Control Syntax Rio
Monday March 27, 2017 – Saturday May 20, 2017
Control Syntax Rio
Curated and designed by Farzin Lotfi-Jam and Mark Wasiuta
Presented by Storefront for Art and Architecture and Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam.
March 28th, 2017 – May 20th, 2017
97 Kenmare St, New York, NY
Rio de Janeiro is one of the most visible sites of “smart city” experimentation. In response to catastrophic natural disasters, calamitous traffic congestion, and urban health epidemics, the Centro de Operações Rio (COR) was designed as a corrective tool and as a new command and control hub that would allow the city to prepare for the 2016 Olympic Games. Launched in 2010, COR now monitors its urban camera network and information sensors, gauges optimal traffic patterns, determines landslide risk zones, predicts weather disruptions, and maps disease paths.
Rio’s wild topography, wealth disparities, and aging infrastructure make it an unlikely testing ground for the smooth rationality of urban management that “smart city” rhetoric proclaims. Through COR, the predictable impression of Rio de Janeiro as a lush playground of beaches and samba dancers conflicts with the new image of a Rio governed by smart city control systems. As the city also becomes increasingly marked by extreme police tactics and political protests, Rio appears less a case of urban optimization than a platform for viewing the conflicts that have erupted around urban data management, civil rights, and issues of social control. Yet, COR is also a sign of a new form of participatory civic politics. Citizens may visit the COR building to observe its image screens, data displays, and information collection technologies. In this way, COR serves as a public relations space from which the city broadcasts an image of urban administrative control.
The exhibition shows Rio structured through COR’s control syntax and smart city command processes. This syntax is assembled from seemingly banal “if-then” statements that become surprisingly charged by their encounters with the political and circulatory life of the city. Through COR, the exhibition sees traffic engineering as urban politics and as haunted by potential catastrophe. The exhibition also understands COR as indicative of an important new space of representation for the 21st century city and its emerging computational governmentality.
Curators: Farzin Lotfi-Jam, Mark Wasiuta
Exhibition Design: Sharif Anous, Farzin Lotfi-Jam, Mark Wasiuta
Graphic Design: MTWTF
Exhibition Design and Production Assistance: Florencia Alvarez, Javier Bidot-Betancourt, John Dwyer, Jennifer Komorowski, Chelsea Meyer, Jacqui Robbins, Miranda Römer, Augustine Savage, Jen Wood
Sound Design: Sonic Platforms (Michael Christopher, Max Lauter)
Film Voiceover: Louise Dreier
Audio Recording: Marco Pavão
Videography: Terry Barentsen
This project has been made possible through the initiative and leadership of the teams at Het Nieuwe Instituut, led by Guus Beumer (Artistic Director) and Marina Otero Verzier (Head of Research), and at Storefront, led by Eva Franch (Chief Curator and Executive Director).
About the Curators
Farzin Lotfi-Jam is Principal of farzinfarzin, a multidisciplinary studio that designs spaces, software, and media. He is faculty in the architecture program 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 the 2013-2014 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 the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, AIGA/NY Annex, the Oslo Architecture Triennale, the Venice Architecture Biennale, among others.
Mark Wasiuta is Co-Director of the MS degree program Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices in Architecture at Columbia GSAPP. 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 “Every Building in Baghdad: The Rifat Chadirji Archives at the Arab Image Foundation,” “Environmental Communications: Contact High,” “Information Fall-Out: Buckminster Fuller’s World Game,” and “Les Levine: Bio-Tech Rehearsals 1967-1973.” His work has appeared at the Graham Foundation, the Istanbul Design Biennial, the Venice Architecture Biennale, Het Nieuwe Instituut, the Chicago Architecture Biennial, and elsewhere. He directs Collecting Architecture Territories, a multi-year research program that analyses global art institutions that have emerged from private collections. Wasiuta is recipient of recent grants from the Asian Cultural Council, the Graham Foundation, and NYSCA.
About Het Nieuwe Instituut
Het Nieuwe Instituut aims to illuminate and map a rapidly changing world while at the same time fostering discussion of topics related to the vast field of design. All the institute’s activities are grounded in the principles of design and innovation – two concepts bound up with changing value systems and conflict. Het Nieuwe Instituut organises exhibitions, lectures and fellowships, carries out research and development projects, and publishes reports on the outcomes of its projects.
Control Syntax Rio is presented in New York City as part of a year-long joint cultural crossover program between Storefront for Art and Architecture and Het Nieuwe Instituut. The partnership, supported by the Netherlands Consulate General in New York, seeks to examine the relationships of power between those involved in the construction of the contemporary city through a series of events, exhibitions, and projects to be developed in New York, Rotterdam, and other cities around the world. Control Syntax Rio was commissioned by Het Nieuwe Instituut, where it was presented from June 2016 to January 2017. Special exhibition support for Control Syntax Rio is generously provided by Samsung and FoyerLive.
Storefront’s programming is made possible through general support from Arup; DS+R; F.J. Sciame Construction Co., Inc.; Knippers Helbig; KPF; MADWORKSHOP; ODA; Rockwell Group; Roger Ferris + Partners; Tishman Speyer; the Foundation for Contemporary Arts; The Greenwich Collection Ltd.; the Lily Auchincloss Foundation; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; The Peter T. Joseph Foundation; and by Storefront’s Board of Directors, members, and individual donors.