[Air-L] Final call for contributors: The Synthetic City conference, 6-7 Sep 2023, Dublin

Scott Rodgers rodgers_scott at hotmail.com
Thu Jun 8 06:06:16 PDT 2023

The extended 12 June 2023 deadline for submissions for ‘The Synthetic City’ (6-7 September 2023 in Dublin, Ireland), exploring the possible implications of artificial intelligence and related digital technologies for urban living and politics, is fast approaching!

The conference call for papers, and link to the conference website<https://syntheticcity2023.wordpress.com/>, are below.

We’ve already received a good number of submissions, but please consider sharing this call with any colleagues, collaborators or doctoral students who you think would be interested.

The Synthetic City
Potentials, Politics and Everyday Life

6-7 September 2023
Dublin City University, Ireland
Extended abstract submission deadline: 12 June 2023 (midnight anywhere in world)

Conference website: https://syntheticcity2023.wordpress.com/

Call for contributors

syn·​thet·​ic, adjective
devised, arranged, or fabricated for special situations to imitate or replace usual realities

syn·​the·​sis, noun
the composition or combination of parts or elements so as to form a whole

In less than a year, the release of tools such as the large language model-based chatbot ChatGPT and image generation platforms like DALL-E or Midjourney has given rise to lively discussion and urgent questions around the potential of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) based systems. Debates around AI are a sharp reminder of the deepening interconnections of digital technologies and human life, which are particularly pervasive and tangible – if not always immediately visible – in urban spaces. Already captured through terms such as ‘algorithmic cities’, ‘data-driven urbanism’, ‘code/spaces’ and ‘sentient cities’, urban environments have for some time been understood as emergent venues for various kinds of computational agency, ranging from surveillance systems, delivery apps and neighbourhood social media to automated infrastructures, outdoor advertising and digital art.

This conference puts forward the notion of ‘the synthetic city’ as a provocation for thinking through the potentials, politics, and everyday implications of these long-term and more recent developments in digitalising urban life. As the above definitions imply, we intend ‘the synthetic city’ to relate to both synthetic and synthesis: the former captures how AI and related digital technologies might imitate or replace human agency (e.g. with ‘synthetic’ data being used to generate various urban simulations, whether for critical infrastructure, leisure or gaming environments); whereas the latter captures how these same technologies always-already involve combinations of computational and human agency (e.g. unfolding alongside the dynamics of everyday routines, political interests, institutions, and so on).

We therefore welcome a range of contributions, exploring both the technologies as such, as well as the broader social, cultural and political contexts of the synthetic city. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  *   How AI-based applications potentially reshape or restructure urban material spaces and their inhabitation
  *   Artworks or models (e.g. performances, illustrations, mock-ups, simulations) that speculate or envision the near (and far) future of urban living
  *   Virtual and augmented reality in urban design and art
  *   The impacts of machine learning and predictive modelling on urban planning and design
  *   Smart cities, the Internet of Things and platform urbanism
  *   The changing relationships between automation processes (including robotics) with urban services and labour
  *   The ethics and governance of synthetic urbanism
  *   Counterculture and protest movements questioning and contesting the digitalisation of cities
  *   Algorithmic mediations of public participation and collaboration in urban/neighbourhood life
  *   How automated content production tools reshape how fields such as journalism, graphic design, filmmaking, music (and more) might relate to and tell stories about cities
  *   How digital platforms help to transform how urban environments and daily life is navigated and mapped
  *   The political potential of reappropriating and repurposing digital media and automated systems
  *   Withdrawal and disconnection from the synthetic city
We welcome work-in-progress contributions as well as finished works, encompassing research into both current and future developments, with empirical, theoretical, or methodological focus, and from a broad spectrum of disciplines (e.g. communication and media studies, sociology, human geography, urban studies, or science and technology studies). Participants can submit one of three types of submissions:

  1.  Individual papers: Please submit an abstract (250-300 words), biographical statement (50-75 words) and contact information for all authors.
  2.  Practice-based interventions (e.g. screenings, illustrations, performances, installations) exploring the conference themes more experimentally. Please submit an abstract (250-300 words) and a biographical statement (50-75 words) alongside contact information for all authors. The abstract should describe the scope of the project as well as equipment, space and time needed (as relevant).
  3.  Paper of panel session: Please submit an abstract (250-300 words) describing the overall theme of the session. In the case of a paper session, this will be followed by  an abstract (250-300 words), biographical statement (50-75 words) and contact information for the author(s) of each paper. In the case of a panel discussion, please provide biographical statements (50-75 words) and contact information for all panellists.

Abstracts must be submitted by 12 June 2023 (by midnight anywhere in world) to mediacity.twg at gmail.com<mailto:mediacity.twg at gmail.com>. Notification of acceptance will be sent by 23 June 2023.

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