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Matrix city

Impakt Festival 2010 installs a temporary platform to meet the future perspectives of cities. Within Matrix City, Impakt’s thematic scope for 2010, the curators STEALTH.unlimited (Ana Dzokic and Marc Neelen, Rotterdam / Belgrade) and Kristian Lukic (Novi Sad) have chosen to depart from celebrating the technological or informational advancements of cities and instead through film, video and media art productions, performances, presentations and discussions focus on the growing urban entanglement.

In the radical new worlds envisioned in the 1960’s and 1970’s, for the first time a ‘modern’ engulfing urban matrix was projected. This came at a point when industrialization, space age, computing and the emergence of digital media converged with the perceived possibility of a fundamental and liberating ‘makeover’ of our environment. Nowadays, while newly arriving citizens cut the ties with their rural background and become reliant on resources provided third hand, those that are already part of the urban system have little option to step out. Urbanization – with its massive and centripetal, gravitational power of growth – increasingly seems to act like a self-propelling machine.

On the other side, mass popular culture and the climate change agenda in combination with, for instance, eschatological conspiracy cultures construct elements of an ‘end of times’ zeitgeist that has the potential to amplify social or economic crisis beyond rational proportions.

How are these probabilities interwoven with a view of the city as the generator of economic development, social welfare and individual satisfaction – supported by a technological superstructure? Can we really be closer to a utopian scenario where people in cities can afford maximum active leisure, play and minimal necessity for work, as proposed in some of the earlier radical new worlds? Do we encounter new communities that challenge these superstructures – or are we closer to darker scenarios where we will be controlled by a networked intelligence and remain vulnerable without the possibility of a ‘rural backup’?