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Mediated Urbanism

 

Draft Date 4/28/15

 

Walker Thisted

Founding Principal, Naught Company

 

Copyright © 2015, Walker Thisted

 

I. Introduction

The purpose of this essay is to explore a series of strategies for urban redevelopment under the term “Mediated Urbanism.”  The audience is both specific and broad.  In a narrow sense, the audience is those who are concerned with the future of the American City and who are committed to taking concrete steps towards its improvement.  These people are both those with the training to do so as well as those who control sufficient capital to directly invest in the work required to transform the city and create enhanced ecological sustainability, new initiatives driving economic growth, and a strong local culture organized around art, common space, and shared interest in maintaining a productive city.  Those who want to invest in the future of the city and those with the capital to do so, however, are dispersed across a wide range of disciplines and geographies.  Very often, the boundaries that result lead to obstacles to collaboration.  As a result, new approaches that, in particular, require collaboration across boundaries often have a limited chance of occurring.  Mediated Urbanism is a means of addressing this broad group and pulling them together around a shared ambition through the straightforward notion of collaborating on using “media” to transform the urban environment. 

On the surface, it might appear that Mediated Urbanism does not require much explanation.  If, however, we are to understand how to use media effectively to transform the urban environment, what this media might look like, and what the goals might be, further reflection is required.  Doing so will require reflecting on the historic precedents of using media as a tool of development as well as the current efforts to do so.  Before doing so, however, it is important to point to a broader reason and urgency for undertaking this work.  In this sense, the primary concern of this essay and of Mediated Urbanism more generally is the state, capacity, and effectiveness of the urban condition.  The urban fabric has undergone a long period of decay and public spaces of congregation have been appropriated and transformed.  As a result, the urban fabric is unable to support rich and varied forms of life.  The cause for alarm is heightened by immediate and extreme financial drain that decaying infrastructure places on cities, people, and communities.  This situation is often characterized by underemployment and lack of collective institution building.  In many of these situations, the space in which innovation might occur is reduced to a basketball court or underfunded classroom.  The result is a dormant urban and social space that is disconnected from the broader engine of the national economy.  When locals attempt to resist this dormancy, it is often through violence in order to protest the limited options for social and spatial transformation. 

This condition is not merely confined to low-income neighborhoods.  It is an endemic problem that is infecting all forms of space.  The elite spaces that trace the loss of capacity of the urban fabric – i.e. the suburban sprawl and the infiltration of the urban fabric with a suburban mentality of isolation – often do not appear to be permeated with a sense that a problematic situation exists in the sprawling section of many cities that are affected by foreclosure and poverty.  This is largely a result of the extent to which these elite spaces are closely aligned with the forces – mostly corporations and municipalities – that support an initial alienation from the land that ultimately allows it to be appropriated and incorporated as part of a new city being built for those who agree to support this logic of generating space.  Although there are certain urban conditions that resist this trend through self-organization and violent resistance that keeps the powerful forces of capital at bay, they are increasingly absent in the United States.  As a result, progress that offers a new form of urbanism that grows from the existing fabric to support new forms of life that foster sustainable societies and economies is rare.

Few are able to resist this disturbing manner of colonizing land.  Architects and urbanists, already hurt by a depression in the construction and real estate markets, increasingly must become aligned with the capital forces that support this form of urbanism.  Limited room exists to engage situations with insignificant numbers and profit margins.  The result is an industry that is largely focused on the top of the market rather than on the fundamental concepts of dwelling on which this elite market rests and that are common across social classes.  In this context, artists are uniquely poised to see the situation differently and make a contribution.  They have the capacity to work outside of the largely capitalist framework and outside of the labor-intensive offices of urban planners, architects, and fabricators.  Moreover, artists are in a unique position where they are rewarded for creating artworks that exist beyond a specific pragmatic goal.  These works are often capable of tracing and manifesting invisible forces in order to cause the receiver to pause and consider the work.  In doing so, artists are able to expose the problematic nature of the materiality of decaying and vanishing sites across the city.  Moreover, the artwork is capable of explaining why it appears this way by exposing a reason lying beneath the surface.

This problem is the result of a deeper problem of communication.  We are unable to convey an abstract set of knowledge about a particular site, landscape, way of using space, and way of living together to other communities such that they genuinely respect and make use of those habits.  Too often, a community’s customs appear opaque and, as a result, it is difficult to understand the logic of the social and cultural community.  An underlying knowledge base is not communicated to those who judge this community and make decisions about how the land will be developed in the future.  In this sense, the underlying problem is an addiction to the tabula rasa.  It is a tactic that achieves sweeping effects and makes the development and utilization of other tactics largely unnecessary.  It makes it possible for stakeholders to be able to avoid having to bridge radically different situations.  In doing so, an opportunity to blend rich traditions with new building technologies and modes of social and spatial organization is missed.  This often occurs in the context of neighborhoods plagued by drugs and gang violence that real estate developers and potential residents discount as having little to contribute.  The result is somewhat akin to a fantasy that denies one half of reality.  Ignoring or building walls that exclude it will ultimately never simply make it go away.

It is in this context that we should consider efforts to confront the varied experiences, habits, and degrees of wealth and privilege that characterize the human condition.  Such efforts have existed throughout the history of the city and continue to exist today via the innovative practices of artists, filmmakers, architects, urbanists, designers, entrepreneurs, community organizers, and politicians.  Over the course of the following sections, I will explore Mediated Urbanism as a manner of practice that critically approaches the site in order to uncover its forces and potentials rather than sectioning off portions of the landscape on which a completely new beginning will occur.  The result of a fully realized Mediated Urbanism would provide a portal to an underlying space that is rich in narrative content.  Such “narrative content” would have to be more than the vast array of archival information that is available about a particular locale.  It would have to be carefully edited and curated through the mediation itself in such a way that it clarifies the problem facing a specific site or neighborhood.  The content would have to be organized in such a way that a solution to the problem is presented to the audience so that they may now take action.  The mediation of the landscape through a collection and computation of relevant information existing in a variety of media and degrees of visibility would provoke broader development of the site.  It would draw attention, allow the audience that results to explore an argument, and see examples of what a new mediated structure might look like.  

In doing so, a space that is outside of the dominant trend of real estate development would be created.  Such a zone would be semi-autonomous from the broader rules that govern the violence that might grip the site prior to mediation as well as the laws that are imposed by the broader municipality in attempting to fight this violence.  In this sense, Mediated Urbanism would lead to a “state of exception” in which a positive experiment can occur within an autonomous zone via intense publicity and transparency that exists in stark contrast to those camps that have characterized “the state of exception” in the past.  An interdisciplinary team would conduct such an experiment in how the city is built, inhabited, managed, and made culturally rich.  Such a team would offer an idea as to how life could be better lived in the city via culture and ultimately the structures that make this culture possible in order to lead to a new level of efficiency, pleasure, and collaboration. 

Those involved in the act of mediation would offer an image of a lived practice that supports an individual and collective desire to dwell and make a home.  In this sense, Mediated Urbanism would be a vocation that everyone would be capable of enthusiastically participating in.  It would counter a trend of denying this vocation to the inhabitants of the city who are plagued by transience resulting from renting rather than owning, predatory lending practices, speculative development, and rising property values.  It would counter an inability to affect the environment in which one lives and a pervading mood of disaffection.  It would do so through faith that everyone is interested in exploring space, the cultural works that anchor it, and the capacity to consume said culture as habits that change space.  Beyond faith, however, Mediated Urbanism offers a set of real approaches and tactics for transforming the world.  These tactics begin as a “simulation” via mediation before becoming a real proposition via the investment of monetary capital.  A fee paid to access the mediated urban space by those who live outside and ultimately would become a self-sustaining development supported by participants in the mediated urbanism who produce and consume it.  Such a Mediated Urbanism would be sustained by capital investment, profitable goods, services, real estate endeavors, events, applications, moving images, and new technologies.  A route towards this state will be explored in what follows.

II. Precedents

Any attempt to change the built environment with the assistance of media – and art practices more broadly – constitutes some form of Mediated Urbanism, however undeveloped it may be.  A fully developed and active Mediated Urbanism would involve moving beyond “just” transforming a set of social relations or an isolated object to affecting a broader structure that develops and manages an entire community.  The following examples point in this direction, but still operate in another manner, realm, and degree of effect.  This examination will begin with the most ancient roots of Mediated Urbanism and end with recent examples that frame the work that can be done in the future to bring Mediated Urbanism to a level of maturity. 

1. Media Theory of Religion and Spheres

A religiously motivated and world inflating Mediated Urbanism locates the driving force behind the organization of space in a higher power.  Such a higher power could lie in the authority of a super human god or in this god’s representative on earth.  It could equally lie in adherence to an underlying power attached to the land, the earth, the environment, or the cosmos.   Regardless of the power, it dictates how things appear, who is present where and when, and a general authority over space.  It is often the case that those closely associated with interpreting or authoring these rules are concerned with how this authority controls an increasing amount of space.  Peter Sloterdijk has described this through his Media Theory of Christianity and Jean-Luc Nancy has described it through his concept of the Dis-Enclosure of Christianity.  In both cases, the law inflates and deflates a series of spheres as the message that conveys the law and provokes allegiance and fidelity spreads through various means of practicing Mediated Urbanism.  These might include the spoken word, the printed text, the drawn map, and the daily practices that are associated.  To a certain extent, it is these daily practices that come to dictate how a house is structured, how this house sits within a city, how the domestic relates to commercial and industrial sites, and the broader structure of the city.  An early example of Mediated Urbanism as the practices of an invisible text that influences how the built world is structured to support practice can be found in monasteries.  A later example can be found in imago mundi tales of the Renaissance that used exploration and learning from fictitious worlds as a means of describing a moral, ethical, and spatial manner that one might bring to the realm of the everyday.  It can be found today in the manner in which an underlying text that defines best practices of the use and flow of capital on a global scale is used to decide how cities should be structured and linked as well as what is morally acceptable both strictly within those cities as well as on a global scale.  The various positions and centers of authority and control associated with practice-based Mediated Urbanism with an underlying text of capital is just as diverse as those associated with a Mediated Urbanism where the underlying text was religious and the cities monasteries.  As a result, the conflicts between these centers are equally common and no less violent.

