This paper looks into the concept of displacement as sketched out by the changing conditions of living in and experiencing the city, in the context of a digitised visual culture. As the city is now changing not through the physicality of form but through the ways that it is staged and lived through the consumption of imagery, the practices of everyday urban life are increasingly enacted within a virtual sphere of imagery. Despite its ‘digital’ culmination, this shift from spatial concepts to images, the paper argues is a quintessentially modernist phenomenon and can be traced back to the informing of our modalities of perception by a cinematic mode of perception (Bergson).
Beller’s concept of the cinematic mode of production finds clear justification in today’s digital domination of the visual. The cybernetic kino-eye (Vertov) is now ubiquitous through mobile video and photography that has contributed to the development of a form of urban experience-come-representation. Through the stylization of the ‘shared image’, places, like individuals, become idealized, commodified spaces of representation. This constructed collective mode of perception places the physicality of the urban, and by extent of the architectural, on a secondary level. As representation is exchanged for a form of immersive simulation, there emerges a double displacement. As Diana Agrest suggests, architecture is ‘denied’ its object: when architectural projects are concluded on ‘breaking the internet’ through the viral render, or actualised designs become concerned with ‘instagrammability’, the city is no more the place of representation (Agrest) but a place of congested visualizations. At the same time, the urban dweller is dis-placed by surrendering their right to actual space in exchange for control over the image.
This paper will examine emerging spectacular practices of urban occupation such as ‘Instagramming’ and rendering. In doing so it will trace parallels between these two types of displacement: of the urban citizen as the dweller of architecture and of the architect as the dweller of an architectural space of representation, exploring the ways that they challenge both practice and pedagogy.