30th January 2020: Playful Cities. An evening on Dramaturgies for Active Public Spaces. - ARIAS


30th January 2020: Playful Cities. An evening on Dramaturgies for Active Public Spaces.


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with designer and performer Sara Daniel, new media researcher  Michiel de Lange, theatre studies researcher Sigrid Merx, and visual artist Eva Pel.


Edgar Allen Poe in his 1845 short story ‘The Man of the Crowd’ narrates the experience of a city dweller, living within the uncontrollable, unpredictable and meaningful urbanity that comes from his anonymous existence. How will this experience of the city, often described as the hallmark of modern urban life, differ as ‘smart cities’ come into being?


For almost a decade now, cities around the world have strived to become so-called ‘smart cities’. The deployment of sensor networks, big data analysis or city control rooms aim to make these cities run more efficient, increase safety and increase economic opportunities for entrepreneurs. Yet, what does this drive towards efficiency and control mean for the in-between spaces of urban existence?


As an alternative imaginary, ‘playful cities’ promote a (post)human-centric view of the smart city in which citizens themselves learn, negotiate and are confronted with one another through play and games. ARIAS, The Media Architecture Biennale and Trust in Play join together to contemplate the dramaturgies and strategies for enabling play as an important facet in the shaping of public space. Can public space be activated by making them more playful?


About the Speakers [in order of presentations]

Eva Pel is living and working in Amsterdam. Her artistic practice is an ongoing investigation into the ordinary, into public space, social-economic issues and power structures. This process results in short films, photographic series, installations and publications. Her work has been exhibited (amongst others) at Van Eyck Academy Maastricht, University of Amsterdam, Huize Frankendael, Nieuw Dakota, Witzenhausen Gallery NY, Salzamt Linz Austria. Pel was invited to join the Academy honours programme for young artists and scientists (KNAW & Akademie van Kunsten Netherlands) in 2017. In 2019 she received the Mondrian Established Talent Grant. Recently she made the film “Sous les pavès, la plage”, a commissioned assignment for the National Governmental Architect Floris Alkemade. 


Michiel de Lange is an Assistant Professor in New Media Studies, Department of Media and Culture Studies, Utrecht University, Netherlands; co-founder of The Mobile City (http://www.themobilecity.nl), a platform for the study of new media and urbanism; co-founder of the [urban interfaces] research platform at Utrecht University; His research interests focus on how (mobile) media shape urban culture and vice versa. Currently, he is co-lead of a NWO funded project “Designing for Controversies in Responsible Smart Cities”.


Trained as a product designer, the performer and play-maker Sara Daniel has developed an intra-disciplinary artistic practice dedicated to rethinking the possibilities of social and political engagement. In her work, she combines forms associated with activism such as sit-ins and protests with the making of context-based scenarios, complete with props, music, costumes and performances. With them, she seeks to make visible and accessible major societal issues, including the housing crisis in Amsterdam and increased atomisation of communities. Sara Daniel graduated in 2019 from Sandberg Instituut. 


Sigrid Merx is an Assistant Professor in Theatre Studies, Department of Media and Culture Studies. She is one of the core members of the research group [urban interfaces] and one of the initiators of Platform-Scenography, a platform invested in deepening the understanding of scenographic working and thinking. She occasionally works as a dramaturg and curator. Her current research focuses on critical performative interventions in public space that reflect on issues of the urban, publicness and civic engagement and on creative methods of investigating, mapping and intervening in public spaces.




Date: January 30, 2020
Time: 8:00pm
Location: Pakhuis de Zwijger