In what is called the ‘smart’ or ‘sentient city’, urban politics is increasingly rooted in a network of sensors that monitor processes ranging from traffic flow to public aggression, and from waste disposal to air pollution. In smart city imaginaries, streets are monitored by sensors, some of them hovering over the city in drones; buildings will be connected through the Internet of Things, and urban services will be permanently calibrated on the basis of real-time monitoring data. The smart city is at once a business model, a policy toolbox and an infrastructure for citizen participation. It is part (science) fiction, part political reality, part corporate sales talk, and part techno-utopian desire. City governments, technology corporations and design companies converge in creating the actually existing smart city. But because the smartness of the city is projected into the future, it is key to zoom in on the imagination of smartness, the changing vocabularies of politics in the smart city, and the desires that animate it. Accordingly, this event seeks to highlight the smart imaginaries operative in urban politics.

This event, which will be tied to the launch of the Dutch inter-university Center for Public Imagination, explores smart imaginaries by focusing on questions such as:

• What happens to urban politics when government becomes an operating system, urban progress becomes optimization, and policy becomes a series of pilots, experiments, tests and demos?
• Which sites become political in the sense that they instantiate ways of caring for public issues, and how can those sites be interfaced with?
• What does it mean that to be political is to interface?
• What desires and which imaginaries animate urban smartness, efficiency and optimization?
• Which alternative imaginations are active, and how do they envisage urban politics?

In the morning, lectures by several speakers offer possible answers to such questions. They will be input for discussion and inspiring explorations in working groups in the afternoon. The afternoon sessions are open and structured loosely by the issues and concerns raised in the morning. They allow for a lively investigative atmosphere. Their results will be presented at the end of the afternoon in a final plenary discussion.

Speakers include Willem Schinkel, Professor of Social Theory, Erasmus University Rotterdam; Noortje Marres, Centre for Interdisciplinairy Methodologies, University of Warwick; and Huub Dijstelbloem, Professor of Philosophy of Science and Politics, University of Amsterdam; Karen Maex, Rector University of Amsterdam and Maarten Hajer, Chief Curator IABR–2016.

The discussion will be led by Tracy Metz, journalist, author and director of the John Adams Institute.

10.00 - 5 p.m. (registration 9.30 a.m.)
Fenixloods II, Paul Nijghkade 19, Rotterdam
Language: English
Admission fee: none, provided you can produce a valid exhibition ticket.