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Northeastern University‘s Center for Design (CfD), housed within the College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD), developed a visual atlas that is currently on display at the 2019 Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture. The project, on display until March 2020 in Shenzhen, is part of the “Eyes of the City” exhibition, which is curated by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Carlo Ratti (Chief Curator), Politecnico di Torino and SCUT (Academic Curators), and explores the impact of new technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence and facial recognition, on urban life. The title of the exhibition was inspired by the “eyes on the street” phrase coined by urban activist Jane Jacobs in the 1960s.  As new technology permeates the urban landscape, cities themselves are acquiring the ability to see, thanks to sensors and data that enable the built environment to respond to people’s presence in real-time.  

The CfD project, entitled Curating Curation, is a visual atlas of the curatorial process behind – and before – the Eyes of the City. The body of the curatorial process has been dissected into eleven charts that expose the richness of the corpus of metadata and descriptions attached to each and every one of the submitted applications.

The aim is to unfold the complexity of the curatorial process, to make it legible, and to re-constitute the ensemble of all the applications as a (big) picture of the current status of design and research in architecture and urban planning. Who applied, from where, when, and what do all these proposals have in common in terms of topics and imagery? Navigating the flows and the nets of data you can find the answers and step into the tree of decisions that builds an exhibition, before entering it.

The project was a collaborative effort between Northeastern faculty and students, including Paolo Ciuccarelli, Professor in Art + Design and Director of the CfD; and students Yinan Dong, Yuan Hua, Todd Linkner, Yuqing Liu, and Nicole Zizzi.