2. The Subversion of Urbanism

Just as an underlying text can be used to dictate how space is ordered and how spheres of influence and authority are inflated, it can equally be used as a means of destroying how others structure space and order daily life.  A text inflated spheres and created a series of images that could be used to spread the message and continue the work.  In this context, an alternative text can be introduced that makes an argument for a different use of space.  In making such an argument, it is often essential to offer supporters an example of the negative results of building a world on the original text.  This often occurs by offering an image of the situation that does not require being able to understand the original language in which the text was written.  In this sense, the image becomes a bridge between epochs and worlds.  It is often used as a means of subversion that eliminates a space for a deeper textual discourse or debate.  In the subversion of what has been built, the image can be de-coupled from the underlying text that might have served to un-pack it.  In this sense, an image of an alternative can be offered that does not require a caption, but that evokes a visceral response in the receiver attached to an experience, conversation, or diverse set of texts.  While such a use of an image can occur with the inflation of a sphere, it is often insufficient as the sole device because it lacks an ability to make a reasoned argument or present a definitive logic.  Instead, the image reduces the space in which argument can occur to a visual realm in which authority is located.  The visual cuts across literacy and capacity and makes a direct appeal to the face of the receiver.  While such reduction is a difficult ground on which to build a future, it is an easy realm in which to draw an “x” and say “no” to the existing.  In this sense, it is Mediated Urbanism via fire, bombs, bulldozers, and negative ideology driven by rage that destroys the existing and makes room for the new.  As a result, a constant cycle back and forth between inflating and destroying spheres occurs. 

3. Variations

The following examples of Mediated Urbanism are really only moments that occur within these broader trends.  It will become increasingly apparent that Mediated Urbanism drives the history of architecture, art, and the city.  It will also become apparent that the mediation that occurs in each example developed as a response to a particular situation.  In the present context, we have inherited many traditions of mediation that no longer are addressed to the present condition.  As a result, the built environment is constructed via an antiquated set of tools.  Innovative architectural objects are often confined to elite uses in wealthy urban centers while the broad fabric of the city remains without recourse.  As a result, we should consider how these past precedents and current attempts to revive them can be used to implement a Mediated Urbanism appropriate for sections of the city that are most at risk of decay and speculative development that will only perpetuate the social and spatial hierarchy that has resulted in the crisis of the city to begin with.

A. Urban Object as Means of Mediation

Objects such as gravestones, triumphal arches, freestanding columns, sculptures, obelisks, fountains, plaques, monuments, and other markers have long been used to give meaning to the landscape, represent a particular story, and help travelors navigate from one point to another.  These objects often took on an artful character and by the Renaissance were generally crafted by artists working in other media within nearby buildings.  The object often anchored a visual perspective as the culmination of a long street.  They provided visual cohesion across the landscape and connected to a broader narrative.  This tendency is, in part, a continuation of the gradual re-making of cities with Roman origins during the Middle Ages through the insertion of bell towers, churches, and religious relics located within.  The hand of the artist and artisan often guided the creation of these elements so that these elements stood out in craft and appearance from the common fabric of the everyday.  Similar moments of standing out can be seen in those artists and artisans who work on top of the remnants of the modern city.  Efforts to use the art object to anchor urban life continue today through large scale public artworks and gardens as well as efforts by artists to extend practices and objects beyond the walls of the studio, gallery, and museum and into the city itself.  The goal is often for these objects and the cultural events that unfold around them to anchor and propel urban life.

B. The Building as Mediation Device

If an object sited within a landscape can anchor a narrative and provide orientation, a building that stands out sufficiently from the surrounding built environment is equally if not better equipped to do so.  Such buildings might include churches, stately homes, or towers that anchor life.  In the case of military towers, they literally surveyed and controlled what took place in the surrounding area.  In the context of the home, the façade was a device that mediated between the way of life on the street and the rules that governed life within the interior.  Beyond the façade, the organization of rooms often created a hierarchy that filtered guests through layers of privacy and publicity.  Often, the location of these rooms and the windows that looked out onto the surrounding landscape were strategically located in order to capture a particular vista and give the affect of controlling the landscape.  Such buildings were often crucial in mediating the broader social space of the inhabitants and reinforcing social codes.  In a contemporary setting, the code that these building enforce is less tied to a religious, social, or military hierarchy and instead connected to an institutional agenda to which the building is attached.  In order to reflect this agenda in the spaces, surfaces, and programs they enclose, many architects have turned to a script as a means of organizing various goals.  These architects – Elisabeth Diller + Ricardo Scofidio, Rem Koolhaas, and Bernard Tschumi in particular – often end up creating a structure in which this script can play out.

C. Technology as Mediation Device

An object or dwelling does not have to remain fixed to serve as a mediating device.  Tents, boats, ships, carriages, trains, automobiles, and airplanes are all capable of framing the landscape or city.  Such a relationship between technology, urbanism, and a capacity to mediate between the built environment and an inner human space begins with the innovative technology of the Roman road system that extended across Europe and created means by which a broader ideology could be disseminated in order to inflate a sphere of imperial authority.  They are all able to act as a mediating device between the inhabitant and the world through which they are passing.  In many cases, the object itself exists within the landscape as a means of control and device that supports broader modification.  In the 19th Century, such devices became key tools of both tourism and colonialism.  The conception of both the landscape and the temporal field in which it existed was heavily influenced by how the technology framed the landscape, the rate at which it passed through the landscape, and the compression of both space and time that it allowed for.  Serving the economy to which the technology was tied often drove the urbanism that resulted.  In the United States, this often entailed creating new towns along train routes and eventually new suburbs within a growing network of interstate highways.  This history continued via the film distribution and television networks that soon followed.  In these cases, movie theaters and family rooms were the architectural structures that resulted.  Movie theaters blossomed in every neighborhood of the city and served as a critical gathering space where news and culture could be disseminated.  Family rooms served as a vital space in which allegiance to a national way of life could be practiced. 

The Internet was the next evolution of such a technology.  It is less clear, however, what new space will become formally tied to this new network.  One possible interpretation is that nightclubs, restaurants, and generally spectacular events are the sites at which smart phones, cameras, guidebooks, maps, social networks, cultural networks, and information systems are best deployed.  These sites possess the capacity both to produce content for the network and as sites at which knowledge and status that one has within the network can be given form in the world.  In this sense, it might be possible for such evental sites to expand into new areas of the city.  Screens, smart phones, and devices that help navigation would all become increasingly important as mediating devices that give hierarchy to the built environment and create a route by which it can be modified and linked to an ethereal virtual network.  The result might be for this ethereal network to benefit local economies in a similar manner that such networks have done for thousands of years, but within the context of vast sections of cities that are largely disconnected from the global.

D. The Artist as Mediating Device

Artists often begin their practice in proximity to a broader network that is responsible for mediating between the human body, an ideology, and the broader world.  At a certain point, they often leave this authorized network and begin to work with the assumption that their work alone is capable of transforming the world.  This naïve Mediated Urbanism seeks to reveal the contradictions of the city and open a new path to the future.  Examples of such urbanism include the work of The Situationists, Earth Artists, and graffiti artists.  The extension of these artists into the city was inspirational for a second generation of artists who went beyond surreal excursions and enigmatic objects in order to pioneer social practices that work directly with the community in order to call a particular element into question in such a way that the surrounding environment is transformed.  Such practices have been chronicled in Nato Thompson’s Living as Form and were recently explored via the Lived Practice series sponsored by The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  They are embodied in the practices of artists such as Thomas Hirchhorn and Theaster Gates among many others.

At the same time, the evolution of an art practice into a lived practice can take a rather different direction.  Instead of engaging diverse and often underserved communities, artists can erect a space around their art practice that comes to support a broad milieu of friends and others artists who may or may not be engaged in supporting some aspect of the artist’s practice.  Andy Warhol’s factory is an example of an element that would exist as part of this urbanism.  The Downtown New York context in which the factory sat, the network of artists’ studios that began to reclaim abandoned buildings with signs warning the fire department that an artist was in residence, and the clubs and restaurants that grew in order to sustain the social demands of these artists would define the full scope of such urbanism.  Calling this a form of Mediated Urbanism stems from the fact that these spaces were only possible as a result of the media that was being produced within and the extent to which their particular architectural character was a result of the media being made.  Such urbanism might be called Creative Mediated Urbanism and come to include all the art studios, galleries, restaurants, clubs, collectors’ homes, shops, and concert venues that are located at fragmented often elite sites distributed across the landscape.  It is an urbanism ultimately driven by taste and consuming experiences that cause one to travel to a particular location in order to spend money and support a local economy that leads to the revitalization of the area.  Such urbanism is rarely capable of supporting systemic change and is often co-opted by a dominant order.  Such an instance can be seen in the fate of the SoHo neighborhood of New York.

E. Festival Urbanism

If an artist hopes to affect the transformation of an area beyond a naïve attempt and beyond bringing wealth through restaurants and galleries that occupied isolated storefronts, they must create a lasting institution that is capable of preserving their legacy in the context of changing tastes and rising land values.  Historically, the most promising way of doing so is through creating a festival in honor of the founding artist or their broader ideals.  Examples include Beyreuth, Burning Man, and Documenta.  They also might include establishing other forms of pilgrimage sites such as those established by Donald Judd in Marfa Texas or by James Turrel at the Roden Crater.  It could even be extended to include World’s Fairs and Conventions that create model cities that might have a lasting impact on how cities are organized and built in the future.  Such festivals bring a large number of tourists to a particular location and drive the local economy.  However, they often leave a void in the period between festivals.  Efforts to establish permanent community centers often have greater success creating a sustained impact.  Examples of such work can be found in the early efforts of the Conservative Vice Lords in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago to use art as a tool to pull together a broader cultural space and transform the surrounding community.  It continues in efforts by artists such as Inigo Monglano-Ovale in establishing Street Level Media and Theaster Gates in establishing the Black Cinema House, Dorchester Project, and the Arts Incubator.  The centers bring media into the urban landscape in order to create a document that might serve as a record or bridge between communities that are at odds and whose disputes are an impediment to positive development.

