Code/Space

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In the Amsterdam Museum, many stories are being told about the city and its inhabitants over the past centuries. Alongside maps and paintings, one can find personal stories of citizens about their city. The windows of the museum, which enable visitors to watch the city in real-time, can be considered as an integral part of the experience. In this way, historical facts and objects can always be compared to the appearance of the city today. While looking through the window at the first floor, one discovers another eye that is carefully watching what happens outside of the building. A security camera is positioned in a particular place, at eye level of a museum visitor. What happens on the square is being registrated. At the other side of the museum, a watcher looks at the registration of the camera on a tv screen, that is positioned next to many other tv screens of the same size. Whenever something unusual happens, he calls for the authorized personnel to take action.

Not only people or institutions have agency in shaping urban life, but non-human actors such as material objects and technologies play an important role as well in complex urban networks. The security camera in the museum shows how technology intervenes in physical public space, and immediately alters the nature of this space. Instead of a square where one is free to act, it has become a monitored space, which use is subjected to certain rules. Technologies thus shape the city as a setting for social interaction.

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