The machinic city

Media, performance and participation

By Marcos P. Dias

The machinic city


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3578-0
  • Pages: 216
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: March 2021
  • BIC Category: Sociology, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Urban, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies, The arts / Man-made objects depicted in art (cityscapes, machines, etc), Human Geography, Earth sciences, geography, environment, planning / Urban & municipal planning, Society & social sciences / Media studies
  • Series: Materialising the Digital


As human and machine agency become increasingly intermingled and digital media is overlaid onto the urban landscape, The machinic city argues that performance art can help us to understand contemporary urban living. Dias analyses several performance art interventions from artists such as Blast Theory, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and Rimini Protokoll, which draw from a rich history of avant-garde art movements to create spaces for deliberation and reflection on urban life and to speculate on its future.

While cities are increasingly controlled by autonomous processes mediated by technical machines, Dias analyses the performative potential of the aesthetic machine, as it assembles with media, capitalist, human and urban machines. The aesthetic machine of performance art in urban space is examined through its different components - design, city and technology actants. This unveils the unpredictable nature and emerging potential of performance art as it unfolds in the machinic city, which consists of assemblages of efficient and not-so-efficient machines.


'Dias' inspiring study makes clear that cities and machines are not always smart. His fascinating case studies show how performance art is perfectly placed to reveal the unpredictable, uncanny, powerful, playful and dysfunctional aspects of both. Drawing on perspectives ranging from philosophy and machine aesthetics to posthumanism and urban studies, Dias shines new light on our contemporary experience of "the machinic city" in bold and remarkable ways.'
Steve Dixon, Professor at LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore, and author of Cybernetic-Existentialism and Digital Performance


1 A Machine To See With
2 Probing the machine of performance art
3 Rethinking machines
4 The aesthetic machine
5 Participation in the machinic city
6 Future machines


Marcos P. Dias is Assistant Professor in the School of Communications at Dublin City University

Newsletter Sign Up

Manchester University Press

Your cart is empty.

Select your shipping destination to estimate postage costs

(Based on standard shipping costs)

Final cost calculated on checkout
Promotional codes can be added on Checkout