Call for Submissions for 'The Smartification of Everything'
Call for papers, (multi-)media art works, and interactive sessions for:
The Smartification of Everything
A Symposium and Exhibition connecting diverse Fields and Media
Date: Symposium March 10-11, 2022⎟ Exhibition March 10-17, 2022
Keynote Speakers: Shannon Mattern, The New School⎟ Carl DiSalvo, Georgia Tech
Exhibition Discussant: Orit Halpern, Concordia University
Hosts: Alex Trebek Forum for Dialogue⎟ Canada Research Chair in Science and Society⎟ Centre de recherche sur le futur des villes/Research Center on the Future of Cities⎟ School of Sociological and Anthropological Studies⎟ University of Ottawa, Unceded Territory of the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation
Location: Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Visual Arts, University of Ottawa ⎟ ETHOS LAB, ITU Copenhagen⎟ Virtual
With predictions that around the world population concentration will shift to cities, the urban space has attracted considerable interest among researchers, architects, artists, and more. Indeed, news media, policy reports, or advertising convey a sense that the global population is already urban. Urban spaces are also increasingly ‘smart,’ where application of digital technologies convert cities into (supposedly) self-learning systems, such as automated traffic control. While proponents highlight smartness approaches and digitalization as a resource-efficient way to live in and govern the city, it is not always evident whose interests are served, or what issues may arise in the long run. Scholars have studied how such systems shape urban planning, policy, citizen participation and power relations between public and private sector, with an eye to sociotechnical, politico-cultural, ethical, and legal ramifications.
Yet cities are not the only ‘smart’ spaces, and this points to two more recent trends: a shift in attention to the rural, and a growing smartification of those spaces beyond the urban. In the recent Guggenheim exhibition Countryside, the Future, architects and urban planners identify there the ‘forefront of modernization.’ Researchers in various disciplines turn to smart forests (i.e. Internet of Trees), smart oceans (smart shrimps), or smart agriculture (e.g. drones and weed robots) as sites of techno-social-environmental change. When agribusiness corporations are busy collecting environmental data, and declare farms as last frontier of digitalization, what implications does this have for contemporary and future developments?
This symposium takes up these imbrications and diffusions, and seeks to put into dialogue scholars, art- and design-inclined researchers, and artists to explore: What are the social, political, cultural and environmental implications of the smartification of the city, the rural, and beyond? What can be learned from such cross-examinations both about the ‘smartified’ fields and sectors, and about smartness itself? Beyond academic presentations, through what other (smart?) media, art and interaction formats may we engage with these issues?
The ‘Smartification of Everything’ is an event that is comprised of a symposium with oral presentations and keynote speakers, an exhibition (at a gallery at the Department of Visual Arts), showcasing (multi)media and art work that may include short films, visual essays or vignettes, podcasts and audio productions, websites, or other creative and collaborative formats, and interactive events inviting submissions for (smart) city walks, hands-on workshops, and similar participatory formats. This will be a hybrid event with an in-person and virtual component.
We invite participants, including junior and senior scholars, artists and experimentalists, amateurs and experts, to consider the following (non-exhaustive) questions for presentations, multimedia artworks or interactive sessions:
How do ‘smart’ systems in the city differ from or relate to those applied to the forest, ocean, climate, or agriculture? Is this a mere story of technology diffusion from the urban to the non-urban, and if not, why and how?
What do processes of diffusion, adaptation and region- or local-specific forms of ‘smartness’ say about power relations? Do smart systems effectively challenge social and environmental inequalities, and what role does design play in these processes?
In cross-examining urban, oceanic, agricultural or climate settings, what can be learned about the very meaning of ‘smartness,’ and the specific digital technologies?
In what ways do such applications and systems norm smartness as technical property, and with what consequences? What happens to practices that are in contrast rendered ‘stupid’, and what may be the joy and refusal in such declared stupidity?
How do technology-smart systems reconfigure its object or sphere as in need of smart transformation; that is, how do smart systems render the city, agriculture, the ocean, the forest and environments technology-smart, thereby shaping epistemologies and ontologies?
What is an artificial ‘intelligence’ in the context of a smart city, forest, or ocean?
What Indigenous cosmogonies and alternative approaches, such as agroecological or forest-caring practices and principles, may be silenced as a result?
How does gender and race intersect with, or refuse smartness, and what does this say about the respective identities and properties?
What (raw) material and energy resources are required to set up smart systems? Contrasting them with such systems’ affordances for a seemingly more sustainable future, what is ‘smart’ about them?