F. Utopian Mediated Urbanism

From these more historic and tested means of using media and mediation to affect the built environment follow attempts to introduce radical new tactics and technologies as means of transformation.  This work often begins with a theoretical investigation of an urban situation with an intention of using the investigation in order to arrive at an approach towards supporting a future condition that would not occur without intervention.  The recent work of David Harvey is exemplary in this regard.  Such work is reflected in attempts by The Occupy Movement and other protests to galvanize support for an alternative mode of viewing the built environment, common space, and the role that privilege plays in construction and access.  In this sense, it is an urbanism that is abstract and concrete at the same time.  It is bound simultaneously to money and bodies. 

Another example is the use of photography as a means of theorizing the built environment.  Record making becomes a means of capturing in order to analyze and ultimately transform.  This is reflected in recent efforts of Ecological and Narrative Urbanism.  Both ecology and narrative becomes media by which information is transferred to the surrounding environment such that it is transformed.  An evolution of the use of photography can be found in the use of rendering devices that depict an alternative future of the city.  Computer games, television shows, and movies all engage in such work to render an alternative future.  These images often explore what it would mean to introduce new mechanical, social, and spatial systems into an urban environment.  In some cases, they intersect with actual efforts to do so.  Some of these efforts have been documented in Sentient City and Make_Shift City.  Finally, they intersect with efforts to install large photographs and media devices across the built environment in order to support advertising or large urban artworks such as Peter Greenaway’s Stairs.

Each of these examples explores the strategy and affect of introducing the logic of the economy of art into the world.  In many ways, this is a result of a gradual dis-enclosure of art and technology from within the confines of a shrine, church, or home.  In each case, a key moment in this path of dis-enclosure is encountered.  Such a moment is one in which the force of art is coupled with a technological innovation that increases the audience that the object is able to attract and the affect that the object or device has within the world.  In this sense, media should be understood as the balanced intersection of art and technology and mediation should be understood as the simultaneous operation of art and technology on the human body and the world that the body inhabits, often acting as the vary force that balances between the two and makes inhabitation within often perilous conditions possible.  The vitality of this moment is defined by the extent to which the presence of the object is encountered in an unexpected and new situation in a moment when it exists outside of the control of the currently dominant forces.  As a result, an alternative path to that pursued by these forces can be explored. 

III. Unification Through Media

In touching briefly upon examples of early forms of Mediated Urbanism, a wide range of definitions of media have been embraced.  In doing so, the ability for such media to have a conscious urban impact such that something called “urbanism” can exist has been taken for granted.  Moving forward, it will be important to clarify the definition of media as well as the capacity of media and mediation to contribute to an active form of urbanism.  Extending from the conception of media as the unification of art and technology, media is an evolving entity that takes on a variety of forms and can be directed towards numerous ends.  Common among these ends is the use of media as a representational device.  Such a use clearly runs counter to the use of media that has been described in the previous examples.  These examples primarily used media as an analytic device that could be used to control and transform surrounding space.  To attain this analytic capacity, however, media was initially used to represent the surrounding space and even the inhabitants of this space.  This work was quickly displaced, buried, or subverted by a broader goal that transforms how media is used, positioned, and behaves.  In each case, the transformation was directed at a specific medium that was newly available to the person or group undertaking the transformation.  In many cases, the transformed use and space of media was capable of encompassing early forms within an integrated space.  Most recently, this space has taken on two forms: The Movie and The News Media. 

The Movie and The News Media are two forms of media that, in many ways, are two sides of the same coin.  The former is largely concerned with conveying “fictitious information” while the latter is largely concerned with communicating “facts.”  This media has transcended a specific materiality and form.  This media can behave in exactly the same manner whether transmitted via celluloid, video, a large screen, a home entertainment system, or a computer screen.  Whether the network used to send the media is a road, an airplane, or a cable is largely irrelevant.  Instead, media is a concept that takes on concrete form in particular materials and locations for a specific audience and purpose.  The concept is defined as representation of everything.  As a movie, “everything” is the cumulative set of stories and ideas that have been circulating the globe for thousands of years.  As the news media, “everything” is the events that transpire across the surface of the earth.  In this sense, what could then be understood as The Media is an ethereal and encyclopedic realm that represents the world.  The Media could be further defined as follows: 1) an intervening substance, as air, through which a force acts or an effect is produced, 2) an intervening agency, means, or instrument by which something is conveyed or accomplished, 3) one of the means or channels of general communication, information, or entertainment in society, 4) the surrounding objects, conditions, influences, or environment, and, 5) the element that is the natural habitat of an organism.

It follows from this definition that media is not confined to a particular realm of operation and, instead, is increasingly a mirror of the world itself.  It is involved in representing this world and making it possible to conceive of it as such.  In this sense, it is a parallel world that can act as a surrogate.  As a result, it offers room in which alternatives to what is taking place in the world can be explored.  This capacity has arisen after a long history of art forms that have been primarily concerned with representing what is rather than what isn’t.  Part of the shift to actively explore new paths for how we see and build the world in which we live was tied to understanding that the various religious and mythological scenes were just that, utopias designed to structure life in this world but owing nothing to some ethereal world existing beyond this life.  The shift involved an increasing belief that fate could be altered within the course a given life.  The problems facing humans and the world could be alleviated during a short period of time. 

In the 19th and 20th Century, artists began to depict both utopias and dystopias with increasing frequency.  The media in which they did so included all of the various classical divisions of the arts.  Ultimately, all of these media are capable of being brought together through The Movie, The News Media, and ultimately The Media that is being defined and that will drive Mediated Urbanism.  This Media would serve as a means of integrating a diverse and often divisive history of art occurring in a wide range of media over the years.  Moreover, it would combine the realm of reportage, advertising, and celebrity with the realm of critical documentaries, fiction, and filmmaking as a “fine art.”  The Media, in this sense, will exist as an ethereal plane of potential that holds a positive and negative rendition of the world that is evoked in the context of a particular urban situation facing a particular problem in order to analyze and address this problem through the information available through The Media.  Such a Media would be responsible for rendering “the world image” in a variety of manners for a number of different audiences.  As the problem is addressed, specific materializations of The Media will occur such that an object, event, or network is manifested within the urban condition.  This entity will ultimately exist as a mediating device that transforms the broader setting. 

The Media is already beginning to transform such settings.  It has done so through images of neighborhoods that describe a violent situation and advocate for an alternative approach, using urban spaces as the setting for scenes in a movie ultimately resulting in future tourism, and image cultures driven by fashion and celebrity that cause certain sections of the city to become heavily mediated by reporters, fans, and media events.  The Media is also transforming the world through documentaries about climate changes, the food production industry, the fast food industries, the criminal justice system, and the military industrial complex.   In addition, The Media produces a wide range of reality shows focused on self-help, home improvement, fashion, and contests that often transform a physical environment or lead to an individual’s increased capacity for doing so.  Beyond these examples, The Media supports a spectacle around sporting events that includes advertising, interviews, and awards events that increase the revenue of sports and result in higher salaries that might lead the player to have an increased capacity to transform their environment.  This logic is felt through the increasingly media driven culture industry.  Finally, The Media supports the production of lavish images that render an alternative vision of both the present and the future.  These images transform how we think about what is possible, but rarely leave a lasting impact on the sites at which they were filmed.  In many cases, these sites only exist as a digital framework waiting to be rendered as a particular moment in a narrative.

In this context, The Media should be understood as a tool that can integrate a wide range of media that take on different materialities and are capable of transforming the world in different manners.  Doing so would allow for The Media to escape charges of remaining tied to a vapid capital driven image of the world that is largely superficial and intended to continue the rule of capital and instead serve as a communication device that disseminates the positive results that other media have seen in transforming the built environment.  The result of this shift would create a new route by which these grassroots experiments might connect to the vast production apparatus of The Media that now spans the globe.  The ubiquitous nature of this media network would create an opportunity to blanket an entire neighborhood with media in order to provoke a state of mediation that is exempt from the current flow of events, economies, and expectations.  This would create a superstructure from which new experiments could descend as specific materializations of The Media in a particular shape, form, and duration and directed towards a specific audience, task, and horizon of funding.  In what followers, the specific appearance of such a state will be explored.

IV. The Future of Mediated Urbanism

If Mediated Urbanism is going to evolve as an active pursuit beyond the current state of The Media, it will be important to consider some rules that might drive the next stage, the types of Mediated Urbanism that might come into existence, and the appearance of this Mediated Urbanism in the world as it begins to transform the built environment.  These should serve as provocations, routes, and constraints for those interested in support or active construction.

A. Rules

1. The World

The act of mediation must be based on and provide access to a set of information that is convincing as a world in which one might dwell.  In this sense, it must support a depth of knowledge that is sufficiently interesting to attract participation.  Such knowledge would be derived both from research and from experience.  The world that results would be an “other reality” that drives how things appear and function to the audience member in the world that they live their daily existence.  To a certain extent, the world would be a proximate “visualization” in various media of one aspect of “the cause” of an underlying problem that we hope to address via The Media.  In many cases, this world should be sold as an image that an audience can enter.  This should be done in nuanced manners and directed to a diverse set of groups.

