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The claim is frequently made that, as cities become loaded up with information and communications technology and a resultant profusion of data, so they are becoming sentient. But what might this mean? This paper offers some insights into this claim by, first of all, reworking the notion of the social as a spatial complex of ‘outstincts’. That makes it possible, secondly, to reconsider what a city which is aware of itself might look like, both by examining what kinds of technological practices are becoming commonplace and by considering the particular case of spatial awareness. In turn, this leads to a third rumination on how cities might become aware as different kinds of sprite, channelling outstincts in spatially variable ways. Whatever the case, it is clear that new technical-artistic interventions are required if these sprites are not to become simply servants of the security–entertainment complex. Some of these interventions are examined in the fourth part of the paper. Keywords City, sentience, outstinct, ontograph, Big Data, surface (2005) wants to jettison the whole Durkheimian Introduction: Sociality, outstinct approach which seems to him to both fetishize social and space bonds and to ignore the fact the ‘the social’ is always The idea of sociality concerns the quality of being mediated by things: there can be no ‘pure’ social bond. ‘social’ and it has been at the root of what we under- In other words, he wants to work towards new descrip- stand as a ‘social’ science. It usually involves both the tions of existence, new instructions for assembling types activity and practices of being sociable and the ten- and relations, new compendiums which record how dency that human beings have to form social group- things are juxtaposed, new ‘ontographs’ (Bogost, ings, variously called communities, societies, bands, 2012) – a term I will return to. and the like. Periodically, commentators make a claim The second direction comes from the work of pri- that the form of sociality is changing. For example, matologists, work which is looking at the roots of Wittel (2001: 51–52), like a number of other contem- cooperation: the best that can be said is that there are porary commentators, has argued that we are moving now a lot of diﬀerent accounts of how and why social- into a period of network sociality which ‘is a form of ity has come into being – including, to name but a few, sociality that is ephemeral but intense, ... is informa- practices of cooking (Wrangham, 2009), the power of tional and technological, ... combines work and language (Pinker, 2011), the unique length of human play, ... is disembedded and generic, and ... emerges in the context of individualization’. But in recent University of Warwick, University House, Coventry, UK years, sociality has not just been historically redeﬁned like this but has come under attack as a concept. Corresponding author: The charge has been led from two separate direc- Nigel Thrift, University of Warwick, University House, Coventry CV4 tions. One is from a group of researchers who want 8UW, UK. to rethink the concept entirely. For example, Latour Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Creative Commons CC-BY: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (http:// www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (http://www.uk.sagepub.com/aboutus/open- access.htm). 2 Big Data & Society childhood and the consequent need for maternal child- that they naturally include ‘mediation’ – it is far more rearing (Hrdy, 2009), and the increased predation risk than that – through and by objects loaded with infor- associated with diurnal activity (Shulz et al., 2011). This mation and communications technology, thus allowing work does not so much attack notions of sociality cities their own forces of energy, tenacity and as question its origins and in that questioning it has magnetism. broadened the orbit of what counts as sociality away In making this move to take in objects and in thus from simply the kind of situational empathy occasioned moving away from exclusively human notions of soci- by cooperation (Tomasello, 2010), painting sociality on ality, I want to show an allegiance to three interlocking a much broader canvas. theoretical commitments which, taken together, start to Yet, ironically, and at exactly the same time as these describe outstinct. The ﬁrst is to the idea that the critiques of the term and its content are being mounted, human world contains a vast hinterland of ‘dark a strong notion of sociality is being inserted into the matter’ or ‘plasma’ that we do not understand and of interstices of everyday life by means of information and which we often only feel as echoes and intimations communications technology and especially through the which we cannot scry. In other words, all kinds of practices of ‘pervasive sociality’, practices which aim to forces and pressures can exist ‘not yet covered, sur- make sociality into something that is always and every- veyed, mobilized, or subjectiﬁed’ (Latour, 2005: 244) where augmented by information and communications whereof we know very little at all, can only half-discern technology so that, for example, no social event has a shape, slip in between our networks, or, perhaps ever to be laid aside or forgotten (Dodge and Kitchin, worst of all, are simply unintelligible, existing without 2007). ‘Sousveillance’ sits alongside conventional sur- us and without need of us. So far as our understanding veillance, producing a technical substrate to sociality of social life is concerned, we may still be in the dark which is based on knowledges of ‘the social’ which it ages, in that the triggering of large amounts of that life embeds, tracks, and simultaneously promotes, often and vitality relies on unaccounted-for elements, what through active participation. Drawing on often very Latour (2005: 245) calls the ‘missing masses’. simple notions of what sociality is which are boosted Alternatively, to put it another way, we might think by the tendency of developments in information and of the situation as one in which our time frames are communications technology to concentrate on the vis- so attenuated that we cannot sense many of the pro- cesses we are involved in, except as momentary, unex- ible and measurable (Harper, 2012), a background is being produced which is both reductive and, at exactly plained interruptions. Rather like various kinds of the same time, formative. animals or plants, our perceptions of time and space This paper is an attempt to intervene in these devel- are skewed in particular directions and although we opments – in which a critique of human sociality sits have instruments that now allow us to see at least within a period in which human sociality has become some other registers, we cannot produce an instant more and more explicitly acknowledged and engineered compass. Or, again, we can see the situation as one in as a given reality – by rethinking sociality as a spatial which commands seem to arise without being able to be complex of uneven and constantly evolving human and sheeted home to any identiﬁable agency: they produce nonhuman forces based on the rise of an urban ﬁeld aﬀects like dread and foreboding which are consequen- which, like water soaking into blotting paper, is grad- tial atmospheres but seem to have no deﬁnable origin ually congealing to produce a new kind of canopy. To and no obvious boundaries (Fuller and Goﬀey, 2013; attempt this redescription, I will call ﬁrst on what might Ngai, 2012). There is evaluation without a clear object be understood as a base notion of sociality, namely the of attention, in a time when an ever more sensuous notion of ‘instinct’, understood as a geography of call relationship to objects seems to be becoming the norm. and response which can take in actors of many kinds. The second commitment follows on, and that is to That may seem to some to be an odd starting point. the idea of emergence. Whilst that means that I am After all, instinct often calls up untoward resonances of certainly not against the idea of a social group which mechanism and determinism which might seem to be at is more than the sum of its parts (Tuomela, 2007), I odds with some of the rather more ﬂuid qualities of want to see the process of emergence as ranging outside space which involve movement, fracture and becoming. what we conventionally understand as ‘the social’ in But I want to work with this tension by revisiting the that I do not see that it is possible or necessary to see contemporary city. In framing the world as call and the vagaries of human interaction purely in terms of response – a world in which a response is often a call human being. That move gives access to a world – I want to consider the process by which both are which is not the expression of a single species and constructed and made into replicable practices of cannot be thought of in terms of subjectivism and deci- what might be called not so much the uniﬁed agency sionism. In particular, not trying to tell the story in of instincts as the disuniﬁed agency of ‘outstincts’in that way allows us to think about conglomerations of Thrift 3 all kinds of entities – like cities – as forces in their own represent are starting to reveal themselves more clearly, right, with their own means of composition. Thus, partly as a result of changes in dominant modes of when Peter Ackroyd argues that ‘London has become thought and partly because of developments in technol- part of the natural world’, I want to take this statement ogy which allow these forces to be recognized and at face value, rather than seeing it as simply having tracked, even as they are bringing them into existence. metaphorical content. I want to see cities like London In particular, the prevalence of data makes it much as increasingly having their own forms of energy, ten- easier to compile lists of objects and to map them, to acity and magnetism built out of forces of outstinct. produce encyclopaedic renditions of things and to The third commitment is to what Guattari (2011, account and curate them, to map out space as a poly- 2013) called ‘objective subjectivity’, and to the individ- theistic pantheon of urban life, understood as a great ual as a bearer of all kinds of partial subjectivities ‘meanwhile’ (in the sense of ‘meanwhile this was hap- which are bundled together, broken asunder and pening, and this and this and ... ). In other words, we shuﬄed hither and thither by all manner of assem- now routinely produce what Bogost (2012) calls ‘onto- blages, and thus are constantly mixed in with all graphs’ – territories which constantly shift orientation manner of objects such that the divides between subject and composition but still retain a kind of coeval force and object (and inner and outer) are perennially not through their collocation and overlap, what Massey just confused by this collectivity of heterogeneous com- calls the ‘throwntogetherness’ of disparate things mess- ponents but perennially shifting. This is a kind of spirit ily occluded, both faraway and nearby: world, if you like, a ‘heteroverse’ (Bryant, 2011) of ‘magical’ thought in which all manner of jumbled an ontograph is a crowd, not a cellular automaton that human and nonhuman forces constantly assemble, might describe its emergent operation. An ontograph is hunt and capture attention and haunt social inter- a landﬁll, not a Japanese garden. It shows how action. It allows us to talk seriously about poetical much rather than how little exists simultaneously, sus- and magical symbolism, especially in an age when pended in the dense meanwhile of being. (Bogost, mental states, including emotions, concepts and sense 2012: 59) conﬁgurations, can be transmitted directly at a distance through advances in information and communications Accordingly, this paper is in ﬁve main parts. The ﬁrst technology and the visual representations arising out of part considers how the notion of instinct might be them (Berardi, 2011). These are operators which ‘pre- approached diﬀerently, as an outstinctive force which cisely have a function of crossing times and spaces, does more in the world as cities grow and mutate, insides and outsides, and the subjects and objects becoming the foundation of a kind of sentience as of the capitalistic universe’ (Guattari, 2011: 105), new frictions and coherences are produced. manufacturing very particular times and spaces, not The second part of the paper relates this formulation time and space in general. to the case of the modern city, showing how the ways in Thus, outstincts might be thought of as aﬀective which cities are threaded together have increased in forces which are composed by bringing bodies and number and