Supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation this set of projects interrogates the role of conflict in structuring urban space and experiences.

 
Apply by April 1 for Summer 2019 Graduate Research Assistantships

The Columbia Center for Spatial Research is seeking applications for one or more Graduate Research Assistants for the summer of 2019. The Graduate Research Assistants will work on ongoing CSR-led research projects on conflict urbanism, and spatial inequality.

Current ongoing work includes a project on the concept of Homophily; a project related to personal uses for census data; a project related to sensor networks and decentralized protocols; and a web publication of case studies related to "infrapolitics." Students will assist in realizing the diverse outcomes of these projects, which will include online interactive publications, a prototype app, and an exhibition in the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

The positions will require a maximum of 20 hours per week, and will be compensated according to University standards.

Background/Skills: CSR GRAs must be self-motivated, organized, able to work individually and in groups. Fluency in design software, demonstrated writing skills, and an interest in further developing skills in the critical use of computational tools in studying the built environment are required. Fluency with additional computational tools (including but not limited to GIS, Python, D3, Javascript, SQL) is a plus. 

To Apply: Please submit a resume, cover letter, and work sample. Please indicate your availability through the summer, commitments to other work if applicable. Please explain your interest in working with CSR, and why you would be well suited to the position. The deadline to apply is April 1, 2019 (10am).

Eligibility: Continuing GSAPP students in the M.Arch, M.S. CCCP, M.S. UP, M.S. HP, and all Ph.D. programs are eligible to apply here

Continuing Columbia University students from other departments or schools should express interest in working with CSR via email to info@c4sr.columbia.edu

 

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Data Publics and Public Data
Working prototypes, courtesy of Jia Zhang and Brian House.

Data Publics and Public Data

Thursday April 4, 6:30 PM
Ware Lounge, Avery Hall
Columbia University

Brian House and Jia Zhang in conversation with Laura Kurgan, Shannon Mattern, Bill Rankin, and Jer Thorp.

This event will feature new work by Mellon Associate Research Scholars Brian House & Jia Zhang underway as part of their fellowships with the Center for Spatial Research in the 2018-2019 academic year. Brian House (PhD Brown University) is developing a platform to collect geographic data through mobile devices using the distributed web. Jia Zhang (PhD MIT Media Lab) is building an interactive atlas that bridges between large public datasets and everyday experiences of urban space. The discussion of both projects will center around the politics of personal data and its relationship to the development of urban policy and the built environment. Their projects point to forms of artistic, academic, and activist practices that might intervene or offer new possibilities in this fraught landscape.

 

Brian House is an artist and a Mellon Associate Research Scholar at Columbia University's Center for Spatial Research. His work explores the interdependent rhythms of the body, technology, and the environment, and has been shown by the Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, Ars Electronica, Transmediale, ZKM, Beall Center, and Rhizome, among others. He has been a member of the New York Times Research and Development Lab, director of technology at the design studio Local Projects, and a resident at Eyebeam. He recently completed a PhD in Computer Music and Multimedia at Brown University, and his academic writing has been published by Autonomedia, Contemporary Music Review, and Journal of Sonic Studies.

Jia Zhang is a Mellon Associate Research Scholar at Columbia University's Center for Spatial Research. She experiments with communicating quantitative and qualitative data visually. Her research examines and utilizes technical processes and abstract visual forms found in data representation. At the CSR, Jia works on visualizations of public urban datasets and the U.S.Census. She is currently building projects that deal with public facing data of the urban environment and interactive tools that allow individuals to directly engage with urban information for their own well-being. Jia recently completed her PhD at MIT’s Media Lab.

Laura Kurgan is an Associate Professor of Architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, where she directs the Center for Spatial Research and the Visual Studies curriculum. She is the author of Close Up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology, and Politics (Zone Books, 2013). Her work explores the ethics and politics of digital mapping and its technologies; the art, science and visualization of big and small data; and design environments for public engagement with maps and data. In 2009, Kurgan was awarded a United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship.

Shannon Mattern is a Professor of Anthropology at The New School for Social Research. Her writing and teaching focus on archives, libraries, and other media spaces; media infrastructures; spatial epistemologies; and mediated sensation and exhibition. She is the author of The New Downtown Library: Designing with Communities, Deep Mapping the Media City, and Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media, all published by University of Minnesota Press. In addition to writing dozens of articles and book chapters, she also contributes a regular long-form column about urban data and mediated infrastructures to Places, a journal focusing on architecture, urbanism, and landscape, and she collaborates on public design and interactive projects and exhibitions. You can find her at wordsinspace.net.

