Virtual resistance

a future scenario for the Belgrade Waterfront 2041

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Putin’s war increasingly weakens Russia and the EU. The Emirates lose influence in a financial crisis and have to sell the Belgrade Waterfront before it is fully completed. Serbia does not join the EU but increasingly orients towards China, which is consolidating its position as the most important global player in politics and economy as the war winds down. (…) The country is becoming the global political and economic center and Belgrade Waterfront a showcase project outside its own borders.

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The world order in the digital age is being renegotiated. As a result of the climate crisis, millions of people are fleeing – analog national borders are coming under pressure. The political constitution of Western countries is increasingly out of balance. The virtual world is ruled by companies loyal to the state. Digital borders are being erected. Russia and China are the first to protect themselves against the intrusion of virtual people with a firewall. Entry is thus only possible with digital passports. (…) Immense digital migration is occurring. (…) Segregation is on the rise.

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NEGOTIATING AGENCY

During the war in Ukraine, Russian opposition to Putin came to Serbia. Numerous IT companies moved their headquarters from Moscow to Belgrade. (…) Increasing digitization is leading to more corruption, but at the same time it is also strengthening Belgrade’s anti-government alliances, which can exert pressure on the government via cyber attacks.

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Pressure from the population is increasing, especially after Eagle Hills drops out of funding. Politics is unstable and vulnerable. The activists take advantage of this weak moment and increase their presence. Nevertheless, the contract with Huawei gets signed. A virtual layer is planned to cover the Belgrade waterfront.

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Analog space is thus increasingly losing its value as an object of speculation. (…) The originally planned development is never fully realized. People who worked on the site in the 2020s remained on site even after construction of the project was stopped, planting gardens and settling permanently in the housing containers. The result is a socially mixed but highly segregated space.

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ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS

The government and the population nevertheless remain in a tense relationship. Two consecutive heat summers result in hundreds of deaths.(…) An NGO finds coliform bacteria in the drinking water and sees the origin in the massive pollution of the Danube. The government understands that it can only maintain its power if the quality of life in Belgrade increases.(…) Millions are being invested: Air, water and soil quality are permanently measured and an underground garbage system is built.

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THE VIRTUAL REALM

Parallel to the transformation of the analogue waterfront, Meta-Belgrade is being implemented. Every centimeter of the analogue space is digitally captured and can be played on virtually. VR glasses are being replaced by contact lenses (…). Many people wear them permanently. This changes the use of urban spaces: virtual attractions are programmed into public spaces that can be made visible via a paywall. Other content, such as personalized advertising or propaganda, can only be hidden after payment.

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SURVEILLANCE

(…) Huawei and the Belgrade government develop a social-ecological points system based on the Chinese model. In addition to social behavior, the system also assesses the ecological acceptability of citizens‘ lifestyles. (…) Thousands of data are permanently collected and assigned to faces. Privacy must be protected by firewalls. (…) Anyone who defies the laws of the Belgrade government is denied access to the door of his or her apartment or to the polling station or other public spaces. Prisons thus become obsolete.

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Some groups, especially ethnic minorities, are monitored more closely. In 2033, a scandal finally breaks out: The government destroys all firewalls in the construction containers and monitors every movement of the residents; many are arrested.

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VIRTUAL RESISTANCE

The population of Belgrade is increasingly unsettled and turns to activists and NGOs worldwide. They organize demonstrations against Huawei and the Serbian government: 100,000 people gather for virtual protests and demand virtual justice.

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This work was part of the studio project Future of Post-Socialist-Cities –Belgrade 2041at TU Berlin in cooperation with the activist of Ministry of Space

the complete text can be downloaded here

the complete videos can be requested by mail: joannaluise (at) hotmail.de

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