2. The Characters

The people who inhabit the world are just as important as the existence of an alternative vision.  For Mediated Urbanism to be most successful, these people should be characters, actors, and agents of the present and the future.  They should be allied with the broader story that one is attempting to tell through mediation and that ideally is one that will help to transform the environment in a positive and lasting manner.  These characters could be exemplary figures who are well known or they could be those who are marginalized from the current narrative.  They could be those who are connected to an alternative, underlying, or foreign economy.  They will offer insight into their habits, needs, and motivations. In doing so, they will provide a rich narrative space that populates the world.  By exploring their motivations, it will be possible to understand the human dimension of transformation as extending from a set of characters’ efforts to re-make the city.

3. Participation

The intriguing nature of the world and the characters that inhabit it should be sufficiently compelling such that a broad group of individuals from within the community under mediation and those from beyond want to participate.  These men and women constitute a highly diverse group of individuals that have time and money to invest their interest and take a detour in their life.  These individuals would like to try something new.  They are willing to approach the world in which they live through an alternative framework.  They are driven to mediation by the possibility of a new experience in a new location in which they might encounter a piece of knowledge or new friend that will make a lasting contribution to their life.  Ultimately, these participants should be offered room in which they might apply a lesson that they have learned and make an active contribution to the mediation that is occurring.  In this sense, Mediated Urbanism should offer a superstructure that gives an audience or base an enhanced agency.   In the most extreme cases, these participants might become “residents” that dwell on and via Mediated Urbanism.

4. Horizon of Transformation

The purpose and aim of the mediation should be clearly stated from the beginning.  A specific area of focus should be described and a timeline of transformation should be offered.  This could be a goal of creating a community that is sustained by a local economy, building neighborhoods that set a new precedent for environmental sustainability, supporting communities that exhibit an integrated ecology, fostering communities that provide a higher amount of common space, creating neighborhoods that are organized around cultural objects and events, and developing communities that have a strong connection to the world at large.  At the same time, the horizon of transformation could equally be a whimsical narrative that creates wonder that helps individuals dream about the future and, in so doing, provides a stimulus for ideas that might support the community more broadly.  In outlining such a horizon, it is important to convey the financial and human support structure that will make its realization through mediation a possibility.

5. Horizon of Consumption

Becoming a resident of a particular mediated space constitutes the ultimate horizon of consumption of and within Mediated Urbanism.  There are a number of different points of evolution in how consumption by characters, audience members, and participants might occur along the path towards a full realization of the horizon of consumption.  These might include the various experiences, objects, and places that one can buy into as the story unfolds.  The valuation and transaction of these entities should become a means of supporting Mediated Urbanism.  Ideally, these entities should actively enhance the life of the consumer.  This might occur as a memento that one uses to connect to an experience in the past, an object that propels a narrative in the present, an access point to a mediation that is still ongoing, a site that becomes the home of one’s own development, or an interior that one can occupy over an extended period of time.  Ultimately, those involved in mediation should aim to create a coalition with locals who are interested in creating the endeavors that will be responsible for manufacturing these objects and maintaining them and their market after the initial mediation ends.  This horizon of consumption should create an initial route by which investment is channeled away from the existing pattern of consumption and the capital network that it supports.  In doing so, however, investment opportunities should be cultivated that allow those tied to the current configuration to benefit from a new, more efficient, and highly subscribed market.

6. Resulting Art

If these objects and the broader mediation from which they descend is to be more than a manifestation of the existing structure of capital and if it is to resist being co-opted by the dominant configuration of capital, it will be important to invest the mediation with a conscientiousness and content that is worth preserving.  This might occur by instilling the mediation with a discourse of freedom, liberation, and autonomy that runs through the discourse of avant-garde art.  Anchoring the mediation in the possibility and manifestation of an alternative value system would make it possible resist a cynical dismissal of the efforts to use mediation to transform the built environment.  Through the force that lies behind this value – beauty, wonder, fidelity, rage, grace, transcendence, etc… – the entities that are created would have broader resonance.  This force might extend as a line of thought that is concretely traced via an immaterial level of the mediation such as text or even a fleeting projected image.  It would define the object and anchor its broader value.  If cultivated under the guidance of an artist who has achieved success through the existing market for art objects, an additional opportunity would be created for using an existing capital structure to benefit a future structure.  At the same time, it is an opportunity to rely on the presence of the artist as an instructor of lived practice who uses their body as the first means of transforming the social and material environment.

7. Overarching Narrative

If it not apparent already, the existence of an underlying narrative is essential.  Such a narrative is merely a story that organizes what is taking place.  It gives hierarchy to the situation and creates a discrete entity that can be disseminated.  It would be a means of anchoring the broader dream that exists in the minds of those involved.  In this sense, it would be the annotation of the world image that is propelled by mediation.  The manner in which the overarching narrative emerges, however, should be determined by the specific mediation.  In some cases, the narrative might begin as an idea that is brought to the site before any work begins.  In other cases, the narrative might emerge through interacting with members of the community or through actors who are brought to the site.  In either case, the narrative that emerges should aim to clarify the situation that is unfolding and offer strategies for improving that situation.  This aim should not limit the narrative content to policy, economic, architectural, political, or social concerns.  Room should be left for the narrative to embrace purely fictitious states rendered via tactics ranging from the real to the surreal.  In doing so, room will be created for an overarching narrative that negotiates the line between fiction and non-fiction.  This will be beneficial because it will create a route by which alternatives can be visualized in close proximity to what actually exists.  The fact that the mediation of both the real and fictitious involves a similar investment in a media apparatus that will make it easier for alternatives to cross over from a state of exception and be tested in the world.

8. Dynamic Cycles

These terms do not have to be fully developed for work to begin or for Mediated Urbanism to be effective.  Instead, work can be done in individual realms.  When this work must be delayed in order to attract additional support or allow for work to germinate, it should be possible to shift focus to another realm.  This dynamic cycling between realms should propel broader change and create a route by which each realm can develop alongside the others such that when fully developed, an integrated mechanism has been created.  In this sense, even after fully developing and testing a Mediated Urbanism in a specific neighborhood, new mediations should begin by tentatively developing each realm.  These cycles between realms would become a means of scaling Mediated Urbanism from one site to another.  Ultimately, the manner in which the different components come together would be an exciting process that would drive broader interest.

B. Types

It is often the case that we arrive at a new paradigm via multiple angles that develop in parallel.  Mediated Urbanism is no different.  There are currently a number of different types of Mediated Urbanism that are being developed by different groups around the world.  Each type has a specific group of people who are currently supporting its production and who are interested in its consumption.  As a result, each has a corresponding financial support structure.  Ultimately, these various types would come together to constitute an Integrated Mediated Urbanism.  For this to occur, the current support structures will have to be expanded and combined in order to arrive at the considerable investment apparatus that is required.

1. On Paper

The broader superstructure of both current and future mediation is ethereal.  It exists as an idea, theory, or script before it is encountered in the world.  In advocating for Mediated Urbanism, this realm should not be undervalued.  Considerable energy should be invested in the realm in which the situation is analyzed, a team is assembled, planning occurs, and agreements are made.  In this sense, Mediated Urbanism begins with the body of knowledge that has grown via speculative architecture and urban projects, theory and criticism, and manifestos that offer new approaches to creating structures in the world.  Doing so will make it possible to accelerate development efforts through diagrams, scripts, and renderings prior to creating a work in the world.  Such work might also be extended to include studio-based art practices that point in the direction of how the work that is being produced would be situated should the practice find sufficient support to operate and be installed in the world.

2. Moving Image

Introducing a camera and broader production apparatus into the urban condition would be a means by which attention could be brought to a neighborhood.  The mediated space created by the moving images that result could be used to explore alternative development strategies.  As this exploration evolves, experimental structures could be erected as sets.  These sets could be used as the first elements of a broader urban redevelopment effort.  Currently, Naught Company has created Development Plays: The West Side of Chicago in order to explore this type of Mediated Urbanism.  To a certain extent, it would be a form of reality television that renders an urban utopia via moving images of real entities that are beginning to transform that landscape and that will have an impact beyond the series that is being filmed.  The mediation would explore the line between fiction and reality.  It would use one to provoke the other.  Investment would occur simultaneously in both the series and the real estate developments that the sets explore.  The process would turn the city into a set that holds art that expands the inhabitability of the fabric through new structures and an expanded set of corresponding information.

3. Encounter

The mediated space that results from filming a show throughout an urban landscape would be attached to a broader script and logic of transformation.  Sites throughout this landscape would begin to take on significance and would become intriguing to a broader audience interested in the series.  As a result, the audience could be offered access to these spaces.  This would allow the general public to engage this culture of transformation.  It would create a curated space and experience that allows the audience to access a deeper level of the city than might otherwise be possible.  The audience might even be invited to participate in a particular story that explores a sub-plot within the broader narrative that is unfolding.  The result would be a simulation of what it would be like to be involved with Mediated Urbanism more broadly.  In some cases, the audience member might become so entranced that they elect to return to the space of mediation as a committed participant.  Doing so would expand habits of consuming culture beyond traditional venues and increasingly open the entire city as a stage in which unexpected, fun, and rewarding experiences can occur.  Sense Culture, Detour, and various urban concierge services have explored aspects of such a Mediated Urbanism.  The next step would be for these encounters to lead to lasting investment on the part of a guest.

4. Platform

A mobile application could be used to mediate the environment.  This has already begun with services that assist with navigation, help users take advantage of particular local attractions, and organize the wide range of data associated with the urban environment.  Platforms that allow users to actively manipulate the structure of the built environment or integrate with a broader narrative that is unfolding via mediation have yet to come into existence.  Such platforms might be used to both create a through line that organizes experiences, objects, and information about the environment as well as to create routes by which the user could manipulate the environment.  Such a platform would allow the user to represent what is going on in the world in a virtual space.   It would allow the user to manipulate what occurs and record a common space of communication.  This might begin with an application akin to the timeline developed by Sense Culture and evolve to become something akin to the platform developed by Naught Company as an Ecological Operating System.  Ultimately it might facilitate the organization of the other types of Mediated Urbanism.  As a means of conveying complex information, it would disseminate Mediated Urbanism on paper as a broader argument in order to attract significant long-term investment.  As a piece of digital technology, it might be supported by venture capital and provide a significant financial return.

