People kayak, scuba dive, and work on an imagined oyster farm in Brooklyn

With Emily Eliza Scott, ETH Zurich Department of Architecture

Discussant: Shannon C. Mattern, The New School

Image Source: SCAPE/Landscape Architecture Oyster-Tecture, MoMA Rising Currents Exhibition 2010

Living Breakwaters, by the landscape architecture firm SCAPE, aims to thicken New York City’s coastline with oyster reefs in order to mitigate storm surges from rising sea levels and increasingly destructive weather patterns. Infrastructure is here imagined as a connector rather than barrier, and more specifically, as the platform upon which multiple human and nonhuman actors are set into motion and interactions are expected to evolve over time. This talk considers such an endeavor relative to both the emergent discourse of “resilient urbanism,” and a rich vein of critical practice by artists that has probed urban infrastructure, including various transformations to the contemporary city and their intended and unintended, visible and invisible, repercussions.  Note: This is a brown bag lunch lecture & discussion

EMILY ELIZA SCOTT is an interdisciplinary scholar, artist, and former park ranger. Her work focuses on contemporary art and design practices that engage pressing eco-geo-political issues, often with the intent to actively transform real-world conditions. Currently a postdoc in the architecture department at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich), she teaches on subjects ranging from the concept of “post-nature,” to architecture in the expanded field, to the emergent physical and imaginative geographies of climate change. Her writings have appeared in Art Journal, American Art, Third Text, and Cultural Geographies among other journals and edited volumes. Her first book, Critical Landscapes: Art, Space, Politics, coedited with Kirsten Swenson, was published by University of California Press earlier this year. She is a founding member of World of Matter (2011-), an international art and research platform on global resource ecologies, and the Los Angeles Urban Rangers (2004-), a group that develops guided hikes, campfire talks, field kits, and other interpretive tools to spark creative explorations of everyday habitats.


SHANNON C. MATTERN is an Associate Professor in the School of Media Studies at The New School in New York. Her research and teaching address how the forms and materialities of media are related to the spaces (architectural, urban, and conceptual) they create and inhabit. Her most recent book, Deep Mapping the Media City (University of Minnesota Press, 2015) argues that our global cities have been mediated and intelligent for millennia. She’s a columnist for Places, a journal focusing on urbanism and landscape, where she writes about media, cities, and architecture.

Infrastructure Aesthetics is a graduate student organized event series exploring representations of infrastructure and the built environment in cinema, art, and literature. This event is supported by NYU’s Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, the NYU Urban Democracy Lab, and the Institute for Public Knowledge.