Jer Thorp is an artist, writer and teacher living in New York City. He is best known for designing the algorithm to place the nearly 3,000 names on the 9/11 Memorial in Manhattan. Jer was the New York Times' first Data Artist in Residence, is a National Geographic Explorer, and in 2017 and 2018 served as the Innovator in Residence at the Library of Congress. Jer is one of the world's foremost data artists, and is a leading voice for the ethical use of big data. Jer’s data-inspired artwork has been shown around the world, including most recently in New York’s Times Square, at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, at the Ars Electronica Center in Austria, and at the National Seoul Museum in Korea. He is an adjunct Professor in New York University’s renowned Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), and is the Co-Founder of The Office for Creative Research. In 2015, Canadian Geographic named Jer one of Canada’s Greatest Explorers. Jer’s book 'Living in Data’ will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the spring of 2020.

Bill Rankin is a historian and cartographer. His mapping activity is focused on reimagining everyday urban and territorial geographies as complex landscapes of statistics, law, and history. His maps have appeared in publications and exhibitions throughout the US and Europe, including articles in Foreign Policy, Perspecta, Harvard Design Magazine, and National Geographic and shows at Harvard, Yale, Pratt, the Cartographic Bienalle in Lausanne, the Triennalle di Milano, and the Toronto Images Festival; his maps also traveled for several years with ICI'’s "Experimental Geographies" exhibit. His historical research is about the politics of cartography and navigation in the twentieth century. He teaches at Yale University, where he is an assistant professor of the history of science.

 

Free and open to the public. 

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Conflict Urbanism: Puerto Rico Now
This seminar focuses on the role of natural and economic disaster in terms of the spatial restructuring of Puerto Rico today.
   
Description

This is the fourth in a series of multidisciplinary Mellon seminars on the topic of Conflict Urbanism, as part of a multi-university initiative in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities. This spring, we will focus on the role of natural and economic disaster in terms of the spatial restructuring of Puerto Rico today.

Conflict Urbanism: Puerto Rico Now Our seminar will examine the ways in which hurricanes, debt, and migration are major forces which produce and shape spatial inequalities in contemporary Puerto Rico. We will approach Puerto Rico as a network of conflicting forces, demands, and discourses (economic, spatial, political, environmental, historical, memorial, mediatic, aesthetic), and compare the Puerto Rican context with other intensive politicized spaces. What does Puerto Rico have in common with New Orleans Post Katrina? With the Dominican Republic or Singapore? Prior to Hurricane Maria, what did San Juan have in common with Detroit or Miami? To do our work we will draw on and work with diverse sources of information including data about population displacement, urban destruction housing values and foreclosures, and reports and analysis of “expert’ bodies such as FEMA, Puerto Rico’s government, and the United Nations. We will consider how local and global organizing is challenging spatial inequalities, and will reformat this information in a way that exposes some alternate images of Puerto Rico prior to these disasters and present some new post-disaster visions of it. Our seminar involves thinking and action from some very new perspectives which engage multiple methods of learning and engagements.

Methods and Course Requirements:

Our work will be, by necessity, multidisciplinary across history, economics, architecture, politics, law, literature, and visual culture as related to the topic of Conflict Urbanism. Our work will also be multi-media. Students will create a web-based map as well as written reflections, incorporating analogue as well as digital media. We will use a flipped classroom method in the technical workshops where students will develop mapping and visual storytelling skills. Each student is responsible for completing a minimum of four tutorials, and an optional maximum of eight tutorials. No previous technical skills are necessary for registration; students will not be graded on technical expertise, but on the quality of their individual work. Professors will set individual guidelines for each student based on their disciplinary expertise.

Spring 2019 Registration Information

Fridays 1-3pm 
420 Hamilton Hall
3 points

ARCH A4890, call number: 79032
CSER GU4002, call number: 70943

Open to students within GSAS, GSAPP, Barnard and Columbia Colleges, School of General Studies, and others by permission.

This is the fourth in a series of multidisciplinary Mellon seminars on the topic of Conflict Urbanism, as part of a multi-university initiative in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities. This year's seminar is also connected to the work of the Unpayable Debt: Capital, Violence, and the New Global Economy working group of the Center for the Study of Social Difference.