intensity as a result of information and things into conjunction in a relationship of adjacency. communications technology, thus providing for the Rather like atmospheric dynamics, they can form long- emergence of a city which starts to become aware, not lasting currents of inﬂuence but equally they are able to so much of itself as an entity (although that may be a form eddies and vortices which produce local equili- part of the process) but more speciﬁcally of the process bria. Whatever the case, it is very rare that we can of emergence. observe all of the points of adjacency of an outstinct The third part of the paper then considers how we since each of these three features produces its own kind might think of outstinctual forces within this knowing of obscurity which manifests as disconnectedness and urban medium in the future. I will argue that one pro- its own kind of direction which rarely adds up to just ductive way forward might be to conceive of them as ‘our own’: hence the saying ‘things go awry’. Even in a producing a set of spirits etched into data-rich new time when humanity has become a collective force able materials, but of a very particular type. These are far to change the planet what it has wrought is often from immanent forms. Rather, they might be thought beyond its comprehension because the forces of out- of as akin to household gods whose remit is limited to stinct are continuously changing the stage upon which very speciﬁc domains (Knapp, 2011), or more general human actors operate (Latour, 2011). Composition and spirits who only manifest in particular times and spaces, decomposition co-exist as a part of the same force, or perhaps the beginnings of something much larger: a which is what makes it so diﬃcult to name. kind of urban habilis, handy to have around (like the What has become clear is that the kinds of ‘outstinc- website with the same name ), or, again, something tive’ forces that I want to begin to describe and much more forbidding. 4 Big Data & Society The fourth part of the paper then points to the ways another means of thoughtful becoming which is also a in which it has become possible to simultaneously show diﬀerent kind of thinking, as part of an ecology of prac- and tell cities which understand them as emergent tices to which neither human nor object comes fully forces arising out of developments in the representation formed (Frampton, 2006). of space and the consequent channelling of vitality, ﬂowing out of media convergence. In other words, Approaching instinct other kinds of sentience are possible. A new landscape hoves into view which a new generation of artist-tech- Instincts have often been depicted as though they are nicians is intent on forcing into a kind of existence by completely inbuilt, wired in to the human body as the trying to invent new means of doing mo(ve)ment under- basic building blocks of behaviour, the equivalent of stood as composed of at least four dimensions: an the unconscious response to stimuli of various kinds unfolding in time, a perception or attribution of found in animals – like Konrad Lorenz’s famous exam- forces ‘behind’ or ‘within’ the movement, a particular ple of the male stickleback seeing red when it saw a red spatial format, and directionality. This is about what it post van. But even the early adopters of the term like means to have a sense of aliveness which is going some- Wundt (1894) never thought of human instinct as where, understood through an interrogation of the simply a slavish follow-on from a particular stimulus. ‘how’, rather than the ‘what’ or the ‘why’ (Stern, By the late 19th century, instinct had already come 2010). It is a means of seeking out new means of punc- closer to a notion like habit. In particular, it was tuating space and time with the goal of recasting what already being implied that diﬀerent instincts could be we understand as movement signatures in situations nurtured by and in diﬀerent spaces: in other words, where everything is understood as mobile and nothing diﬀerent territories could produce diﬀerent responses. is dead anywhere. This spatial narrative has only been strengthened by I will take three examples of this activity from artist- recent work of all kinds which has stressed that the technicians working in time-based arts like music, human body is not like a fortress surrounded by the dance, theatre and cinema. In each case, I will be integument of skin. It is always and everywhere asso- trying to show how the materials that are used by ciated with its surrounds. This is not just a matter these artists themselves produce a dynamics of existence of simply being in relation to a dense and all- and a mode of attention which is always more than encompassing ‘environment’ of objects, although that human and which writes back on to humanity – under- is important – by one estimate we currently encounter stood as a transindividual complex – diﬀerent notions 20,000 artefacts over the course of our lives (Bloom, and practices of ‘human’ as an interactive experience of 2005). It is that human being requires a degree of asso- the call and response of outstinct, rather as it turns out ciation with the object world such that the objects asso- that it is the facial expressions of therapists that are the ciated with practices themselves guide what is possible best predictors of potential suicides amongst patients, and what can impinge on the body, redeﬁning what the not those of their patients (Stern, 2010). body is as they do so. Not only is the body dependent upon prostheses produced by its dependence upon tool- being arising out of bipedality and the subsequent Finally, there are some brief conclusions development of the free hand but, in turn, these tools To summarize, new forms of how the world is being allow the surroundings to be redeﬁned and made into produced are being taken in, new forms of identiﬁca- diﬀerent kinds of wholes or assemblages, or what tion, empathy and internalization which arise out of the Sloterdijk (2011b) calls ‘spheres’, each with their own reengineering of what these processes can mean as a particular ‘atmo-spheres’. In other words, the body can result of the growing preponderance of things which become a moveable feast, redeﬁning the world around also function as links in chains of data and the new it and becoming redeﬁned in the process as it makes material surfaces that they engender. As we shall see, diﬀerent calls to the various ensembles of objects that and as the example of therapy portends, this means make up a second epidermis and, more widely, that thinking anew transference and countertransference as resound in various ways. They become a part of the means of judging commitment to ‘going on being’, to scaﬀold of an outbuilding which is also an inbuilding, the onﬂow of vitality (Stern, 2010). After all, things do by ‘separat[ing] the human from the pressure of the not provide us with a simple reproduction of the world environment, allow[ing] him to develop in a non- or even a translation: increasingly they stand on their adaptative way and prepar[ing] the world-opening of own even when they are close to our concerns – as new the human, that is, prepar[ing] his sensibility for what material surfaces they not only tug at these concerns is either spatially or temporally remote’ (Morin, 2012: but also they become concerns that are jointly held. 84). Those calls must perforce be made by using or They can provide a kind of surrogate intelligence, overcoming space. Space is not incidental, therefore, Thrift 5 but rather a vital part of what it is to be human: an there are no transcendent entities such as eternal enframing that allows the incubation of diﬀerent ways essences outside of dynamic interactions among of life by extending extension. Human being is about objects: as Bogost puts it, all objects equally exist but constructing surroundings in which such atmospheres they do not all exist equally. In this conception, as can be reliably conjured up and replicated. Perforce Whitehead would have it, sentience is merely a diﬀer- that must be partly a technical production but one in ence in degree, not in kind, and reality can exist inde- which technology is no longer seen simply as a means of pendently of human thought and, indeed, of humanity domination but as a means of carrying and more generally since no object is the ground of all the cooperation. others: human beings are ‘rather objects among the Human sociality therefore always co-evolves with various types of objects that exist or populate objects and space that provide more or less room to the world’ (Bryant, 2011: 20). become something else. If that is the case, then social In turn, the idea of life as an exclusive domain is instincts need to be rethought as not simply ending with under assault. The very intelligibility of what we the organic body and as much more diverse than the regard as alive and aware comes into question since few reﬂexes that are often cited as typical of human everything can be alive ‘but none of it is alive in any instinct. ‘Human’ groupings are always and everywhere naturalistic, let alone humanistic, sense of the term’ made up of objects and spaces, as well as bodies, and (Thacker, 2011: 268). As Thacker (2011) makes clear, each can substitute for, and extend, the other. They are ‘life’ has always been a polyvalent concept and it is not reliant upon outstincts which act as permanent appel- at all clear that it can be dealt with in the classical lants in the world. Aristotelian way of ascribing an ascending pyramid of Equally, recent work stresses that objects and spaces complexity and awareness or that, in some cases, that is also have their own presence, outwith human being. a useful descriptor at all. What if life cannot be reduced Such an insight chimes with the recent rise in philoso- to biology, for example? phy of so-called speculative realism, a movement If the existence of disasters, pandemics and nonhu- intended to combat the anti-realist strain in philosophy man networks tells us anything, it is that there is which, although it gave considerable attention to such another world in addition to the world that is there notions as text, culture, consciousness and power, as ‘for us’. This is not simply a world in itself, and neither what constitutes the world, is it a world that is destined for us – rather, it is a world that presents us with the very limits of our ability to gave us less a critique of humanity’s place in the world comprehend it in terms that are simply that of the ‘in than a less sweeping critique of the self-enclosed itself’ or the ‘for us’. It is a world ‘without us’ ... It is Cartesian subject. Humanity remains at the centre of the challenge of thinking a concept of life that is foun- these works, and reality appears in philosophy only as dationally, and not incidentally, a nonhuman or unhu- the correlate of human thought. .. . In the face of the man concept of life (Thacker, 2011: xv). looming ecological catastrophe, and the increasing There is one more point to make. It is possible to inﬁltration of technology into the world (including partially agree with the work of authors like Tuomela our own bodies), it is not clear that the antirealist pos- (2007) who see sociality as arising out of a ‘we-mode’ ition is equipped to face up to these developments. which is constructed out of a ‘we-perspective’ based on (Bryant et al., 2011: 3) groups. But there is also a partial contrast with this strand of work, in that whereas Tuomela equates this Not surprisingly, the speculative (in the sense of trying we-perspective with the realm of the ‘social’ and with to get at something beyond the concerns of the critical intersubjectivity, it is increasingly common to see or linguistic turns) realist turn has fuelled work on human being not as a set of individuals joined by objects and spaces which cannot be read to death. In lines of social force in various kinds of groups but as its earliest guise, this meant movements like actor-net- an exercise which is based on diﬀerent combinations of work theory in which objects exist as elements of col- spatial arrangement which in turn produce diﬀerent lectives but more recently it has involved the work of concepts, percepts and aﬀects. This is the ‘group sub- authors like Graham Harman (2011) who argue that ject’ view of authors like Guattari referred to above. In objects have a life of their own and that the landscape these depictions of a ﬂat human being constantly being remade in the moment and as the moment, spatial of things must be imagined in a way that does not necessarily imply human access to the phenomenal arrangements can no longer be considered as incidental. realm in the shape of thought, memory, mind, fantasy, Rather, human