Post-City Lab Seoul


What challenges will cities face in the future? We chose Seoul as a prime example and went on a three-day mission to reconnoiter the Korean metropolis. Our base camp was Zer01ne, a creative network platform that had been launched only a few months before. In the company of local creatives associated with the Zer01ne hub and international experts, we set out on daily expeditions in three different directions. In the afternoon, the three groups reconvened at the Zer01ne base camp to share their impressions captured in photos, videos, scribbles and notes. A database system was set up especially for the workshop and an interactive city map put the day’s anecdotes on the table in the truest sense of the word.
The first group wrestled with issues raised by a “SMART CITY.” What impact does the urban digitization process have on city dwellers? What influence do automation processes have on a smart city? How will the city look when we’re all hooked up to self-learning and automated things and objects? And besides the consideration of motor vehicles, what could automation bring about in a future city?

The second crew took “POST-DESERTIFICATION” as their topic. What challenges arise in areas of the cityscape devoid of human beings—spaces without owners, administrators or caretakers? How could technologies transform abandoned zones into neighborhoods with an agenda and a function for citizens, and what various significances for a city can depopulated places be endowed with?

The matter of interaction between a city and its inhabitants was investigated by the third group. “POST-SENSATION” dealt with sensory experiences in general in an urban setting, and, specifically, the various modes of experiencing, capturing and measuring fragrances, tastes, sounds, sights and haptic inputs in such places. They asked: What does it mean to experience a city? And how can/should we use technology to get our senses into balance or to augment them in a sensible way?

A fourth group labeled “LIDAR” was outfitted with a sensor kit packed in its rucksack and accompanied the three themed groups to their various locations each day. For one thing, they employed laser beam sensors to optically generate their own distance and speed measurements, which then flowed into their artistic takes on the physical locations they visited; for another, they functioned as a source of irritation in the public sphere and revealed control mechanisms by provoking confrontations with public authorities during the expedition.

The objective and technical description of the Post-City Lab Seoul so far hits the nail on the head of the project. What is to be framed there, however, is probably beyond objective and technical terms. It is less about accuracy than about tact, rhythm and sensitivity, less about measuring than about the appropriate. The choice of a city, the division into groups, the definition of routes and locations, the definition of themes and the selection of the people involved are basically only what would be described as the virtuoso selection of exquisite ingredients in the art of cooking. The Post-City Lab Seoul provided the framework for processing these ingredients. And what would result from this for a court can perhaps be described less as a result, but as an impetus for a process that allows one to look beyond one’s own nose. And, it can be mentioned beforehand, it became a tasty, full-bodied, light and difficult to digest, sweet, bitter, spicy, strange, familiar dish… – as varied, known and unknown as the future itself.  The title of the project alone indicates that the question posed by the Post-City Lab Seoul is oriented towards the new forms of coexistence we need to develop as a society in order to cope with the radical changes in our urbanized environment. With changes we refer to those whose human origin or at least human influence can be proven. Post-City, as the provocative question of the next model of urban coexistence naturally also implies the question in which new role models citizens will find themselves and, as a result, what the position of post-citizens is.

Seoul – Mega-City, metropolis, the perfect stage of imperfection: As the capital of one of the most innovative countries in the world. As a city whose history has been marked by political and cultural influence and radical change. As a city whose existence can be traced back far into the past and at the same time is the preferred ideal model of an urban utopia in science fiction films. As a city full of contrasts and cultural anomalies. As a city that raises many questions and is full of answers.

The methodical approach and the core of the Post-City Lab Seoul only uses the usual answers to find the right questions. So its essence is to critically examine our questions and, if necessary, to redefine them. 
How could it be possible to make the questions of a city authentically identifiable and to learn to understand them in context without being part of the culture lived there on a daily basis and not to follow in the inglorious footsteps of traditional models of colonisation. The Post-City Lab Seoul is made up of views from international and national experts. Diversity as a fruitful basis – on the one hand the talents promoted by Zer01ne and on the other hand the mentors and moderators selected by Ars Electronica (the basic prerequisite for this was that no one was allowed to have been to Seoul before). The dynamism ignited by this proved us right, because the places visited by the 3 groups and their excursions into the city itself were all proposed, thematically contextualized and moderated by the local creators of ZerO1. The result was a stimulating, controversial programme between different places, themes and people whose common ground was their diversity.

They met: Food on Fashion Market, Shamanism on Smart City, Mountaineering on Bunker Visit, Subway on Bus, Mountain Peak on Rooftop, Subway on Elevator, Public Art on Artificial Island, Prison on Housing Estate, Creator on Army, Kim Chi on Lasagne, Ferment on Ferofluid, Sound Artist on Social Activist, Handcraft on AI,Urban-Space planner on Refugee camp Major, Startup on Industry, Smart Women on Smart Man, Emptiness on Solitude, Tradition on Future. Ars Electronica and Zer01 – People on People

Oak Jungho (KR), Choi Youngjun (KR), Chris Shen (KR), Dakd Jung (KR), Choi Byoungil (KR), Hwang Moonjung (KR), Kim Nahee (KR), Kim Sungbaek (KR), Gim Jeongtae (KR), Cho Hoyoung (KR), Hoonida Kim (KR), Park Seungsoon (KR), Choi Jinoon (KR), Yang Sookyun (KR), Sophie Lamparter (CH), Manu Luksch (AT, GB), Ian Banerjee (IN, AT), Pablo de Soto (BA), Eric Dahlstrom (NZ), Kilian Kleinschmidt (DE), Bradly Dunn Klerks (NL, BE), Edwina Portocarrero (MX), Ilaria Hoppe (DE)