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Urbanity of Images
Research project

Research project

Part 1. The Networked Image as a Deep Map.
In this part, I develop the theoretical framework for discussing the spatiality of images through the notion of urbanity. Images are seldom or never alone, as they connect us with myriad other images, associations, allegory, symbols, encoded meaning or simply associated concepts. Moving beyond theories of image generation and reception, I contend that the visual requires to be additionally discussed as agential potentiality. Borrowing from Rancière, Derrida, Lévinas and Netto, I extend theories of the urban to the visual realm, by recasting the notion of unconditional hospitality both in terms of its sociality and its material performance through images. In addition, I operate a first application of these concepts through a set of operational spatial and geographic metaphors: city, territory, and landscape, inquiring into the diverse modalities of spatial arrangement, their metrics, and their consequences for meaning engendering. As an exploratory study, I trace and reconstruct how the work «Pikali» by Jüri Okas (1974), leads us to a society of images through its diverse layers. Meaning, composition, materiality, context of production is systematically unveiled and reconstructed as a network of interconnected instances to develop a ‘deep map’ of this image’s urbanity. Without wanting to collapse uncertainty, ambiguity, emotion, metaphor, and other dynamic attributes, this project attempts at reconciling them with a set of measurable and navigable representations. Furthermore, this is discussed considering the digital lifecycle of images with regards to classical and contemporary debates on mimesis and representation.

Part 2. Spatial Configuration in Early Modern Theories of Vision, Visibility, Illumination and Gaze – Building a Model of Visual Exposure through Isovist Fields in Early Modern Urban Contexts. In this part, I tackle how to reconstruct the role of spatial configuration of architectural and urban space in allowing for emergent conditions of urbanity. More precisely, this is approached through the ecologies of presence and avoidance facilitated by a vision-based spatial cognition of urban space. I adapt a computational analytic framework for spatial cognition to early modern theories of optics, vision, and visual perception. This serves the purpose of an experimental apparatus to enquire into those theories; as well as an analytic frame through which to see how vision and the image were relevant to the spatial production of the time.