30 March 2013. Free entry.
The research project Mesh Cities Christchurch begins in the post-quake city and looks outward to the possibilities and implications of this transitional state for urban, public, and social space in Aotearoa New Zealand. Through the idea of the ‘Mesh City’, The ADA Network asks, how can networked media artists respond to the conditions of contemporary Aotearoa? What opportunities arise here? What does the ‘smart city’ mean for media art practice? How can nimble processes respond to public spaces as creative venues and their importance for future community development? And how can media art contribute to reimagining, remembering, reinvigorating, reconnecting with, or indeed resisting, urban and social space?
Mesh Cities Christchurch references the ‘sustainable, intelligent city‘ of ubiquitous mobile networking, in Robert Oullette’s MESH concept, but contextually positions the ubiquitous cyclone fence as a metaphor for interconnectedness in Aotearoa – in which the strength of the fence lies in its interwoven strands. The wireless networks of a ‘smart city’ however carry inevitable inequities of access and exclusion; like the modular fencing that surrounds so many broken buildings and empty sites, the technological mesh delineates ownership and regulates access. However, spaces between the wires enable other meanings and possibilities to slip through. In Christchurch, for example, a palpable disjunction emerges between the top down approach driving government designs for the city’s rebuild, and the highly social, bottom up and collectively imagined future. The city is rich in creative responses to resident experience, which emerge through the telling of stories, the co-creation of new experiences, and constant negotiation between the co-located spaces here / ‘now’, and there / ‘then’ / ‘when?’.
These are issues important for any city, any location. Space : Network : Memory asks how might the mesh city of Christchurch be just one starting point for new ways of thinking the impacts and place of media and art.