The Digital Slum or how to imagine the future of a fictive, precarious city


Gonzalo H. Rodríguez

Media artist, artistic researcher, and Ph.D. candidate at the Konrad Wolf Film University of Babelsberg. 



In this exposition, I would like to give you a brief inside of my current artistic research and Ph.D. project "Villa Futuro." 

The project deals with digital media, artistic narrative practices, and marginalized urban spaces of the Global South commonly known under the terms ‘favelas,’ ‘pueblos jóvenes,’ ‘townships,’ or, more prominently, ‘slums.’ Foregrounding the potential of the artistic research to produce critical knowledge, the project experiments with digital media in the tradition of narrative moving images by inquiring about creative practices of contemporary philosophical reflection to elaborate a conceptual and aesthetical relation with those marginalized urban spaces. The project is addressing a Latin American artistic tradition of dealing with contexts of marginality such as the slums as cartographies of permanent disruption that destabilize concepts of territoriality and challenge official narratives around their communities. Against this backdrop, this study asks to what extent digital media offer narrative and non-site-specific frameworks of artistic practice that engage with marginal spaces by questioning meanings, seeking connections, and confronting supposedly unrelated realities as spaces of possibility.


To this end, the project is proposing an interdisciplinary and intertextual approach, the project is producing digital transmedia storytelling that imagines a marginalized space called "Villa Futuro". This space is formulated as a narrative cartography that experiments with digital media to create a threshold position where subjects are radically displaced to a fictional "periphery." The transmedia storytelling project is realized through four digital assemblages, which are interwoven in the doctoral thesis: a web-based participative platform, a mixed-media installation, audiovisual lecture-performances, and a short VR essay film.

For SAR2021 I kindly invited the participants in the web-based platform "The Settlers". This platform is an online participative fiction that develops the story of "Villa Futuro". It explores the possibilities of narrative media technologies to create a story by collectively dealing with the projective aspect of agency in precarious urban communities and fostering the construction of imaginary territories and identities towards a future together. You can access the platform here:


Form of participation:

Please select one of the sections of the story. If you are new here we recommend you watch the introductory video above and then choose one of the sections below. Although the sections are developed in chronological order, please, feel free to skip to and choose any section you prefer. Your answers (which are anonymous and confidential) will help the research to further develop the story of Villa Futuro through the following procedure:

All collected answers are filtered to find coincidences that can give some hints of the most probable scenario of the story. To illustrate this probable scenario, we produce narrative texts, hypertexts, drawings, sounds, videos, and 3D models organized chronologically in sections and published periodically on this website. Based on the quantity and quality of the answers, new sections and new narrative material are produced so that the complexity of the story grows in time. At this moment, we have covered the first four days so far. Our task is to create collectively and little by little the settlement of Villa Futuro and to build the future of its community.


Introduction – Arrival

Day 1 – Water Supply

Day 2 – Food Provision

Day 3 – Housing construction

Day 4 – Private and communal property


Thank you very much for your time and inspiration!