5. Network

The collection of individuals, organizations, and means of financing development efforts constitutes a network that itself is a type of Mediated Urbanism.  Such a network is capable of descending on a particular locale and engaging in its immediate transformation through the intellectual, organizational, and financial capacity that they provide.  Codifying and representing this network will be an essential step in realizing the potential of Mediated Urbanism.  This cultural network would be a vehicle by which members could use the support of the network to begin urban redevelopment efforts.  It would not only be made of those working on the surface to transform the environment, but would include individuals working underground in a realm where innovative culture is being produced.  Such a network is ultimately connected to a global funding and representation structure that allows members to transform space through their media driven presence.  Access to this exclusive underground space of cultural producers would be an element that would serve as a point of attraction of a broader audience who becomes increasingly involved with Mediated Urbanism. 

C. Appearance

In light of the fact that Mediated Urbanism has yet to fully exist in the world beyond the isolated prototypical examples to which attention has been called, it will be beneficial to pause in order to consider what Mediated Urbanism might look like as funding becomes available and as interest builds.  “The Architecture of an EOS” dealt with the formal, material, and constructive constraints of introducing art as part of the development process and “Art In / With the World” explored an economic, social, and political dimension.  In what follows, we will explore the art itself.

1. Speculation

When considering how artists might use the art that they produce to engage and change the site and situation in which they work in order to support a new urbanism and state of wonder, many artists have shifted the parameters of their practice in order to conceive and make work in dialogue and even as an extension of the language of the site.  The practice no longer remains at the level of representation by analyzing the site via images and text within the studio in order to choose a corresponding media and trace a story about the site.  Instead, an investigation occurs that creates a living mediation of the site.  It renders the landscape in various media without prejudice to one element over another.  Such a practice begins with immersion.  It engages in social space of the field under investigation.  The result will move from an object that points to a problem, to elements sited in the world that engage this problem.  The art as a prop(erty/osition), in this sense, leaves the gallery and becomes sited in the world in order to actively transform a given site in various ways and through different forms and formats. 

These practices aim to transform a broad spatial expanse of a city.  This is not a transformation that can happen through a single work.  It requires a commitment to investigate a site over an indeterminate period of time through a series of media and within a state of mediation that records the basic condition prior to arriving in a particular or combined media.  It requires choosing a site that can bear such prolonged attention.  Such a site would ideally be one that a large number of people who are not artists care about in order to draw considerable attention that supports the fabrication of the art.  It would support contact with as many receivers as possible in order to deliver the greatest return on the initial interest that the artists invests in the site-specific work.  Investigating sites with a great deal of focus instills the corresponding practice with a social relevance through how the proximate lives are traced in the media that the artist elects to use.  Doing so makes it possible to excavate sites in order to make histories visible that otherwise would have vanished.  New objects are created as things around which people can congregate in order to discuss the various histories that such sites trace.  These sites are given currency by creating something with which we can live that is at once attractive and visually compelling and at the same time invested with a trace – a sign – that points beyond the walls of a particular dwelling to a broad history that we share.  These works of art elude to a small region of the world image through how the body is oriented within this world.  They are a particular type of compass that orients our relationship to other such tools that we might use.

Mediated Urbanism would most likely begin with the introduction of a single practice before expanding to form a broader mediation.  Such art would, to begin with, be speculative.  It would embrace a capacity to analyze the present through a variety of tools available to the artist in order to explore a number of possibilities that might not ever be considered within a strictly pragmatic context.  Such tools might include the following: talking, writing, collecting, marking, timing, sensing, monitoring, calling, drawing, designing, structuring, pointing, screaming, moaning, walking, witnessing, demanding, recording, conversing, dialoguing, drinking, eating, buying, shopping, painting, coloring, standing, running, swimming, alarming, replicating, interacting with, making, constructing, moving, plotting, deploying, appearing, un-archiving, remediating, actioning, detouring, drifting, rematerializing, communing repairing, re-recuperating, queering, and translating.  The tools would be used in the context a particular form of practice.  Such practice might be research based, critique based, presence based, material driven, confession driven, situated, historical, or durational.  These practices would enter the world in order to look beneath the surface and arrive at a new understanding of site and the capacity of people to inhabit the site.  They could do so through exploring the ontology of the image, the structure of the site through supports, walls, and frames, various collections of entities existing in different media, acts of reading and writing, excavation of the site to reveal artifacts, interrogation of local personality and identity, gathering of evidence, the use of reportage, exploration of property and inheritance, confronting questions of justice and equality, exploring the rules that govern the site, introducing acting and agency, introducing a narrative or allegory, and using documentary techniques.  The manner by which a given artist engages these forms of practice is a defining characteristic that limits and defines the influence that their practice has in the broader world. 

Introducing these practices into the built environment would create a route by which speculation that occurs on paper might be used to account for the world and demystify what occurs.  Doing so would continue a process of disillusionment that occurred throughout the enlightenment.  At the same time, art practices often create room for re-mystification through the specific nature of an art object that can be enigmatic or mysterious.  Such an object is often capable of provoking wonder in the mind of the observer.  Attaining either demystification or re-mystification, however, is not always a simple and inexpensive task.  A work of art that occurs via the support of mediation should not be hindered by a culture of limitation driven by the availability of resources and standards of behavior.  Room should be provided to speculate as to how such an art of wonder might exist within a broader architecture in which an event around this art can unfold. 

In the end, a certain audacity is required if wonder is to be produced.  This audacity might require assuming the availability of a financial investment through the act of mediation.  It might allow us to imagine what might occur if a rare painting was inserted into the heart of a dangerous urban situation.  It might involve locating a set of socially relevant works that, through an initial surreality, justify a literal cloud descending on the situation as a broad material installation.  It would be a “strange” stage of various plays, theaters created by different groups with vested interest in the surrounding area as an open gathering point or a platform for organization that can be created by a set of things and forms existing in different media.  At the same time, it could lead deep into an exclusive lair or an underground territory that has historically been reserved for the connoisseur.

2. Uncovering an Underlying Body of Knowledge and Narrative

Whatever diverse form of practice arises as a means of initiating a mediation of a particular site, the practice should aim at peeling back the surface and excavating an underlying condition.  The tools and orientation that each practice develops and utilizes serve as the primary means of understanding how to approach a given site.  They ultimately support an understanding of the broader relevance of a given work of art and its capacity to provoke and participate in a broader mediation.  The extent to which these tools and orientation open a new dimension of the world, both material and existential, is driven by the particular economy of value that the work engages.  This economy is defined in part by the quality of the narrative of this opening that the work puts forward.  The narrative conveys a particular world that opens before them in order to offer a unique and often fleeting glimpse into one striking configuration of how humans have become entwined with each other.  It is in these instances that the artwork takes on a dimension that is difficult to convey strictly within the confines of a structural logic.  Such a dimension holds the urgency of a decision to be made or a path to be followed, the result perhaps of an unreasonable attachment to a sensation that one has when in the presence of another or under a spell.  It is an opening to narrative of the unresolved, messy, and real.

Such moments are rare, however, in the actual world in which we live, both in art and on the streets of the city.  Artwork that supports a broader mediation should endeavor to restore flights into narratives that support dreams.  The makers of these works should be aware of the past fantasies that have unfolded along these lines.  This mandate is particularly essential in the context of an urban condition in which material traces of the past are continuing to vanish as buildings continue to remain uninhabited while new speculative developments continue to rise.  In order to realize this mandate and use material traces as access points to a narrative that provokes wonder and dreams, it is important to follow the line of thought proposed by architects, planners, and theorist who focus on the value of direct physical engagement with a site.  Such engagement would involve walking the perimeter, encountering the materiality of the earth, dropping stones to see how it sounds, and testing where the entrance into a narrative will occur.  Such actions allow for an initial universal impulse and desire for what the site one day might become to be confronted with a set of particular actions undertaken by an artist within the context of a particular practice.  As a result, the audience might begin to understand what a particular hall in a particular factory might have sounded like when it was configured for a particular use.  The audience hears whistles timed in a particular manner as pneumatic tubes rush orders into the distance.  The audience leaves feeling a connection to the past, wonder at the vast infrastructure that has vanished, and a new knowledge-base for considering what should be done with these relics and how one might learn from past mistakes that have resulted in such extreme waste and misuse of resources.

It is essential to undertake this excavation without prejudice for what one will find or the hierarchy of stories that the site might hold.  The façade should be allowed to fall and the underlying violence hidden behind the surface should be allowed to appear.  This opening to the material depth of history can often come through direct attachment to people bearing stories through time, but can equally be traced through the signs that meter our world, particularly those attached to complex corporate identities.  In many cases, the brands that they support create a supportive framework for everything that we might have lost or might lose in the future – milkshakes and pies, Hershey’s and General Motors.  It is these elements that become part of the overall framework that creates the image before the site that the artist must consider before choosing a site and ultimately choosing to structure a specific intervention.  The artist is called to direct their attention at the details of the opening in material and time so that they can draw and sustain this opening with insight and clarity suited to a contemporary sensibility.  This success dictates the absorptive power of the work.  It is often on the verge of failing, collapsing into the emptiness from which it came, before the immensity of the task of opening the alternative void it seeks. 

As a result, stories emerge as anchors of another era.  They emerge from halls and in-between letters and bricks, through windows and via doors.  They are about a slender and young Eastern European woman who has been waiting longer than expected.  For hours, she has been waiting hopefully for him to emerge from the building.  She waits there until everyone has left and it is clear that he isn’t going to come out of the building.  She walks home at a pace that expresses her deep concern for the maternal circumstances that face her.  These are stories about people in proximity to a building or program and a spatial mystery that results.  These stories might trace the potential un-alienation of places marked by horror.  They confront moments when shootings occur, when a woman caught in-between worlds is raped, and situations that only those unfortunate enough to inhabit them care about.  In this sense, the artworks that initiate Mediated Urbanism engage specific events and sites that are neglected as part of an authorized narrative.  They liberate bricks via networks of men and women who are capable of confronting these histories and are able to convince others to follow their example. 

