From 2009 to (when CitySpinning’s season 1 concluded) to now, a lot has, of course, changed drastically in India’s cities. Some of these reasons explain the modelling of season 2 and we will expand on some of them here.
So first, let’s try to get a glimpse into the kind of urban situation we live in and let’s try to figure what their guiding principles/concepts might be.
Most of our cities in India are either:
1) Predatory – oversized settlements which have swallowed multiple villages (Delhi) or
2) Indulgent – erstwhile royal capitals (Ahmedabad/Jaipur) or
3) Synthetic – the strange phenomenon we know as planned cities (Faridabad/Gandhinagar/Chandigarh).
We will contextualise why each of these is actually something different from the idea of a city and a settlement that we can project ideas urban ideas on.
In the book, Civilisation project. The project published the book in 2013. It marks an important step-forward/consolidation for my thinking about cities. Our cities in India are incomplete (not fully urban), unformed (they have too many crude edges) and unfriendly (they constantly disappoint us). The book proposes a form of urban thinking that is more suited for the Indian cities. It corporates absurdity/“poetic terrorism” (as explicated by Hakim Bey), speculation, science fiction, poetry and philosophy into the mostly efficiency-driven thought that urbanism now comprises of. This is because the level of cynicism that we have in our city-like settlements can only be moved/shifted by a strong influx of a strong emotion from altogether another spectrum of motivation. Only that can allow the mass of humanity to somehow get into a shared/common plane of consciousness.
Predatory cities need to be constantly fed – growth, spectacle or human resource.
Indulgent cities are laid-back and disinterested in their own dynamism – they are neither invested nor motivated.
Synthetic cities are usually rigid and clunky and find it difficult to adapt to the organic and spontaneous activity of human societies. They offer too much friction, resistance and obstacles.
In season 2, we a more fluid set of ideas for working with public/unused urban spaces. We want to organise groups for sharing theory and practice, we want to work with urban space and animal-life, we want to work with the notion of criminality in urban spaces and more things. We will post ideas and plans here on CitySpinning – please stay clued in.
I will also develop and expand the ideas in this blog post further and post them here. In the context that we live in, we need more dialogue, more negotiation, more experiments and more diverse participation in shaping our collective urban future. We will help opportunities and platforms to do this in the time to come.
I want to close this announcement of the commencement of CitySpinning’s season 2 with a quick reminder:
The obsession/insistence on pragmatism/functionality is one of our enemies now. Besides dealing with the everyday constraints of what can or cannot happen this insistence does not allow us to even think of that which is slightly further away from the everyday reality we are embedded in. And because there is no thought, there is no imagination. Because there is no imagination, there is no speculation. Because there is no speculation, there is no future.
We have to rescue ourselves from this moment of minimal potential.