Disruptive visual urban forcefields: reconstructing the social
de Kock, Pieter
This paper discusses the idea of disruptive visual urban forcefields and aims at mapping out ways of re-inhabiting the city. It analyses social configurations in relation to urban assemblages. It consists of three parts: firstly, a photographic inquiry exploring aspects of social relationships and shifting themes that colour modern-day visual existence. Several key coordinates are elaborated on, including the notions of a visual urban forcefield; reinterpreting the concept of the flâneur; the idea of territory; and lastly how these have become associated with deterritorialization and reterritorialization. The second part focuses on differences in visual structure over time. Observations are made about previously documented buildings in urban settings, specifically in relation todisruptive urban forcefields. It looks at how these urban settings evolved and changed over a similar time period. The third part discusses the impact of technological visual forcefields and their influence over the social dimension of cities. How space is increasingly being coded with digital meaning. People are reacting to a creeping sense of intrusion in the urban, of constant surveillance and of being monitored and observed.This has meaning, specifically in relation to concepts of flâneur and territory. The call to action is centred on the idea that society needs a visual forcefield to disrupt modernday urban assemblage. We should resist the gaze of technology by adopting the gaze of the good flâneur, through relational visual thinking. We must adopt a strategy of ‘disruptive urban assemblage’ to counter worlding (McCann et al., 2013) and social degradation produced by one-sided intervention. In mapping ways of re-inhabiting the city lies the declaration that visual meaning “names the constitutive processes of assemblage, while assemblage is the spatiality of” (2011b) visual meaning. A visual forcefield to disrupt modern-day urban assemblage is required that circumscribes our existence, locating visual sustainability at the source.