Space, Fluidity and Infinity

Johannesburg is often referred to as the Engine Room of South Africa's economy. The analogy hums true: energy pumping, thumping; energy charging, racing; energy squeezing; energy bursting; energy spilling and flooding. People like ants moving, talking, working, dealing, stealing, surviving, thriving ... also struggling, starving, praying, wishing, searching ... all hunting.

In all this, is there a Civic? Is there, as Hannah Arendt describes it, a 'table' around which our crazy energised diversity can simultaneously gather as a collective and retain their autonomies? In this world of individual assertion, is there any longer a place for the civic, the public? If so, what is this spatial equivalent of citizenry? What would be its purpose? How would it be manifested?

In this context, is public space still the 2 dimensional street and the square; the genteel, even if vibrant? Or is it mobile space: the bus, the Gautrain, or perhaps a re-imagined relationship between occupants of private cars on the mobile nightmare between JHB and Midrand? Is it the 3 dimensional mobile world of Blade Runner where ground-level is everywhere and anywhere, at any level, that a gravity-free craft can dock in a ten-times-denser JHB CBD ... green parks and farms on the 25th floor?

In this developed Civic, what are the spatial equivalents of the virtual public environments of Face Book and Twitter where the 'osmotic' access membrane defines levels of privacy and exposure, and 'community' is not defined geographically but rather within the dynamic web of shared interest, values, customs, cultural heritage, or otherwise?

These will be the rigorous investigations of this studio: the free and disciplined imaginings of a publicness that accommodates, represents, and facilitates the energy and urge of our city as it really is, however that is, upon foundations of dignity, respect and equality and in a world where humans are totally reintegrated, if through technology, with the natural world; where consumption of key survival resources does not outweigh their production.

For this studio, 'reality', as we know it, or have been convinced it should be, can be put on the back burner. And reality, as it could be, can be moved onto the front of the stove.

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