If the visual keeps us from seeing (because it prefers that we decode, that we decipher, that we "read"), the image always challenges us to carry out a montage with others, with some other. Because in the image, as in democracy, there is "free play", unfinished pieces, gaps, openings.

Serge Daney


The city is dead. Long live the city
The city as handed down to us in history no longer exists. The medieval city consisted of a hierarchy of specific sites, holy and profane spaces, protected places and open ones, urban and rural conditions, life on heaven, life on earth. The modern city too that revolved around work, career and family is as good as dead. The present-day city is a network of information flows. This undefined metropolis consists of a diffuse field of events in active flux; these may be individual or collective, transnational or economic. They may involve service industries or the media. At first sight this city seems extremely chaotic, because we do not dispose of any concepts for grasping this highly complex urban order. What is more, urban datascapes develop at such a pace that we are unable to grasp the apotheosis this data gives rise to. This causes many designers to cast doubt upon any form of future, whether radical or better. Typical of this generation is its fanatical, naive and irrational belief in dystopia. Social and demographic facts are seized on without question. Nothing is commonplace any longer. Even Bladerunner is passé... the new, the end of ideology is far more absurd and thus far more sensational as material to work with. This attitude conforms perfectly with a new cultural paradigm that seems to be all the rage today; the key words here are deconstruction, difference, the other or alterity. Difference rules. This attitude prevents us from imagining that people might have any deeper dreams that could crystallize to form a livable future. Never mind solidarity; difference is all we need.

The thing that is lacking in the language of alterity and deconstruction is any terminology for democratic interest. We are confronted with just how limited the space for citizenship is at the present juncture. Our society is becoming increasingly individualized and deregulated by international financial markets. We need to learn to look closely at this supermodernity so as to escape its hypnotic character and to assess at their true value the features that lie just under its surface. New concepts need to be devised if we are to operate within this second modernity in a fashion that is both democratic and new. The West Arc competition, which is looking for new collective spaces in Thessaloniki, is an important initiative to stimulate new fantasies and experiments to promote a better future for the people of the supermodern city we all live in today. [More ... see PDF]

Risk of Illustration

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