Urban Media Lab: Waste
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Level: Graduate
Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Media Studies
Department: Media Studies
Course Number: NMDS 5116
Course Format: Lecture
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
In the context of macroecological and financial crises that have dramatically shifted attention toward the management of multiple forms of garbage, excess and inefficiency, Urban Media Lab: Waste explores the cultural logics and politics of waste in contemporary urban life. In terms of space (blight, sprawl, vacancy), time (waiting, boredom, drudgery), resources (refuse, trash), and increasingly in terms of digital information technology (e-waste, obsolescence, “delete”), waste marks the residue, the remainder, the excess. Especially at a time when our virtual and material worlds are designed to streamline and optimize urban life at all scales - from operative landscapes to responsive systems to productivity software - our cultural definitions and regulations of waste are central to the ordering of our environments and ourselves. With the support of a New School Green Fund award, the Spring 2014 Urban Media Lab focuses specifically on electronic waste as a form of urban trash and as a fundamental component of broader cycles of information production, distribution, and consumption in the global cultural economy. In stark contrast to the mythology of the cloud that dominates commercial representations of digital communication, there is a growing awareness of the environmental impacts of information consumption through the mammoth energy footprints of data exchange and storage centers and the rising tide of digital devices that are as conspicuously discarded as they are consumed. Through the lens of the smart phone, seminar participants will investigate the profound material and spatial dimensions of the life cycles of information and will have the opportunity to develop and present an online exhibition by that name. Urban Media Lab is a project-based seminar focused around a specific urban condition. Approaching the city as an irreducible density of people, built environments, and information architectures, students explore a single topic from multiple disciplinary and media perspectives, and they collaborate on a final project for publication and/or exhibition. Past Urban Media Labs have focused on Strangers, Waste, and Traffic.
Course Open to: Degree Students


Open to Graduate students.