Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Origami Urbanism Update

Finally wrapping up my chapter for the Urban Communication Reader! Here's some of the new stuff...

To this post-place we now turn, learning to read the city that unfolds itself to our gaze. This is the modern city too, in a way; it is the perfection of modernity, no longer limited by the plane-truth. In this city, flat power is dispelled with a magic trick, a mediated fantasy of moving parts with no mechanism aside from consumer choice. Such power--strange, illusory, intoxicating--must first be recognized as such; its users must be trained to recognize themselves as its masters, to see themselves as artists, engineers, poets, creators. This is post-industrial power, when reality-television allows even the otherwise disadvantaged among us to become producers of icons, to brand themselves. This power is the child’s plaything, the personal totem, the solitary confidence. Easily crumbled, burst with merely a word, this pleasure transcends vast chasms between ideas and action, between self and other.

Origami urbanism reveals the sensual pleasure of this manipulation, our technological means of ascending to the summit of a God’s-eye view once more. Amid the flat city, origami urbanism recall’s Gatsby’s “constant flicker”: the flick of a finger upon an iPad, swiping the world into digital shape.  Such is the power and pleasure of mobile communication devices, the means to produce frames of reference that alter themselves according to our perpetually shifting positions, thickening homogeneity in an internal performance. With these new personal data, navigation, and entertainment devices, we need not be tied to fixed locations but may create new ones instead, building our own multidimensional worlds atop the flat screen.  We wander the boulevard, texting rather than speaking, posting rather than engaging, editing rather than experiencing, and our fantasy worlds appear to convulse with every stroke. The pleasures of origami urbanism appear, to the uninitiated at least, like an addiction.

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