Text: Cristina Roxana
Let’s just raise our eyes from our super performant phones for just a little while and look around, explore the surroundings and interact freely, without being preoccupied to report every single move we do onto social media. We could think of it as an experiment in which we try to mentally detach ourselves from our phones and our Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat and try to become more aware of what it means to be part of a collective, a society.
We live in a world that moves with a terrific speed, and it often overwhelms us and does not give us the change to react naturally. Haven’t you sometimes had the feeling that most things are programmed and that our meetings and encounters are controlled by media and technology? In order to reflect on this particular topic, we can think of a usual meeting, where the people involved are initially texting and calling each other in order to set a meeting point. The establishment of the place where they wish to encounter is crucial here, since it reveals what kind of thoughts and opinions people generally have on spaces, as they have to attend to certain needs in order to be considered suitable. People nowadays judge a place firstly by the experiences they have had there, secondly after what other friends and family members have told them about it, and recently looking at its ‘net-locality’ and ‘place-blogging’ have become an increasingly used method. These approaches refer to ways of attracting users into a certain place without them necessarily first visiting the space, but mainly by them being virtual visitors. This is a good example of how media is influencing the way we perceive physical surroundings, as today people tend to initially explore a place by ‘liking’ it or ‘disliking’ it on social media and forums, based often on other’s experiences there. An Amsterdam University professor, Martijn de Waal, has written about these concepts in the work entitled ‘The City as Interface’ and has defined for example ‘net-locality’ as ‘the experience and symbolic meaning of a place resulted partly from exchanges in a physical space and partly from media networks’.
I mentioned before that in order for a place to be considered attractive to its users, it should attend to certain needs and factors. Here we have the old basic facilities, such as good location in the city, possibility of shelter due to weather, good accessibility is preferable of course, and some kind of activities that attract the people there. Nowadays, with the rise of mobile media and technology, it is no longer enough for a place to just satisfy the people by offering a good spot and a sheltered structure, but it needs to involve the use of technology and maybe have a point or more of ‘attraction’, that help build interest and want to interact. This kind of human-architecture/art structure interaction is called ‘performative architecture’ and it refers to how people get involved in what is displayed in front of them, instead of just ‘consuming’ the space and not put their own stamp on it. Ludic is of course a crucial spice, as it is in the human nature to play and experiment, and a place that manages to give birth to curiosity has a big potential to be populated constantly.
Therefore, an immediate solution seems naturally to be to involve mobile media and technology in our everyday activities and make it as easy as possible for us to get what we want in time. Sounds familiar, right? Because the majority of the places and activities have this idea in mind, but as we probably can depict it’s not always the way to do things if you aim for social face-to-face interaction. This article intends not to offer a particular solution, as it is a high-complexity topic, but to make us think about what it means to collect in our lives memories made through our own physical and mental feedback, rather than remember moments by collecting them in a folder on Facebook that will soon be forgotten. What if Facebook would disappear tomorrow? How would you feel about losing all the pictures, tags and stories you’ve built over the years? Personally, I would regret not being more into the moments, but that’s up to you to decide.