Events Episode 1: Predictive Cities with Manu Luksch, Melissa Butcher, Sarah Keenan and Joel McKim

Predictive Cities VR Exhibition, screenshot
In the latest episode of our Events podcast series, Manu Luksch, Melissa Butcher, Sarah Keenan and Joel McKim discuss the Predictive Cities VR Exhibition, specially available to Mediapolis listeners and readers until the end of 2021.

This episode, part of the Mediapolis Now Events series, is an edited version of the Predictive Cities colloquium, held online on July 1st 2021. The colloquium involved a roundtable discussion of the Predictive Cities exhibition, sponsored by the Urban Intersections Working Group of Birkbeck’s Institute for Social Research.

Especially for Mediapolis listeners and readers, the exhibition’s run has been extended until the end of 2021, so that you can take it in before, after or even while you listen to the roundtable.

The Predictive Cities exhibition is situated in the virtual space of a Mozilla Hubs VR chatroom. It contains two kinds of objects. First, memes that spawn a selection of artworks, which interrogate networked urbanism and citizen agency. Second, the exhibition includes a series of spherical photographs of Songdo, South Korea, internationally famous as a case study of greenfield smart cities. The series Songdo is custom-made for VR (if you have access to a VR headset do use it!).

At the roundtable even, we were very fortunate to be joined by the creator of the exhibition, Manu Luksch. Manu is an artist and filmmaker who researches the effects of emerging technologies on daily life, social relations, urban space, and political structures. Her current work focuses on corporate-governmental relationships and the social effects of predictive analytics in the algorithmic city.  Her work is included in the Collection de Centre Pompidou, the BFI National Archive, and the Core Collection at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

In the roundtable, Manu is in conversation with a panel, all people based at Birkbeck, University of London. including:

  • Professor Melissa Butcher, who is a social and cultural geographer that uses ethnographic, visual and participatory methodologies to examine questions of identity and belonging within contexts of cultural change and contested urban space.
  • Dr Sarah Keenan, who works at the intersection of legal and political thought, geography, feminist theory and postcolonial studies – and has a particular interest in the expansive and politically potent concept of property, and the ways in which it might be rethought.
  • Dr Joel McKim, whose inter-disciplinary research draws together architectural and urban studies, digital media theory, memory studies, philosophy of aesthetics and communication theory – and who is currently studying digital images, animation, and machine vision.

The original recording has been edited, for length and clarity, but also to remove some of the host’s (Scott Rodgers’) interjections and housekeeping notes for the audience of the live event. Also added in are some sound clips from artworks mentioned in the discussion.

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