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25.11, Architecture

The City Sees You: Questions on Technology and Urban Space at Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale

Exploring the theme “Urban Interactions,” the 2019 Shenzhen and Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale will critically reflect on the evolving relationship between new technologies and the urban environment.

The Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture (UABB) will open on December 21 and will consist of two parallel sections, namely “Eyes of the City” and “Ascending City.”

Projects will explore the implications of rapidly evolving facial recognition technologies.

Driver Less Vision by Guillermo Fernandez Abascal.

The biennale will take place in the halls of Futian high-speed railway station in Shenzhen. Completely fabricated on-site, it will feature original work by more than 60 acclaimed international exhibitors.

“Eyes of the City,” which is curated by MIT professor Carlo Ratti (Chief Curator), Politecnico di Torino and SCUT (Academic Curators), will look at the new urban conditions of cities that can “see” and challenge our perception of AI and facial recognition technology. It will become the first exhibition of its kind to deploy facial recognition technology on its very premises. MVRDV designed two info points that will facially scan visitors entering the exhibition. Those who do not wish to be recognized will wear a special mark on their face to remain anonymous, signaling their stance to others.

Info point designed by MVRDV.

“At a time when urban technology and facial recognition are prompting polarization and conflict–from Hong Kong to San Francisco—our exhibition wants to provide a critical reflection,” says Ratti, director of the Senseable City Lab at MIT.

The list of practices and designers involved with the “Eyes of the City” exhibition includes filmmaker and Strelka faculty member Liam Young, as well as three teams of Strelka alumni: Seiche, Doma, and Presense.

Seiche is a platform redefining sovereignty through systems synchronization

Presense is a platform for the creation and tracking of personal synthetic replicas navigating multiple urban environments in parallel.

The newly opened Futian station connects mainland China and Hong Kong in less than 15 minutes.

“As digital technology increasingly permeates our cities, railway stations are one of the public spaces that are likely to experience the strongest shift,” says Ratti. “For a long time, stations have been places where one could experience urban anonymity at its highest form. Already today, they are becoming examples of a built environment that is able to recognize and respond to us in real time. In stations as well as in airports, we can already observe what an “Eyes of the City” scenario might look like and start a critical reflection about it.”

Shekou Port. Intact Studio, Ai Deng, Li Lipeng.

The other section of the biennale, called “Ascending Cities,” is curated by leading Chinese academician Meng Jianmin and Italian art critic Fabio Cavallucci. It departs from the necessity to mix genres and to reflect on architecture through the eyes of other disciplines that contribute to shaping architecture itself and at the same time are shaped by it.

The exhibition theme is divided into three areas of exploration: “Empowering Citizens in Progressive Cities,” “Urban Alchemists," and “Daily Sci-Fi.”

The biennale will be open to the public until March 2020.

Domestic Landscapes. The Center for Spatial Technologies.

Cover image: Driver Less Vision by Guillermo Fernandez Abascal.

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