Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles

Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles, 2009, photo by Brettany Shannon

Last night I uploaded my last annotated bibliography in preparation for my qualifying exams. I’m not suggesting it’s going to be my last, it’s just the last for now. I found that while I rarely dug deeper to ask more critical questions or link the readings to my planning scholarship (time was too short, regrettably), it was a wonderful practice. I am more convinced now than ever of the manifold benefits media arts can bring to planning. Here’s a bit of writing I did last week that kicks off that sentiment. And, also, a picture because this blog’s been pretty wordy lately and I do love a visual, especially one like this.

Within the visual arts, media arts remain the least codified and among the more esoteric artistic practices. Media arts are a relatively new phenomenon, emerging with and at the start of the communications revolution, and have kept apace for the duration. They have many intellectual and practical forebears, poststructuralism, feminism, the happening, Duchampian conceptualism, Situationism, performance art, to name a few (Grau, 2007; Lovejoy, Paul & Vesna, 2011; Rush, 2005; Tribe, Jana, & Grosenick, 2006), and happily devour and build upon new technologies as a way to explore context, interactivity, collaboration, perception, space, and identity. Based on this short list of interests, I might well suggest media arts’ inclusion in the planner’s toolkit for its conceptual merits. However, I propose planning practice pick up media arts not for conceptual reasons, but for manifestly specific and useful ones. The mistake many make when thinking about art is that it is separate, over there, and what we’re interested in is over here. That is not the way with any art form, and certainly not the case with media arts since we have specific physical, embodied interactions (Dourish, 2001) with digital technologies which in fact mirror our own world (Couldry & McCarthy, 2004; Dourish & Bell, 2007), and in doing so, create new cultural artifacts (Caron & Caronia, 2007).

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