• Control Syntax Songdo
    Farzin Lotfi-Jam and Mark Wasiuta
    2017 Seoul Architecture Biennale, Seoul
    Sep 02, 2017 to Nov 05, 2017
    Farzin Lotfi-Jam & Mark Wasiuta

Farzin Lotfi-Jam and Mark Wasiuta, view of Control Syntax Songdo, 2017 Seoul Architecture Biennale, Seoul. Photo: Sangtae Kim.

Control Syntax Songdo argues that through Korea’s smart city investments and operations we are able to glimpse an emerging logic shaping the 21st century city. In Songdo, and other smart cities, the conventions of urban formal organization—with their hierarchies of visual, spatial, perceptual, symbolic order—shift toward a new urban vocabulary comprising motion sensors, traffic cameras, and operational data maps. Written into smart city control algorithms, these newly significant urban components produce an undifferentiated, non-hierarchical array of urban objects and actors. Control Syntax Songdo has two components: a physical model and 360º videos of key Songdo intersections. The videos mark sensor locations and illustrate the attentive, nervous, ubiquity of Songdo’s vision technologies. The model compresses Songdo into a single intersection, congested with compound traffic accidents. The model registers and catalogs this sequence of accidents as well as the anxieties that lurk within the imaginary of smart city algorithmic control and regulation. Incoming cars are monitored to track drivers, check records, and to alert the city of possible criminal intrusion. Each accident is the consequence of a particular failure of urban control, and illustrates a narrative of smart civic life gone awry. Yet, the model is less a scene of spectacular catastrophe, than it is an image of the predictive logic that forms the smooth rationality of the smart city, and of the computational governmentality through which Songdo both absorbs and limits urban life.

Farzin Lotfi-Jam is principal of farzinfarzin, a multidisciplinary studio that designs spaces, software, and media. He is faculty in the graduate school of architecture at Columbia University and holds advanced degrees from Columbia University and RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. He is a Fellow of the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart and was previously a Sanders Fellow at the University of Michigan. His research has been funded by the Veski organization and the Graham Foundation, and has been collected by the Centre Pompidou in Paris. He has been exhibited at Storefront for Art and Architecture, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, AIGA/NY Annex, the Oslo Architecture Triennale, the Venice Architecture Biennale, and elsewhere. Through farzinfarzin and other ventures, Lotfi-Jam investigates the means by which objects, sites and systems acquire cultural value and examines the representation of value in architectural form.

Mark Wasiuta is a curator, writer, and architect who teaches at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation where he is co-director of the MS degree program Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices in Architecture. Over the last decade, as director of exhibitions at GSAPP, he has developed a body of research and archival exhibitions that focus on under-examined practices of the postwar period. Recent exhibitions, produced with various collaborators, include Environmental Communications: Contact High, Information Fall-Out: Buckminster Fuller's World Game, and Les Levine: Bio-Tech Rehearsals 1967-1973. Other exhibitions include Detox USA, at the Istanbul Design Biennial, Control Syntax Rio at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam and at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City, and Every Building in Baghdad: The Rifat Chadirji Archives at the Arab Image Foundation, at the Graham Foundation in Chicago. Upcoming publications include The Archival Exhibition: A Decade of Research at the Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery, Documentary Remains, and, with Akram Zatari, Rifat Chadirj: Architecture Index. Wasiuta also directs Collecting Architecture Territories, a multi-year research program that analyses global institutions that have emerged from private collections. Wasiuta is recipient of recent grants from the Asian Cultural Council, the Graham Foundation, and NYSCA.