Urban Media Lab: Waste

Urban Media Lab: Waste I


The New School
School of Media Studies
Spring 2011
Course Website
Seminar Files
Urban Research Catalogue

In the context of macroecological and financial crises that have dramatically shifted attention toward the management of multiple forms of garbage, excess and inefficiency, Urban Media Lab: Waste explores the cultural logics and politics of waste in contemporary urban life. Registered in terms of space (blight, sprawl, vacancy), time (waiting, boredom, drudgery), resources (refuse, trash), and increasingly in terms of digital information technologies (e-waste, obsolescence, “delete”), waste marks the residue, the left-over, the cast-off, the remainder, the damaged, the unclassifiable, the useless. Especially at a time when our virtual and material worlds are designed to streamline and optimize urban life at all scales – from operative landscapes to responsive systems to productivity software - our cultural definitions and regulations of waste are central to the ordering of our environments and ourselves. Grounded in an understanding of the city as the irreducible density of people, built environments, and information architectures, this seminar interprets the history of waste through the double lenses of urban development and media cultures.