Urban Social Spaces – An Essay

In the past decade we have seen the emergence of hybrid cities: public space has become layered with digital and wireless networks. Mobile devices, such as smartphones, have become ‘territory devices’, and create private spaces (‘telecocoons’) within public space, where conversations with others around us have become more rare.
In the meantime, our use of the World Wide Web has become more and more delineated, because of social networks that determine highly ‘where we go’ on the Internet. Instead of exploring the unknown, we trust the advise of our online friends, and create our own comfort zone while visiting websites that fit our lifestyles and preferences. Just as in urban public space, meeting ‘the other’ has become unusual.
Controversially, today’s artists are connecting and merging the potential meeting places of the city and the Web. Artists are using tactical media, a specific fusion of art, politics, technologies and media, which can be used as a powerful social, political and cultural force, to create installations and works that establish new spaces. They use tactics to manoeuvre through the regulatory systems that organise our hybrid cities and online behaviour. These artistic practices allow for new forms of social spaces, where one encounters ‘the other’. Therefore a political dimension can be allocated to these spaces.
In this essay, three recent examples of artistic tactical interventions – that operate both in urban public space, as online – are being investigated in order to find out how they create new forms of social spaces at the intersection of our hybrid cities and the World Wide Web.

Read the essay here in pdf.

urban social spaces