In other cases, once a site is chosen, there is little to say before the opacity of the spatial condition.  We stand next to each other not knowing where we will go or what we will make together.  In these moments, this notion of working together is essential.  The artist offers a route by which the investigation that they initiate can be inhabited by others, often in such a way that they make an essential contribution to the final form that the artwork will take.  To a certain extent, this togetherness is propelled by a belief that the artwork will explore “dreams of successful habitation and domesticity.”  It will offer room in which we can meditate on how to better use space and live life.  Such dreams are concerned with the explicit building of a shared home outside of the increasingly limited number of spaces that we share.  The artwork creates room for actively dwelling in the extraordinary leap of faith that is required to live outside of the common boundaries of the city.  With the support of broader mediation, the artwork can guarantee safety for the audience member in a context that may involve considerable risk.  In exploring this dream, it is important not to conflate “art” and “real estate.”  Instead, “art” should appropriate “real estate” value as an inversion of the tendency of “real estate” to appropriate art value.  This would allow for “real estate” to take on increasing global significance via an alliance with a broader mediation and for “art” to take on a local value through its alliance with a specific history and site.   As a result, new financial support might exist for artists to explore new definitions of effective co-habitation while creating lasting structures that provide shelter and a broader capacity for a given neighborhood.

3. From Buried to Present Event

An excavation of the underlying history of a site reveals potential content and provides a general orientation for a broader work of art that might provoke or be structured as part of a broader mediation.   During this process, an event is revealed as part of this broader history.  Such an event stands out in relationship to other events that might have occurred.  As a result, it becomes an anchor within the narrative and of the site.  The most powerful events leave a trace in the memory of those who participate, the surrounding community, and the situation in which the event occurs.  An event has the power to radically alter how a space is understood to the point where that space might be literally split or ripped apart.  Through this process, the material traces of what existed prior as well as the residue of the event and condition that results become elements out of which the work of art can be constructed.  In many cases, these elements are the various frames or remnants of what supported the space prior to the event and, in particular, what supported its cohesion as an image.  In tracing the event that might have occurred, digital and drawn projections can be used to explore the event.  Such projections often aid in interpreting the initial support structures of the space and facilitate the rendering of a new structure.  In such cases, painting often can be used to create permanent trace of a projection.  In this sense, the work of art is a direct extension of a particular event that is tied to a particular site, even if this site happens to be as ethereal as a memory. 

Multiple events, however, can emerge from an excavation of a site and drive the importance of a given site within mediation.  In addition, even if a single event or collection of events emerge from a particular site, this site does not have to remain the sole location at which the artwork is installed in the world.  It is possible for an artist to discover an underlying event and suggest a set of alternative or supplemental events that reframe the narrative and create a route by which an alternative future might be imagined.  These strategies would make it possible to collect a set of events as a web that can be cast over a broader real space.  Once distributed throughout the landscape as objects, text, or simply located on a map, the artist and other participants could begin to explore how these events are knit together in the world rather than on the page of the underlying historical narrative.  This might occur both through walking the site and literally connecting the locations.  It also might occur through imagining their connection.  New tunnels could be created between events and sites by discussing rather than dictating how they are connected.  Opportunities would be created for artists to participate in connecting one space with another by using the body as a compass.  During this process, fictional demands and capacities would emerge from newly connected space and minimal traces, insertions, writings, and properties.  The result would be a broader installation as an urbanism.  Such a broader instillation is often either a literal or metaphorical dwelling.  In this sense, the events and the urbanism that results would need to consider what it means to dwell in both a literal and figurative sense.  The vocabulary of the contemporary house and the theoretical discourse of dwelling would become aspects of the mediation.  Such work would create a rich pallet of options for exploring various modes of dwelling and ultimately for building lasting structures.  Doing so would counter a “crisis of dwelling” ­that mirrors a broader crisis of representation that many events uncovered on these historic sites trace.

4. The Object in the World Around the Event

A number of objects of art located at places and moments in the world have had a direct and literal affect on how people related, behaved, built, and dwelled at the level of the body.  Objects such as a drawing of the world, paintings of noted citizenry, sculptures marking a leader, arches reminding of a victory, and clock towers providing orientation throughout the days transformed the world around them.  Objects made during the Renaissance in Italy were exemplary of how certain crafted and constructed elements could stand out from the normal fabric of reality in order to signify something special and, very often, create a corresponding space.  This occurred alongside the crucial moment in the history of space when it became possible to describe space precisely through schematic drawings.  This understanding marked the beginning of demystifying the general wonder provoked by nature as well as the wonder that the nobility caused via the spectacular palaces that they built via their control of workers, soldiers, and geometry in general.

This trend towards demystification of reality has resulted in an unprecedented capacity to understand the physical building blocks of reality, to map the visible surface of that reality, and to understand the forces of the biological ecosystem that cause the physical reality to change over time.  Although art can find a great deal of room to marvel at our incredible capacity to engage in such a refined level of understanding and representation, such wonder is very rarely provoked as an event located at a specific site in the world.  Too often, artwork engages wonder provoked by the whole system of knowledge, either attempting grandiose cosmic representations or presenting an ability to intervene directly in the realm of physics or science.  The artwork does not sit within the less intellectualized everyday space in which we dwell.  In this sense, the demystification of the image of the world presents both an opportunity to localize a durational installation that opens to the possibility that this demystification can itself provoke a horizon of mystery as well as the potential to resist the very premise of demystification. 

 

In this context, the artwork sited in the world should reflect its capacity to exist as an enhanced object that is exemplary of a geometry that exists in an alternative manner to the geometry of the surrounding area.  Such a geometry becomes a means of providing access to the underlying event and history without necessarily engaging in a logic of representation or dwelling that may be in crisis.   Beginning this work must occur in a particular media that provokes a broader mediation.  In this sense, it confronts an initial media specificity with The Media that will ultimately provide the financial and audience support for the work.  The initial media that is chosen should, as a result, be appropriate for the particular entry point into the narrative that the artist feels compelled to relate to the audience.   

Text structures this work at the macro level.  It does so through a clear expression of an idea that cannot be expressed nearly as efficiently by other media.  It is the most economical method of creating a structure and narrative that grounds creative interest.  It traces the source of what is compelling about the work as what others might identify with.  At the same time, it is always in the process of taking on a particular style that might come to permeate the broader work.  The deployment of this style is largely determined by the skill of the artist as well as their broader aspirations.  Archival photography extends from text and evokes a particular history and space. It points to a community, a configuration of material, and an organization of technology.  It shows us ways of producing a material condition as well as what was required and used to reproduce that configuration as a style of living within and through the situation that it depicts.  In doing so, it traces who is included and excluded.  Drawing, on the other hand, traces what might be while also functioning diagrammatically to pull together a collection of things and perspectives on the site that might not come together as a coherent image, but that are nonetheless a proposition.  Each surface regardless of media that the artist brings to the site is a proposition, realized partially through its alignment in relation to the other elements and in terms of the content that it invites.  Each aids in creating the structure that hold images and contribute to a broader image of the world. 

A plan grows out of the drawing and guides the execution and organization of other media.  It traces lines to be made that are required in order to touch down with a specific community with the intention of living around the intervention in order to generate a new archive that captures a new phase of life.  In this sense, an artwork can trace an ecosystem through an ecology drawn from research and speculation about the future.  It is a process of mediating between how and what things have been represented in the past and what might be represented in the future.  Painting extends from drawing.  It supports the cohabitation of things that do not typically go together.  They have been brought together as a unique tableaux that traces a moment or an event.  In some cases, painting can serve as a place of aggregation for traces of consciousness itself.  Painting is, in this sense, a capacity to depict this event as something defined by never actually taking place in any reality.  In this sense, the event is the painting as viewed.  If sufficiently important, the event continues to take place after the fact and often with increasing power.  There is no inherent or necessary support structure for this form of painting.  As a result, painting has the potential to expose the underlying variability of structure as the vectors that define the world and trace the language that fill space.

Sculptures extends the evental proposition of painting further into the world through specific fabrication.  Fabrication occurs through instructions as to how these elements are created and installed.  The addition of actors, cover, and casting further extend the range of media that might be made available in creating a new work.  They create an open invitation to the materiality of a shared present or past.  This opening is based on the material elements that might take on a figure such as a text that blankets the space.  It can descend from the page through repeated site visits as a field of words or logs brought in after having been floated down the river.  The “page” becomes the initial ground that consists of links and references emerging out of an attempt by an artist to remember what it was like not just before the crisis of representation, but before the world was hard and ugly.  The artist has the capacity to imagine the world before it was destroyed by unfulfilled dreams, sins, and stories that have been building up since the country was stolen.  We are able to see what it looked like before everything was paved by greed under the guise of progress that was in reality inefficient, addictive, and unsustainable.  It is these more expensive, extensive, and live media that truly lift up the surface. 

5. Around the Event with Cameras, Scripts, and Characters

After an object or practice is located in the world, a broader production apparatus can be located.  This might include the introduction of cameras, scripts, and characters.  Ultimately, these elements create a moving image that extends from the documentary capacity of photography.  This image is capable of synthesizing diverse material components of site and practice within a media that can be easily disseminated.  It has the capacity to be incredibly focused or sprawl in all directions.  As a result, video is ideally suited for tracing difference and change.  It is ideal for capturing and integrating disparate practices.  It is appropriate for a discursive interior space and required to integrate the various sets of knowledge.  It is readable and inspiring to many while capable of supporting deeply discursive knowledge.  Because of the ease of transmitting video and the straightforwardness of its visual language that is directly comprised of the signs that structure the world, it can support an engaged art of the future and a broader Mediated Urbanism.

