Designing the Solipsistic City: Themes of Urban Planning and Control in The Matrix, Dark City, and The Truman Show

Solipsism, the theory that only one mind exists and that what appears to be external reality is only a dream taking place in that mind. [1]

"We build the city based on peoples' memories of different cities in different times," says one of the alien protagonists in Dark City, a sci-fi treatment of film (very) noir. The cinematic result: a classical palimpsest of the US city, circa 'take your pick' 1940s through the 1970s, missing only daylight. Ironically, it appears to be much like the cities that real urban renewal programs of the 1950s and 1960s delivered to us. The real "city" in The Matrix, a film about a world in thrall to an artificial intelligence, is a literal nightmare of high rise, high tech pods, each one housing one of us, but perhaps more nightmarish is the observation that urban planner extraordinaire Le Corbusier (aka Charles Jenneret) designed and promoted the same kind of city, filled with six-meter square "machines for living," more than adequate to support the day-to-day life of Corbu's urban dwellers. And in The Truman Show, the "on-camera 24-hours a day" hero's fictional city was in reality Seaside, Florida, an antiseptic, over-designed, ultra-high income suburban pastiche of yesteryears' fictional neighborhoods that never were (except in the minds of the husband and wife architects/designers, Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk), with a lengthy layer of all too real restrictive covenants designed to control where residents gathered, what they did, and how their houses must look when they did it. What is the city, then, if not what we make it in our minds?

These three cinematic cities share a common theme: complete and unquestioned control over their urban inhabitants, a control invisible and all-pervasive, as difficult to see as it is to shed. It is a control centralized and concise, embodied in a few powerful entities (a council, a machine, a director), content in their ability to direct citizens as desired. When the intrepid citizens, dwellers in an urban simulacrum, become conscious of this control, the troubles start and the sparks fly. It is as if these fictional cities, running smoothly and happily as long as the dreamers sleep, are faced with their own versions of the LA riots: the abrupt and stark recognition that those invisible, embedded mechanisms of control built into the physical and social fabric of the city can break down, leaving pandemonium and disorder in their stead. The solipsistic city awakens, and liberation follows.

Whether planners admit it or not, the idea of control is never far from the surface in planning thought and practice. Plans are made to control, or at least direct actions toward an instrumental end.[2] The history of planning is rooted in systematic efforts to control sanitary conditions, human behavior, physical appearance, and economic development.[3] This is not a dark secret of planning theory. It is not hidden in the recesses of esoteric planning events. The quest for control over various elements of urban life, its chaos and disorder, is imprinted upon the major tentacles of urban planning, from garden cities to the city beautiful to the city efficient to the modernist city to the postmodernist new urbanism. The garden city was an attempt to physically eradicate slum areas, relocate the impoverished to a pristine exurban landscape, and control regional land use and economic development.[4] The city beautiful and the city efficient were both designed to control the physical appearance of cities and in so doing introduce an element of control over the behavior of the unruly urban masses.[5] The modernist city of Le Corbusier was an effort to strictly partition land use and to create highly efficient spatial arrangements of residential and non-residential structures and, not incidentally, to overlay a rationalized system for living on urban citizens.[6] The new urbanism of Seaside and Celebration also has a major control orientation --- stringently dictate the look, layout, and distribution of buildings, and use it to shape human activities.

In all these planning sagas, the goal is the same: as planners think things should be, so they should be. A useful metaphor here is solipsism, the notion that the only thing that's really real is the self, and that only what the self experiences can be considered real. Whatever the solipsist thinks, so it becomes. But there's a twist here:

solipsism must also postulate the existence of an additional class of processes --- invisible, inexplicable processes which give the mind the illusion of being in an external realitythus the solipsist's explanation of the world is in terms of interacting thoughts rather than interacting objects.[7]

So, the paradox of the solipsist is that something else controls the reality being experienced. Planners constantly seek to identify and understand that "something else," and piddle with ways to control and influence it, whether "it" be land developers, land reformers, the poor, the rich, retailers, builders, politicians, legislators, business owners, bureaucrats, criminals, or cops.

