‘The crowd’ can be understood as both object and experience: viewed from a distance, from above, as data, pressing in from all sides, pushing towards the exit, or up against the barricade. How to figure the crowd, and to what end, depends on the contingency of where one stands. Variously identified as the population, the masses, or the multitude, the crowd remains an urgent category of contemporary aesthetics and politics, yet is often undervalued in architectural discourse today.
If social thought at the turn of the twentieth century understood the crowd as a figure to be feared and suppressed, we now speak of both ‘crowd intelligence’ and ‘smart cities’ as a new data-driven optimism towards the crowd and its algorithmic management. Politically transformative and spatially ambiguous but increasingly measurable, the crowd is the client, the brief, and the site: the universal basic datum of mass culture and contemporary urbanism.
Offramp 14: Crowds
Southern California Institute of Architecture
Editors: Timothy Ivison (Guest Editor), Danny Wills, Dylan Krueger, Ravi Chandar, Yara Feghali
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