Journal or Book Title
Space and Culture
Smartphones, with their “pervasive presence” in contact with our bodies, have come to act as sensory prosthetics that mediate our experience of the city. They activate new possibilities of navigating the urban, such that we can find exactly what we want, rather than what has been placed before us. This article argues that smartphone technologies produce a more fluid engagement with urban space: where space is not so much “given” as “enacted.” In this context, notions of “legibility” take on new algorithmic and virtual forms. Thus, according to Hamilton and colleagues, where “the legible city waited to be read, the transparent city of data waits to be accessed.” Here, stable features dissolve as urban space becomes increasingly fluid and contingent, no longer limited by static patterns of inhabitation. Instead, how we move and where we move shift in accordance with the kinds of urban resources being activated at any given location, at any given moment, and in conjunction with the shifting vicissitudes of the crowd. In this context, the virtual (in its technological definition of cyber-enabled or -enacted space) mediates and activates the virtual (in its philosophical definition pertaining to the capacities of an entity that may or may not be manifested depending on context). The article considers the implications of this novel spatial mediation using an ontological perspective informed by complex adaptive systems theory, which considers forms and objects not as absolutes but rather as contingent entities activated through interactions.
Wohl, Sharon, "Sensing the City: Legibility in the Context of Mediated Spatial Terrains" (2018). Architecture Publications. 101.