being consists of a series of interlocking dreams and such like. There is a ﬂat ontology where existential territories or planes or landscapes in which a objects of all sorts and at diﬀerent scales equally exist sense of existence can be produced via various spatial without being reducible to other objects and where constraints, limits and coordinates which act both to 6 Big Data & Society immunize and to infect: space acts in many ways – as a History provides no sort of guide: there is nothing to magniﬁer, as a focus, as an anchor, as a boundary, as go on except keeping on going on. an enclosure and as an attractor. Various transindivi- dual groupings, ensembles and machines are the pri- Fast forward cities mary generators of these territories and interiority establishes itself at the crossroads of these processes, So far, all this probably sounds like a very theoretical crossing many territories, usually acting to conﬁrm way of approaching the technics of sociality. So it is the state of things but every now and then setting up time to try to ground it in the concrete developments of on its own account. which it is both symptomatic and in which it is being What is interesting is that animal ecology has all worked out in practice. For what is at issue is a way of kinds of descriptors of these kinds of transindividual establishing an appropriate vocabulary which can begin spaces, collective nouns like herds, troops, ﬂocks, to describe outstinctive forces, forces which are strug- colonies, shoals, swarms, dances, mobs, murders, gling to be born, which constitute new presences in the prides, clutches, scries and goodness knows what world but which are diﬃcult to describe or, indeed, else, each with their own distinctive spatial behav- name (Lofgren and Wilk, 2006). But if there is one iours. But the equivalent terms in human ecology thing that is surely correct it is that we currently lack are usually reduced to impoverished notions like race a complete vocabulary of emergence (and its corres- or tribe which usually involve some form of spatial ponding noun ‘emergency’ understood as a sudden determinism, even though it would be possible to emerging (Solnit, 2013)) with which to describe all argue that human beings are hive entities, mammals manner of things that are happening in the world, become insects which would not – cannot – keep still and especially the capacities of things which are both (Raﬄes, 2010). What if we could capture more man-made and have begun to escape that making and dynamic notions of form in which space is the result even take on a kind of ascendancy (Braidotti, 2013). At of tidal forces which may suddenly swirl, surge and the same time, we need to avoid a series of cliche´ s, such swash in abrupt or drawn-out, pliant or emphatic, as the revolt of the machines, which serve to distance us regular or irregular ways which close oﬀ or perpetuate from the need to think. Lessons like those taught by arousal? What if they could accelerate and crest, swell Simondon (2011) about complex collectives and about and burst, surge and fade in ways which link motion beings being ontologically diﬀerent in degree but not in and form? Territory still exists but it becomes a part substance are important here: ‘it is a general problem of of perpetually renaturalized movement and can be modern thought that a substantial diﬀerence between constantly redeﬁned and shifted. life (natural object) and nonlife (physical object) is pre- To summarize the argument so far, in this paper, I sumed as a point of departure’ (LaMarre, 2013: 90). want to argue that sociality must be seen through the But as the developments we shall examine only under- prism of the spaces of landscape as a set of ‘outstincts’ line, that is a false and unnecessary distinction which which change with the make-up of that space. These assumes that there is such a thing as passive alteration outstincts are not based on simple reﬂex so much as on the part of humans and objects or objects and on combinations of human bodies, objects and spaces humans. working to promote breathable atmospheres, coupled Nowhere is this state of aﬀairs clearer than in the with the basic human cognitive capacity of recursion: case of cities, for most contemporary commentators that is a procedure that can repeat itself indeﬁnitely to would agree that something is currently happening in create thoughts but is more than repetition or iteration the sociality of the urban realm but that they are not since it can embed thoughts within thoughts. In turn, quite sure what it might be – with the result that they extended empathy and cooperation become possible, tend to fall back on existing cliche´ s. That something but an empathy which can take in a wider universe stems from the continued growth of cities to the point than the standard account of sociality and one which where the urban realm is becoming the majority human can allow nonhuman ‘others’, including the new mater- – and object – experience. Thus, cities and metropolitan ial surfaces generated by a profusion of data, to have regions make up only 2% of the world’s land surface their say. This kind of generativity means very few out- but are already lived in by 53% of its inhabitants, a stincts are long-term: I assume that what we call life is ﬁgure which is expected to reach 75% by 2050. These perpetually dynamic and emergent. Classically, this was urban areas currently account for 80% of global eco- Nietzsche’s insight (cited in Braver, 2007: 125) contra nomic output, between 60 and 80% of global energy Hegel: ‘the sole fundamental fact is that [the world] consumption and approximately 75% of carbon diox- does not aim at a ﬁnal state’, but it is equally the insight ide emissions (Burdett and Sujdic, 2007, 2011). The 21st of William James (1913) and many other authors too – century is witnessing the great and ﬁnal decanting of the world is an exercise of ‘things in the making’. humanity out of rural areas into the ‘arrival cities’ Thrift 7 (Miller, 2012; Saunders, 2011) and so into full urban into being, producing great chains of energy (Morris, citizenship but with full economic citizenship trailing 2010). By the middle of the 19th century, various sys- far behind: 33% of urban dwellers now live in tems for the supply and processing of food and other ‘slums’. Soon ‘almost no .. . living soul will live outside essentials had crystallized and were already going city walls’ (Serres, 2013: 5). global. Flows of information were becoming more But there is a more general point to be made than coherent too, whether through the medium of the news- simply reeling oﬀ these kinds of statistics to show that paper and the telegraph or even lighting: during the soon human life will be urban life and that the two 19th century Britain became the ﬁrst gaslit society, terms are rapidly becoming interchangeable. It is that with electric lighting arriving subsequently in 1878. number and concentration of population mediated by Lighting produced signiﬁcant dividends for the popu- all kinds of technologies of transport and communica- lation as a whole such as new practices of safe trans- tion produces a diﬀerent kind of urban medium. This is portation and private reading, as well as institutional a qualitative as well as a quantitative shift. As import- eﬀorts to collect knowledge. Contrary to the presump- antly, these populations are not just bound together by tion that greater illumination only helped to create a this infrastructure but begin to merge with it, producing society controlled by intrusive surveillance, the new a constantly shifting template of concepts, percepts and radiance often led to greater personal freedom and aﬀects in which human beings can no longer be con- was integral to the development of modern liberal soci- sidered as the only actors. Rather than acting as simple ety and urbanization (Joyce, 2003; Otter, 2008). That relays, what might be called the world of things (within said, the British government signiﬁcantly expanded its which I include the material surfaces made possible by power to observe and monitor its subjects, whether Big Data) comes to occupy a central place, conﬁrming through developments in the science of perception the tenets of speculative realism but no longer in and lighting technologies or through associated prac- abstracto. Cities contain many diﬀerent demographies tices of urban design and government administration or of things as well as people and other organic beings, indeed through new means of exact visualization like tied to each other in manifold ways. Now more than the maps that enabled increasingly sophisticated under- ever, cities are our partners in the world, something standings of evolving networks: ‘in the end, almost that we constructed but which are now more than us. everything got mapped: air travel, the Travelling Post Oﬃces, the location of letterboxes, the walks of post- Human sociality has become urban sociality. What we have understood as instinct becomes able to be per- men, bicycle routes, tidal activities – the list is seemingly ceived as outstinct which has always been present but endless’ (Joyce, 2013: 127). In other words, just as the is now able to be sensed and recorded in ways which language of the streets began to sound modern in have never before been open to inspection. Dickens’s novels because of the modernization of the Indeed, as cities have aggregated so have they started streets (Grossman, 2012), so these systems produced to gain their own emergent forms of agency, their own not just quantitative but also qualitative change ‘capa-cities’. They can no longer be thought of as through the power to observe and monitor subjects, simply sums of their parts, if they ever could, or as through the ability to open up new spaces of movement collections of externalities. Cities are more than collec- and interaction and through the growth of associated tions of ﬂows channelled by their various infrastruc- imagined communities. tures: they are not just a set of assembled entities. But, in the fantasy writings of conjoint authors like That would be to mistake the level of properties for H G Wells or H P Lovecraft or Olaf Stapledon or the level of capa-cities and so to mistake entities that David Lindsay, it is already possible to see premon- can only be enhanced or diminished for relationalities. itions of something new and quite diﬀerent again, a Rather, cities are means of revealing new things, means teeming imagined city controlled by reactions to each of fostering and animating ramiﬁcations which are cen- and every other’s reactions but also involving a strong trifugal in nature. The new technologies that now bind mystical undercurrent of a Manichean struggle with cities together make this kind of relationality easier to echoes back to at least Blake. In the 1970s and 1980s, initiate and conjugate because they are premised on these kinds of 1920s visions began to take on a more modes of control which open up to let things happen coherent form as information and communications and then try to modulate the results in a never-ending technologies started to hold sway, making links in cycle of call and response (Thrift, 2011). ways which would not have been possible before, Of course, cities have been linking up in such a way thereby producing the idea of a ‘digital’ and then an as to begin to realize this vision of a form of sociality ‘intelligent’ city which depended upon a parallel net- running on the principle of ramiﬁcation for some time worked urban architecture. In the 1990s and 2000s now. Cities began to coalesce when the ﬁrst concen- more and more writers made the claim that cities trated systems of transport and communication came were becoming ‘smart’, a claim that was seen as a 8 Big Data & Society step on from the notion of an intelligent city in that not just routinely mine vast amounts of data but then burgeoning information and communications technol- intervene to make it more relevant to matters of com- ogy networks manifested themselves as a kind of ner- mercial concern by taking in activities like design and vous system because of their readiness to face constant publishing that were formerly thought to be separate in change (McCullough, 2013). order to maximize ‘touch points’, using modelling tech- And that change is happening in however a piece- niques which are themselves constitutive and start to meal way. To begin with, cities are becoming 24 hour produce sentience. Equally, the labour of description operations. That was always the case to varying degrees requires new means of representation. The rapid rise but what is diﬀerent now is that the strong rhythmicity of new means of visualization is a particularly good in activities that used to