Experiments in Motion Research Seminar, Fall 2012

I am delighted to start another semester at Columbia. It's always a great thrill and honor to walk up the stairs toward Avery Hall where I have the pleasure of working with a team of incredibly smart colleagues and fantastic students. This fall, I'm giving a new spin on my network culture course as I teach as part of the Experiments in Motion collaboration between Audi and GSAPP. I'm looking forward to rethinking the subject matter with a sustained investigation into just what mobility means to us today. See the syllabus below. 

Columbia University

Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation

A4515: Experiments in Motion, I. Networks Fall 2012

Professor, Kazys Varnelis
Associate Instructor, Momo Araki

Lectures/Seminars Friday 11-1


As part of the Experiments in Motion collaboration between the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and Audi AG, this seminar seeks an understanding of the relationship of mobility and networks. 

Networks and mobility have always been linked. So long as there have been people, individuals have been driven to connect with each other to communicate thoughts and to exchange things. Transportation and communication are two reflections of the need to overcome the distance between us. The pre-modern city is the product of the first great intensification of mobility, produced by the explosion in trade and knowledge made possible by the invention of writing, the wheel, and the sailboat in Mesopotamia. With the development of modern postal systems, the telegraph, and the telephone, as well as the invention of trains, steamships, and automobiles in the nineteenth century, the city intensified to an entirely different energy level, producing the modern metropolis.

After a century of relatively stable intensification, we are now again experiencing a phase-shift as the Internet and mobile telecommunications devices are reframing mobility. The last two decades have sent us hurtling headlong into a new age in which our lives, more than ever, trace trajectories over networks. We live in a network culture that we urgently need to understand.

The seminar is organized as a history of the contemporary, tracing a genealogy of present-day culture and extrapolating possible trajectories into the future. We will explore how mobility and networks are not merely technologies with social ramifications but rather are cultural dominants connecting changes in science, society, economy, aesthetics, urbanism, and ideology.



All readings will be available on-line.




Background reading: David Harvey, “Fordism” and “From Fordism to Flexible Accumulation,” in The Condition of Postmodernity, (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1989), 125-172.



An Overview of Networks

Manuel Castells, “Informationalism, Networks, and the Network Society: A Theoretical Blueprint. In Castells, ed. The Network Society: A Cross-cultural Perspective (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2004), 3-45.

Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on Control Societies,” Negotiations, 1972-1990 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), 177-182.

Kazys Varnelis, “Conclusion: The Meaning of Network Culture,” Networked Publics, 145-163.





Network Theory

Albert-László Barabási, “Six Degrees of Separation,” “Small Worlds,” and “Hubs and Connectors,” Linked: The New Science of Networks (Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 2002), 25-63.

Nicholas Carr, “From the Many to the Few” The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google (New York: W. W. Norton, 2008), 127-149.


Mark S. Granovetter, “The Strength of Weak Ties,” American Journal of Sociology 78 (May 1973), 1360-1380.

Duncan J. Watts, “The Connected Age,” Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age, (New York: W.W. Norton, 2003), 19-42.




Michel de Certeau,  “Walking in the City,” The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), 91-110.

Michael Bull, “‘To each their own bubble’: Mobile Spaces of Sound in the City,” in Nick Couldry and Anna McCarthy eds., MediaSpace (New York: Routledge, 2004), 275-292.

Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchen, “Code and the Transduction of Life,” Journal of the Association of American Geographers 95, no. 1 (2005): 1

Mark Shepard, “Toward the Sentient City” In Shepard, Ed., Sentient City: Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture, and the Future of Urban Space (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011): 16-37.




Jean Baudrillard, “The End of the Millennium or the Countdown,” Economy & Society 26 (1997): 447-55.

Bruce Sterling, “Atemporality for the Creative Artist,” http://www.transmediale.de/en/keynote-bruce-sterling-us-atemporality

transcribed: http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2010/02/atemporality-for-the-crea...





Michel Foucault, “Docile Bodies,” Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), 135-156.

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, “Capitalist Sovereignty, Or Administering the Global Society of Control,” Empire (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000), 325-350.

Marc Augé, “Prologue” and “From Places to Non-Places,” in Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, (London; New York: Verso, 1995), 1-6. 75-115.

Hans Ibelings, “Supermodernism,” Supermodernism (Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 1998), 55-102.


Kazys Varnelis and Marc Tuters, “Beyond Locative Media: Giving Shape to the Internet of Things,” Leonardo 39, No. 4 (2006): 357–363.





Georg Simmel, “The Metropolis and Mental Life,” On Individuality and Social Forms, ed. David Levine, ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), 324-339.

Kenneth J. Gergen,“Social Saturation and the Populated Self,” The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life (New York: Basic Books, 2000), 48-80.

Brian Holmes, “The Flexible Personality. For a New Cultural Critique,” Transversal,  http://transform.eipcp.net/transversal/1106/holmes/en

Jeffrey Nealon, “Once More, With Intensity, Foucault’s History of Power Revisited,” Foucault Beyond Foucault, 24-53.

Warren Neidich, “From Noopower to Neuropower: How Mind Becomes Matter,” Cognitive Architecture:From Bio-politics to Noo-politics; Architecture & Mind in the Age of Communication and Information(Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 2010), 538-581.




Video Production Workshop





Joseph A .Tainter, “Introduction to Collapse,” The Collapse of Complex Societies, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 1-21.

Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1977), 13-32.

Charles Perrow, “Normal Accident at Three Mile Island.” Society 18, no. 5 (1981): 17–26.





Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron, “The Californian Ideology,” http://www.hrc.wmin.ac.uk/theory-californianideology-main.html.

Saskia Sassen, “Electronic space and power,” Journal of Urban Technology 4 (1997): 1-17.

Alexander R. Galloway, “Physical Media,” Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004), 29-53.


Saskia Sassen, “On Concentration and Centrality in the Global City,” Paul L. Knox and Peter J. Taylor, eds., World Cities in a World-System (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 63-78.

Stephen Graham, “Communication Grids: Cities and Infrastructure,” in Saskia Sassen, Global Networks. Linked Cities (London: Routledge, 2002), 71-92.

Kevin Phillips, “Preface,” “Introduction. The Panic of August,” “Finance: The New Real Economy?” Bad Money. (New York: Penguin, 2009), xi-lxxiv and 1-68.





Urban Form

Rob Kling, Spencer Olin, and Mark Poster, “Beyond the Edge: The Dynamism of Postsuburban Regions,” and “The Emergence of Postsuburbia: An Introduction,” Kling, Olin, and Poster, eds. Postsuburban California: The Transformation of Orange County (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), vii-xx, 1-30.

Selections from Michael J. Weiss, The Clustered World: How We Live, What We Buy, and What it All Means About Who We Are (New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 1999).

Robert E. Lang and Jennifer LeFurgy, “Edgeless Cities: Examining the Noncentered Metropolis,” Housing Policy Debate 14 (2003): 427-460.








Conclusion, Video Presentation