Under the scope of the Utopia/Dystopia exhibition, organised by MAAT, this conference seeks to promote a critical reflection on the way in which digital technologies affect the conceptualisation and life of cities. How can art and architecture respond to this uncertain and unstable condition?
Talking about the present and the future of our cities means, first of all, discussing what the urban space means to us today. Besides having brought about evident changes to our everyday practices, the communication technologies have radically transformed the way in which cities are recognised, appropriated and (re)designed. The globalisation of the Internet and, more recently, the phenomenon of the social media, have reshaped the urban space, dividing it into multiple territories that coexist and intertwine, in a growing ambiguity between the public and private domains, between the real and the virtual.
In a scenario of constant hybridisation and connectivity, physical distances have shortened, giving rise to ubiquitous and parallel cities, mapped by interactive and collaborative systems. This process explains how the main political protest movements of the last decade appeared online first and then only afterwards occupied the symbolic places of our cities. But are these new socio-cultural dynamics calling into question the role of the built public environment? To what extent should the city be understood as an overlapping between the material reality and a collective imagination that has been reinvented on the social media?