characterize the temporal index of this. Visualization is an attempt to produce a structure of cities is declining. Second, cities are con- new visual medium, not just a set of tools (Yau, 2013). stantly boiling. They are linking and delinking, con- It is an art that converts number to sign and which necting in ways which allow ties to become temporary must be a visualization of not only the raw data but nodes, most especially as wireless extends its grip also the rules that allow that data to be transformed (Mackenzie, 2010). Third, cities are streaming. (Galloway, 2012). As an art, it is still in its infancy but Interfaces are becoming representations of time as what it oﬀers is the means to see data as a material able well as space (Galloway, 2012; Gelertner, 2013) as het- to exist at many diﬀerent levels of granularity with dif- erogeneous, real-time streams of content become the ferent levels of depth and resolution, just like other norm. Each person will be able to keep tabs on many materials. Indeed some commentators have likened streams of content at once, whether the most mundane, data visualization to the process of cooking, enabling like tracking a parcel, or the most esoteric, like religious new materials to be conjured up via multiple techniques observances. The city and its inhabitants will tell their (see Manovich, 2013). own stories made up of time-based content endlessly The second tendency is that data become self-refer- being updated. ential as calculation becomes increasingly performative. Now there is talk of cities becoming ‘sentient’ which A good example is provided by code (Amoore, 2011). can be seen as another step on again. This is an epi- The rules of association between data are themselves stemic claim that deserves closer attention, not least constitutive, derivatives of diﬀerent kinds of data which then become primary, often through various because what ‘sentient’ consists of is rarely speciﬁed exactly. But care needs to be taken: the kind of sen- means of data fusion (Manovich, 2013). These deriva- tience that cities can manifest is based on the technical tives are modulated norms which infer what a popula- possibilities inherent in the internet: these are based on tion might be, which deal in proclivities and correlations rather than causes, on a surface which potentialities rather than attempting to enclose and dis- allows diﬀerence to be continuously registered, on a cipline (Foucault, 2007). That means that they can procession from the past into the future, and on perfect work in unexpected directions and with suﬃcient free recall (Esposito, 2013b). play that they might be thought of as a kind of sen- Currently, ﬁve of the tendencies that began to be tience without any deep understanding. Rather, they manifested in embryonic form during the 1970s and remain on the surface, making correlations and meas- 1980s have begun to coalesce and, in turn, produce urements continually emerging without any need for something that might be described as beginning to resolution. More generally, second-order observations approach sentience, albeit of this speciﬁc kind. The become more and more dominant: movement is not ﬁrst and most obvious of these ﬁve tendencies is the explained by reference to the world but rather by ref- sheer prevalence and profusion of Big Data (Mayer- erence to observation and its structures, which oﬀer Schonberger and Cukier, 2013). But it is not so much data not on how the world is but on how others observe the profusion of data which is at issue, in a world where it. Thus searches, to provide just one example, do not one social media company, Zynga, can already generate only generate information but themselves constitute ﬁve terabytes (the equivalent of about 1.5 million song new information (Esposito, 2013a). ﬁles) of data on customer clicks each day. Data scale Then, as a third tendency, there is the issue of what and richness is now taken for granted. It is what comes can communicate with what. In contemporary cities, after that now strikes home. What is at issue is the new forms of machine-to-machine interrelation have labour of description which entails new kinds of ana- been brought about by the rise of collective automa- lytical intensity. That issue will aﬀect all the spheres of tion. For example, take just the example of the urban urban society. Take the urban economy as one exam- economy. Business processes that once took place ple. As marketing becomes pervasive so ‘marketing is between humans are executed electronically ‘in an going to become a much more science-driven activity’, unseen domain that is strictly digital’ (Arthur, 2011: as Watts (2011) would have it, an activity which will 1). Arthur (2011) calls this ‘conversing, triggering and Thrift 9 executing’ (p.2) a second economy of intelligent, auto- is moving towards gauging individual consumers’ reac- matic response which provides a ‘neural layer’ for the tions to advertisements and entering into conversations physical economy. with them about their choices (Economist, 2011). All kinds of gaming technologies are starting to react dir- Now this second, digital economy is not producing any- ectly to their customers through motion capture and thing tangible. It’s not making my bed in a hotel, or the consequent ability to move away from screens bringing me orange juice in the morning. But it’s run- understood as specialized interfaces. And increasingly, ning an awful lot of the economy. It’s helping architects through software designed to create greater ‘push’, it is design buildings, it’s tracking sales and inventory, get- becoming possible to directly model and intervene in ting goods from here to there, executing trades and choice, nudging it towards desired ends. Sensors can banking operations, controlling manufacturing equip- also work directly on the multitude of images which ment, making design calculations, billing clients, navi- they produce, making the world more plastic and mal- gating aircraft, helping diagnose patients and guiding leable. It becomes possible to write the world through laparoscopic surgeries. (Arthur, 2011: 3) ‘images’ produced by sensors and software in ways which were never possible when writing was associated The point is that a conversation is being conducted simply with print. For example, advertisers are now exclusively between the billions of things in cities and working with the possibilities aﬀorded by using facial is being endlessly reconﬁgured in ways which form a recognition systems to react to individual reactions to kind of sentience: more than half of internet traﬃc now sales propositions made on screen. comes from nonhuman sources (Urbina, 2013). Much Finally, there is the growth of ambient environments of these entities’ functioning lies without direct human in which data on the spaces of the city are continuously perception, precisely because it now bounds what that fed back in such a way as to produce awareness of perception is. But it can impinge on human perception locational context through processes like bounding when machines simulate human being. Thus, the rise of and tracking which depend upon giving every object a social bots and so-called persona management software location so that a constant and constantly changing is a widespread phenomenon which means that much of map of the city, drawn in many dimensions, can be the interaction which appears to be with and between produced through active participation in emergent net- humans is actually with computational machines works: ‘rather than a map that informs how one moves (Isaacson, 2011; Urbina, 2013). Thus, as little as 35% through a city, one’s movements inform the map’ of Twitter accounts may be actual people and many (Shepard, 2011: 26). In turn this production of perva- social online networks are similarly tending to the sive space, currently typiﬁed by Google Glass, leads to machinic: on one estimate, within two years 10% of cooperation between component data streams in order activity on these networks will be social bots. to etch new derivative spaces which again form a kind A fourth tendency is the expansion of sensors. At of sentience. Space is not just loaded up with data cor- one time, sensors used to be based simply on the idea relates but becomes an adaptive feature of how space is of a trigger occasioned by movement or signal. But that and, in turn, provokes new understandings and activ- is no longer the case. Sensor technology works in many ities: ‘we are now beginning to see social practices sensory registers, including touch (as in various forms emerge by which location-based or context-aware of haptic technology), smell (as in electronic noses) and media and information are consumed en-masse in sound (as in the developing technology which allows urban environments and, in turn, how urban space is very thin microphones and speakers to be placed transduced in the process’ (Graham, 2013; Shepard, pretty well anywhere) and is being loaded into all 2011: 25). In particular, the growth of urban operating manner of everyday objects (down to and including systems presages a time when it will be possible to the most mundane objects like eating utensils). monitor and manipulate not only large-scale events Sensors are also becoming a mobile sensorium, most like traﬃc ﬂows (for example, by guiding cars to especially through the introduction of drones which empty parking space or analysing room vacancies in are likely to become a pervasive technology. But, order to minimize energy budgets) but also local phe- most importantly of all, sensors are starting to actively nomena such as the temperature sensors inside individ- shape their environment. For a long time, it has been ual rooms or the location of small children. To give just known that sensors do not just interact with but one example, Urban OS, an oﬀshoot of Living PlanIT, actively change their environment but this insight has has developed a single platform which is able to now been extended in several ways. For example, sen- manage the entire urban landscape by connecting up sors are becoming elements in systems which can assess all the devices in a city (Moskvitch, 2011). It includes the reactions of what they sense. Thus, advertising, an extensive set of application services, inevitably through the medium of screens which include cameras, dubbed PlaceApps, which will act as the urban 10 Big Data & Society equivalent of apps on smart phones: indeed, in time, it they are underpinned by code using data as fuel, is intended that the apps on smart phones would be might be thought of as akin to sentient beings, in that linked into the system. To begin with such systems they are able to produce some level of transference are being built into prototype new towns like PlanIT through correlation and measurement. As Fuller Valley in Paredes in Portugal or New Songdo in (2011: 181) puts it: South Korea which will have millions of sensors embedded in their fabric, each sensor sending a Cities can be characterized as a concentrated process of continuous stream of signals to an urban operating the gathering, enfolding and dispersal of (speciali- system which will run the town with minimal human zed) ... spaces. In becoming strange themselves through intervention. such specialization and congruence, they create mutant However, PlanIT Valley and its ilk are only one elem- ﬁtness landscapes for forms of intelligence to interpret, ent of what it means to occupy an ambient environment. cohabit, or to disperse from. More generally, one can see a general tendency towards the possibility of capturing, storing and manipulating Through a process of transduction which allows the movement. As Portanova (2013) points out, what we gradual propagation of an activity, ‘basing that propa- can see as coming together in cities are a mixture of ser- gation on a structuring of the ﬁeld enacted from place ried data ﬂows, new technologies which both generate to place’ (Stengers, 2011: 292), a kind of speculation and work with these ﬂows, sensors that detect and cap- about existence becomes possible born out of the per- ture movement, and the bodies of movement knowledge plexities that abound as diﬀerent armatures of the city which inform all of these developments, whether they be come into contact with actual situations. After all, game design or dance, medical or traﬃc engineering, many modern programs do allow for some degree of performance or air traﬃc control, special eﬀects or ani- learning and there are all kinds of capacities for inter- mation, military or athletic training, amusement park ference in activity which create an appetite for new obli- design or installation art, or pictographic languages gations. Thus, the degree and type of awareness of an like sign or