Kirsten Wagner: “Postcapital” or What Follows the City?

The Knowledge City
Postcapital: Vortragsreihe, Workshops, Filmprogramm
Württembergischer Kunstverein, Schlossplatz 2, 70173 Stuttgart, Fon: +49 (0)711 22 33 70,

Lecture (german)
Thursday, January 15, 2009, 7 pm

With the advent of the so-called information age, much seemed prone to vanish: the body, the space, the city, the book along with its institution, the library. But everything returns, and not only as visual metaphors on monitor surfaces. While the physical body has proved to be an equally ineluctable and refractory factor in technical thing ensembles, megacities—notably illustrated by media geography through their radiant diagrams and maps—have asserted themselves as spatial and economic centers of a globally networked media culture. And despite an increasing digitalization that includes historical text and image inventory, libraries have been experiencing an unexpected renaissance over the past years, as attested to by a series of spectacular newly erected libraries.

The city was already emerging in the nineteen-seventies as visual metaphor and spatial organization model in the framework of computer-supported data management. Based on the various data management systems of the Architecture Machine Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and augmented by the self-denoted “urban” network associations of the nineteen-eighties, a literal tide of digital cities of information and knowledge came forth in the nineteen-nineties. The practice of classifying knowledge spatially and demonstrating it by means of architectural image models such as the city now boasts a long tradition.
A critical examination of digital knowledge cities naturally includes these historical forerunners as well as the limits and utopias of spatial knowledge organization.

Kirsten Wagner studied art history, German studies, and sociology at Braunschweig University and Oldenburg University (1989–1996). From 1997–1998 she was artistic director of the Oldenburger Kunstverein; 1998–2000 postgraduate program on “Political Iconography,” University of Hamburg; 2001–2002 doctoral scholarship from the state of Schleswig-Holstein; 2004 doctorate; since 2002 research associate in cultural sciences at Berlin’s Humboldt University; member of the German Research Foundation (DFG) network Urban Spaces: Perspectives on an Art-Historical Exploration of Space; current research project in special research field 447 Cultures of the Performative on library architecture. Further areas of expertise: spatial models of knowledge from early modernism to the present, spatial perception in aesthetics and architecture theory of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, urban representation.

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