Session at the 108th College Art Association of America Annual Conference

Janet Bellotto, Zayed University and Adina Hempel, Zayed University 

Through media, international travel and trade, cities are linked to a large network that perhaps could even be considered as a giant global city. The development of a unique city identity today is largely impacted by the need to easily disseminate information through social media. The curated online identity of cities has shaped the urban culture and the presented narrative around important architecture, design and public art projects as ambassadors of the city’s cultural importance. The influence of 21st century technology therefore largely contributes to how the city is perceived while negating elements function and origin.

Chicago's 2016 Architecture Biennale’s “Vertical City” exhibit explored Chicago’s Tribune Tower Competition and the establishment of new narratives and concepts. In 2019, the biennale moves beyond buildings to view what circumstances shape the built environment. Overall as the Chicago Biennale aims to engage the public experience of architecture in a city where interdisciplinary projects have explored storytelling through its buildings, artists/designers/researchers/architects today use experiences and personal perspectives to shape an imagined city of the future. This panel aims to examine the development of the perceived and experienced identity of cities from an interdisciplinary angle. How are cities forced to narrate their history in this age of social media? What lens has been used in re-branding a city? How do other cities, with complex histories, deal with this development? How has this media impacted not only the identity or brand of a city but also the development of the creative industries and their cultural representations?