New York, New York 2013



Affective Cities
Scenes of Urban Innovation III

Please click on the image to view or download the conference program.


The Culture of Cities Centre presents Poeticizing the Urban Apparatus: Scenes of Innovation, an international conference at the Starrett-Lehigh building in New York August 13-15, 2013. This conference is  sponsored  by  the  Center  for  Social  Innovation,  bringing  together  artists,  activists,  academics and cultural innovators.
In the context of the conference, we understand social innovation to refer to a variety of activities that seek to change existing practices in order to transform and strengthen civic society. Despite great interest in the question of how the city itself provides an organizing form for the transformation of cultural practices, their  reception  remains  underanalyzed.  By  studying  how  scenes  enable  urban  interaction and  are  generative  of  social  change,  this  conference  engages  new  perspectives  on  cultural  practices central to social innovation. In this context, innovation is dialectical in relation to time, social in its creation of a relationship among participants, and decisive in its appeal to new modes of engagement and action.

This conference addresses the relationship between the urban apparatus and scenes of cultural innovation. At first glance the title of this meeting might suggest that scenesof innovation are forms of enchantment that operate against the bureaucratic rationality of the city, ap-pearing as an antidote to the technical, administrative and formal functions of the “urban apparatus”.

Other formulations position scenes of urban innovation—art and culture in particular—as instrumental values for the city to exploit. The panels, papers and events of this conference develop a line of thinking that transcends

these extremes of enchantment or commodification. They begin to carve out an urgently needed space in the recent turn toward art and culture for reimagining cities.

Whether in case studies on gentrification, place-building, art festivals and events, or through explorations of the tenuous line between nature and the urban, the presentations here define the debate surrounding both mass and marginal phenomena that underlie scenes of innovation. Rather than accept innovation at face value, the proposed papers investigate the human condition and its expression in the sensorium of new media and affect through literature, theatre, artistic works and spatial transformations. Marvin Taylor’s presentation on the downtown New York art scene, for example, brings us to appoint prior to digital media, not by way of nostalgia, but as an occasion to open and reexamine the relationship between aesthetics and politics that persists in any scene of innovation.

The topics, ranging from art scenes, to new alimentary movements such as entomophagy, to new uses of space and streetscapes and the design of salons and events, reveal scenes of innovation to be narratives of conflict and aesthetic configurations of desire that inescapably mark experiences of the city and its turbulent public life. Our program is intended as an itinerary through these representations and is designed to subvert the anonymous large-scale conference format by creating opportunities for collegial discussion, exchange and continued collaboration. Please enjoy the eclectic program and connect with us at the concluding roundtable brunch to animate and enact a robust scene of innovation.