facial or gesture recognition. Thus ‘environ- environment that a city manifests can increase as its ment’ no longer describes a set of static co-ordinates environment is progressively augmented by more and forming a frame within which bodies move but a con- more information and communications technology, at tinually changing tableau in which bodies appear to have least in the Whiteheadian sense in which all entities motility and which therefore has the ability to redeﬁne have at least some degree of consciousness but that itself in real time. The ﬁxed frame becomes a continually degree varies markedly. unfolding, ﬂuid and convective map of diﬀerent kinds I hope that I have made it clear that in describing such and rates of movement in which signs standing for just a city of sentience, it is imperative not to understand one thing become portmanteau signs which blend sentience as equivalent to human intelligence. But together many diﬀerent things by virtue of having the there are two caveats to be made. One is that human same location, if only for a brief period of time: the same intelligence is itself a partial thing. It hardly bears repeat- event can be many things at the same time. Techne can ing that the bulk of human intelligence is automatic and no longer be thought of as a substrate, as a set of arti- does not involve conscious cognition. Human intelli- facts, but rather as a set of techniques which are con- gence is designed to repeat practices which are an amal- tinually unfolding: the ‘environment’ has to be gam of physical and cultural capacities and cognition is understood as continually taking form, like an ecology an important part of the variation of these practices, but (Galloway, 2012; Manning, 2013). it is still only one element of their constitution. Then, Whatever the case, some considerable care needs to there is a sense in which objects themselves already be taken in making claims to an urban sentience. The think, at least in the sense that they render one another. claim is not being hoisted that the city is aware of itself ‘Feeling-by-nervous system’ is not the only kind of sen- in any human way. Rather, the claim is being made sation and we cannot make the assumption that the way that, as computational objects have developed, cities that we think is the way that all things have to think if are able to take on new forms of vitality (Stern, they are to be worthy of the term: that would be to repeat 2010), forms of vitality which can develop over time. the classic correlationist conceit (Bogost, 2012). In other Perhaps one way in which we might consider this ques- words, we need to be careful to understand that sen- tion is precisely through looking at how vitality devel- tience is always a partial and emergent thing, one ops when computational things are explicitly included which can take a number of forms. in the contours of experience. Then it becomes clear What is much more problematic is to move from a that it has only gradually arisen, line by line, algorithm simple sentience to the quality of awareness, a quality by algorithm, program by program. Cities are full of a which can take many forms. Here I will concentrate on whole new layer of emergent entities which, because just one of these forms, namely spatial awareness, Thrift 11 because being able to ask ‘where?’ is such a basic elem- presentation and more as a continuous streaming pres- ent of what might be mooted as awareness. ence. Increasingly, after all, all manner of software is Increasingly, many objects in cities and, indeed, cities moving away from what might be called simple nouns themselves, do have an ability to sense their environs, an and investing in verbs on the premise that machines awareness which is cumulative because this new-found must convert to doings, to practices. That means invest- spatial awareness allows the construction of second- ing much more eﬀort into generating and investigating order representations of what it is that is being crowds of vague feelings, rather than direct causality, represented. Of course, many of the ways in which that crowds which ‘testify, simultaneously and inseparably, is done are severely reductionist (not that reductionism to a body and to things’ (Stengers, 2011: 401) and to is necessarily a sin or does not work as a means of what is held in common between them. And, equally, sensing) but not all responses are necessarily of this type. that means a wholesale mixing of spatial genres, rather As any basic theory of aﬀects would have it, all like the mixing that occurred when Courbet and then beings have some spatial awareness, however limited, Manet mixed portrait painting (understood as a dis- of their environment. But that is fundamentally diﬀer- tinctive physiological and psychological likeness) with ent from having a sense of identity in the way that genre painting (understood as scenes from contempor- human beings think of themselves as occupying and ary life) with the net result that the divide between being in a space. Most recent research suggests that human beings and objects became redistributed. this ability is linked to the development of language So perhaps there is a sense in which objects in cities which allows the combination of diﬀerent domains – and cities themselves can have certain kinds of aware- including the most basic domains of all, ancient systems ness of themselves en masse, including a recast spatial shared at least in part with other animals such as object awareness. As each of the ﬁve tendencies set out above representation, approximate number sense and geomet- links up in a cat’s cradle of relationality, so a kind of ric navigation – which, in turn, feed back into enhanced self-awareness is able to come into being in the sense cognitive spatial abilities. Perhaps the most revealing that an authoring is taking place, an authoring which is research has been undertaken by Elizabeth Spelke and emergent and therefore hesitant but still shows ﬂashes her co-workers (Hyde et al., 2011; Lee et al., 2010; of self-organization. Such authoring is no doubt still a Spelke et al., 2010), who have underlined not only the rare and partial condition but it is possible to argue that importance of geometric and landmark cues, both out of analytical intensity, the emergence of data direct and indirect, in wayﬁnding but also the import- derivatives, machine-to-machine conversation, the pro- ance of spatial language in integrating these cues into fusion of sensors and a general locatability, cities are representations. Spatial-navigational experience by gradually awakening from their slumbers and gaining a itself is not suﬃcient, not least because the human limited outstinctual self-awareness: ‘not quite the brain, like the brain of animals more generally, does ‘‘smart’’ city we’ve been promised by techno-evangelists, not construct mental maps in the sense of Euclidean yet not exactly dumb either’ (Shepard, 2011: 31). geometric maps of the environment but navigates Thus, cities can now start to resemble not just col- according to a combination of the shape of the sur- lectives made up out of many entities each with their rounding surface layout and so-called beacon guidance, own modes of inhabitation and sociality, but entities in that is by learning the relationship between a goal and a their own right with ‘something in mind’, able to visual feature, thus allowing a rough and ready reorien- become part of outstincts arising out of a dynamic dia- tation when required. But we need to be careful. Cities’ logue with the myriad parts of their ecology. But it is no spatial awareness might take a diﬀerent form from longer the old organic metaphor that we must call human awareness and still qualify as awareness. Thus, upon, or even a neural one, in order to understand cities might come to have a spatial awareness modelled this unfolding and shaping. Rather we might see this on other diagrammatic models of cognition rather than ‘natural world’, to repeat Ackroyd’s phrase, as the ﬁrst human ones, simply because of their ability to apply glimpses of a process of evolution of a topographic much more distributed processing power. And they sensing/sensibility (Sinclair, 2011), a spatial awareness might be able to display a certain form of emergent based upon the kind of diagrammatic thinking outlined cognitive spatial ability, not least because of the vast by Mullarkey (2006) in which diagrams, as instances of number of diﬀerent events and objects they are able to ‘almost matter’ as Bergson called them, are a part of the apprehend – with their unexpected correlations and ser- ‘external mind’ wherein shifting perceptual inferences endipitous circumstances made plainer by new forms of are laid bare, inside and outside are combined, and mathematics like extremal combinatorics. the between is able to be shown (Munster, 2013). This might be a particularly germane hypothesis if What we see is a new set of spatially variable sur- the awareness of space was being formulated with a faces arising which are malleable, which contain data diﬀerent goal in mind, not so much as a time-speciﬁc about themselves, and which link to other data, often in 12 Big Data & Society continuous ways. Data become a material (Kuniavsky, interactive maps which reveal more and more possible 2010): ‘information processing no longer deﬁnes the descriptions/existences. In other words, compression identity of an object, but is one of many materials produces pressures to produce new lands, new living from which objects can be made’ (McCullough, 2013: spaces, by redeﬁning room in what has become a ‘con- 198). New kinds of ‘cooked’ alloy can appear, in other stant earthly present’ (Sloterdijk, 2012; Thrift, 2012). words, which combine data and other materials in new So we arrive at a diﬀerent kind of ‘sphere’, a city in ways and, just like cooked food, release more energy which the dissipative coherence of a self-organized (Wrangham, 2009). Three-dimensional printing, holog- activity machine rules by pre-empting the event in a raphy, robotics all presage a time in which surfaces can continual game of stone-scissors-paper (Sloterdijk, no longer be thought of as backdrop. Data become 2011a; Stengers, 2011). surface becomes material becomes surface becomes Then, third, there is an increasing awareness of a data. Just as cells have been found to have moments physical world constantly chattering to itself, a mon- when they make decisions, however attenuated, about strous externality (Sloterdijk, 2011) which humanity their environments, so these new materials have extra can never fully know except as a phenomenon which options in deciding where and what to do. What starts is at the edge of awareness, the contemporary correlate to come into existence are means of producing surfaces of the spirit world of yore able to ‘talk back’ through its that can mould, meld, and age, and create infrastruc- ability to galvanize, synchronize and synchorize. The tures which are both utilities and their products, which object world bleeds into the human world through are lived in, not on, which can combine situation and new articulations and indeterminacies as the physical response and so can provide shade and nuance. world is given the resources with which to speak, In other words, an awareness starts to arise which both to humanity and to itself. This process sets in invents the means to submit to its own requirements, to motion a ‘progressive redistribution in which what activate its own activation. Such an ontographic pro- were things of the soul are shifted to the sphere of cess of continuous escalation (Sloterdijk, 2012) depends things and the previously subjective into the scope of upon three diﬀerent processes. First, and most obvi- the objective’ (Sloterdijk, 2012: 177). ously, there is the growth of an anthropotechnic humanity which is irrevocably linked to the machinery A ‘great and monstrous thing’: Cities of information and communications technology. This is as ontographs a humanity which can no longer claim the illusion of individuality (although it is still, of course, subject to In what follows, I want to speculate about what cities individuation). It works in swashes of ‘outstinct’, bun- might look and feel like in the future, perhaps 50 years dles of habits nurtured by the new urban spaces, hence, when data-rich materials have become an uncon- anchored by the peripheral awareness and continual sidered fact of life and the currents of outstinct they annotation provided by technologies of chatter and gain their energy from have begun to take on what touch, informed by the continual positioning that is might be thought of as a spiritual form, as least insofar the result of the new locational technologies which con- as it promotes a