Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Richard Marback


How do the multiple media in cities today cause us to rethink the constructions and locations of our artifacts and their effects on us? In this dissertation, I argue that city artifacts, and by extension cities themselves, exist as multiple iterations scattered across the whole range of the media spectrum. The new persuasive potential of these iterations in their different media necessitate a turn to “post-urban” city fabrics, and these new fabrics are expansion and re-expression of the urban in unexpected media. Therefore, we must work to acknowledge and take advantage of the ways cities “flicker” as their artifacts are repeated across the various languages, contexts, communities, and media that make up cities today.

Chapter 1: Exploded Artifacts examines a piece of graffiti that appeared in Detroit by the street artist Banksy. The different iterations of this artifact are distributed across different media spaces and seem to demonstrate a sense of diffusion about the city that gets drawn back together when we examine how these iterations affect one another.

Chapter 2: Collapsed Artifacts takes up Photosynth, a tool for digitally stitching together photographs and producing 3D models that viewers can walk-through and annotate. Once the model is created, individual experiences and media seem to get “collapsed” into what appears to be a “complete” artifact that needs to be pulled apart to have its separate iterations, and their affordances, exposed.

Chapter 3: On-Demand Artifacts explores 3D printing technology, which uses an additive layering process to create 3D objects from computer models. The potential for perfection with 3D printing further exacerbates the strained relationship between media and mobility in cities, and iterations of this artifact expose the necessity for deep reflection that is demanded from its users.

The Conclusion, Flickering Citizenships, examines how our understanding of citizenship has adapted to the multiple and iterative nature of our cities such that today citizenship itself is also iterative. The artifacts with which we choose to engage persuade, challenge, and inspire us, and as such they determine the expectations and limitations of our civic action.

Included in

Rhetoric Commons