At the same time, introducing a production apparatus conveys a faith in the capacity to change the urban situation by locating an expensive collection of devices.  Introducing these devices creates a channel to a production and publicity apparatus.  It is a naïve gesture that creates the possibility of drawing an equation of the local neighborhood image with the broader world image.  The result might be a polemic that introduces habits, histories, means, struggles, values, and vantage points to a broader public.  In locating this apparatus, the question of who has arrived and towards what ends quickly arises and must be considered as the specific nature of the production apparatus is determined.  In deciding what could be done with some combination of myriad lights, dozens of projectors and cameras, various tracks on which to roll dollies, and even helicopters to take aerial footage, it is important to consider the literalness of the technology that is used, whether a low-fi inexpensive solution can work just as well as using a high fidelity approach, and what the ultimate duration of the mediation should be.

Ultimately, determining the production apparatus is a collective process that pulls together community members, artists, activists, and a new audience for this mediation.  This collective process “casts” a mediation over the site like a net.  Everyone involved becomes, to a greater or lesser extent, an actor or agent that operates this cast.  They are responsible for making a mold that drives the final form that the result of the mediation will take.  Through presence of body and mind, a motivated character initiated by an artist is capable of withstanding the hard decaying surface of the city with the life of their flesh.  They become engaged in descending into the fabric of the city and explore the space beneath the surface that an initial excavation may have revealed.  They can both emerge from the space as well as enter it with the support of previously generated media and gathered “text.”  Each actor represents a part of the world of the site without revealing it to the other actors such that a dialogue in space is powered by revealing a new collective knowledge.  This process mirrors a broader revelation promised by general mediation. This tension manifests conceptually and as a structure of the elements that ultimately are left over from the work and that are offered as traces for the audience to consume.

The resulting work begins to release the site from its physical boundaries in the world so that we might be more aware of the situation that is traced.  Elements are freed from the site for other artists to work with.  The recording of how they are deployed on site informs how they come together through how the different planes of representation that they define through their materiality are laminated through work as a group.  This work goes between the world of occurrence, inspiration, subjects, and objects – the fleeting temporality that defines the everyday – and the eternal plane that persists through space and time by defining and claiming these terms through the work of art.  The recording becomes an index that holds memory of the site before and after the mediation.  Such an index ultimately helps us understand the content through the broader path that the work traces in relation to a crisis of dwelling.

In this sense, the recording is a catalogue that conveys the totality of the situation.  It helps us to see the true nature of reality and the energy that’s been devoted to various endeavors that inflate and deflate it.  It should help us to organize and see the invisible forces that dictate the architecture of the site via the parameters of light, gravity, quantity of things in sets, the loan given, the interest, the spread and span of the recording and the meter and rhythm of life in order to create a phenomenal layout as a diagram that points to an invisible plane in which reason and meaning are held.  Such an index or catalogue might include the initial impression, the process of selection, a map that situates the site more broadly, the open call to the community, the way that the work is situated in various networks and in the world, the broader relational framework, the elements that contain and hold the elements the artist is concerned with, the broader reason for creating a recording, the assumptions that go into the work that make the work legible, diagrams of the process and site, dialogues with the actors, decision to position an element, conversations with owners of the site, and the transcendent images that come before and after. 

6. Common Space and the Site

Ultimately, this process of mediation will draw a community together.  It will create a common space located and organized around the specific objects and events that the work of artists and agents involved create.  These new common spaces will counteract the fact that common spaces in which people congregate have become increasingly dangerous, subject to appropriation and destruction, and, ultimately, rare.  Spaces constructed by speculative developers have failed to adapt to an increasingly polycentric and distributed cultural sphere.  Many of the spaces that are being created are addressed to a single region of this broader cultural sphere that appeals to a limited demographic.  Access to these spaces is often refused to those judged not to belong either through prohibitively high entrance costs or outright discrimination.  In this context, Mediated Urbanism should aim to restore a genuine communal space that is both physical and bodily.  It should ultimately do so through creating the interest and funding opportunities for constructing lasting structures that transform the landscape and create new opportunities for effective and sustainable dwelling.  Such structures should stand out from the broader fabric of the city both so that they can be recognized and so that they can introduce a new formal and organizational logic to a failing urban system.  In this sense, they should be a work of exceptional architecture that draws on recent structural, material, and formal innovation.

7. Building a New Structure

The initial contact with the site creates a ground on which a new structure can be built.  Gradually, appropriate words emerge as a playbook and process that seeks to reveal the underlying story.  They are a series of acknowledgments that respect the site before the arrival of media.  They acknowledges the materiality of the ground as a living fabric.  Parameters such as the following become clear: a site is bounded on one side by a wall, bounded on all sides by roads, bears evidence of a foundation, bears evidence of human habitation, is fenced off or free to enter, includes the presence of an abandoned car, is in close proximity to public transportation, has tall buildings nearby, bears strong evidence of what used to be there, or shows a trace of the building on a nearby wall.  Together, such observations create an impression of what it is going to be like and has been like.  As contact leads to the addition of media, material elements begin to form a new place or network of places.  At the same time, it is important to acknowledge the necessity of this new structure to remain connected to an ethereal mediation, set of goals, and transcendence of materiality.  This approach could take the form of a mock building as a coming to the site with the intention to inhabit and improve, to capture or critique, and to bear witness to the “natural” state of existence that already defines it while leaving room for others to write the story that reads the site in order to define a particular configuration and exposure.

Moving from a general desire to engage in a process of mock building that reveals the nature of the site and creates room for future dwelling to a specific intervention involves filtering and structuring the elements that were initially brought to the site.  What this looks like has been considered in detail in “The Architecture of an Ecological Operating System.”  In general, it involves structuring elements such as a script, a poem, a story, a line of text, a set of instructions, an essay, a word, a projection, a moving image, a story, a painting, a sculpture, or an event within a broader space that can be inhabited.  It might involve bringing a kit of parts to create something commonly viewed as art.  This might include a measured line, a set of lines, stacked lines, a field of circles, lines that come together at an angle to form a wedge or arrow, lines stacked and offset, the bracket, the cross, parallel lines, a shaded square, a frame, a set of 4 poles that can be assembled on site into a frame with cross bracing and triangular supports via cables tied to posts driven into the ground, a set of poles that can be anchored to the ground with cables tied to posts driven into the ground, fabric that can extend from each frame and sweep across the ground, a set of “boards” that can collect the site, a projector and projection, a tripod for projection, a shovel, a deejay, a pile of bricks, a bucket of cement, a speech, a chef to feed the site, and even entrepreneurs to enter into dialogue with the site.  These provisional tactics will eventually lead to more formal acts of building.

Ultimately, a physical structure results that will serve as a lasting materialization of a more ethereal mediation.  This structure will sustain the overall value of the mediation and provide a return on an investment made in this mediation.  Ideally, such a structure will increase in value as they draw additional participants and produce valuable products that can be sold both locally and beyond the limits of the space of Mediated Urbanism.  As the mediation evolves, these structures will form a network of points that anchor urban redevelopment.  Ideally, the mediation will support the interest of people who are interested in building additional structures in order to fill in the space between these initial anchor points.  This will lead to a sustained building practice that revitalizes a neighborhood.  As this occurs, it will be essential to be mindful of the people, buildings, and institutions that currently exist within the neighborhood and methods that can be utilized in order to preserve these structures.  This will be possible as an extension of the careful excavation and mediation of the site that has been described above.

8. Expanded Tactics

These initial approaches can be supplemented by a set of tactics that can increase visibility, reach, and lasting impact.  Such tactics might include introducing a specific physical or digital platform for a particular mediation.  This might allow for a specific means of interaction, a unique manner of presenting information, or an ideal mode of recording and presenting the mediation as it unfolds.  They also might include introducing a playful aspect to the mediation such as a contest or game.  This might attract particular audience members and create a specific set of goals that can help them to engage the urban environment.  Doing so might create opportunities for participants to transition to become actors within the artwork.  This process might itself become a unique event that plays a role within the narrative that the mediation traces.  Finally, broader political considerations and the possibility of systemic change could be introduced as a goal of the process of mediation.  Such a possibility is explored in the third set of Development Plays: The West Side of Chicago.

9. Real Estate and Urbanism

The urban landscape as represented as real estate within a market contains the mediation that itself holds works of art, actors, audience members, and new structures.  At the same time, real estate is a medium and condition that lies outside the purview of art.  Real estate should be engaged through mediation rather than remain a subject to be represented either positively or negatively by a given art practice.  Doing so will create an opportunity to explore an alternative vision.  This might involve making scrupulous records of calls, drawings, and proposals in order to support a genuine urbanism that demands a prolonged and critical appraisal of how the existing infrastructure is being used.  In doing so, we must ask what the capacities of these spaces are and to what extent their owners agree to pursue these capacities.  To what extent are they invested?  How can art, as a global social space, be used to bridge the elite space in which the absentee landlord dwells and those that dwell in the property?  How can this process restore interest in the future of the city?

To do so is to argue for the need to illustrate a new way of operating the physical city.  Mediation and the devices that make it possible will have to be located within the existing property structure rather than existing as a fleeting and amorphous virtual web.  This might be accomplished by exploring historic media devices that once were sited in the urban fabric, but have since been removed.  These might include loud speakers, telephone booths, police call boxes, outdoor movie screens, advertisements, windows of televisions for sale, towers that anchor a community, and large public clocks among others.  The result might explore how various media can be a focal point for a broader realm of cultural operation.  In doing so, I hope to open the practice to others who work in different media to find spaces that can support their art, either as installed or proposed.

Each media should not duplicate the function of others while at the same time being very aware of the tendency some media to imitate others.  The various media used to trace a site and create a proposition for the future are each uniquely capable of tracing a particular aspect of the elemental nature of the site.  They trace the water, earth, fire, and air that propels the ecology of the site. 

