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Het Nieuwe Instituut presents three projects at the eighth Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB) from December 2019 to March 2020 in Shenzhen: Automated Landscapes: Time, Cycles, Automata and Dalang Fever 3 and the symposium Tender Machines.

The overarching theme of 2019 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (Shenzhen) is Urban Interactions. Chief curators for this year’s UABB are Architect and Director of MIT Senseable City Lab Carlo Ratti, CAE academician Meng Jianmin and art critic Fabio Cavallucci.

Time, Cycles, Automata

Continuing Het Nieuwe Instituut’s long-term engagement with the implications of artificial intelligence and automation for workspaces and productive landscapes in the Pearl River Delta, Time, Cycles, Automata argues that self-operating machines have been part of life in China since ancient times—from anthropomorphic automata to water-driven clocks and puppet theatres. A five-channel video installation by Juan Arturo García conceptualises a Shenzhen-based factory as a clock—driven by global capital rather than nature—reflecting on the coalescence of human, non-human, and more-than-human time cycles of contemporary automation.

Time, Cycles, Automata is part of Automated Landscapes, a long-term collaborative research initiative on the implications of automation for the built environment, launched in 2017 by Het Nieuwe Instituut. For the Pearl River Delta Research and this presentation, Ludo Groen, Marten Kuijpers and Marina Otero Verzier (Research department Het Nieuwe Instituut) closely worked together with architect and curator Merve Bedir of Aformal Academy. 

Dalang Fever 3

People’s needs are rarely put at the centre of global data collection. Dalang Fever 3. How Data Can Empower a Migrant Society is a participatory research project aiming to understand the desires and needs of residents in Dalang, a rapidly transforming neighbourhood on the outskirts of Shenzhen. 

Very little data–except inaccessible user data–is available on the migrants living and working in this remote and often overlooked area. Het Nieuwe Instituut and the International New Town Institute (INTI) collaborated with Impact Hub Shenzhen to independently collect quantitative and qualitative data anonymously to provide genuine insights and a richer sense of the human interaction, needs and network in the area. The research team collected structural and semi-structural data from 350 people living and working in Dalang through interviews and online questionnaires. 

Dalang Fever 3 consists of research, an exhibition and a workshop curated by Linda Vlassenrood (independent curator). The research has been conducted by Impact Hub Shenzhen (headed by Tat Lam). The exhibition design and graphics are developed by Koehorst in ‘t Veld. Dalang Fever 3 builds on two previous projects at UABB (2013, 2015) by the same curator for the International New Town Institute (INTI). The research project is part of the DATAstudio programme (2015 – 2019) of Het Nieuwe Instituut, which addresses the question of how data and technology can benefit citizens and specific neighbourhoods.

Symposium Tender Machines

Nicholas Korody (co-founder of Adjustments Agency) and Marina Otero Verzier (director of Research at Het Nieuwe Instituut) convene Tender Machines: Bodies, Technologies, and Labour in the Contemporary City. A marathon of talks, screenings, and performances held in Shenzhen on February 15 and 16, 2020, by invitation of Eyes of the City curator Carlo Ratti. The event aims to expand discussions around the introduction of AI, machine vision, and other new technologies into cities.

Exploring the entanglement of bodies and technologies that constitutes urbanity, Tender Machines aims to interrogate normative understandings of the so-called “technologized” or “smart city,” rejecting binary constructions of the “human” and the “machine” frequently employed in discourses surrounding it. Rather than oppositional, technology is understood as enfleshed, and bodies as technologized. What does that mean for how we think about cities today?

Speakers include Peijie Gu, Ian Ingram, Jen Liu, Farzin Lotfi-Jam and Mark Wasiuta, Simone Niquille, among others.

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For more information and images please contact Silvie van Oost via or +31 (0) 6 57 98 13 88.