 
Unnatural Disaster: Infrastructure in Puerto Rico before, during, and after Hurricane Maria
Condado, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 22, 2017, following Hurricane Maria. Puerto Rico National Guard photo by Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos

Unnatural Disaster:
Infrastructure in Puerto Rico before, during, and after Hurricane Maria

Friday, November 9, 1pm 

114 Avery Hall

Speakers
Ivis Garcia Zambrana, The University of Utah
Marcelo López-Dinardi (’13 MSCCP), Texas A&M University
Mark Martin Bras, Vieques Conservation & Historical Trust
Andrés Mignucci, University of Puerto Rico
Ingrid Olivo, GIZ Sustainable Intermediate Cities Program
In conversation with Hiba Bou Akar, GSAPP, and Monxo López, Hunter College

In January of 2018, four months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced a plan to privatize the US territory’s publicly owned power utility (PREPA). This action—exposing infrastructure at the convergence of colonialism, finance, and 150 mile-per-hour winds—came as no surprise to those who have been paying attention. Nonetheless, its implications are sure to be felt well beyond the thousands of residents who remained without power months after Hurricane Maria made landfall.

Rosselló’s more recent push to commence privatization of the island’s public school system emphatically echoes and underscores these facts. While many fields are involved in addressing the current crisis on the island, we believe a more focused, historically informed conversation on the roles of architecture, planning, and preservation in both the production and management of these ever-more-frequent emergencies—especially as they pertain to infrastructure—is warranted.

Co-organized by Columbia GSAPP Urban Planning, Urban Design, and Historic Preservation Programs, the Center for Spatial Research, and the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, in conjunction with the Buell Center’s “Power: Infrastructure in America” research initiative, which considers infrastructural systems and processes as sites of sociotechnical and ecological governmentality at the intersection of neoliberalism and nationalism.

Free and open to the public.

Photo: Condado, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 22, 2017, following Hurricane Maria. Puerto Rico National Guard photo by Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos

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Spaces of Exception

Spaces of Exception

Friday, October 5, 6:30 PM
Barnard Hall, James Room
Barnard College
3009 Broadway, New York, NY

Saturday, October 6, 11 AM - 7 PM
Diana Center, Room 504
Barnard College
3009 Broadway, New York, NY

We invite you to the launch of an event of Geographies of Injustice, a working group of interdisciplinary scholars interested in asking how spatial politics intersects with inequality and social difference (race, caste, gender, and ethnicity). 

Please join us on the evening of Friday, Oct. 5th, with a keynote conversation between Denise Ferreira da Silva and Priti Ramamurthy on the politics of dispossession in Brazil and India. On Saturday, Oct. 6th, we will start with a closed-door workshop with Denise Ferreira da Silva and Priti Ramamurthy on their keynotes the previous evening; later, we will host a conversation between New York City Council member Ritchie Torres and Emmy Award-winning journalist Janus Adams, followed by talks by Professor Vivek Bald and artist/cultural strategist Ebony Noelle Golden. See below for full schedule and details.

**Note please RSVP if you wish to attend the brunch and closed workshop with Denise Ferreira da Silva and Priti Ramamurthy portion of the event on Saturday, October 6th. 

 

October 5th (6:30-8pm)

Opening Remarks by Sarah Cole, Dean of Humanities, and Marianne Hirsch, Director of the Center for the Study of Social Difference.
Keynote conversation on with Denise Ferreira da Silva and Priti Ramamurthy.

October 6th (11am-6pm)
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Brunch/Discussion
Dispossessions
Denise Ferreira da Silva and Priti Ramamurthy in discussion with workshop participants about their keynote. Moderated by Tony Samara.
**Note please RSVP if you wish to attend the brunch and closed workshop with Denise Ferreira da Silva and Priti Ramamurthy
2:00 – 2:30 PM Coffee Break

Housing Justice
2:30 – 4:00 PM Emmy Award - winning Journalist Janus Adams in conversation with Richie Torres (NYC District 15 Council Member).

Intimacies
4:00 – 5:00 PM Vivek Bald, "In Search of Bengali Harlem"
5:15 – 6:25 PM Ebony Noelle Golden, "125th & Freedom: Cultivating Cultural Resilience in Face of Erasure"

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Ahmed Mater An Artist's Lens on Mecca
Artist Ahmed Mater in his studio.

Ahmed Mater: An Artist's Lens on Mecca

Update: 

The lecture "Ahmed Mater: An Artist's Lens on Mecca" and reception scheduled for Monday, October 22, as part of the series “Disrupting Unity and Discerning Ruptures," will not take place. We will seek to find another time in the near future that is more conducive to the academic dialogue on campus that is the purpose of the lecture.

-----------------------------------------------

Monday, October 22, 2018, 6-8pm 
612 Schermerhorn Hall
Columbia University
1180 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY

Reception to follow in the Stronach Center.

Renowned Saudi artist Ahmed Mater will talk about his documentation of a changing Mecca through his photography and video work. His art explores apparent contradictions embedded within this site between the holy and profane, historicity and eternal time, spaces of worship and sites of real estate speculation.

