Creative practices, research platforms and innovative tools for contemporary metropoleis
The University Research Institute of Applied Communication (U.R.I.A.C) of the National Kapodistrian University of Athens in collaboration with the National Museum of Contemporary Art of Athens launch, on the opportunity of the organization of the second Hybrid City conference, the Hybrid City Online Resource. In accordance with the conference’s theme, the online resource’s main aim is to explore, locate and critically reflect the transformative changes happening in today’s hybrid cities, as seen through the eyes of contemporary creators and researchers.
In times of constant connectivity, ubiquitous computing and open data policies, new possibilities are being formed for the cities of tomorrow and new opportunities are opening up for their inhabitants. With the development and the integration of a number of technologies in mobile telecommunications – such as the RFID, the Bluetooth, the WiFi and the GPS – the contemporary city has become writable (p.172), searchable and shareable, allowing its image to be continuously formed and dynamically modified. At the same time, the emergence of crowdsourcing practices and the empowerment of citizen science have introduced a new ground for civic engagement, which invited citizens to become actively involved in processes related to the amelioration of urban life. Urban matters started thus being dependent on the collection and processing of urban data which could respectively be captured through urban media. (p.5] Citizen generated data along with data aggregated through movable or fixed sensors within the city environment rendered the city accessible and detactable, open to development but also open to control. As urban life undoubtedly became mediated life (p.160), and as the tracking of citizens’ contributions and interactions started playing a central role in it, certain issues regarding the functioning mechanisms of today’s hybrid cities raised questions which need to be thoroughly examined.
Who is in control of the management of the urban data? How open and understandable are the processes of their collection, analysis and further use?
How trustworthy are the technologies involved? And whose image of the city do they really capture?
The Hybrid City online resource aims to present artistic practices and innovative research projects which critically address the urban media while they also introduce new modes of their utilization and development. The online resource presents a wide spectrum of initiatives including visualisations, mappings, downloadable applications, urban mobile and online tools, game platforms, workshops documentations as well as models and prototypes which all seem to take into consideration not only the technological possibilities offered, but also the needs and interests of the city inhabitants.
Embracing collaboration, using DIY or DIWO practices and empowering local voices, some of the projects presented propose new forms of civic engagement and emphasize the need to remember a city’s cultural traits and societal features. Other works specifically examine the role of urban media in times or insurrection and recession and a great number of them raise issues of surveillance and control. Centralized mechanisms are often exposed, while the distributed logic is counter-proposed and spread as urban action. As citizen science becomes grassroots, measurements get performative and collective decision making becomes playful, the hybrid city online resource captures a city which is perceived not only through aggregated data, but also through collaborative efforts, hacked systems and affective dynamics.
The projects presented as part of the online resource were either selected after the open call addressed in the context of the Hybrid City II Conference or they were invited to be included as representative works of these year’s participants. This list however is not finite or complete. Aiming to build a research tool and to embrace the potentiality of creative alternatives, the resource will remain open, inviting creators and researchers working in the field, to submit their project at any time.
Projects reviewed and selected by:
Daphne Dragona, Independent Curator, Researcher at the Department of Communication and Media Studies, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Ekmel Ertan, Director of Amber Platform/ BIS
Stamatis Schizakis, Assistant Curator of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens
Pavel Sedlak, Deputy Director, Curator of CIANT | International Centre for Art and New Technologies
Dimitris Charitos, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication and Media Studies, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
 M. de Lange, Moving Circles, Mobile media and playful identities, PhD Thesis, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, 2010
 M. de Waal, “The ideas and ideals in urban media” in From Social Butterfly to Engaged Citizen, M.Foth, L. Foriano, C. Satchell, M. Gibbs Eds, Cambridge/ London: The MIT Press, 2011