Public Space? Lost and Found Publication + Launch

Public Space? Lost and Found explores the contemporary evolution of public space from the milieu of design and artistic thinking and practice at the civic scale. It gathers an eclectic cast of practitioners and theorists of the public domain and welcomes all readers interested in how the production of public space plays out (or could play out) under interrelated, accelerating conditions shaping the present, such as ubiquitous computing, climate change, economic austerity, and the rise of various stripes of political extremism and isolationism. The premise of this collection, conveyed in its title, is that public space is perpetually being lost and found according to big changes in the social and technical makeup of our lives—it is a perennial and open concern.

Public spaces change as our modes of publicity change and as the threshold between public and non-public, intimacy and exposure, shifts. Producing new and relevant works of art and civic technologies in support of a public domain means being ready to disorient and reorient oneself toward the contemporary features of public space, as well as the forces walling it off, buying it out, or making it redundant—even obsolete. Today, amidst an incredible boom in information environments and marketplaces, new forms of mediated sociality and solidarity, and explosive, cross-scale threats to personal and ecosystematic security, it is easy to develop civic vertigo and lose sight of how public space works and for whom. We need to be nimble and open in our approach, which includes a serious questioning of the enduring viability of this term: public space.

Public Space? Lost & Found began as a symposium and exhibition (April, 2014) that celebrated the career and retirement of professor of the practice Antoni Muntadas and the network of artists, researchers, centers, and programs he helped to develop at, and far beyond, MIT. The symposium featured several of the contributors to this book. In the interim years, the book grew in scope to include new voices. The book’s four sections—PARADOXES, ECOLOGIES, JURISDICTIONS, and SIGNALS—reflect conversations had in the wake of the original symposium and capture themes of urgent concern in the discourses of art and architecture, but also of anthropology, philosophy, political economy, and civic media.

Public Space? Lost and Found

Edited by Gediminas Urbonas, Ann Lui, and Lucas Freeman
Produced by the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT)
Published by SA+P Press
Distributed by MIT Press

Contributors: atelier d’architecture autogérée, Dennis Adams, Bik Van Der Pol, Adrian Blackwell, Ina Blom, Christoph Brunner with Gerald Raunig, Néstor García Canclini, Colby Chamberlain, Beatriz Colomina, Teddy Cruz with Fonna Forman, Jodi Dean, Juan Herreros, Brian Holmes, Andrés Jaque, Caroline Jones, Coryn Kempster with Julia Jamrozik, György Kepes, Rikke Luther, Matthew Mazzotta, Metahaven, Timothy Morton, Antoni Muntadas, Otto Piene, Marjetica Potrč, Nader Tehrani, Troy Therrien, Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas, Angela Vettese, Mariel Villeré, Mark Wigley, and Krzysztof Wodiczko

With section openings from Ana María León, T. J. Demos, Doris Sommer, and Catherine D’Ignazio

Launch Events

Storefront for Art and Architecture
79 Kenmare Street, New York City
May 4, 2017
7—  9pm

Cabaret Series: The Public is in Bits and Bubbles presents a series of short performances by artists, architects, and cultural producers exploring the changing definitions of public space in the age of oversharing, overexposure, memes, and post-fact politics.

If you can join us in New York City, please RSVP with Storefront here.

Serra dei Giardini
57th Venice Biennale Art Exhibition
Viale Giuseppe Garibaldi, 1254
30122 Venezia —  Castello
May 11, 2017
6:30— 8:00pm

Performances, discussion, and refreshments at the greenhouse; no RSVP necessary.

In cooperation with Angela Vettese, IUAV University of Venice, Visual Arts, MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology, and Microclima, Venice.

Founded in Venice by artistic director Paolo Rosso in 2011, Microclima is a cultural programme that focuses on projects relating to the natural world, cultural heritage and the public sphere. It is housed in the Serra dei Giardini, a greenhouse built in 1894 for the Biennale to preserve the exotic plants that decorated the first International Exhibitions of Art. Microclima has also branches in Guwahati (India), Santiago (Cuba), Ulaanbataar (Mongolia) and events in various spots. 

Generous support for the production of Public Space? Lost and Found was provided to ACT by the following sponsors:

Cynthia and John S. Reed Foundation
Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund
Lewben Art Foundation
Council for the Arts at MIT
UPS ASC Lithuania, UAB Skubios siuntos
Consulate General of Spain