It is not surprising, then, that themes of control from planning experience have crept into popular culture. Recently, three films, ostensibly dealing with the proverbial tropes of human reality, free will, and choice, have also provided food for thought about issues of control in the 21st century city. The Matrix proposes a future in which an artificial intelligence (AI) dominates the world, subjecting humans to an everyday virtual reality of 1996 that in actuality confines them, in stasis, to coffin-like pods in 2197 that extract energy from them to run the AI's computers. Dark City depicts a planet consisting of a single huge metropolis run by aliens capable of changing thought and the physical landscape as a means of isolating and understanding human emotion. And The Truman Show offers the ultimate cinema verite depicting the entire life of a single person in a clean postmodernist suburb, televised live to the rest of the world --- without that person being aware of it. If examined in some detail, these films each provide provocative insights into the planning and control of cities, as embodied, almost unconsciously, in popular culture. Among other ideas are those linked to electronic surveillance, the evolving power of information technologies, the changing nature of virtuality in real life, the identity and motivations of "planners" in charge of cities, and the mostly unpredictable power of human thought and emotion to create the future rather than to be victimized by it.

Men in black
The hegemony of traditional political and scientific authority runs rampant in all three films, establishing an undercurrent of conservative control and anti-subversion. For example, in Dark City, the use of the large group of gothic, dark suited elites, known as The Visitors, seems to be a direct allusion to the use in representative democracy of senators and representatives, typically dressed alike, convened into large assemblages in which they discuss policy and public initiatives. A perhaps unintended comment on the US version of democratic governance is that The Visitors are actually slimy, translucent little octopi-like creatures that inhabit the dead bodies of humans ("our vessels," states one of the aliens). The dark suited AIs in The Matrix also play the role of ultimate arbiters of "society's" wishes and are, in effect, the legislative body that passes judgment on any proposed or potential changes desired by the subversive elements living aboard the hovercraft, Nebuchadnezzar. The video production technicians and their imperious leader, Cristof, are literally on top --- within the faux moon that hovers constantly, day and night, over Seahaven --- in The Truman Show. Similarly, the role of technical expertise and scientific credibility is occupied by the usual technocratic types who use their esoteric knowledge to leverage power. The use of the doctor in Dark City as the prime conduit for "new" thoughts and ideas appears to be another direct parallel to the use of scientists and engineers to fuel policy debates, by providing information and technical knowledge about particular issues. Further, the doctor is used to inject new memories into the city's denizens, thus embodying the scientific fix associated with traditional rationalistic planning; further, the Visitors are essentially helpless to understand the behavior of their 'citizens' without the technician/doctor's medicinal memory injections. In another twist quite like the debates about the social construction of science, The Visitors (i.e., legislators) do not completely trust the doctor (i.e., the technical expert), continually threatening him (and having severely wounded him in the past), believing that somehow he isn't sincere about his willingness to "help" them. This is much like the frequent mistrust in technical assistance and science in public policy debates, particularly when the focus is on emotionally compelling personal anecdotes (much like the personal memories that the doctor is able to inject into the citizens of Dark City). And when The Truman Show begins to literally come apart, the real authority behind the show, capitalist sponsors, exert their ultimate power to stop the program.

IT is us
The literally transformative power of information technology (IT) is another undercurrent in these films. If the use of IT is a continuing theme in urban planning and urban policy to improve life and the efficiency of all of life's subsystems like home/work/school and so on, then the use of IT in The Matrix is the ultimate resolution of this theme: it demonstrates an evolutionary version of IT that has the capacity to absolutely do everything in much the same way that we currently conceptualize IT in the office, the home, the school, the store, and everywhere else.[8] A literal form of virtual grocery shopping is embodied in the machine's capacity to control all human life, deliver everything it needs, but at the same time fool humans into believing that they are actually experiencing life. This is the ultimate irony of the potential of IT: it makes the practice of everyday life more efficient while drawing one further and further away from everyday life. The Matrix exhibits this dystopian potential of IT perfectly. The use of IT in The Truman Show is more subtle, yet is still there. The advanced video production equipment and monitoring technology used to keep Truman Burbank under the perpetual gaze is made possible by IT, as is the constant communication between the video programmers and all the actors on the set. In The Truman Show, the only person on the outside of the IT loop is Truman. Only in Dark City does there appear to be an absence of pervasive IT. Instead, the aliens of Dark City seek a form of information through relatively primitive means --- participation and observation --- that even the most advanced IT cannot possess: human emotion. And in this regard, all three films suggest that IT cannot really help its users to truly understand what motivates citizens in their quest to shuck the shackles of control. Using their methods, The Visitors were no more effective in fully comprehending the impact of emotions than the AI in The Matrix and Cristof in The Truman Show were in understanding the emotion-driven behavior of their respective subjects. All the films imply that the power of IT cannot overcome that of human will and emotion.

