Monthly Archives: March 2015

Infographic Competition

Visualizing the City and Beyond: Infographic Competition

Deadline: March 30th, 2015


Submit an infographic and win!

Do you love data visualization, information design, or information architecture? This is your chance to get your work recognized. Henry Marshall Tory Chair is sponsoring its first annual juried infographic competition on urban and regional phenomena. And we want you to submit an entry!

Prizes: The winning entry and runner-up will be published in print and online in Curb Magazine. Cash prizes of $750 (first prize) and $250 (runner up).*

How to submit: Please submit your entries to with a short biography and a statement of intent (>100 words).

Deadline: March 30th, 2015 at 11:59 pm

* Prizes are offered by the Henry Marshall Tory Chair, University of Alberta, in Canadian dollars and are subject to accounting and auditing regulations. The winners will be required to grant a right of reproduction to the publication.

What is an infographic?

Whether it is public transportation information or patterns of disease outbreak, certain information can always be better conveyed through graphics. Infographics are graphic visual representations that present complex information, data or knowledge in a simplified way. Often, they employ visual aids to more effectively communicate patterns and trends.

What can my infographic be about?

Submissions may be on any topic related to urban or regional issues. There will be preference given to infographics that cover social topics, data or phenomena.

Some potential ideas: Urban sprawl patterns; social media activity distribution; walkable cities – a comparative study; disease outbreak patterns; etc.

Check out these examples:

The True Cost of Owning a Car

Urban Agriculture

Ebola Outbreak

Email your questions to

Five Days for Homelessness

5 Days for the HomelessCorporate sponsored activism on campus: 5 Days for the Homeless – GoAuto at University of Alberta School of Business.  A challenge in the cold.  Worthy of some reflection  on effectiveness and the skein of relationships being drawn around a topic of concern but what we might call a persistent “social margin”, which seems both tenacious, ineffectively addressed and interlocked with a set of institutional responses that create a numbing effect in political discourse, public awareness and response to social issues downloaded or spun out to the voluntary sector as a new margin by the neoliberal state, at the same time as routinizing charity and, yes, building awareness.  Compare the progress of Habitat for Humanity and Homeward Trust.

-Rob Shields (University of Alberta)

City as Bicycle Space

Genre de Vie is about the senses, urban experiences and transit.  It documents how urban life is enhanced and empowered by the bicycle — a simple interface to experiencing and accessing the city.  Bicycling becomes attractive when it is safe and the fastest way to access the city.   These two requirements involve providing separate infrastructure for bicycles: physically separated lanes, convenient bike rental/sharing and integrated networks of bicycle routes throughout the city.  By bicycle, I can get across Paris in under 40 minutes, impossible by almost any other mode of transport.

Genre de Vie, filmed in Copenhagen and New York by Jorri Spoelstra and Sven Prince of Photobooth Works and Faithful to the Subject, offers insights on how we can make our own cities immediately more livable and enjoyable for ourselves.

IMG_1234-Rob Shields (University of Alberta)

CFP – Public Life – Towards a politics of care: Bodies. Place. Matter.

Call for Papers: PhD Symposium, Vienna, 17th/18th April 2015 at SKuOR: Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space, TUWien, Technical University of Vienna, Austria.

Submit abstracts (250 words), short statements of motivation (250 words), and your short CV (250 words) until Friday 6  March 2015 to  Interested colleagues can register until 15th March 2015 to attend the conference by emailing to

Admission: Free

A politics of care needs to be situated between bodies, place and matter.  These come together both as elements of public and political life in cities and as as the subjects of research, knowledge production, and scientific inquiry.

This conference aims to take up the complexities of public life and a new politics of care and concern situated in the commonalities, connectivities, and nuanced spatialities between bodies, place, and matter. Three panels “Bodies. Place. Matter” examine public life and the spatialisations of care and concern from the perspectives of urban, design and cultural disciplines.  A common politics of care addresses the entanglement of infrastructures, resources, and affects, alignments, contradictions, and conflicts, labour, work, and pleasure, distribution and access, local site-specificity and a globalized production of space. If public space is indeed a critical part of public life or the embodied geographies of the public sphere, then we need to rethink its inherent potentials between everyday life practices and the production and critical reflection of scientific insights/knowing.

