from art, architecture, technology and sociology to explore the emerging role of "situated" technologies in the design and inhabitation of the contemporary city. In 2009, he curated Toward the Sentient City, an exhibition of commissioned projects that critically explored the evolving relationship between ubiquitous computing and the city. He is the editor of Sentient City: ubiquitous computing, architecture and the future of urban space, published by the Architectural League of New York and MIT Press. He is also an Associate Professor at the University of Buffalo in both Media Studies and Architecture.

This lecture is part of the PhD Program in Electronic Arts Fall Colloquia series.

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