You are under my control
Yet, despite this nod to the seeming power of human initiative, the element of control is the dominant motif throughout all three films. The idea is that some dominant group (planners?) can introduce control of a wide variety --- an almost infinite variety, in fact, because it basically encompasses all members of the rest of each world --- of individual humans by means of, in one film, a drug injected into their brains and, in another, by means of electronic connections into an individual body. Thus, underlying each is the idea of ultimate control, the same kind of control that classical rationalistic, instrumental planning envisions. In two of the films, though, the idea is unattainable. Only temporarily are the planners/controllers able to exert perfect control over the citizens of The Matrix and Dark City. However, some members of both societies are in fact permanently 'living' and therefore one reading could be that the controllers are at least in part successful. After all, this isn't surprising, because the controlling planners have ideal tools with which to satisfy almost everyone's wants and needs. Their 'policy instruments' consist of either fully electronic programming of the virtual life or pharmaceutical tools that control the mental and social circumstances of each citizen. The latter is kind of a Brave New World of pharmacology while the former is the exemplar of computer mediated virtual reality. Control in The Truman Show is of a completely different kind, non-pharmaceutical and non-computerized. It is the control of the "spectacle" of life, one that revolves around the one person in a city that doesn't know it's a spectacle, Truman Burbank. It unfolds within an arena of constant, all-encompassing surveillance. Like the denizens of Dark City and The Matrix, he only gradually awakens to the fact that he is under complete and utter control on a 24/7 basis. One could characterize Truman and Neo as doppelgangers of one another, both slowly coming to the realization that their entire life has been a charade, for one digital and for the other, analog. Neo was controlled by the virtual, Truman by the real (well, not real exactly, but virtually real).

The control theme is also embedded in past and contemporary urban planning approaches, such as the use of video surveillance cameras throughout UK and US cities[9] or the use of gated environments to control access and egress in urban and suburban developments.[10] The effort to have a central authority aware of everything that is going on, able to control who comes and who goes and who is identified as the perpetrator of social disorder is the raison-de-ĂȘtre of systematic surveillance schemes, and one that developers and the media frequently exploit with the use of routine crime statistics. This motif of camera-on-the-spot is, of course, entwined in The Truman Show, with its 5,000 cameras located in buttons, pens, doors, car radios, boats, cranes, mirrors, curbs, bridges, and every other conceivable place. Truman Burbank epitomizes the surveilled subject, object of the gaze. The irony in Truman's case is that the cameras are not "protecting" anyone one in the classic sense of video surveillance, but instead keeping the "authorities" apprised of where Truman is at all times in order to recompose the sequential composition of (sub)urban life that surrounds him. Whereas the system of control in The Truman Show is unleashed on one citizen, the systems of control in The Matrix and Dark City focus on all citizens. Control per capita is simply higher in Seahaven, Florida.

But a continuing irony of planning is that the more authorities attempt to control, the more disorder is likely to emerge, whether the resulting disorder is due to the actions of one citizen only or many who group together to rebel against the idea of complete control.[11] In the first place, simply overlaying control mechanisms on urban space implies the need for those mechanisms, signaling residents and visitors that the area is dangerous --- why else would the cameras be there? Secondly, using such mechanisms on one space often simply shifts the elements of disorder to other areas free of such controls. In The Truman Show, rebel elements outside the show often tried to inform Truman of what was truly going on. Similarly, the presence of active police agencies in the other two films suggests that, despite the obvious orientation toward controlling the minds, bodies, and actions of citizens, there is nevertheless an element of disorder that must be controlled by means of the virtual police. In The Matrix, the police appear primarily as SWAT teams interested in eradicating the rebellious virtual visitors from the wasted underworld of reality. In Dark City, the police are needed to solve crimes of violence and to locate the subversive elements within the city that are not totally convinced of the "reality" of their existence. In fact, Dark City's crimes of violence were perpetrated via The Visitor's own experiments, in their own way similar to the escalation US murder rates during prohibition and more recently during urban drug wars (both of which were driven by US policy). [12] Thus, the films all imply a never ending substructure of disorder that, even with the magic of cranial injections, omniscient video surveillance, and the invincible computing power of sentient super computers, cannot be controlled completely. Further, as with the role of police in urban areas at the turn of the 20th century, the allegiance of police actors clearly is linked to the powers of capital or the purveyors of AI. The police cannot be expected to support the rebels in The Matrix nor are they, with limited exceptions, likely to assist the few citizens of Dark City that question what is happening. While the police in The Matrix are evidently immune from any subversive thought, or from any 'reform' programming, some of the police detectives in Dark City slowly discover the truth, or rather the absence of truth, behind the reality they experience. For at least one detective in Dark City, the revelation is too much to bear, leading to a suicidal leap in front of a subway train. For one of the AIs responsible for battling the subversives in The Matrix, a subway train has no effect, suggesting that, in both films, the real enforcers of order are the AIs and the aliens who have established the shifting ground rules of societal control, and the means to change them, in the first place. As in The Matrix, the cops in The Truman Show are simply lackeys of the program's controllers.

