As part of the lecture series at the BMW Guggenheim Lab in New York, author and theorist Saskia Sassen will discuss notions of comfort and security in the hyper-technologised urban context.
Developing themes she has expounded in Domus and McKinsey's What Matters, Sassen asks "What does comfort mean in settings controlled by machines, with some machines doing everything for you...is this a new kind of comfort? Or a new kind of discomfort?"
"The first phase of intelligent cities is exciting. The city becomes a living laboratory for smart urban technologies that can handle all the major systems a city requires: water, transport, security, garbage, green buildings, and clean energy. The act of installing, experimenting, testing, or discovering—all of this can generate innovations, both practical and those that exist mainly in the minds of weekend scientists. This is thrilling....But the ensuing phase is what worries me; it is charged with negative potentials. From experimentation, discovery, and open-source urbanism, we could slide into a managed space where 'sensored' becomes 'censored.'"
In questioning notions of comfort and "cityness" in the global city of New York, Sassen proposes that today comfort is found in the fabric of technologies, but also wonders, "Does talking back to your machines produce comfort?"
The BMW Guggenheim Lab is a mobile laboratory traveling to nine major cities worldwide over six years. Led by international, interdisciplinary teams of emerging talents in the areas of urbanism, architecture, art, design, science, technology, education, and sustainability, the Lab addresses issues of contemporary urban life through programs and public discourse. Its goal is the exploration of new ideas, experimentation, and ultimately the creation of forward-thinking solutions for city life.
Saskia Sassen is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and co-director of the Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University. She has written for the Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde, and Newsweek International, among others, and contributes regularly to OpenDemocracy.net and Huffington Post. Her newest books include Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages and A Sociology of Globalization.
Saskia Sassen: Talking back to your intelligent city
BMW Guggenheim Lab
Houston Street at 2nd Ave, New York City
Friday, August 12, 7–9 pm