THE KNOWN CITY: VISUAL RHETORICS OF URBANISM IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Despite the uncanny nature of the city, we do everything we can to convince ourselves that we understand it. Nowhere is this more the case than in those professions dedicated to divining and prophesying the urban through the gentle arts of persuasion. This lecture examines a range of visual tropes deployed over the last century by architects, planners, social reformers, investors, and marketers to render the city known—and indeed knowable. Through maps, ideographs, diagrams, photographs, and trade films, we will trace the visual registration of powerful urban narratives that reveal the organization of an urban episteme. We will also review the emergence since the 1960s of a critical discourse of urbanism among artists and activists whose interventions, détournements, and insurgent geographies raise fundamental questions about what we can and cannot know of our cities.
Joseph Heathcott is the 2010-2011 U.S. Fulbright Distinguished Chair at the University of the Arts London. He is an Associate Professor and Chair of Urban Studies at The New School in New York, where he teaches in Eugene Lang College and Parsons School of Design. His work considers the role of collective memory and creative expression as everyday civic practices that shape the metropolis over time. His work has appeared in a wide range of academic journals, magazines, newspapers, trade publications, blogs, and DIY ‘zines’. His most recent photography exhibit Post-Acropolis Metropolis was installed at the City Hall Gallery in Stuttgart, Germany. He has been awarded fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Erasmus Institute, the Mellon Foundation, and the Brown Center for the Humanities. Currently he serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Urban Pedagogy In New York, and frequently gives his time to neighborhood groups and community organizations.