The City Fables project explores how stories in and about contemporary cities are negotiated, remediated and circulated.

The project builds on artistic and design-based research methods to unveil, expose, query, and shape the public and private narratives that frame citylife. In a series of subprojects, we work with and through speculative research methods in lab forms, interventions, remediations and overlayering. Using the “fable” as organizing metaphor, we inhabit the shadowlands between fiction and documentary as the site of mapping strategies and counter-strategies for highlighting critical (as in urgency and critique) phenomena in the contemporary computerized, digitized, and quantified proceduralized city.

THE CITY FABLES BESTIARY

“The commodity aesthetic of cuteness, the discursive aesthetic of the interesting, and the performative aesthetic of zaniness help us get at some of the most important social dynamics underlying life in late capitalist society today.”

Sianne Ngai. Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2012.

There is not much use for protest, revolution, rage and indignation in a society governed by the “hypercommodified, information-saturated, performance-driven conditions of late capitalism” (Ngai 2012). Rather, the voices to speak with in such a landscape take on qualities of the cute and the zany, possibly the interesting, in Ngai’s terminology. Small things, domesticated creatures that can convey other messages than those of looming otherworldly beauties and larger-than-life leaders. A “warm and fuzzy” aesthetic, closer to the ground, that we embody when using animals as ventriloquists. Unlike the medieval bestiary, ours is a collection of fuzzy, warm and small animals: reimagined and unfanged, in order to speak different truths. A collection of unassuming creatures whose bodies have been cutified and made pastel in order to lend themselves to the discursive strategy that we at use, at times, in this project.

animal characters-01 by Manja