Keller Easterling: World City Trailers
Tuesday November 18, 2014
World City Trailers
a selection of films on the occasion of the launch of Extrastatecraft: the Power of Infrastructure Space by Keller Easterling
Tuesday, November 18
An emergent genre of urban porn, urban music video or urban trailer now promotes the global city building epidemic. In the typical template for these videos, a zoom from outer space drops through clouds to reveal the location of a new world city.
The stirring music of an epic adventure or western accompanies a swoop through shimmering cartoon skylines, resorts, suburbs and sun flares. A deep movie-trailer voice repeats all the mantras of free trade and incentivized urbanism to which foreign investment has become addicted to no taxes, no bureaucracy, streamlined customs, and deregulation of labor or environment law. This new free zone paradigm, often no longer the fenced in warehousing compound of just 30 or 40 years ago, nevertheless harbors grisly, stabilized forms of labor abuse, and it still fails to return optimal economic results. But egged on by global consultancies, the zone is now bathed in redemptive rhetoric and treated as the necessary signal for entry into a global marketplace.
This selection of promotional videos, from among scores of others, demonstrates how contagious the free zone has been all around the world with examples from Tunisia, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Georgia, Ecuador, Kenya, Taiwan, Afghanistan, UAE, Lithuania, Malaysia, India, Libya, Nigeria, Holland, Laos, Azerbaijan, Gabon, Tanzania and Kuwait. Comically drunk on heroic urban aspirations the videos distract from their inherent violence as they mix things like fantasy environments, Hegel quotes and buildings shaped like diamonds or dolphins.
The audience heard Keller Easterling’s reflections on the book and the “World City Trailers” compilation. The videos, presented on the occasion of the launch of Extrastatecraft: the Power of Infrastructure Space (Verso 2014) were played continuously over wine and conversation.
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View World City Trailers-2014
About Extrastatecraft: the Power of Infrastructure Space (Verso 2014)
Repeatable spatial formulas, like those for free zone world cities, make most of the space being built in the world. Some of the most radical changes to the globalizing world are being written in the language of this almost infrastructural spatial matrix. Administered by mixtures of state and non-state players and driven by profound irrationalities and dubious aspirations, infrastructure space generates de facto, undeclared forms of polity that can outpace law, and it is the secret weapon of some of the world’s most powerful players. Even at a moment of ubiquitous computing, Extrastatecraft: the Power of Infrastructure Space (Verso 2014) considers space itself as an information system with the power and currency of software-a spatial operating system for shaping the city. With an experimental narrative structure, the book, moves between exposing evidence of infrastructure space and learning to detect the violence and productivity immanent in its organization. But it also rehearses ways to hack this space with expanded techniques of form-making and surprising approaches to political activism.
Keller Easterling is an architect, writer and professor at Yale. In addition to Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space (Verso, 2014), Easterling is the author of Subtraction (Sternberg, 2014), The Action is the Form (Strelka Press, 2012) Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and its Political Masquerades (MIT, 2005) and Organization Space: Landscapes, Highways and Houses in America (MIT, 1999). Easterling’s essay “Floor” was recently included in the Elements exhibition of the 2014 Venice Biennale.