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Urban machine sensing
Research project

Research project

This research project is included within a collective framework focusing on urban digital visual studies. This orientation of Digital Visual Studies to the understanding of how the urban has been represented throughout history, shows how those representations hold a significant position to understand how urban images operate today and constitute our future just as our cities become digitally coded and coding environments.
These urban environments are threaded by what Félix Guattari termed as asignifying signs, which have a special relation with the visual, understood with Mieke Bal as fully synesthetic phenomena. In times of information overload and big data, images in the digital realm no longer operate like icons but as material signals where their physical behaviour shadows their symbolic framing. Networked images perform as “algorithmic touches” (aka nudges), and often operate in timeframes too short for embodied perception to acknowledge their presence, nonetheless they retain a power to move the body, shape it, mould it, operate it. These nudges become thus, not just architectural/spatial terms but also political, in the sense they are environmentally shaping the possible, bodies’ agencies and foreclosing urban futures or alternatives. We address the challenges posed by the urban networked image armed with peircean semiotics and biosemiotics to consider how to navigate through urban databases and the images they produce(d).
Methodologically, this project works in two parallel directions, first, producing a series of spatial technoethnographies of how the urban networked image shapes urban imaginaries and practices, and secondly, considering how we have historically made sense of the city not as a geometric entity but as a space of lived experience by applying machine learning to images in the Bibliotheca Hertziana collection where space is represented not geometrically but as event-spaces characterized by gestures and material practices.

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