It all seems sofamiliar
All three films contain ingredients traceable to the classical applications of planning to urban development. For instance, the archetypal urban renewal schemes, in which new commercial and retail developments with spanking new high rises and antiseptic parking garages took the place of grungy deteriorated disorderly neighborhoods, were like the attempts in Dark City to create whole new buildings or move existing buildings from one spot to another as well as to inject (literally) new forms of behaviors and memories into individuals. The Dark City is urban renewal on speed. The constant tinkering of the physical structure of the city by The Visitors, called "kuning" (sounds like tuning), is like that of planners who believe they can "tune" cities to a perfect pitch. Urban dwellings in The Matrix --- the real urban dwellings located in the wasted underground complex --- are the ultimate realization of Le Corbusier's "machines for living," sterile high rise units, mile high buildings, that literally house every human being in the world in their small tidy life support units. As described by Neo, the city of The Matrix may have been a Le Corbusier commission:

to either side he sees other tube-shaped pods filled with red gelatin; beneath the wax-like surface, pale and motionless, he sees other human beings. Fanning out in a circle, there are more. All connected to a center core, each capsule like a red, dimly glowing petal attached to a black metal stem. Above him, level after, level, the stem rises seemingly forever. He moves to the foot of the capsule and looks out. The image assaults his mind. Towers of glowing petals spiral up to incomprehensible heights, disappearing down into a dim murk like an underwater abyss.[13]

In particular, as depicted in Dark City, the replacement of old memories with new ones is directly parallel with the destruction of the cities of memory that has been decried by Boyer, Sandercock, and Hayden.[14] Basically, the past is constantly recreated and redefined as the built environment metamorphoses into the latest visions of property development interests:

in North America each new layer of civilization and development erases rather than builds upon the previous ones, so that while the history of [a city] can be told, it cannot be seen. the cities of the future will not be distinctive as cities have always been. Instead of reflecting a unique culture, each future city seems likely to consist of the same borrowed fragments. [15]

By destroying the layered physical identity that is embedded in the present array of urban structures, urban renewal projects in the past and routine redevelopment projects currently play a role in recreating or simply eradicating the past in exactly the same way that reprogramming recreated the past and reformulated the present for those in The Matrix or new injections created new memories, replacing those of the past, in Dark City. The present is continually reinvented, especially in Dark City so that no past even exists for most of the city's denizens. Part of the urban renewal irony of The Truman Show is that its location was the real postmodernist town, Seaside, Florida, with very real restrictive covenants and architectural design constraints that had explicit behavioral control objectives.[16] Seahaven, Florida, was a city without memory, like Seaside, but even more like its leading citizen, Truman Burbank, whose memories were real enough but reflected a false, unreal cast of family and friends who were actually neither.

Postmodernist warnings about the loss of originality and the triumph of the copy, the reproduction, and the simulation are just beneath the surface of these films. The idea of a simulated urban environment encapsulating all of everyday life (literally in the case of Dark City and The Truman Show), essentially within a physical dome that demarcates the boundaries of daily existence, has roots in both utopian thought and more traditional planning practices, or as Zizek notes: "what lurks in the background is, of course, the pre-modern notion of 'arriving at the end of the universe."[17] The cities are real enough, physically speaking, but their "time" is out of place, especially in Dark City, which reflects a layering of different, earlier, eras such as the 1930s and 1940s. The city of night depicted in The Matrix is another amalgamation of middle 20th century urban architecture and transportation, although in "reality" it is the Chicago of 1996 juxtaposed over the wasted Chicago of 2192. The original script by the Wachowski brothers describes it more eloquently:

this is the Chicago you know. Chicago as it was at the end of the twentieth century. This Chicago exists only as part of a neural-interactive simulation that we call the Matrix... You have been living inside Baudrillard's vision, inside the map, not the territoryThis is Chicago as it exists today: The sky is an endless sea of black and green bile. The earth, scorched and split like burnt flesh'the desert of the real.' the ruins of a future Chicago protruding from the wasteland like the blackened ribs of a long-dead corpse.

