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A Tunnel / A Mirror Facing A Mirror / A Goo.

Documenting the experience of space in Tokyo as the agglomeration approaches a moment of spatial singularity. What happens as our experience of discrete/categorised space dissolves and we enter a tunnel, an infinite regress or a functional goo? Writing and photographs by Cameron Allan McKean (contact Cameron in Tokyo). This blog is produced in collaboration with TOO MUCH: Magazine of Romantic Geography for the Dutch research collective MONNIK.

  1. Space is technology

    This blog is a place to deposit texts and images about the experience of an approaching spatial singularity in Tokyo. The experience of the home and work spaces being broken down further and further, stretched out across various sites in the city. Visualising space, not as the domain of architecture, design or urban planning, but as a form of techology.

    Tokyo has been chosen for field work as it is one of largest and densest cities in the world. It also forms the eastern beginning of the Tokaido Megalopolis, one of the largest unbroken stretches of urban development in the world. People residing in this belt are already living through a ‘Grey goo’ scenario, where, visually at least, the city seems to repeat itself every few hundred metres, for hundreds of kilometres. An infinite regression of tiles, roads, convenience stores and shrubs.

    These documents will explore all notions of the singularity extending out from one of the fathers of the singularity idea, mathematician and science fiction author Verner Vinge. The real goal is to see how this phenomenon is manifesting, and to capture the ways it is interfacing with the lived experience of Tokyo residents. If it is real, what does it mean for our ability to form meaningful categories about the spaces we live in? How do old terms like ‘living room’, ‘study’ and ‘dining room’ dissolve? How does the house itself dissolve? And how can we demarcate our individual selves once everything around us has been subsumed into the grey goo of the sprawl?

    The technological singularity was the idea that, according to Vinge “we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence,” and that “Shortly after, the human era will be ended.” Space itself is not sentient or intelligent, but the Tokaido Megalopolis seems to acts with selfish agency — sucking human resources from the hinterland and countryside, redirecting flows of information and goods towards itself (even when this redirection is costly, or damaging), encouraging focused policy and education directed at sustaining itself, and even separating groups from living together (groups that may threaten the spatial hegemony of the city) by encouraging single occupancy housing.

    If space is technology, what kind of machine is the Tokaido Belt?

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

This poetic Tumblr post about the spatial singularity is part of the Still City Project: “The Still City Project investigates how we can move beyond the driving forces of our modern industrialized world; infinite economic growth, technologic progress and population growth. The project is a search for the ‘Still City’: an urban culture that is based on dynamics that are inclusive and sustainable. The ambition of the project is to find and make the images and stories we need to construct a post-growth urban society.” — read more

See also a city of continuously regenerating cells