Sep '06 - May '08
So, after much stress and liquidated cash, I've got my visa, which means I'm headed to Shenzhen on friday. It also means I need to nail down my research agenda before our studio ships out. I know what it is I want to study, but figuring out where I want to study it might be difficult. here's an excerpt of some "free form" writing I did to figure out my intent:
The role of physical infrastructure as a network pathway is fairly obvious - it works as a linkage between supply nodes that offer utility or transport lines to the city. One major by-product of the network is its capacity as a border - affecting both planned and squatter development as well as demarcating city limits and zones of inhabitation.
Conversely, social infrastructure of the city manifests itself as a growing, organic, infiltrating element that stands as a conceptual opposite to physical infrastructure. Social infrastructure is multivalent and imprints upon the built landscape local sources of meaning - creatively adapting to the built environment to achieve this goal. Social infrastructure, in this way, can be addressed as a loose collective consciousness - a force exhibited, for example, in the “critical mass” phenomenon observed in bicycle traffic in parts of Asia. While it primarily functions as an adaptive force within the city, it is also present at the formation of the city and can exert itself in its expansion; (e.g.) the riots of a mob fighting for social justice, or the formation of a lucrative consumer demographic.
How physical and social infrastructure interface is what I seek to document. This will include the following questions and methods of observation:
”¢ Look at squatter development along major infrastructural pathways.
”¢ Observe programming patterns/gradients using infrastructure as a “zero point.”
”¢ Document subversion of these patterns by adaptive, creative use
”¢ What "planned" parts of the city do people avoid?
”¢ What parts are unintentionally popular?
These questions and methods will try to address this issue:
What programs can act as a mediator between social and physical infrastructure?
The interesting thing is that in Shenzhen, the underlying motive behind physical infrastructure is not actually its connective properties, but its generative properties. The cities around the Pearl River Delta compete with one another over industry, tourism, travel -- you name it. Infrastructure offers conveniences, which in turn, create scarcities that are hotly contested markets. Their purpose is fascilitate the growth of their own developments, not necessarily to link the cities together in some guesture of communal prosperity.
I may be just spinning my wheels with all this, but that doesn't make it any less fascinating of a project. The shear size of this all makes me giggle (hee hee).
I know what my studio-mates and myself are interested in, but I'm curious to know what specific aspects of this whole phenomena pique other people's curiosity? (sorry for the long post btw)
Shinzhen's US Sister City is Houston - no joke. (image from Wikipedia.com)