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Telescoping the City

The paradigmatic turn into network society has radically transformed the capacity to situate ourselves into geographical extension and communities. While the view from above has historically represented privileged vantage points reserved for elites, the popularization of mobile digital devices and the general technological acceleration have disclosed new elevated standpoints to the masses, such as those provided by mobile phones locative applications, imposing them as banal stances in the everyday practice of global citizens. The steady use of internet maps and satellite infrastructure allows the instant telescoping of the individual gaze to the above, augmenting individual capacity to real time position oneself with pinpoint accuracy onto the planetary grid and visually investigate distant realities in trans-scalar continuity. This text proposes the concept of technological urbiquityas a neologism to describe a fast-emerging techno-social condition that provides remote access to almost everything that once was the reason for the city to exist and endorses the process of planetary urbanization. It is a condition that, I want to argue, has a disruptive capacity in respect to consolidated geographical categories and social roles, but that also obscures the emerging subjacent techno-political order and its inherent fragility and unsustainability.

First published June 1, 2020