As a joint project between the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space (, Vienna University of Technology, Austria – where all three organizers worked together within the frame of the City of Vienna Visiting Professorship Programme 2014 –  the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Austria  and Space and Culture, University of Alberta, Canada, a PhD Symposium will take place on 17th/18th April 2015. The conference seeks to bring together activism, contemporary art, research, critical spatial practice well as urban theory, design and planning to reflect and discuss issues of public life and a spatial politics of care.

Panel 1 Bodies (Theme A, Elke Krasny)

The panel is less about what bodies are, but rather about how bodies act, what bodies can do, what bodies must do. Bodies are subjects. Bodies are subjected. Bodies produce. Bodies reproduce. Bodies depend. Bodies resist. Bodies are vulnerable. Bodies put themselves on the line. Bodies matter. Bodies support. Bodies care. The panel seeks to examine the implications and reverberations of austerity, globalization, rapid transformations, economic downturn, precarity, in/difference, in/justice, re/production, and re/distribution with regards to the spatialised implications of bodies co-producing public life and bodies co-dependent in a politics of care. The panel is dedicated to seeking new alignments, critical links, and productive transgressions between emergent practices, theories, and histories addressing bodies in public life and a politics of care. The panel welcomes contributions questioning, unpacking, and critiquing these complexities with a particular focus on feminist spatial agency in contemporary art, curating, urban research, and urban design, as well as the history and theory linking and transgressing these fields.

Keynote: Kim Trogal, Visiting Design Fellow, School of Architecture, University of Sheffield, Britain

Discussant: to be confirmed

Panel 2 Place (Theme B, Sabine Knierbein)

The debate around abstract spaces of capitalism and how they been mediated through planning and design professions and practice has been taken up again critically, both from relational perspectives on public space and from anthropological approaches to embodied spaces. This session is dedicated to unravel new urban planning, design and urban studies approaches addressing relational geographies and politics of care in these fields. Potential contributions to this panel might address issues of bodily experience and action, as well as relational pedagogies or curricular innovations to enhance education and reorganize elites through critical practice, action and reflection in and on public space. It welcomes contributions that seek to differentiate and qualify contemporary debates on the (re)emergence of collective interests, urban cultures and public claims, and strengthens a reading of forms of embodied resistance and protest as intervention and alteration in current modes of production of space and place.

Keynote Lecture: Prof. Dr. Kirsten Simonsen, Professor in Social and Cultural Geography, Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change (ENSPAC), Roskilde University, Denmark

Discussant: Dr. Sandra Huning (TU Dortmund)

Panel 3 Matter (Theme C, Rob Shields)

Paradoxically, in a more globalized world where communication technologies have made interaction less dependent on bodies in a shared location, where the ‘spaces of concern’ lie either at planetary scales too large to grasp or nanotechnologies dissolve our faith in the solidity of matter, the materiality of bodies, trees and animals is still prominent. Concrete materiality anchors media and political concerns as the infrastructure of care and concern.  Political force appears dependent on bodies occupying public places.  Yet ‘what matters’ is only recognized within a context or ‘space of concern’ in which it takes on meaning. How are the empirical elements of cities, the bricks of public spaces and the flesh of bodies taken up through practices to become the pivots of ethical and political spatialisations of care and concern?