They form a broad language of the work that is a mirror of the real estate on which the mediation operates.  The site is taken apart via language and via the apparatus and process that language creates as a materialization.  It is the foundation of a super-conceptual and super-material reading of the site.  It is a higher level order that knits the various components together.  The signs and symbols of this language exist both self-referentially and as a way of pointing to and connecting the various media.  It lies beyond the book and moves towards the algorithm through extreme uses of geometry that already exists in order to tie regions together under the influence of a common language.

Mediation is ultimately driven by assembling and collating these mediated traces of the site and situation through creating big and small loops of reference and representation.  Each element may be followed by a shift to a different media.  The addition of a piece of wood might be followed by a few lines of text.  Each registers the deficiencies of the other.  They switch spontaneously in order to allow the broader image to emerge organically through the particular innate narrative capacities each media exhibits.  In the end, it remains a question of where the ultimate edge of each media and broader work lies.  In this sense, mediation aims to know what each media and other artists might contribute.  In this context, text in particular is capable of supporting other media by describing and tracing a situation or scene in which an utterance – a will in the world – is evident. 

The form that Mediated Urbanism ultimately takes is driven by the act of fitting this deconstruction of site via mediation into a real estate situation via the support of the owners of the site and with additional financial assistance.  This process of fitting something that is fundamentally “other” to the material reality of the site causes the image of the site to be transformed.  The new image will ideally present new options for social transformation.  In this sense, mediation is a force that can cause change beyond the force of capital.  A unifying voice should guide this force.  It should respond to the crisis of representation, the crisis of dwelling, and the rupture that results.  It should offer an argument as to why we should invest in a story to begin with.  It should offer a guide for negotiating the effects on the page and in the world.  In the end, it falls to the author or authors to define an underlying voice as a spine or through line that holds the whole thing together. 

V. Goals of Mediated Urbanism

There are a number of goals associated with Mediated Urbanism that are related to the mediation, the artwork that is involved, the audience that participates, and the specific manner in which this work transforms the built environment.  Many of these goals have been described in the preceding sections.  These goals include a desire to create an entertaining experience that brings joy to a wide range of participants.  It should inspire and cause people to dream who might not otherwise do so.  In addition, Mediated Urbanism should create a space in which cultural objects can exist.  It should do so with support and a sufficient degree of attention so as to be sustainable.  Moreover, it should aim to integrate a fragmented cultural landscape under the arc of mediation.  The result should create a space in which interdisciplinary art can exist that is directly linked to the existing culture industry.

Beyond these internal goals, Mediated Urbanism itself should aim to achieve a number of lasting goals.  The first should be establishing the grounds for sustaining these goals.  This should be accomplished by setting up conditions that will make Mediated Urbanism profitable.  It is absolutely necessary if a full rendering of a future urban condition is to be created and even more so if this rendering is to become an inhabitable reality.  It will allow a vision to be rendered with sufficient resolution such that it is possible to see an end goal.  Profitability should be sought through the interest that the mediation supports.  This might lead to an interest in the artwork that is produced, the events that occur, and the broader image that is created as a set of moving images to be consumed.  From this initial point of interest, profitability should be sought through real estate investment in low-cost land and property whose value will increase as interest is attracted to the area.  As interest is attracted, these lots and buildings can be renovated in order to create new dwelling opportunities for the audience that has been attracted.    In renovating these spaces, it will be possible to create standardized systems that can be repeated throughout the neighborhood and lead to profitability through mass manufacturing.  Beyond the retrofitting of the built environment, it will be possible to use digital technology in order to present and manage the entire process.  Such digital technology could be integrated as an Ecological Operating System that could be repeated in various sites of Mediated Urbanism across a given city and country.  Ultimately, these various areas of profit can be integrated such that new intersections lead to new means of profitability. 

This coordination integrates and creates new routes for collaboration that create new products and routes of profit.  Ultimately, collaboration can occur in rendering an alternative world for a captive audience.  The success of this rendering will rest on its quality and ability to attract a new audience.  It must entertain and provoke wonder.  This wonder will ultimately support a new platform for collaboration through the interest that it generates in clients and as a tool for converting this interest into sales.  In order to construct this platform, the collaborators should explore how quality is equated across disciplines.  This could be the driving force behind the conversation.  In particular, exploring this equation would lead to considering how certain disciplines value either quality or quantity.  In doing so, the collaborative platform could be a means of creating an equation between quality and quantity that creates a new route for understanding value and how it drives consumer choice.  Ultimately, the goal should exist to maintain this exchange over an extended period of time ultimately as a means of investing in neighborhoods through locating and investing in companies with a spatial and urban impact.

In this sense, the goal should be to move beyond a vague notion of “making the world a better place” by creating lasting structures.  These structures should support encounters with the world and insights that have a positive impact.  In creating these structures, The Media should be engaged in such a way that a wider range of people become aware of these efforts so that people make physical contact with these efforts and ultimately return to make additional contributions.  This desire to contribute should be driven by a positive feeling that one receives after making such a contribution.  This process would lead to an investment structure and approach to the world via media that is a closed loop that benefits an area and population while also creating a clear route for a return on an investment.  This investment structure and Mediated Urbanism in general might in turn lead to an Ecological Operating System (EOS). 

Generally speaking, an EOS is a set of interconnected technologies and networks that are capable of supporting life in cities.  It is an alternative to the current antiquated collection of building trades and municipal organizations, food and energy providers, and transportation organizations among other bodies that are responsible for the construction and operation of the city.  An EOS would create a route by which inefficiency could be eliminated through a unified approach.  In this sense, an EOS would be fully Mediated Urbanism.  Such a Mediated Urbanism might nevertheless aim to reduce the amount of media that one consumes in daily life.  The Media would be used as a means of creating and managing space rather than a common occurrence within daily life.  In this sense, it would aim to make media and technology ubiquitous and integrated within the fabric of the city.  This would require a shift in the types of media that we consume.  It would lead from passive media on screens in our homes to active media encountered in the world.  This process will occur in collaboration with the Internet of Things.  This evolution will create new areas for potential profit as well as room for interacting with computers without disengaging form the social space in which we live.

VI. Towards Mediated Urbanism

The first step toward implementing Mediated Urbanism is organizing the community.  Mediated Urbanism must be sited and sit within a social space.  It must address the level of human interaction and the body.  It must address the consciousness of the public and the human.  This step is essential for attracting the interest of a given population.  It will support engagement with a story that is of interest.  Within this context, it is important to consider how each mediation addresses the question of how one might join as a participant.  Ultimately, this might occur outside of the current media outlet as a means of drawing a distinction and relocating the discourse.

The next step will be to fund an initial engagement.  This will occur largely as a grass roots DIY phase.  Preliminary efforts have been started via Sense Culture and Naught Company.  This process can occur simply on paper as a script, set of white papers, or collection of drawings.  These entities can be used to attract interest from local community members, politicians, artists, and potential investors.  This phase can also exists as a lived practice.  It can be a means of entering the world and doing research.  It might involve leading tours, giving lectures, planting seeds, and organizing the community.  It is a practice, however, that cannot be sustained without an underlying support system.  One must already have one’s basic needs provided for.  It cannot occur without already being part of a cultural network that cares about preservation, ecology, insight, and general wellbeing.  As a result, an imperative exists to find additional means to extend beyond the avant-garde and into the mainstream.

Formal funding strategies should follow grassroots efforts.  These efforts will be required to achieve the complete funding that will be required to actually implement Mediated Urbanism and achieve a full impact.  These funding efforts must fully explore the initial challenges.  In particular, we must understand the extent to which Mediated Urbanism deviates from a traditional path towards a return on investment.  In doing so, it will become clear that investment is being made in an image of the world both past, present, and future.  It is an investment in the representation of an alternative.  This image is, to a certain extent, an underlying text that affects the broader state of reality.  It is a means of creating interest that propels future consumption, production, and generally more pragmatic activities.  However, it might not have an end in itself.  It will involve codifying a logic of investing in qualities that lead to a future quantitative shift.  In doing so, it will be important to arrive at a metric of evaluation that will help understand whether an investment is good or bad. 

In making these investments, a studio, an angel investor, a venture capital firm, a real estate developer, the city, and the general public might become involved.  An investment made by a studio would be an extension of current work in the realm of home improvement, cultural competitions, and reality television.  It would build on fiction that investigates transcendence from impoverished settings.  It would provide the expertise as to how to film, edit, and disseminate the image that would lead to further investment by other types of investors.  An angel investor with a passion for change and without much concern for immediate profit might be attracted to such a situation.  It might almost be a philanthropic endeavor, but with a slightly different horizon of return on investment.  Such an investment might be ideally suited to supporting an initial simulation that would create a bridge between an initial engagement and a large phenomenon in the world.  A venture capital firm would be primarily concerned with the technology behind the mediation.  They would invest in the platform and the EOS.  They will provide the broader capital base that is required to transform a section of the city through technology as well as the derivative applications.  In addition, they might be interested in investing in the modular building technology that sets a standard that saturates the broader built environment.  A real estate developer might be attracted following sufficient attention by a broader audience.  This audience would prove demand and would be involved in rendering the various components of an intervention in the built environment.  A real estate developer would have the opportunity to invest during filming by buying as much land as possible before too much attention arrives.  They also should be equally aware of smaller investment opportunities via restaurants, clubs, and theatrical events.  The city or municipality would have the opportunity to invest via tax incentives and donated land.  They would be compelled by the alleviation of infrastructure maintenance and management offered by an EOS.  In addition, they would be compelled by the tourism and attention this work will bring.  Finally, the public might engage in collaborative funding strategies.  This might occur as donations or as paying for the media that results from the mediated urbanism.  Ultimately, Mediated Urbanism will offer a number of points at which people might be compelled to support redevelopment efforts.  Through a combination of these efforts, the full potential of Mediated Urbanism will be realized.