kind of animism in which everything tinually situate each person as moving dots on a map, counts as humanity (Melitopoulos and Lazzarato, and able to construct temporary objective subjectivities 2012). of desire and limitation which are no longer based on I will work according to a number of principles. purely intersubjective relationships but can go for a First, I take it that there is no such thing as modern transindividual wander within a wider compass than or modernity, just the continual roll-out of a messy and formerly. People and things can ‘author’ diﬀerent pock- often incoherent history embedded in active-contem- ets of the city in ways which are simultaneously indi- plative practices that can be remarkably open in how vidual and collective, the techno-cultural equivalent of they can proceed into the future and remarkably tribal the ‘cosmopolitan canopies’ made famous by Anderson in how they exist in the present. Thus, the idea that a (2004, 2011). point in time was ever reached when history transited to Second, and relatedly, there is what Sloterdijk has a post-traditional and secular state of aﬀairs is largely called ‘densiﬁcation’, a phenomenon which happens specious. Second, and correspondingly, I take it that when there is no longer an ‘unknown, unconnected out- many of the practices we now take to be business as side’ into which human existence is able to move and usual are no more or less rational than those of the thus humanity is forced to create new houses of being past. Just because they are surrounded by the raiment which make facets of the inside into new outsides of the internet and Big Data does not make them more (Morin, 2012). New layers of existence are created intelligent or intelligible. Indeed there are good reasons which arise out of the proliferations of connections to believe that practices like divination are more likely that are now possible, rather like the layers in modern to be found when there is so much data that rational Thrift 13 techniques alone are unable to provide reliable guid- certain properties such as cohesion, solidity, continuity ance: ﬁnancial markets are an obvious case in point and contact (Bloom, 2005). Stuﬀ comes loaded with (Esposito, 2011). Such practices of divination often these properties: without them stuﬀ does not qualify appeal to a higher logic without the ken of human as stuﬀ. So coded objects which may, in fact, be net- beings which requires its acolytes to be able to interpret worked phenomena will still be assumed to have these supernatural signs of order and uncover mysteries. qualities: in everyday life, at least, it is the only way we Third, I also take it that many practices are highly can think about them – as familiars if not as friends, as local but are arrayed as though they are general – organs if not as bodies. Then, there is the inevitable that is how practices gain their power. Thus, dualistic human tendency to ascribe causality to objects. Many notions like nature and culture that may seem to be authors have shown that human beings automatically indispensable might just be yet more waystations in anthropomorphize (see, for example, Guthrie, 1995). the history of history. There is no reason in principle We are hypersensitive to any sign of agency (Bloom, why other ways of proceeding which hold out for a 2005). Indeed we are so sensitive that we often see much greater reciprocity with nonhumans – like, for intention where none exists or, as Guthrie (1995: 5) example, animism or totemism (Descola, 2013) – puts it, when ‘the clothes have no emperor’. ‘We have might not again hold sway, yet alone other ontologies an unconscious suspicion that we are in the presence of like Shinto which we can see as forerunners of what is something alive or humanlike, which in turn stems from to come. Whatever happens, superstition, supernatural a strategic practice’ (Guthrie, 1995: 203). This explanation, ritual and revelation, mystery and magic, anthropomorphic trigger happiness means that we are will continue to continue. increasingly likely to see cities run by information and We cannot easily know how outstinctual capa-cities communications technology in intentional terms. As and ambitions – if that is the right word – that are Turkle (2010) has pointed out, this tendency towards captured in new data-rich materials might manifest over-attribution does not mean that we will necessarily themselves as sentience, not least because we have yet come to see cities and their constituent systems as alive to satisfactorily name either many outstincts or these but we are likely to ascribe awareness to them, if only in new code-heavy forms of materials. So what might the form of a rudimentary psychology of call and these stronger or weaker authorings consist of? Take response. If this is the case, it follows that cities are increasingly likely to both be and to be inhabited by just the case of coded cities understood as a whole. Should we think of them simply as projections of an artiﬁcial entities and, indeed, these entities, and cities autistic capitalist power in which all consequences are themselves, may well be ascribed some form of agency. externalized? Should we think of them as entities gath- They will join a parliament of things that are counted as ered around matters of prescribed concern and uninter- expressive projections of not just allusion but action ested in much that lies outside them? Should we see (Latour, 2005). But what form of agency might this be? them as tied into a kind of ethic of care by the need In other words, how will we regard these artiﬁcial to roll over systems which demand resilience? Should entities, if not now then in the near future as they settle we see them as having an increasingly involved dream further into our practices? Peter Sloterdijk’s linking of life, based on projection and retrojection of all the the spiritual and the objective can give us one clue. I searches, blogs and tweets that are continually being want to argue that what we are seeing is the birth of a generated? Should we see them as geometric beings, gathering of spirits like sprites, shades, demons and born out of constant requests for navigation? Should gods which are bundles of the kind of activated out- we see them as the result of newly found abilities to stinctual sociality I have been discussing. To make a represent arising out of advances in visualization? claim like this is to make a claim with a lot of baggage, There is no set format or single cause but what is to put it but mildly, although perhaps it is not quite as clear is that it is increasingly possible for these entities great a leap as all that, given the presence of a felt to learn – in however a limited way – to transform second city of ghosts and spirits that has lurked – and themselves, to author themselves either through emer- still lurks – beneath the surface of so many cities, pre- gent tendencies arising out of complexity or through ternatural entities which are used to both explain and simple happenstance which places them in unexpected ward oﬀ the frequent moments when infrastructure situations which require adaptation. fails. What seems clear is that as these tendencies/entities So, how might we think about these emergent forms settle in to practices of various kinds, so they will grad- of secular spirits, if that is not a contradiction in terms? ually be ascribed causal powers, whether they have They are conjunctive swirls of data and analysis with them or not. There are at least two reasons why this varying degrees of anchorage that have become more ascription is likely to happen. One is the fact that than just algorithmic presences, both intimate and human beings instinctively assume that objects possess impersonal at once, friends and familiars, certainly, 14 Big Data & Society but also bots. They are neither purely object nor purely software is producing location-speciﬁc communities human but rather an emergent mosaic of relations with which sail under the same set of interests, so-called their own capacities for recursive thought brought livehoods (see http://livehoods.org/), or is producing about through various kinds of inventive diagramming crowd-sourced digital representations of place (see (Munster, 2013). http://sitemapcom). Perhaps this new family of artiﬁcial entities is best Second, we might think of a set of general sprites thought of as sprites. The use of such a term means that only able to manifest in certain places. This is not we can play with three separate meanings. To begin exactly the same case as found for household gods. with, there is the sprite as it is understood in computer Rather, such spirits are able to manifest in places graphics, originally used to refer to a two-dimensional only if the conditions are right. Many ﬁgures of folk image or animation that is integrated into a larger wisdom are able to be powerful only under certain con- scene but nowadays usually applied more loosely to straints: vampires and werewolves or zombies or ghosts refer to various kinds of graphical overlays which result come to mind in modern cultures, or saints able to from combining background graphics. So a whole manifest if the conditions are right in older ones. stands for the parts and the parts for a whole. Then, In their modern manifestations, they are conjured up and following on from this basic diagram, there is the by aggregations of information reaching a critical mass, sprite understood as a source of sudden energy, such as rather like the object equivalent of ﬂash mobs or trend- the large-scale electrical discharges that occur high ing on Twitter, or by being wired in to speciﬁc loca- above thunderstorm clouds as luminous reddish- tions, as in the case of conglomerations of cameras, orange ﬂashes and spread quickly. Then again, a radio masts, and sensors of many kinds, and so on. sprite can be an elemental spirit. Thus, a sprite can Thus, the actual location of manifestation may be stand for a technological entity which is ascribed mobile and variable in strength. agency because it is connected to a larger whole, has Then, third, we might even see this sentience as the energy and so can do work, and is able to conjure up an birth of a shambling but increasingly integrated set of expressive presence, however circumscribed that know- godheads, arising out of a hesitant litany of diﬀerent ledge and power may be. interests which starts to coalesce – rather like the Then, what might a family of sprites include within Emperor Augustus’s reorganization of the small gods of Rome into a consolidated imperial religion which its ranks? First, there is the case of the sprites that used to inhabit many polytheistic cultures, diminutive converted a local patchwork of spirits into a consoli- spirits that were often based on a genius loci, the pro- dated dynamo of gods and religious observances which tective spirit of a place, and were concerned with both reﬂected and produced imperial power. These god- invoking eﬃcacious supernatural powers which heads might be coincident with particular cities but could, ‘with the proper approach, be enlisted in sol- equally they might arise out of coalitions based on mun- ving the practical problems of the day such as illness, dane cross-urban and cross-national interests like vari- frustration in love, and vengeance against one’s ene- ous kinds of infrastructure, formulas and bureaucratic mies and rivals’, that is they acted as ‘a central tool routines acting as generalized intervention machines. ordinary people used to address their everyday prob- Now I am well aware that this argument can sound lems’ (Knapp, 2011: 18). These spirits were believed to like the worst kind of science ﬁction hyperbole with its observe, protect and inﬂuence what happened within favourite trope of icy and all-powerful AIs. But it may be the boundaries of their location, which could be large that this kind of hyperbolic thinking (Sloterdijk, 2011) or small. They had limited scope and potency but can be reframed so that instead we see something more were still regarded as eﬃcacious within deﬁned limits akin to the naturalist Joe Hutto’s apparently faithful because of their power to make ordinary space sacred. wild turkey, ‘Turkey Boy’, an entity nurtured and cos- The spirit might be just a set of simple superstitions, seted by Hutto from birth but then, through the power folk explanations which stand behind the highly loca- of in(out)stinct suddenly wanting out of companionship lized ways of hearth and home which cities used to (see http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/my-;-as- refer to that are now being recaptured through digital a-turkey/introduction/7268/). landmarks. Or they might be much more complex Or we could see cities as