Illuminating relations, finding connections: Diagramming smart (safety) objects in cities


This session works with hub-and-spoke diagramming, a method for thinking about and trying to understand everything that makes a “smart” device work in an urban environment. A device isn’t just a device: it is the intersection of technologies, processes, laws, more-than-human participants, and actions. In turn, while devices are part of a vast web, each device is individual and situated in its environment. Knowing how a surveillance camera is supposed to work is not the same as knowing how a particular model of surveillance camera ought to work, and neither of these is the same as knowing what one particular surveillance camera does in its environment, or how it came to be there. In this workshop, we will play with ways of understanding specific “smart” (and increasingly, AI-assisted) devices is the urban environment, with a particular focus on those devices which are concerned with promoting, assisting, or enforcing public safety. 


ginger coons

ginger coons is researcher, educator, and designer studying and A researcher, educator, and designer, ginger “all-lower-case” coons works at Creating 010 and the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, where she is a senior researcher in the AI-MAPS project. She holds a BFA in design from Concordia University (Montreal), and an MI and PhD in Information from the University of Toronto, in addition to having been a member of the Critical Making Lab (Toronto) and the Digital Cultures Research Centre (Bristol). Dr. coons studies and intervenes at the intersections of individuality, mass standards, and new (production) technologies. She is interested in the place of the user in development and production processes, and how individuals take control of the goods and systems they use.

Header image: title interpretation by Midjourney