Extreme Cities: Networks

History/Theory

Fall 2012

Kazys Varnelis, instructor, with Momo Araaki

As part of the Extreme Cities collaboration between the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and Audi AG, this seminar sought an understanding of the relationship of mobility and networks. Networks and mobility have always been linked. So long as there have been people, individuals have been driven to connect with each other to communicate thoughts and to exchange things.

This course posited that we are experiencing a phase-shift as the Internet and mobile telecommunications devices are reframing mobility. The last two decades have sent us hurtling into a new age in which our lives, more than ever, trace trajectories over networks. We live in a network culture that we urgently need to understand. The seminar was organized as a history of the contemporary, tracing a genealogy of present-day culture and extrapolating possible trajectories into the future. We explored how mobility and networks are not merely technologies with social ramifications but rather are cultural dominants connecting changes in science, society, economy, aesthetics, urbanism and ideology. Throughout, this course asked what the consequences are in the re-emergence of technological determinism, this time in the form of the networks.