The aim of this chapter is to shed light on the power-related infrastructural dynamic that actualises in the interrelations of big data collection and the bodily movement of urbanites in contemporary cities. By drawing from Husserl’s and Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenologies of the body and combining them with recent theorisations on choreography, material media theory and critical technology studies, the authors address city dwellers’ embodied relations with mobile devices and ambient technologies as integral to the micro-, meso- and macro-level (re)production of urban infrastructures. By way of discussing the technologically mediated kinaesthesia and movement trajectories of lived bodies, the chapter develops a novel conceptualisation of urban choreography for exploring the mechanisms through which dwelling-in-the-city today functions in a globally extensive cybernetic feedback loop with profit-motivated and surveillant big data operations.
- Urban infrastructure
- Lived bodies
- Mediated bodily movement
- Big Data
- Computational city
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More exactly, Merleau-Ponty states that ‘[c]onsciousness is being-towards-the-thing through the intermediary of the body’ (Merleau-Ponty 1962/1989, pp. 138–139).
In the contemporary urban context, this constellation has been rendered even more complex through the development of wireless technologies and, more precisely, through digital signal processing. While the materiality of the ‘Herzian space’ (Shepard, 2009) is not directly perceived by our senses, it affects the body’s sensory orientation and relation to other bodies and things in urban space (Mackenzie, 2010; Ridell, 2019).
Journalists from South China Morning Post, located in Hong Kong, and journalistic and other media in western countries have reported that a massive system is being established by the Chinese government to identify its citizens based on facial recognition technologies: see, e.g., ‘China said to be testing facial recognition system to monitor Muslim-dominated Xinjiang region’, http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2129473/china-testing-facial-recognition-system-monitor-muslim-dominated; ‘China to build giant facial recognition database to identify any citizen within seconds’ http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2115094/china-build-giant-facial-recognition-database-identify-any; ‘China testing facial-recognition surveillance system in Xinjiang – report’ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/18/china-testing-facial-recognition-surveillance-system-in-xinjiang-report.
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Parviainen, J., Ridell, S. (2021). Infrastructuring Bodies: Choreographies of Power in the Computational City. In: Nagenborg, M., Stone, T., González Woge, M., Vermaas, P.E. (eds) Technology and the City. Philosophy of Engineering and Technology, vol 36. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-52313-8_8
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