The Metropolitan Observatory for Digital Cultural and Representation (MODCaR) is a research organization that is built upon the idea that “urban experience is conditioned by images.” To understand what the premises of MODCaR is, it may be helpful to first start with a discussion of what representation is. For this I turn to Jen Webb’s theory on representation in her book Understanding Representation.
Webb discusses how our perceptions of words, politics, art, media, philosophy, etc are based on our backgrounds, our histories, our cultures, and the contexts of our lives and thus they influence how we perceive things. To break it down even further we can say that things exist only because we decide they exist. The chair is a chair because we decided that it was a chair. And this also goes to say that there is never one absolute because the compilation of people in our society includes such a largely diverse background that there will never be just one point of view.
MODCaR is a coalition of builders, writers, designers, photographers, teachers, filmmakers, landscapers, graphic designers and students. They focus on the concept of how images are produced, diffused and perceived? How is Detroit perceived? How is it diffused? Like in Webb’s theory, they understand that image-making is unstable and the reality of images is based on condition. Their aim is to explore visual narratives at both the national and international scale in order to better understand the “relationship between experience, the constructed image, meaning and the public.”
MODCaR has a two-point mission that includes first the sponsoring of events that will produce a discussion and encrouage interest in urban representation. They believe that image-making is “a powerful tool for communication and impact.” This leads into their second point in which they aim to understand current media, digital culture and networks. For this they plan on creating “analytic tools for the understanding of urban representation and in support of self-organizing, emergent systems.”
Their current project, Imaging Detroit, is sponsored by the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning’s Research on the City’s initiative. Imaging Detroit is collective public assemblage that will take place from September 21-23, 2012. It will be a 48-hour long screening, exhibit and performance that will take place in and focus on Detroit. It aims to spur discussions of Detroit’s “city-manufactured meanings.” Detroit was specifically chosen as the point of discussion because of its layered complex controversy and power-potential. Can we transform our city by transforming society’s perception of it?
Want to participate? They’re searching for both existing Detroit representation and also alternative representation. Imaging Detroit is accepting proposals of all sorts—videos, films, slides, photographs and performance are all welcome. For more info and to submit proposals check out the link below.