Toward the sentient city

Of all the many pleasures of metropolitan life that we left behind, at least temporarily, when we moved to Helsinki, among those I miss most acutely is the particularly rich stratum of small-to-medium-sized local institutions New York supports – shops like the Architectural League, the Design Trust for Public Space, the Van Alen Institute, and Storefront for Art and Architecture. Over the five years we lived in NYC, these institutions provided me with an unfailing stream of thoughtful, provocative, and occasionally breathtakingly inspirational events, and almost as a fringe benefit, introduced me to dozens of folks who would wind up numbering among my favorite people and most important influences.

Inevitably, it hurts to find myself so far away when I hear these friends are achieving great things back home, not to mention being so kneedeep in the day-to-day that I’m barely able to keep up with the mail reminding me of same. That’s why I’m so disappointed that I couldn’t have shared this next bit of news with you the very day it was announced: in September 2009, at the Architectural League of New York, Mark Shepard will finally be able to share his “Toward The Sentient City,” the show he and his Situated Technologies collaborators have been working toward for the last three-and-some years.

Personally invested in Situated Technologies as I am, this obviously means even more to me than just another provocative, resonant show at a great New York institution; I’m most impressed by the fact that, over the course of these linked events and productions, Mark has been able to gather together an astonishingly high percentage of those most active and influential in framing the emergent discourse around urban computing and the networked city. If you have the slightest interest in this domain, I strongly recommend that you find a way to New York for this show and the curated conversations that will accompany it; I sure as hell intend to be there.

Hearty congratulations to Mark, for all of his hard work; to the winning commissioned project teams, among whom are good friends Fabien Girardin, Anthony Townsend, Dennis Crowley, Laura Forlano, David Benjamin and Soo-In Yang; and of course Greg, Rosalie, Varick, and everyone else at the League. I am all but bouncing up and down in my chair in anticipation.

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