becoming the preserve of aﬀairs. Homeric archaic-modern conglomerations of coded A range of these genius loci is being actively con- systems which are transforming into entities that are structed around us through the automatic representa- gradually gaining strength, their stern mien not so tion of place arising from programs that utilize spatial much unforgiving as without the conscience that search (Graham, 2013), or more speciﬁc programs that would enable them to grant forgiveness in the ﬁrst use the principles of phenomenological architecture or place, ‘their faces set like NO ENTRY signs’, to immersive experience. In particular, more and more quote Christopher Logue (Logue, 2001, 2003, 2005). Thrift 15 Such cities would act as though they are in a state of ‘all Playing with gods and playing gods: day permanent red’ (Logue, 2003), their systems con- Unleashing vagrancy tinually alert to criticality, and continually seeking out a kind of steaming, streaming transparency which But, at this point, it is important to note just what kind would make the present immanent (Harman, 2011). of a sentience I am describing here. It is chieﬂy a sen- Born out of the security needs of the modern city, tience occasioned by the existing lines of corporate and these cities would depend upon the dubious pleasures state power manifested in the security–entertainment of conﬂict, of fear and anticipation, of security and complex, what I have called elsewhere Lifeworld Inc. abandonment; ‘blood, blood like a car wash’: emer- (Lanier, 2013; Ngai, 2012; Thrift, 2011). Standard writ- gence would always be an emergency. The Homeric ings on the future of cities often conjure up a gleaming, theme echoes in other ways too: crystalline city in which collective automation delivers a kind of utopia or its exact opposite, a windblown wreck everything is speciﬁc and concrete. There is little of a dystopia. But there is no reason to think that this abstraction or speculation: here are these men, here will be the outcome and good reason to think that the are the gods, and here is the war; ‘high reliability fast result will be a lot more messy. As cases like the use of forward pain’. (Steiner, 2002: 15) mobile phones in African cities or the use of biometric smart cards for the identiﬁcation of slum dwellers and In other words, aﬀect is the same as action, the gods are the homeless in Delhi show, greater and greater com- frail and idiosyncratic entities – personal impersonals – puting power can co-exist with extensive poverty and their jealousies and vendettas have real (Sundaram, 2009). There is no reason to think that a consequences. growing urban sentience will necessarily deliver greater But it is important to understand that this kind of equality or comfort or freedom. It can rule over waste- military or paramilitary understanding of spiritedness lands as well as wealth, over shipwrecks of frivolity as – of ‘priests sharpening their steeples’ (Tempest, 2013: well as carefully husbanded projects. 19) – is only one side of the story. There is also the But if urban spirits and gods are emerging, if a kind imperative of the circus of entertainment to be wor- of technological bestiary within and of cities is appear- shipped. One only has to think of the crossover between ing – superlunary or not – then there are also all kinds militaristic and entertainment styles, especially in of frayed and loose outstinctual ends: things do not addictive practices of repeat play found in computer always join up. If there is a vocabulary we really ﬁnd games or, indeed, many modern practices of gambling hard to articulate, then it is surely this one. (Schull, 2012). The Homeric comparison works here too, Contemporary cities are full of loose ends and failures as war music (Logue, 2001; Oswald, 2011). This is where of control, both large and small. It is in the nature of an age of vocative and invocative poetry intended to be current modes of corporate and state governance that read aloud and jar as well as seduce meets the cinematic they remain unﬁnished attempts at taming the world visual tropes our culture is so familiar with, in the and that, in turn, means that there are all kinds of manner of a director like Kurosawa or, indeed, endless gaps, all kinds of opportunities for demonstrating television crime series – or even rap videos (Tempest, that the suspension of conﬁrmation can be incorpo- 2013). So the style of computer games, many forms of rated into occurrence (Stengers, 2011). It is clear that machine gambling, and the like is relentlessly ﬁlmic, syn- cities now provide as never before a background on copated and percussive: the lapses into present tense, the which to draw in order to make space legible in radic- quick cutting between scenes, the reliance on collage and ally diﬀerent ways as both prompts and processes montage, the emphasis on the visual and the panoramic, which outrun their own systems by maximizing unfore- the script notations and the instructions to camera, the seen implications and explications. All manner of ‘ﬂex- compaction and the general sense of prophecy, are all ible reconﬁgurations and ﬂuid accommodations’ familiars (Steiner, 2002). Here is a kind of romance of (Dourish and Bell, 2011) may be possible based on dif- the empirical played fortissimo: ‘King Agamemnon and ferent means of forging accompaniment. We might see Achilles face to face, Distinct as polygon and square’ such spaces of ramiﬁcation as diﬀerent kinds of edge (Logue, 2001: 21), both the language of aﬀect and emo- structure, as the informational analogue of arrival tion and force and the language of geometry: space come cities, we might see them as refuges that encourage alive. This is where the Romantic sublime goes to die and experiment, tinkering and other adaptive practices, we to be reborn as a ‘a netherworld of the digital realm – might see them as new ways to produce chaos out of where the gods of machines wander apocalyptic land- order by inciting new conceptualities, we might see scapes, communicating with each other and with what- them, in sum, as alternative means of establishing sen- ever programs preserve the individuals who built them’ tience based on new kinds of legibility, literacy and (Carrion-Murayari, 2011: 17). legitimacy (Dourish and Bell, 2011), representations 16 Big Data & Society that double as pathways to diﬀerent waves of outstinct to show and tell, cooked into surfaces which have and to an errant sociality. become materials like any other. This shift depends Current work on performance, on experiment (Lury upon the layering of visual indexes of change in the and Wakeford, 2013), on new modes of collaboration world, each layer vivid enough to be understood not which follow on from practices like the charette and the only as an expression in its own right but also as part of lab meeting (Rabinow, 2011), and, in general, work a constantly shifting landscape of forms. emanating from disciplines that see themselves as ser- In particular, what we can observe of the present ving as caretakers for a new sociocultural ecology, is time is an era in which forms are being rethought as meant to move towards such a vocabulary of urban journeys, as new kinds of wayshowing, as slaloms in occurrence and momentary concurrence by establishing which the hesitation of being, just oﬀ the beat, becomes territories in which new kinds of outstinct can be fos- an opportunity to prospect for new wake-up calls and tered by fashioning operative constructs, to use a term perhaps even new ways forward into regions unknown, of Guattari’s, which can act as a cartographic machine and in which sociality can be brieﬂy reﬁgured in the (Stengers, 2011) by honing the appropriate skills. It is same way as the dissonance occasioned by the use of too soon to know if this work will succeed in producing a semitone, so as to produce propitious moments. permanent overlays in which some of these loose ends Cadence and tempo become important as ways of tip- are joined up to produce new ways of cooking urban ping practices oﬀ balance, moving them slightly out of space (Morozov, 2013) but a particular characteristic of kilter so that it is possible to peer back at them and the present eﬄorescence of new data-rich materials – its start something opportune which exists over the border intensely visual character – gives some hope of help to (Mitchell, 2011). New combinations produce new pos- hand in the shape of new dispositions of space, light sibilities and so ‘rouze the faculties to act’, as Blake and colour. would have put it (Norvig, 1993). The eﬀect is spiritual For what we can see being put in place is a kind of in that the goal is ‘to render you sensitive to the passing correlate of the aesthetics of light and radiance of the worlds already hard upon you’ (Miller, 2013: 156) in ‘Empire of Great Brightness’ that characterized Ming the interests of transformation and not just informa- China (Clunas, 2007). There the world was known tion. Far becomes close, other becomes neighbour, as through a succession of ‘images’ but this word is inad- new practices gradually ﬁnd addressees (Sloterdijk, equate since, as Clunas points out, it does not grasp the 2012). way in which visuality and materiality were mixed Perhaps the best way of approaching the quick of together in objects which could move across discursive these experiments in producing new margins to practise boundaries through likeness of form. None of this is to through a militant hesitancy is via modern art and per- say that text was displaced. Rather, both in Ming and formance. So I will point to the work of three moments contemporary China, the written and the pictorial can in the authoring and thickening of space and the raising exist in a much closer relationship based on multiple of spirits which are attempts to change the terms of relationships of similarity. Indeed, in the elite practice trade by representing space in diﬀerent ways which of calligraphy they become a part of a series of brush- play with boundary and technology in order to create strokes which can mix up incident, anecdote and ana- not just diﬀerent kinds of cultural suspension and lysis in an ‘ecstatic naturalism’ (Mullarkey, 2006) in immersion, new bearings if you like, but new canopies which content is, at the extreme, immaterial. under which alternative urban cultures – new we’s A similar set of norms is becoming inscribed cur- made up of piles of unlikely ontographic juxtapositions rently which depends upon a contemporary aesthetics – can be nurtured and allowed to thrive precisely of light and radiance which is prominent in registers as because of their speculative diversity. All three exem- diverse as the internet and social networking, new plars of the attempt to invent such transindividual pol- means of programmable urban lighting, the glow of linations are technically sophisticated – part of the issue high-deﬁnition screens, and, most importantly, as a of the kind of art and performance I want to point to is means of re-objectiﬁcation with the aim of producing having the technical expertise to make meaningful a continuous reel of experience based initially upon a interventions via an acute ‘sociotechnical sensibility’ cinematic principle but now gradually spooling into (Fuller and Goﬀey, 2013: 15) – experiments in emer- something else which is continually both recording gence and in ‘data undermining’ (Munster, 2013) which use a mixture of new and old technologies to produce and being recorded, so producing a set of impres- sions/expressions which can masquerade as a kind of signposts towards alternative capacities, extra- continuity (Galloway, 2012). In other words, a shift is topographical sublimes, new modes of attention and taking place which uses an increasingly large number of caprice. They point the way towards the powers of visual forms – with the caveat that as in China, the the ‘great outdoors’ by constructing artefacts – whether written and the pictorial are increasingly intertwined – these be artworks or performances – that think in some Thrift 17 sense (Carter, 2009; Marcus, 2008; Meillasoux, 2009): for example, Joyce Kozloﬀ, Julie Mehretu, Ingrid objects that meditate on the nature of objects, materials Calame, Ingo Gunther, Stephen Walter and Chris that materialize in new ways. Theirs is precisely a form Kenny (see Abrams and Hall, 2003; Borner, 2010; of divination – of ﬁnding what is not necessarily being Mogel and Bhagat, 2008), and all manner of perform- looked for but which is seized on when it turns up as ance art which uses mapping as a leitmotif, for example proof of a new order. The religious undertones are those works documented in O’Rourke (2013). As I have placed there on purpose: as I have already argued, the pointed out