Performative Experiments and Cultural Re-planning - Recapturing the Spectacle of the City

Lasse Andersson, Bo Stjerne Thomsen


The paper explores how urban experiments can
challenge the commodified version of the experience
city and stimulate a locally rooted and
democratic version of an experience based city
using an actor-network based approach focusing
on a possible connection between objects
and policies and between discourses and the
The first part of the article describes the growing
and uncritical interest in the concepts of
the creative economy, creative class (Florida
2002) and their relationship with cultural production
and economic growth (Bille & Schulze
2006), many of which, however, are mainly driven
by political discourses producing more strategies
and reports or commodified ´experience
projects´ that are not rooted in real democratic
experiments. Instead, the experience based
development should emphasize a more objectoriented
and a critical approach where real
urban experiments link public administrations
with public participation in order to shape a cultural
The second part of the paper proposes to look
at this transformation from performative experiments
to political discourses in the perspectives
of actor-network theory (Latour 2005), to deal
with urban experiments as quasi-objects
(Serres 1994) using interactive technologies to
initiate political programs with actor-oriented
and locally rooted experiences. Through examples
of performative experiments and their ability
to create collective urban experiences, the
paper explores how participatory art and
embedded digital technologies create interactive
spaces focusing on new meaningful interactions
in the city recapturing Debords Spectacle of
the city and society (Debord 1995). The performative
experiments that work through the integration
of new digital technologies are able to
revitalize the spectacle as a locally rooted cultural
experience. These experiments have the
potential of becoming political objects of attention
and together form the starting point for a
bottom-up approach to cultural development if
it can enable a large variety of actors and

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