“Control Syntax Rio” Exhibition

Storefront for Art and Architecture

poster for “Control Syntax Rio” Exhibition

This event has ended.

Storefront for Art and Architecture, in collaboration with the Het Nieuwe Instituut, presents Control Syntax Rio at Storefront’s gallery space at 97 Kenmare Street. Control Syntax Rio examines Rio de Janeiro’s civic command center, Centro de Operações Rio (COR) as both a model of computational smart city governance and as a symbol of new spaces of representation of the 21st century city.

About Control Syntax Rio
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 Operções 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 it 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 also signals a new form of participatory civic politics. Citizens visiting COR headquarters are able to observe COR operations and the data COR collects and displays. Through this demonstration of openness and access, COR serves as a public relations space from which the city attempts to broadcast an image of informational transparency and competent urban administration.

Control Syntax Rio shows the city of 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.

In the exhibition, a street route through Rio de Janeiro doubles as a COR decision path. COR assesses every incident to learn if it will escalate to an event, an emergency, or a crisis. Through this code, we are able to perceive glimpses of the current image of urban computational governmentality, not only blithely directed toward engineered efficiency, but also saturated with a thousand narratives of possible threat, risk, disruption, and instability.

Exhibition Credits
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
Production: Team Het Nieuwe Instituut

This project has been made possible through the initiative and leadership of the teams at HNI, 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).

Public Events
3/21 - Manifesto Series: At Extremes (with Lateral Office and editors of Bracket Vol 3)
4/13 - Definition Series: Resilience (with Stephen Phillips, Cal Poly LA Metro Program)
4/23 - Urban Epistemologies / Smart Cities? (with The New School)
5/4 - Cabaret Series: Paradoxes (with Gediminas Urbonas, ACT program at MIT)
5/9 - Productive Disagreement Series: Syntax / Agency (with Habidatum)

#controlsyntaxrio @storefrontnyc



from March 28, 2017 to May 20, 2017

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