Disclaimer: To construct this new plausible reality, fiction is presented or encountered as fact allowing viewers to leave in a state of “educated ignorance” with their worldviews subtly altered in truthful ways by untruths.
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This thesis uses pre-existing local phenomena to construct a near-future scenario where political systems are exploited to demonstrate the politics of aesthetics and their ability to alter a context and its existing socio-economic infrastructure. By imposing unfamiliar forms and systems, familiar aesthetics are recast to redistribute the sensible and create a new reality out of underlying social, economic, and cultural power structures. As a result, form, composition, and aesthetics can begin to operate politically to uncover hidden realities and project alternative futures.
Characterized by a unique system of governance emerging from a conflicting political agenda of autocratic neoliberalism, the city of Dubai offers a lens to demonstrate the politics of aesthetics and their ability to alter a context and its existing infrastructure. Much like its regional counterparts, Dubai maintains an authoritarian system of rule that has been firmly established, and continually reinforced, throughout its history. However, in recent years, the pure autocracy that was previously synonymous with the state’s identity has yielded highly contagious neoliberal influences that control other ‘global’ cities. In Dubai, the agendas of autocratic neoliberalism extend far beyond politics, encroaching upon the responsibilities of architecture and urban planning by reordering the city into an aggregate of discrete zones - the zone of exception, the zone of labor, and the zone of excess, visibly separated by seams of landscape and infrastructure. Each zone is governed by a differing degree of autocratic neoliberalism, resulting in palpable seams of political tension between the zones.