Tag Archives: planning


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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Media Arts for Community Development in Planning: A Literature Review

“Art, of course, does not produce grand revolutions, but as an event that opens up a new narrative about reality it provides the conditions of possibility for a nascent political consciousness, one born from conviviality, a being-together as a coming-into-being of community: the realization of shared existence.”

Jean Fisher, on Francis Alÿs’ When Faith Moves Mountains, 2007


Today, planning’s esteem for the arts relates primarily to the latter’s capacity as economic engine. Of course, planners admire arts and culture for its notable impact on social and human capital, as well, but the majority of programs bespeak economic development’s continued primacy. I propose planning broaden its creative agenda to include media arts for community development. For one, media arts engage with each of the following crucial planning phenomena: time and space, identity, participation, and process, and uphold context as a decisive factor in all. For another, communication technologies have fast become the basic infrastructure of daily experience for millions. For many millions others, who reside on the other side of the digital divide, I consider this need and opportunity to be even more pressing.

The following literature review, comprising works from two of the last forty years’ most influential planners, and an array of media artists, art historians, computer scientists, philosophers, and sociologists, articulate the myriad benefits media arts can bring to community development in urban planning. In the first section, I introduce what I consider to be Kevin Lynch’s and Manuel Castells’ unwitting championing of media arts for community development. I then use Boris Groys’ 2011 Going Public to introduce context, time-place, identity, participation, and process through a philosophical lens before delving deeper into each of conditions. These literatures and case studies show media arts’ practices, blessings, and cautions are well taken in planning. I conclude by acknowledging there are constraints, but that the opposing benefits merit media arts’ application in community development.

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Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Media Arts, Minor Field, Scholarship