Streetnotes is a peer-reviewed journal for the interdisciplinary study of the city, its lifeways and social relations, with a special concern for the cultural and aesthetic forms that arise through its traffic.
Volume 27, 2021
Walking in the Digital City
The editors introduce the special issue, 'Walking in the Digital City".
Pokéwalking in the City: Pokémon GO and the Ludic Geographies of Digital Capitalism, A View from Jaffna, Sri Lanka
This article uses the author's play of Pokémon GO while conducting dissertation research on mobilities and masculinities in postwar Jaffna, Sri Lanka as a starting point for a wider consideration of ludic geographies and their increasing entanglement with digital capitalism. While new advancements in mobile and digital technologies present exciting new possibilities for occupying and moving through public spaces, we should not forget that the driving force of capitalism is to produce profits nor should we ignore the continuing social inequalities of race, gender, and caste, which also impact access to the possibilities these new technological developments represent.
The materiality, aesthetics, logics and processes of digitality have infused the physical space of cities. We can no longer speak of a clear distinction between analogue, carbon-based, offline entities and digital, silicon-based, online representations. The relationship between digital technology and the city is a complex, more-than-human one in which the convergence of digital technology and the city can be shown to have expanded not just the space of the city but what the space of the city is. This article asks whether the Situationist International’s psychogeographic walking practices can be modified to research the specificity of the digital city. Through the practices of CODED GEOMETRY, a walking collective based in East London that uses performative strategies to develop a digitally expanded psychogeography, the article considers the following questions: how does it feel to walk the streets of East London when the city has been expanded by technologies that blur the boundary between the physical world and the digital realm, between physical objects and their representations in the digital field as data?
This essay looks at how embodied knowledge of the city can be shaped by the intentional movement of dance and sensory mapping experiments, through a close examination of two different movement practices undertaken as part of the Dancing Bodies in Coventry(DBiC) project. The essay also explores the different ways in which embodied experiences of urban space and place are documented, as well as what the hybridisation of the digital and the bodily might mean for how we understand and navigate our urban environments.
The writer has a poor sense of orientation and loses her way when she walks in cities. When this happens in Antwerp, Belgium, GPS maps and a music streaming application on her smartphone trigger the experience that she unfolds in this essay. Her aim is to explore an aspect of the temporal dynamics of contemporary life and, based on the element of loss, to demonstrate how machine, digital temporality and human, existential temporality may interact. Thanks to Kenneth Goldsmith's notion of displacement, the work of writers and artists related to Antwerp, namely Hugo Claus, Connie Palmen and Jan Fabre, references to ethnology and performance studies, and the writer’s father who was gardening through bud grafting, the experience of losing one’s way in a city with a smartphone in the hand, is restaged in writing, while loss in space encounters memory through oblivion and initiates reflection on an existential condition of loss.
A discussion on using a range of solutions to subvert corporate control of our experience in understanding and relating to our urban environment.
“Cell-Out” is a performance, a collaborative investigative enactment of physical, spatial, and communicative mobility in urban areas, and an exploration of walking in the digital city through shifts of space, attention, and time. Claudia Brazzale and Leslie Satin approach walking as dancers whose embodied practices are based largely in Western contemporary dance techniques and somatic / contemplative forms, including early post-modern dance's cultivation of pedestrian movement; their scholarly work is grounded in autobiography and auto-ethnography. The piece centers on a series of compositional scores in which each writer directs the other toward specific actions, places, and areas of focus. Other parts of the piece contextualize and arise from these scores, weaving through the authors' scholarship on dance and space and flowing into their art lives and personal experience. Brazzale's and Satin's explorations of walking and writing as experiential, affective, digressive, phenomenological, anatomical, performative, mnemonic, and analytical emerge from and create a kind of double memoir, enacting their long-term, long-distance relationship and acknowledging the digital tools that support and (re)produce their intimacy--even as the Coronavirus pandemic, which erupted as they were completing their piece, dismantled intimacy worldwide.
What Happened?: An Examination of PLAYDATE, a Cellphone-Oriented, Neighborhood-Wide, Beyond-the-Stage Play in and About Downtown Brooklyn
PLAYDATE was a cellphone-oriented, neighborhood-wide, beyond-the-stage play. Through GoPro cameras, the performance documented a cast of roving players as they performed sequenced tasks that engaged local businesses, public facilities, and various contingencies in Downtown Brooklyn, New York. The main cast and the audience were physically separated and only viewable via social media and GPS. Posts were digitally projected in the auditorium of ISSUE Project Room, a non-profit performance venue in Downtown Brooklyn. Viewers, however, could interact with the piece through their own social media accounts. By submitting comments, questions, and likes through their cell phones, viewers became part of the work and created individual perspectives with no single vantage point. In this transcribed conversation led by PLAYDATE director, Ying Liu, two players (Kuan-Yi Chen and Kenneth Pietrobono) and audience members (John Matturri and Seth Cohen) share their experience of the play to figure out “What Happened” in PLAYDATE.
The director uses the term “player” to refer to the performers in PLAYDATE as it encompasses the idea of a “performer”–someone who takes direction or instruction from a director, as well as the concept of a “sportsman”–someone who responds and makes quick calls to different situations while adhering to the set direction.