reality tele-flair, ambivalent presence, drag and jet lag
WORKS IN PROGRESS
An Itinerary For Going Nowhere (High Honors Senior Thesis, 2014)
We experience the intensive checking and securing of itineraries in many sites of our world. In these sites, divergent modes of mobility measure the agentive capacities of persons. Hyper-mobile travelers, like frequent flyers, enact an ease of access that systems of movement, like transport systems, anticipate and promote. These enabling techno-interactions participate in the expansion and maintenance of global capital exchange and mobility-based conceptions of personhood. While speed continues to be a trope of global transport, what becomes most central are the capacities to engage with infrastructural systems with command and certainty so as to initiate speedy travel when required or desired—i.e. in ways that are productive, furthering the efforts of economic growth. Frequent flyers, for example, have the practical understanding of how to pass through security checkpoints without the need to evaluate each gesture, as human capacities are off-loaded onto other components of the system. Their minute sensorimotor operations fold into the protocols of infrastructural travel. These itineraries do not just map out smooth trajectories from departure to arrival but rehearse a mode of embodied coping of which the traveler’s body and the infrastructural system are both interactive parts. Out of these enactive modes emerge entities we can recognize as persons of divergent kinds—the frequent flyer, the refugee, the disabled traveler.
Guiding Light: Engineered Illumination and Its Failure (Essay, 2013)
Human-generated and -monitored light, particularly as it figures in urban centers, instrumentalizes space by making it functional for the coordinated movement of bodies, objects, and information. It does so in two movements: first, three dimensionally by allowing us to distinguish among objects and places and, second, four dimensionally by accentuating possible routes of passage through space. This becomes most strikingly felt, if not clearly understood, during blackouts, like the one that followed Hurricane Sandy in 2012, when the failure of the electric grid and the extinguishing of light leads almost instantly to the suspension of purposeful, productive circulation and the economic activities it feeds. In blackouts, boundaries are crossed and public space expands.
Inhabiting the Gap: Socialist and Postsocialist Urban Planning in Zagreb, Croatia (Essay, 2012, published in Historical Narratives vol. 11)
As a city of hybrid identity that has emerged in the gap or contested region between divergent geopolitical entities, Croatia’s capital Zagreb has been shaped since its formation by enduring conditions of cultural, political, social, and economic transition. Positioned as such, Zagreb becomes a tricky place for the practice of urban planning, as instability resists the intentions of durability that prompt and animate this practice. Nonetheless, the many political regimes that have overseen Zagreb’s development have attempted to shape the city’s socio-physical environment in varying ways, each assuming a different relation between their political vision of the future and the history of irresolution layered through the city’s urban landscape. Contemporary approaches to urbanism are imprinted with the afterimage of the ongoing crisis of the 1990s and of Zagreb’s more distant past, as they seek to remember, incorporate, and thus anticipate the conditions of uncertainty that have inscribed and reinscribed the Zagreb's urban topography. This constellation of urbanism strategies deployed in contemporary Zagreb attempts to mediate between divergent visions of the city and thus functions as a cultural technology for realizing a more durable yet provisional way of living within the conditions of ongoing transition that have marked Zagreb’s history.
A Home Away from Home: The Identity and Security Technologies of the U.S. Embassy, Baghdad (Essay, 2012)
Since the Bush Administration, U.S. embassies are built based on a single standardized model called the New Embassy Compound. a McDonald’s branch, the U.S. New Embassy Compound serves up theatrical and defensive displays of American-ness to increasingly hostile communities abroad. These displays participate in the production of threat through the very architectural devices deployed to mitigate such risks. Devices of risk production and management include fixed and operational countermeasures: standoff zones, blast-proof windows and walls, wire-mesh screens, security partitions, visitor security measures. Architectural strategies for maintaining the cultural integrity of diplomacy are conflated with those for protecting the inmates from blasts, so that explosions become not just life-threatening acts but also threatening to a precarious national identity that is founded in contradistinction to the surrounding cultural topography.