2017 Summer Workshop: Shenzhen

Data-Mining China: Urban Village in Shenzhen, China

July 15 - August 12, 2017

Studio X has been invited to be a core contributor to the 2017 Shenzhen Biennale, which will focus this year on the phenomenon of Urban Village in China. As evident in the name, the Urban Village is distinct from the surrounding city fabric, predating and then having been absorbed by the incendiary development of greater Shenzhen over the past three decades. Likewise, the human fabric of Urban Village is markedly different, a remnant of close-knit rural life preserved inside the larger city, and the last bastion of affordable housing for millions of lowly-paid migrant workers to the “Factory of the World.” Ostensibly starting with URBANUS’ exploration of historic Hubei village 15 years ago, the academic study of Urban Village has accelerated along with Shenzhen’s explosive growth. Its place in the popular imagination has followed close behind. Meng Yan and Xiadou Liu, the curators of the 2017 Biennale, intend to sponsor and showcase a comprehensive research effort to bookend this era of Urban Village exploration, and have invited a series of “academic partners” to play key roles in the effort. To kickoff Columbia’s contribution, the workshop will build upon the success of the Housing the Majority Shenzhen 2016 summer workshop and the Rural China Lab in 2016, which partnered with Shanzhai City and Future+ to experiment with new models of ethnographic and data-analytic research. Students will have the opportunity to learn and apply data-mining tools to perform a more comprehensive analysis of the urban village phenomenon. Simultaneously, they will have the opportunity to practice field research techniques (photo, interview, drawing) in key urban villages, such as Baishizhou (Housing the Majority site) and Nantou (UABB exhibition site). The student work over the summer will feed directly into Studio X’s exhibition at the Biennale.