Keynote: to be confirmed

Discussant: to be confirmed



Friday, 17th April 2015 

Venue: Semperdepot Vienna, Lehargasse 6-8, 1060, Wien

9:00 Arrival and Registration

9:30 Opening

Panel I – Bodies

10.00 Bodies – Introduction Elke Krasny

10.10 Keynote Speech Kim Trogal

10:40-Panel I Bodies (3-4 Panel Participants)

12:30-Lunch break

Panel II – Place (Sabine Knierbein)

14:00- Place – Introduction by Sabine Knierbein

14:10- Keynote Speech Kirsten Simonsen

14:40-Coffee break

15:10-Panel II Place (3-4 Panel Participants)

17:00 Break

18:00 Evening Event


Saturday, 18th April 2015 

Venue: Semperdepot Vienna, Lehargasse 6-8, 1060, Wien

Panel III – Matter (Rob Shields)

9:00 Arrival and Coffee

9:20 Matter – Introduction Rob Shields

9:30 Keynote Speech III

10.00 Panel III Matter (3-4 Panel Participants)

12:00- Lunch break

13:30- Networking and Exchange Workshop

15:00- Coffee Break

15:30-16:30 Discussants’ Summary

Place: Mobiles Stadtlabor Karlsplatz, U-Bahn Station Resselpark, 1040 Vienna

18:00 Book Presentation „Public Space and Relational Perspectives“

Panel Debate with Dr. Sandra Huning (TU Dortmund, Germany), Prof. Kirsten Simonsen (University of Roskilde, Denmark, and others)

20.00 SKuOR Soirée (Reception)

Further information: Contact

News Mashup

Courtesy of The Guardian‘s mix artist, Cassetteboy, last month’s news. I noticed that cutting across times and spaces is both the form and content of this mashup — and to get these jokes you have to also master a kind of topological mental surfing.

-Rob Shields (University of Alberta)

Anthropocene Grief for Nature

In a recent comment in Geoforum, Todd Walton and Wendy S. Shaw pick up on Zizek’s 2010 comment that we are beginning to grieve the loss of environments, the

“relationship between society and the (impending) ‘death of nature’ in the epoch referred to as the ‘Anthropocene’ that includes a specific engagement with the psychological. We ponder on societal death anxiety as a coping mechanism for what is widely perceived to be an era in which ecological catastrophe is imminent and suggest that geographical engagements need to draw more specifically on psychology and psychoanalysis to better understand responses to the Anthropocene, from the individual to the highest levels of governance.”

But this reverses the usual discussion that climate change is to the detriment ultimately of humans. Nature will continue as bios, life, even on a less biodiverse planet. I’m not sure I grieve the death of Nature, unless this is for the loss of a particular ‘settlement’ with an ecological context. Nor am I sure that grief is the best response: presumably future generations will be as canny and adaptable as in the past. Its a bit early to predict the end of the human relation to the environment. Only narcissism and concern for our own privilege seems to fit with grieving. Or, we can grieve the death of a loved one from pollution-induced asthma, of a frog, of a species perhaps, but how to ‘grieve’ for an environment or an ecosystem? ‘Melancholia’ seems a better term than anthropocene grief — perhaps we need a new repertoire of ideas to contemplate the implications of the anthropocene?

Rob Shields (University of Alberta)

In Progress: Black and White 1

The persistence of black and white images, beyond the common availability of the photographic film that made these types of images so popular, and outside of widespread experience with art techniques such as charcoal drawing or black and white pen and ink raises question of their significance which are beyond the mostly closed chapters of photography and visual theory. Why and what is it about black and white?

Black and white images abstract.  They are clearly representations and clearly theoretical in that they idealize and select from the available visual phenomenon.  Black and White highlights contour, contrast and continua.


That is, it dramatizes by simplifying the contrast between objects and between subjects and their settings.  It picks out the edges of things, or alternately it blurs them together in under- or over-exposure.

Black and white emphasizes shading over variation of colour.  It shows up not only smooth gradations or continua, but form, solely on the basis of shades of gray.

Black and white emphasizes contrast based on light and dark which is biologically perceptible contrast rather than levels of colour saturation or the contrasts of colour theory which opposes certain colours as contras

ting, such as blue and orange.

(From Visual Culture Project)              Rob Shields (University of Alberta)