Auditing Urban Intelligence

with Urban Intelligence (21 graduate students), “Auditing Urban Intelligence: Interfacing Place-Based Knowledge,” Leonardo Electronic Almanac (2019)


Infrastructures for Tomorrow’s Urban Intelligences

“Infrastructures for Tomorrow’s Urban Intelligences,” TOMORROWS: Urban Fictions for Possible Futures [exhibition catalog], eds.Daphne Dragona & Panos Dragonas (Athens, Greece: Onassis Cultural Center, 2018)


Deep and Mattering Cities (2017)

December 20, 2017: with Jussi Parikka and the Finnish Cultural Institute in NY, at PUBLICS, Helsinki, Finland [pdf]


Smart Cities? Impossible, Political + Measuring Objects: 2017

We hosted SMART CITIES? Impossible Objects, Political Objects, and Measuring Objects with Storefront for Art and Architecture on April 23. Three panels of scholars, designers, planners, and artists people explored new terms, new indices, and new tools for urban intelligence.

Here you’ll find photos of the event, here’s the program, and below you’ll find video documentation of the three panels. Here’s who came:


  • Jorge Otero-Pailos, artist, architect, preservationist, Professor and Director of Historic Preservation, Columbia
  • Jürgen Hermann Mayer, architect and artist
  • Lydia Matthews, curator, writer; Professor of Visual Culture, The New School
  • David Smiley, architect, architectural historian, chair of CUP’s board of directors
  • Luke Swarthout, Director of Adult Education Services, NYPL, with a background in education policy
  • Vyjayanthi Rao, anthropologist, Director, Terreform






Mapping’s Intelligent Agents

Mapping’s Intelligent Agents,” Places Journal (September 2017)

Reprinted in Pol Bargués-Pedreny, David Chandler, and Elena Simon, eds., Mapping and Politics in the Digital Age (London: Routledge, 2018): 208-24.

French translation: Autofiction: A Biography of the Automobile Object, Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Étienne, forthcoming 2021.


Urban Intelligence

Graduate Elective 

We live amidst real-time data flows, with sensors measuring everything from air quality to traffic, with our own cell phones yielding information about our whereabouts and activity levels, with buildings reporting on their own energy consumption and maintenance. This urban “intelligence” ostensibly allows for the optimization of our environments and our selves – for the production of “smart cities” and smart citizens. In this hybrid studio we’ll examine how the methods of data science shape our civic values and urban imaginaries, and condition the work of urban design and administration; and we’ll assess the consequences – for the material environment, for urban citizenship, for quality of life, etc. – when data and efficiency drive design and development decisions. Taking nearby Hudson Yards as our case study, we’ll explore not only how “smartness” is operationalized in such new urban developments, but also what other kinds of intelligence have long been present in our cities. To evaluate Hudson Yards’s smarts, we’ll develop a collection of “urban intelligence test kits” – IQ tests, guidebooks, measurement instruments, field kits, etc. – to evaluate how human and machine logics, intelligences, and values are integrated and negotiated on this urban test-bed.

Spring 2018 Website

Spring 2017 Website


Indexical Landscapes: 2015

I’ve curated a symposium for the Media Design Practices Program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA.

Thursday, October 29, 6 to 9pm
The Wind Tunnel Graduate Center for Critical Practice,
950 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, CA 91105
[via MDP ArtCenter]

Our streets stream data from embedded sensors, our metropoles splinter into districts defined by delivery logistics or crime data, while our contested zones yield their secrets to drone surveillance. Our cities and metropolitan regions are code-spaces, algorithmic landscapes, with layers of data and informational networks laid atop, and often spilling over, their traditional geographic boundaries. “Now, There: Scenes from the Post-Geographic City,” a concurrent exhibition in Art Center for Design’s gallery, will feature projects that explore these new forms and practices of digital urbanity. Yet even without their datified dressings, our landscapes have long been shaped using techniques and technologies that render them “intelligent” and intelligible – either to we humans who inhabit them, or to the various tools we use to cultivate, navigate, and operationalize them. So many of our landscapes – from factory farms and container ports, to libraries and factories, to airwaves and railways and codifed urban “zones” – materialize, and even render perceptible, the logics behind their own organization, management, and use. This panel discussion examines myriad such “indexical landscapes,” those spaces shaped to refer to their own organized content and operative logics.


Emily Bills, Participating Adjunct Professor and Coordinator, Urban Studies Program, Woodbury University:
“The Telephone Builds Los Angeles”

Jesse LeCavalier, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, New Jersey Institute of Technology:
“Landscapes of Fulfillment”

Mark Vallianatos, Policy Director, Urban & Environmental Policy Institute, Occidental College:
“Coding & re:coding Los Angeles”

Lorie Velarde, Geographic Information Systems Analyst, Irvine Police Department:
“Using Geography to Find Criminals”

Jason Weems, Associate Professor of American Art and Visual Culture, University of California, Riverside:
“The City, A Slaughterhouse View”

Richard Wheeler, Adjunct faculty, Graduate Media Design Practices: Field, ArtCenter College of Design:
Viewing the Landscape Through Data”

with Tim Durfee, Professor, Graduate Media Design Practices Program, ArtCenter College of Design, on the Now, There: Scenes from the Post-Geographic City exhibition, co-curated with Mimi Zeiger 

I also led a six-week “Critical Practices” master class, “Sorting Things Out,” which focused on approaches to “indexical writing.”


A City Is Not a Computer

A City Is Not a Computer,” Places (February, 2017)

Portuguese translation: “Uma Cidade Não é um Computador,” Instituto Intersaber (May 11, 2017) [pdf]

German translation: “A City Is Not a Computer,” dérive: Journal of Urban Research (July 2017)

French translation: “Urbanisme. Non, la ville n’est pas unordinateur,” Courrier International (September 9, 2017) [pdf]

Adapted as “The City Is Not a Computer: On Museums, Libraries, and Archives” in Zlatan Krajina and Deborah Stevenson, eds., The Routledge Companion to Urban Media and Communication (New York: Routledge, 2019)


Infrastructural Intelligence (2016)

In April 2016 I was invited to participate in the LaFargeHolcim Forum on “Infrastructure Space” in Detroit. The workshop to which I contributed focused on the city scale of analysis; my fellow presenters and I were asked to address the issue of infrastructural invisibility, the challenges of infrastructural representation, how our understanding of infrastructures impacts the ways we conceive of scale and the limits of the “urban,” and how infrastructure can foster the development of new communities, economies, and forms of collectivity. I chose to focus on “intellectual infrastructures.” You can find my talk and slides here.

Abstract: I begin this paper by describing the growth of interdisciplinary interest in infrastructure and the methodologies and pedagogies employed to cultivate infrastructural “literacy” and intelligence. The proposed consequences and benefits of this intelligence, I explain, include the engagement and emancipation of diverse urban publics, who, armed with new technical knowledge, are potentially empowered to advocate for more just and accessible services, or even construct their own alternative infrastructures. I then examine the urban institutions that both cultivate and collect this infrastructural intelligence; public libraries in particular play a critical role in establishing an urban infrastructural and intellectual commons. I close by proposing how libraries, as part of a larger urban network of knowledge infrastructures, can provide structures and communities of learning, and cultivate forms of intelligence – experiential, dynamic, practice-based – that are uniquely well suited to grappling with our complex, over-determined urban systems.


Instrumental City: The View from Hudson Yards, circa 2019

Instrumental City: The View from Hudson Yards, circa 2019,” Places (April 2016).