What people have known in the past must somehow be more comforting, more acceptable, than a future that "no one" knows. As for the "future," Seahaven represents the evolving postmodernist suburb without a city, the Disneyfied theme park of absolute and constant cleanliness and urban managerial efficiency. Like a gated community, it's insulated from the outside "real" world, which makes it unreal: how can it be actual urban life if it is not engaged in the diversity and unpredictable drama of unregulated daily commerce and chaos? Seahaven is programmed for Truman's sake and for that matter for the entire viewing audience, no less so than the analog programming of Dark City by the Visitors for their "lab rats" and the digital programming of urban life in The Matrix by the AIs for their power source. All are very effective simulations, real enough to fool most of the denizens and citizens. Nothing, however, is original, all are copies of bits and pieces from other times and other places. This is the same concern that many urban analysts have expressed about the direction contemporary urban planning has taken.[18]

We can make you perfect, quickly
Another motif barely under the surface of these films is the notion of a continuing series of laboratory experiments to achieve desired outcomes. Dark City is home for thousands of "citizens" who are the actual subjects of daily experiments. The ostensible objective is for The Visitors to understand human emotions, but in effect the ongoing experiments offer simply one opportunity after another to alter the life circumstances of an individual and then trace the results and impacts. Truman Burbank, under the gaze of total surveillance, was also the object of frequent social experimentation, particularly regarding his romantic life. His birth and life were both a televised experiment, and his creator, Cristof, sought to video tape the conception of a new life on the show. These film examples are simply versions of the Deweyesque social learning paradigm: the idea that public policies are simply temporary experiments, to be tried over and over with different variables being fiddled with until the proper results are obtained. Modern planning theorists like Friedmann and urban analysts like Dunn have evoked this kind of paradigmatic imagery of evolving social systems in their explorations of contemporary planning and development practices. [19] Projects are like experiments. What are the effects of new economic development tax incentives? What measure could be taken of the different variables at work like public investment, transport networks, communications initiatives, or community development efforts? The idea here, and the idea in Dark City, is to measure what happens when some variables are kept constant and others allowed to vary. To some extent, this is in contrast to the approach utilized within The Matrix, where the electronic machinery in control of the life support pods was interested almost exclusively in stasis, in making sure that all variables remained constant at all times for the organic life forms residing in the remnants of physical space in order to keep the interior virtual life of the pod inhabitants in a state of mental bliss and "stability" so that they would continue to contribute electric energy and protein to the operation of the societal machine:

we are, as an energy source, easily renewable and completely recyclable, the dead liquefied and fed intravenously to the living. All they needed to control this new battery was something to occupy our mind. And so they built a prison out of our past, wired it to our brains and turned us into slaves. [20]

Yet in this latter reading are parallels to contemporary planning efforts that are designed to satisfy dominant capitalist interests by providing fertile circuits of capital investment to fuel economic revitalization, particularly after periods of crisis in the capitalist system involving overaccumulation and overcapacity. From this perspective, urban revitalization and renewal projects that are designed to improve the physical environment of cities and, at the same time, offer profitable outlets for capital investment and improved commercial and residential opportunities for citizens, can be conceived in the same way as the stasis-sustaining objectives of The Matrix. Likewise, it's clear that the overriding purpose of The Truman Show was as an ongoing experiment to advertise commercial products against the backcloth of "real" life, all of which were for sale in the Truman Catalog. The city is a packaged commodity, a spectacle designed to be consumed and "enjoyed," as an opiate if nothing else:

People forget it takes the population of an entire country to keep the show running and since the show runs 24 hours a day with no commercial breaks the staggering profits are all generated from product placementeverything you see on the show is for sale -- from the actors' wardrobe, food products, to the very homes they live in. [21]

