Monday, September 27, 7:30pm – 9:30pm — architect/writer Markus Miessen (The Nightmare of Participation) as part of”Open Sourcing the City: Invited and Uninvited Participation” @ The Change You Want to See, 8/24-10/28/10
Global urbanism is one of the most significant trends of this century. For the first time, a majority of people on the planet now live in cities. As populations shift to urban centers, space – which is already at a premium in most cities and dwellings – becomes an even more pressing concern. Short of growing our architecture ever higher and spreading the creep of concrete, we seek solutions that consider size constraints alongside questions of environmental, social and economic sustainability.
Artists and designers, developers and planners, activists and architects respond to these challenges with creative solutions. But our fixed gear bikes and rooftop farms, geo-location apps and LEED certified lofts are lifestyles cum commodities, quickly subsumed into brand campaigns, used to sell a spatial agenda. Kill your Facebook profile, grow your food, you are still a walking talking advertisement for gentrification whether you like it or not.

Inevitably, where people converge, spatial conflicts arise. The ideas and desires of one group come at the expense of another. While social media and technology are heralded as cost-effective means to open-source the city, this participation is only partial, presenting an imagined consensus that obscures deeper forms of social exclusion. Too often, participation affirms a system rather than challenging it. And our contemporary system contradicts sustainability principles with a fundamental and fatal design flaw: that of impossible, unlimited growth.
Given these conditions, how can cultural creatives and spatial practitioners participate productively? What are constructive forms of critical engagement? What does an architecture look like that acts not to serve a community but to produce it? How might we open-source the city in invited and uninvited ways?