Prof. George Katodrytis
American University of Sharjah
Telegenic Urbanisms - click the image to enlarge and zoom in
by Prof. George Katodrytis
The Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf is home to some of the world’s most controversial settlements that have grown into major economic and global hubs following rapid transformation. A canvas for global and nomadic crossroads; north-south immigration patterns and east- west trading axes bisect a tabula rasa of hues, extreme climates and strange topographies, provides a complex matrix of interconnectivities. These post-colonial cities of the 21st century have grown out of new technologies, telecommunications and mega infrastructures that have brought about dramatic morphological and ecological changes. This is the future state of world urbanism – prescriptive and full of visual dramatization. This form of urbanization also shows a preoccupation with the fabrication of an image. The exploration of places through imagery is a contemporary phenomenon. As the technology in the production of imagery of un-built or newly built architecture has become more sophisticated, its image becomes an end in itself and can now be transmitted across the globe instantaneously. Coastal necklace settlements, sand and silicone, pixelated patterns, landscape and render farms, fractal and parametric formations, simulated SimCities, dynamic formations, master plans and speculative developments are now projecting new satellite urbanisms. This spatial and urban approach emphasizes enclaves but also exclusiveness. We are now planning and designing cities by gazing down on the action from heavens. Reconnaissance technologies turn into spectacle and ‘telegenic’ fantasies addressing mass tourism. Simulated panoramas and imagery of unfinished projects give rise to an exciting promise and fantasy. In effect digital imagery and technology is shaping the future of cities. After all we are all nomads inhabiting an image.