The sacred and holy space of Mecca called in Arabic haram denotes the act of forbidding, and excluding, and thus implies the apparent human faculty of defining spaces and setting borders between the holy and the profane. While the sacred space usually appears as totally autonomous and linked to the eternal, the profane zone seems to exist as bound to and dependent on historical time. This supposition results in assigning terms such as common, habitual, and ephemeral to historic times, as opposed to pure and intact designating the ‘Holy’ to everlasting time. But both spaces were and are constrained to historical time. Though aiming at iconicity, Mecca’s haram visions have history too.

Mater’s presentation will be followed by a conversation with Dr. Avinoam Shalem, Riggio Professor of the History of the Arts of Islam at Columbia University.

The event is organized by the Center for Spatial Research and the Art History and Archaeology Department at Columbia University with the support and help of the Middle East Institute, Columbia University and Middle East Institute at Washington DC. This event is part of the Arab Art and Education Initiative, a year-long collaboration between more than 15 leading New York and Arab world cultural institutions, seeking to build greater understanding between the United States and the Arab world.

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In Plain Sight
An immersive installation in the US Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.
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In Plain Sight presents anomalies in population distribution seen in nighttime satellite imagery of Earth and census grid counts produced by governments worldwide — revealing places with bright lights and no people and places with people and no lights—thus, challenging our assumptions about geographies of belonging and exclusion.

The project was tasked with interrogating the relationship between citizenship and the built environment at the scale of the globe, where the primacy of the individual, the city, and even the nation drops away and is replaced by data: electricity, trade routes, migratory shifts, and the flow of capital, goods and people.

The installation is a collaboration between Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Laura Kurgan, and Robert Gerard Pietrusko with the Center for Spatial Research, and will be on view from May 26 through November 25, 2018. The installation is conceived and designed for Dimensions of Citizenship, the US Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, commissioned by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The University of Chicago.

View the full project video here

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In Plain Sight at the 2018 Venice Biennale of Architecture
Image still from In Plain Sight

In Plain Sight, a collaboration between Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Laura Kurgan, and Robert Gerard Pietrusko with the Center for Spatial Research, will open on May 26, 2018 in Venice, Italy.

The installation is conceived and designed for Dimensions of Citizenship, the US Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, commissioned by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The University of Chicago. The installation will be on view through November 25.

In Plain Sight presents anomalies in population distribution seen in nighttime satellite imagery of Earth and census grid counts produced by governments worldwide — revealing places with bright lights and no people and places with people and no lights—thus, challenging our assumptions about geographies of belonging and exclusion.

Several events are planned during the opening weekend, May 24-27, featuring project collaborators Laura Kurgan, Elizabeth Diller, Robert Pietrusko. See the full schedule of events on the Dimensions of Citizenship website here.

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Conflict Urbanism: Urban Language Ecologies
A series of projects that explore the role that language plays in shaping urban space.
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Conflict Urbanism: Language Ecologies explores the role that language plays in shaping urban space. This project grew out of the Spring 2017 seminar, Conflict Urbanism: Language Justice.

Language interacts with its environment at multiple scales and with diverse media. As an ecology, language either dominates, or is vulnerable to its host environments. In this way it often makes conflict visible in urban settings.  

Language works in extraordinary ways – multilingualism can divide a local community and simultaneously connect a global community. Language also works in the most ordinary ways – it mediates nearly every human interaction, from fulfilling the most basic needs to communicating the most abstract ideas.

We have collaborated with the Endangered Language Alliance to build a map which visualizes the incredible diversity of languages spoken in New York City focusing on the most vulnerable languages. We have also worked on a series of case studies about language in New York City. Our research shows that typical maps represent monolingualism very well, drawing boundaries around ethnolinguistic groups; but language ecology, especially in urban areas, is one of both community as well as individual multilingualism. Each case study seeks to address this by taking innovative and sometimes radical approaches to represent the diversity of languages spoken in New York City. Though the projects focus on New York, the methods of visualization and inquiry extend easily to other multilingual, multinational spaces.

Beyond the Census: Languages of Queens map.

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#CLOSErikers Studio Project "After Arrest" Published by Urban Omnibus

Students from Laura Kurgan’s fall 2016 #CLOSErikers Advanced Architecture studio, Clara Dykstra and Stella Ioannidou published their research “After Arrest” as part of Urban Omnibus’s new series, The Location of Justice, which examines “the pervasive and often overlooked infrastructure of criminal justice in New York and the spaces that could serve a more just city.”

Based on consultations with working public defenders, as well as the Center for Court Innovation and Legal Aid, Dykstra and Ioannidou chart a timeline of a hypothetical individual’s first encounters with the criminal justice system for the first 24-36 hours after arrest.

For more information and to view the project visit Urban Omnibus here

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