WIL is an interdisciplinary research project designed to investigate the conditions for the creation of a network of public and collective spaces coming from diverse cities or urban environments and capable of catalyzing emerging dynamics of social change in European Metropolitan Regions (EMRs). The territories of this study will be simultaneously used as laboratories for empirical experimentation and fields of visual representation of the agents and processes of cosmopolitan change. The aim of this project is to significantly alter the perception of the transformation of the public space by giving visibility to ongoing creative and regenerative processes through which cities and urban environments dynamically evolve. Our primary objective is to render visible innovation landscapes in EMRs, in order to develop synergies among the agents which are contributing to cosmopolitan change dynamics. This objective has three main goals: i) to enhance self-reflexive attitudes of citizens in relation to their practices of transformation and appropriation of the public space; ii) to contribute to the inclusion and visibility of neglected spaces of social and cultural interest in EMRs; iii) to expand the offer of cultural and artistic activities in EMRs.
The online platform proposed in this project will allow for a collaborative process for systematizing visual information, which will make it possible to visualize the evolution of selected places in five EMRs, with potential future application in existing online platforms such as Google Earth. This online facility will be designed in order to: i) stimulate artistic and cultural institutions to extend their reach to a larger public audience; ii) enable users to upload visual data in a georeferenced system with several temporal layers in 4D (space and time) and; iii) allow for the accessibility, diffusion, monitoring, and sharing of visual information.
The WIL platform will stimulate the diffusion of emerging cultural and artistic expressions in EMRs providing the means to systematize the data produced during the research), and promoting future research supported by this collaborative network. This platform will also enable an active dialogue between researchers and the public, contributing to the identification of opportunities of co-evolution between citizens, institutions, and the urban environment. VSC is therefore designed in order to create a dynamic of interaction between various public and collective spaces, which, connected by metro stations and urban pathways, form an urban network conceived as an experimental exhibition space. This network of spaces is conceived as an “Open Museum” within metropolitan spaces, which will allow for the piloting of experimental curatorial and cultural actions, thereby stimulating artistic and cultural institutions involved in this experimental project to extend their reach to a larger public audience for collectively transforming imaginings of the city.
The WIL project and its proposed online platform are expected to have positive impacts in multiple economic areas, at the intersection between Creative Industries, ICT, and Cultural Tourism. This research will contribute to give visibility to intra-urban and peri-urban spaces, attract new audiences to emerging dynamics and cultural expressions of social change, as well as counteract the deepening of spatial asymmetries regarding access to cultural programs in peripheral communities. These results are expected by this project on the basis of research on urban governance (EU, 2011) that shows that a more comprehensive and holistic approach toward cultural development may have a positive impact on cultural organizations, particularly with significant effects on widening participation. In this vein, this research project aspires to its replication in other contexts, envisaging beyond academia for becoming a multi-dimensional policy of innovation that involves matters of institutions, territory, and linkage development.
The proposed platform intends to test a tool with potential application in the massive organization of visual data, which can be further developed on a global level in the Google Earth (GE) platform, resulting in a concrete research product with significant economic value. It is anticipated that the development of this tool could serve as an organized repository of all past, present and future visual records of any location, setting up a dynamic visual "atlas" powered by users. The development of this online platform and related applications also constitutes a strategic element to foster innovative forms of participation and citizenship in the european territory and social context, exploring the possibilities of connecting cultural, artistic and social dynamics, both spatially and institutionally. This is particularly necessary in contexts where there is significant symbolic capital related to the consolidated cultural heritage of particular urban regions, coexisting with more recent processes of innovation and creativity linked to its human and environmental capital in broader spatial realities.
It is expected that this project will contribute to empowering grassroot initiatives and actions at the micro-level, scaling up these actions and expanding its possibilities to participate in broader arenas in the public domain. By implementing this project in various metropolitan regions, best practices and lessons learned will be shared among the various researchers involved, allowing also the direct participation of the general public through the WIL platform within a continuous learning process. This dynamic of research, conceived in an open and participatory fashion, may also give significant contributions to approximate academia, cultural organizations, technological enterprises and citizens towards common opportunities and challenges posed by ongoing transformations of the public space.