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  • Faculty

  • Shannon Mattern

    Professor of Anthropology


    Office Location
    D - 6 East 16th Street

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    Shannon Mattern


    **On leave Fall 2022**

    Shannon Mattern is a Professor of Anthropology at The New School for Social Research. Her writing and teaching focus on archives, libraries, and other media spaces; media infrastructures; spatial epistemologies; and mediated sensation and exhibition. She is the author of The New Downtown Library: Designing with CommunitiesDeep Mapping the Media City, and Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media, all published by University of Minnesota Press. In addition to writing dozens of articles and book chapters, she also contributes a regular long-form column about urban data and mediated infrastructures to Places, a journal focusing on architecture, urbanism, and landscape, and she collaborates on public design and interactive projects and exhibitions. You can find her at



    Recent Publications


    A City Is Not a Computer: Other Urban Intelligences (Princeton University Press, 2021)

    Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media (University of Minnesota Press, 2017)

    Deep Mapping the Media City (University of Minnesota Press, 2015)    The New Downtown Library: Designing with Communities (University of Minnesota Press, 2007)   Essays   “Green Screens in Eight Channels,” LA+ (University of Pennsylvania, Spring 2022): 10-19    “Terra Perdita: Mapping Lost Landscapes,” Avery Review (Columbia GSAPP, January 2022)   “Fixity and Fluidity,” Anthropocene Curriculum AC Courses, Anthropocene Curriculum, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (December 2021)   “Concealment and Compassion” [on dementia care], Places Journal (November 2021)   “Tree Thinking,” Places Journal (September 2021)    “Why High-Profile Smart Cities Fail, From Sidewalk’s Quayside to Amazon’s HQ2 in Queens,” Fast Company (August 10, 2021)    “Long Live All Our Public Libraries,” New York Daily News (August 1, 2021)    “Unboxing the Toolkit,” Toolshed (July 9, 2021)    “The Problems Data Can’t Solve: Eric Adams Puts Too Much Faith in the Power of Statistics and Algorithms,” New York Daily News (June 28, 2021)    “How to Map Nothing,” Places Journal (March 2021)   “Glimmer: Refracting Rock,” LA+ 12: GEO (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020)    “Purity and Security: Towards a Cultural History of Plexiglass,” Places Journal (December 2020) Reprinted in Sara Greenberger Rafferty, Studio Visit (Inventory Press, 2022): 92-9.   “Of Mountains and Machines” [on Armin Linke’s Alpi], A Wilderness Distant [online exhibition], Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery, Columbia University (October 19, 2020)   “Urban Auscultation; or, Perceiving the Action of the Heart,” Places Journal (April 2020)   “Auscultação urbana: ou percebendo a ação docoração,” RUA (December 2020)    “The Scalar Logics of COVID,” Harun Farocki Institut (April 25, 2020)    “Using PowerPoint, Artists Ask How Performative Presentations Shape Our Thinking,” Art in America    “Auto-Advance: The Art of the Slide Deck,” Art in America (February 2020): 64-9.   “Post-It Note City” [on the aesthetics of participatory design] Places Journal (February 2020):   “Fluttering Code: A Cultural and Aesthetic History of the Split-Flap Display,” Modes of Criticism 5 (2020): 49-63.   “Fugitive Libraries,” Places Journal (October 2019):    “Minimal Maintenance,” Lapsus Lima (October 2, 2019):    “Networked Dream Worlds,” Real Life Magazine (July 8, 2019):    “FAMILIA: Corporeal Care and Affective Ties,” Harvard Design Magazine 47: “Inside Scoop” (June 2019): 135-6.   “Local Codes: Forms of Spatial Knowledge,” Public Knowledge, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (January 18, 2019):    “Our Libraries Are Not Failing Us; We Are Failing Them,” Architectural Review (January 2019)   “A Map That Tracks Everything,” The Atlantic (November 30, 2018)   “Maintenance and Care,” Places Journal (November 2018)    “Furnishing Intelligence” [on the intelligent apparatae of airports and libraries and the work of artist Simon Denny], Perspecta 51: Medium (Yale School of Architecture/MIT Press: 2018): 299-314    “All Eyes on the Border” [on border tech], Places Journal (September 2018)

    Community Plumbing," Places Journal (July 2018)

    Databodies in CodespacePlaces Journal (April 2018)

    Extract and Preserve: Underground Repositories for a Posthuman Future,” New Geographies 09: Posthuman (Harvard University Press, 2017)

    The Big Data of Ice, Rocks, Soils, and Sediments,” Places Journal (November 2017)

    Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media (University of Minnesota Press, 2017)

    A City Is Not a Computer,” Places Journal (February 2017)

    “Before BILLY: A Brief History of the Shelf,” Harvard Design Magazine 43 (Fall/Winter 2016)

    “Of Mud, Media, and the Metropolis: Aggregating Histories of Writing and Urbanization,” Cultural Politics 12:3 special issue on Geological Media, edited by Jussi Parikka (November 2016): 310-31; 

    Public In/Formation,” Places Journal (November 2016); “Animated Aberrations, Rebellious Objects: Zoe Beloff’s The Infernal Dream of Mutt and Jeff,” Volume 49 (September 2016)

    Cloud and Field,” Places Journal (August 2016)

    Instrumental City,” Places Journal (April 2016)

    Indexing the World of Tomorrow,” Places Journal (February 2016) 

    Middlewhere: The Landscape of Library Logistics,” Urban Omnibus (June 2015) “Mission Control: A History of the Urban Dashboard,” Places Journal (March 2015)

    Media Archaeology of Poetry and Sound: A Conversation with Shannon Mattern,” with Christine Mitchell, Amodern 4, “The Poetry Series” Issue (March 2015)

    Speculative Archaeology,” Places Journal (December 12, 2014); Deep Mapping the Media City (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015); The New Downtown Library: Designing with Communities (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007)

    For digital copies of most of Dr. Mattern's publications, see her website


    Performances and Appearances

    For all upcoming and archived talks and conferences, see her website

    Research Interests

    archives, media architectures, media infrastructures, mediated sensation, maps, materiality, urban data, urban intelligence

    Awards And Honors

    RECENT SAMPLE: Faculty Research Fund Grant, “Designing Knowledge” (collaboration with Metropolitan New York Research Council and Finnish Cultural Institute New York), Provost’s Office, The New School, $5000, 2018 – 19; Public Knowledge Scholar, Public Knowledge Project, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and San Francisco Public Library, 2018; Möbius Fellowship, with Jussi Parikka, Finnish Cultural Institute, New York, 2017 – 19; Innovations in Education Grant, Provost’s Office, The New School, $10,000, 2017; Senior Fellowship, Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Germany, Spring 2016; Invited Lecturer/Curator, Critical Dialogues, Media Design Practices Program ArtCenter College of Design, October – December 2015; Visiting Scholarship, Digital Cultures Research Lab, Leuphana University, Lüneburg, Germany, June – July 2015; Faculty Fellow, Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography and Social Thought, The New School, 2014 – 15



    Current Courses

    Independent Study
    GANT 6990, Fall 2022

    Future Courses

    Independent Study
    GANT 6990, Spring 2023

    Past Courses

    Independent Study
    GANT 6990, Spring 2022, Summer 2022

    Redesigning the Academy
    GANT 6286, Spring 2022

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