Ruins of the Smart City : A Visual Intervention

Fraser, Emma and Wilmott, Clancy (2020) Ruins of the Smart City : A Visual Intervention. Visual Communication, 19 (3). pp. 353-368. ISSN 1470-3572

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The visual imaginary of the future city is increasingly dichotomised between visions of hyper-technological digital urbanism and the city in a state of ruin, without people, overtaken by nature. These alternating imaginaries key into concerns over urban futures, as questions of sustainability and rising inequality come to bear on urban life. Such binary imaginaries produce volumes of visual material, lauding and critiquing philosophies of newness, endless progress and the city without decline. This article uses an inventive visual methodology to ask how these imaginaries become situated in the everyday ecologies of living. This methodology focuses on several so-called “brownfield” sites in Salford, United Kingdom; and the “smart” Oxford Road corridor in neighbouring Manchester, to playfully and visually map the entanglement of digital urban ecologies, through the themes of wilderness, play, and compost. These three themes relate to the pleasure of urban wilderness described by Rose Macaulay, reflecting on London’s wild ruins after the second world war; the playful contrast between smart urbanism and urban wastelands, understood through interdisciplinary visual methods; and Haraway’s notion of compost as the fertile ground of collaboration that marks a material-semiotic entanglement between place, people, and nature. We investigate how these frameworks reflect the diversity of urban ecology; animals, plants and humans) might provide an alternative vision of how the city could be, a vision built from how the city currently is.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Visual Communication
Additional Information:
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Visual Communication, 19 (3), 2020, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2020 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Visual Communication page: on SAGE Journals Online:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? compostdonna harawayecologiesplayrose macaulayshannon matternsmart cityvisual methodologycommunicationvisual arts and performing arts ??
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Deposited On:
26 Mar 2020 09:25
Last Modified:
30 Mar 2024 01:01