Interview Michael Najjar

'The boundary between architecture and cyberspace will blur'

The German photographer Michael Najjar (b. 1966) can justly be called a pioneer. His work lies at the interface between photography and information technology, and between the present and the future. In Liquid City we see cities that literally seem fluid – with buildings that change according to the demands their users make of them.

Where did the idea for Liquid City come from?

“In my work I've always been oriented to a future society that is controlled by information technology. Liquid City is a continuation of Netropolis, a series I did between 2004 and 2006 and that was the result of research I did into the future of the mega-city. A good deal of what I am doing in Liquid City is working out the theoretical concept: architecture that is not rigid, but which is comprised of flexible forms that are constantly in flux. The boundaries between architecture and cyberspace will blur. A number of the new skyscrapers in Tokyo’s media city are already a step in that direction.”

Is s liquid city somewhere that you could live?

“Personally, I love living in the middle of the fast pace of a vital, constantly changing city. Still, I think that many people could get lost in a future city like that. That's quite aside from questions like pollution, energy and the streamlining of traffic. For people like myself – digital nomads who use the city as a junction for their worldwide activities – the possibilities are a blessing. Others could end up in a nightmare of alienation and disorientation.”

Are people – from politicians to the general public – sufficiently aware of the effects of urbanisation?

“Most people who live in mega-cities have little idea of what is happening there. Look at China, where particularly the older generation is totally taken by surprise at the speed of the transformation. Politicians, architects and planners are responsible for the development of complex urban environments – they must be aware of them. The risk is however that cities will simply become too big and complicated to be kept in hand, which can result in chaotic structures. But that too is such an intriguing development to think about.”

Interviews