Urban utopics and the new digital view

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
The Mediated City Conference, 2014, pp. ? - ? (n.p.)
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Internet Webcam technology is a crucial nodal imaging device that delivers a plethora of new vantage points by which the visual experience of the city is now constructed. Delivered directly to the desktop, this distributed network extends the individual viewer beyond their physical limits.However, it also, remains a regulated system. Unlike sites like Flikr the representation of urban form and life is authored and thus locates the various promotional and proprietorial interests of those who own the view. More importantly, the figurative potency of the webcam image relies on its emblematic, descriptive form. Louis Marin, in ‘Utopics’ and ‘On Representation’ identifies how the use of narrative and descriptive image forms in early city maps constructed differences in the representation of sovereign power. Referring to Gomboust’s 1647 Map of Paris, Marin argues that the image, as a representational vehicle for the mediation of power, inevitably, constructs a gap or interval within any figurative continuity. Here the presence of competing intermediating referents undoes the map’s figurative consistency. In this sense, representations of this kind rupture their own ambition for semantic coherence.Referencing Marin’s observation that the representation of power establishes the basis of its own inevitable rupture, this paper will explore how the Internet webcam, simultaneously reveals the immanence of urban powerbrokers and delineates the mechanism by which this power is disrupted. The paper will examine how pixel-based geometry and image as ‘data’ unravels the narrative of linear perspective representation by supplanting its Cartesian coordinates and instead privileging experiential conditions of colour and luminosity. In rejecting the delineation of form through the line, the city’s image becomes a more affective, qualitative condition. Moreover, the ease by which this content can be repackaged and reassembled institutes a profound political shift in the image’s agency and the viewer’s visual engagement with urban space.
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