elsewhere (Thrift, 2011, 2012), maps and task is to draw out the spirits of outstinct without tram- paramaps have become a basic unit of account – a pling all over them. means of building infrastructure, locating and wielding I want to start with the most obvious exemplar of inﬂuence, shaping identity and generally explicitating this edging forward (Munster, 2013): artworks and per- new lands that are then there for the taking in a densi- formances which reﬂect on their own constructedness – ﬁed world where continuous movement allows new a common enough theme. In particular, I want to point forms of space to exist. to the work of James Thie´ rre´ e. Thie´ rre´ e’s work is a But maps and paramaps can be used in other ways peripatetic mixture of live theatre, circus, dance, pup- too which make them into a means of questioning the petry and vaudeville – ‘strange mixtures, conversations world rather than just asserting it – as interrogative with theater, that don’t include text. I work with the maps (and (m)apps) of all kinds: so-called alternative unconscious a lot. Adding words would be an ego trip’ mapping (Dodge et al., 2009). The renaissance of map- (Thie´ rre´ e, 2010: 7). The work, then, has elements of all ping is clearly correlated with the rise of Big Data, the sorts of media but it cannot be reduced to any one of internet and global communication more generally as them. It is a melange of textures which is intent on so many of these pieces of map art, art which is producing eﬀects without ascribing them to any par- often associated with locative developments like ticular medium. But it rejects ﬁlm and computerized global positioning system or remotely sensed images imagery in favour of found objects and outmoded the- (Dear et al., 2011; Kurgan, 2013; O’Rourke, 2013), atrical machinery, thereby producing ‘moving sculp- show all too well. But this renaissance is also concerned ´ ´ ture, with comic moments’ as Thierree puts it. In with producing maps which can link performative what has become a classic trope, repeated all the way devices at the intersection of performance, dance and from War Horse to Cirque du Soleil to Olympics open- video with microactions which can be attached to ing ceremonies: larger-scale conceptions and actions in seamless ways which simultaneously erode what is meant by scale. in a ﬂying sequence near the end of the show, he Thus, a reenergized aerial vision (Haﬀner, 2013) is has the lighting swing round to show the stage coupled with attention to detail which is more than hands manipulating the ﬂying crane, with Raoul, just focusing up or down in an energetics which both oblivious, doing his soaring through a night-sky bit, precedes and generates movement (Munster, 2013). strapped to the other end. What the audience gets is a It is a choreographic improvisation and, like all layered reality. By showing the mechanics, the routine such improvisations, it is a highly skilled operation is doubly interesting, yet the magic remains intact (Manning, 2013). (2009). Such bifocal maps try to represent and simultan- eously quiz a restless world of and in movement and This may seem as if it is an exercise in machinic nostal- merge with a similar renaissance in the representation gia but I see it more as a means of interrogating the of information more generally which tries to rework fast-cut ﬁlmic and immersive reality which is becoming space, colour and indeed light (as in the work of artists dominant by showing its construction using media like James Turrell). They can therefore also be used as forms from another time. It is both a humanism that an ontographic means of reworking the familiar so as has been recast as an ‘object-ism’ and an attempt to to make it unfamiliar, not just renaming but reworlding produce an equivalent of a ﬁlmic slow dissolve which all kinds of spaces by making untoward juxtapositions, rejects any kind of apotheosis. In this sense, Thie´ rre´ e’s from borders to landﬁlls, from trade ﬂows to land- work resembles that of more consciously contemporary forms, from zones of conﬂict to battleﬁelds. We are artists, as it also does in its hunger to recast space as an asked to ‘rethink the map, the landmark we presumed we could locate, the direction we thought we knew how errant operator and objects as a variegated array of artiﬁcial spirits with their own forms of vitality and to follow’ (Manning, 2012: 183) in order to alter our impact. capacity to connect and relate the human and nonhu- The second exemplar is to be found in the work of man through data which are themselves a part of that that legion of artists who are using the map to inspire world – delegates and emissaries, ﬁgures and diagrams, new forms of mapping, diagramming and wayﬁnding: mediations and representations – rather than simple 18 Big Data & Society homonyms. They provide new ways of building and entertainment complex. There is no general pedagogy directing and showing and feeling outstinct. to be had here but rather the need to build spaces that The third exemplar is the work of Cory Arcangel. promote initiative and risk. Arcangel creates works in a range of diﬀerent media, Can the modest experiments with space I outline in including drawing, music, video, performance, as well the ﬁnal section of the paper conjure up alternative as the video game modiﬁcations for which he is perhaps spirits to the steely importunate gaze of so many cur- best known. He often uses the artistic strategy of appro- rent urban objects and reboot sociality by initiating priation, creatively re-using existing materials such as diﬀerent outstincts? It is too early to tell. But what dancing stands, Photoshop gradients and YouTube seems certain is that there is a pressing need for more videos, as well as electronic detritus like old pen plotters of them in a time which is often both frantic and listless: or turntables in order to create new works of art which ‘And shout, shout, shout, smashed shouted shout ﬁnd their artistic inspiration in these unlikely techno- Backward and forth across the sky ... ’ (Logue, 2001: logical archaeologies, often by hacking their code and 19). For what we need are spaces that think more than then rebooting them. Arcangel is ﬁve things in one. He loud and ultimately empty battle cries. We need spaces was one of the ﬁrst generation of digital hackers to that graft (Stengers, 2011). We need spaces that don’t enter the art world. But he also follows in a direct line up. We need spaces that breathe diﬀerent atmos- artistic line from the video installations of Bruce pheres. We need new slopes, strips, roads, tracks, Nauman or even painted abstractions like those of ridges, plains, seas (Logue, 2003). We need room. Mary Heilmann or Ellsworth Kelly. His reprogrammed computer games bear the imprint of the so-called Acknowledgements appropriation artists, like Richard Prince and Jack The author would like to thank Ash Amin, Matthew Zook, Goldstein. And he can be considered an heir of and Evelyn Ruppert for their extremely helpful comments on Andy Warhol (to whom he is often compared) in his this paper as well as participants in the LIFT conference in plundering of popular culture for artistic eﬀect. Finally, Marseilles. Arcangel can be seen as an archaeologist of the present, a discipline which has grown rapidly in recent years but to which Arcangel’s work gives a more playful touch. Notes These diﬀerent bloodlines coalesce in works of art 1. Though a similar kind of thinking can be found in which are somewhere between installations creating Simondon’s ruminations on the transindividual, ‘instant’ ambient spaces, diﬀerent means of writing Simondon remains at heart a humanist (LaMarre, 2013) movement and jokes. They attempt to author space which is why I stick with Guattari. 2. This kind of model of transmission should not be over- diﬀerently by twisting technology to new ends, as in done. As Watts (2001) shows, very often what looks like a Arcangel’s use of the ﬁrst crude 3D graphics to produce wildfire process of diffusion can be explained more parsi- a suspension of here and now which uses what we moniously as the effect of a particular item coming to the would now probably regard as archaic techniques to top of most-read on websites like YouTube, which implies write a new history of a kinetic which both lays bare a model of mass transmission closer to that of television. the infrastructure of digitalized space and, through 3. Interestingly, as Bogost points out, the geographer WM sophisticated hacking, attempts to produce new way- Davis used this term too. In Bogost’s use, the term is very showings (Gioni and Carrion-Murayari, 2012). close to some of Torsten Hagerstrand’s thinking on so- called contextual approaches. 4. http://www.ihabilis.com/ Conclusions 5. In other words, it is to identify and operate on states which There can be no easy conclusions to a paper that tries are not emotions, motivations, pure perceptions, sensa- tions, at least in the strict sense, direct cognitions, nor to formalize something that is in formation. What I acts through sorting and selection (Stern, 2010). have tried to suggest is that a new world is hoving 6. A word which is becoming outmoded because it means too into view which cannot be encompassed by old ideas much and too little. of sociality. It is a world in which new material sur- 7. Nor should we forget that many objects we think of as faces, which mix data with objects with bodies in all natural are just as artificial as anything that is produced kinds of ontographic combinations, are reworking in a factory. what we used to call the social as a set of outstincts. 8. This tendency can be illustrated in various ways: as the It is producing new hybrid beings out of spatial regis- expansion of apps, for example, or as the growth of new ters hitherto unthought of. The interesting thing is kinds of machinically inspired sign language like Kinect. whether we can make things more interesting and less 9. A term used by Simondon to indicate that a form of predictable by playing with these spatial registers, or thought is in operation which resists the need to choose just become part of the repeat play of the security– between matter and form. Thrift 19 10. I use the word awareness rather than consciousness Carrion-Muyarari G (2011) The body is a machine. because it is much less loaded with expectations. In: Phillips L (ed.) Ghosts in the Machine. New York: 11. It is interesting to reflect on how various websites now New Museum, pp. 21–34. routinely associate the traces of people and objects in new Carter P (2009) Dark Writing. Geography, Performance, ways, for example, pinterest. Design. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 12. From Defoe’s description of London in A Tour Through Clunas C (2007) Empire of Great Brightness. Visual and the Whole Island of Great Britain. Material Cultures of Ming China. London: Reaktion. 13. Think, for example, of recent anthropological work in Clunas C (2009) Art in China, 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford many Latin American and African cities. University Press. 14. The idea was that the computer could fetch a graphic into Dear M, Ketchum J, Luria S, et al. (eds) (2011) memory and then only display parts of the image at a Geohumanities. Art, History, Text at the Edge of Place. time, a procedure which was faster to load up than New York: Routledge. having to continually fetch new images. Descola P (2013) Beyond Nature and Culture. Chicago: 15. Although that is by now becoming a hackneyed point: see University of Chicago Press. Massumi (2009). Dodge M and Kitchin R (2007) Outlines of a world coming 16. It is also worth noting that part of the Chinese tradition into existence: Pervasive computing and the ethics of for- has been to see calligraphy as a form of communication getting. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design with higher spiritual powers. 34: 431–445. 17. Hence the rise of infographics, illustrated novels, word Dodge M, Kitchin R and Perkins C (eds) (2009) Rethinking pictures, etc. Maps. New Frontiers in Cartographic Theory. London: 18. I take it that just as there is paratext, so there can be Routledge. paramap. Dourish P and Bell G (2011) Divining a Digital Future. Mess 19. Perhaps some of the most interesting mapping experi- and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing. Cambridge, MA: ments currently are with apps such as those recently pro- MIT Press. duced by Bjork. Economist (2011) A nation of city slickers. The Economist,21 January, 55. 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Big Data & Society – SAGE
Published: Apr 1, 2014
Keywords: City; sentience; outstinct; ontograph; Big Data; surface
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