Another theme visible in the films is the changing effects of speed on everyday life. [22] The idea that computer technology, or more specifically the confluence of cybernetic-organic technologies, could give humans the capacity for almost instantaneous learning of complex fields of expertise is common to both The Matrix and Dark City. In The Matrix, the surviving members of the resistance force are able to ask their handler back on the Nebuchadnezzar to download programs to, for example, fly a helicopter or to learn various martial arts. This is a direct descendant of Gibson's program straws inserted into brain ports (Count Zero, Neuromancer) that allowed his protagonists to fly jets or attack helicopters at a moment's notice. [23] In Dark City, the memory injections allow instantaneous receipt of new professional backgrounds such as police detective, hotel clerk, singer, pharmacist, or poor man to rich man. These ideas run parallel to the current popularity of distance learning, web based instruction, and urban planning simulations. In all three, the idea that time can be overcome is the key theme. In distance learning, people are promised they can "learn at their own pace," which of course implies "fast" learning, or at worst learning that is not 'burdened' by having to go to classes or wait an entire semester to complete a course. Web based courses are offered with the same implied promise --- learn as fast as you can, no doubt faster than what a classroom has to offer. Urban simulations of proposed planning projects also represent another version of the quest for speed embedded in The Matrix and Dark City. With virtual depictions of urban development projects citizens can witness the end state of what would ordinarily be a much longer evolutionary process. But using simulations, interested parties can "see" into the future now, instantly, and learn what a proposed project will (supposedly, and within the parameters of the rules of the simulation) look like when it's completed. The Truman Show's approach to speed, however, is in opposition to the other two films. The experiment in Seahaven unfolds at the pace of life, day-in and day-out, year after year, testing the patience of the "viewing audience" (not to mention the actors) in a fashion similar to the afternoon soap opera. Things evolve slowly because they have to, at least up until Truman has his epiphany, and speeds the game up. Then, at least for Truman, things can't go fast enough, and the machinery of control fights a losing battle to keep up.

The big finish
In the solipsistic city, we're never quite sure who's dreaming up the reality we experience. And at the end of these three films, while our ostensible heroes move on to "the next level," it's anything but certain that the reality they each experience --- their new urban reality --- is any different, or any better, than what they had. Truman steps through the door into the new (old) world, Neo flies into the blue sky, and Dark City becomes an oceanside resort. Cities are transformed, miraculously, because someone wants them that way. One version of reality is traded for another. Like the latest shopping mall or urban theme park, the codified thoughts of planners create new realities that replace what's gone before, seamlessly and fast. The solipsistic city lives.


[1] Deutsch, D. The Fabric of Reality. Penguin. New York. 1997.

[2] Beniger, J., The Control Revolution : Technological and Economic Origins of the Information Society, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1986.

[3] Boyer, M. C. Dreaming the Rational City. Cambridge. MIT Press. 1986.

[4] Fishman, R., Urban Utopias in the Twentieth Century : Ebenezer Howard, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Le Corbusier, New York, Basic Books, 1977.

[5] Wilson, W.H., The City Beautiful Movement, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Press, 1989.

[6] Hall, P. Cities of Tomorrow. London. Blackwell Publishers, 1996.

[7] Deutsch, op.cit., p. 83.

[8] See, for example, Mitchell, W., The City of Bits, Cambridge, MIT Press. 1996; Gershenfeld, N. When Things Start to Think. New York. Henry Holt. 1999

[9] Norris, C., J. Moran, and G. Armstrong, (eds.), Surveillance, Closed Circuit Television and Social Control, Brookfield, VT, Ashgate Publishing, 1998.

[10] Blakely, E. J. and M. G. Snyder. Fortress America : Gated Communities in the United States. Washington, D.C. : Brookings Institution Press ; Cambridge, Mass. : Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. 1997

[11] Bodie-Gendrot, S. The Social Control of Cities?. London. Blackwell Publishers. 2000.

[12] Gray, M. Drug Crazy: How We Got Into This Mess and How We Can Get Out. London. Routledge. 2000.

[13] Wachowski, L. and A. Wachowski. The Matrix. Orignal screenplay, available at April 8, 1996.

[14] See, for instance, Boyer, M.C. The City of Collective Memory, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1994; Hayden, D. The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1995; and Sandercock, L. Towards Cosmopolis: Planning for Multicultural Cities. New York, John Wiley and Sons, 1998.

[15] Kaplan, R.D. An Empire Wilderness: Travels into America's Future. New York. Vintage Books. 1998.

[16] Audirac, I. and A.H. Shermyen, "An Evaluation of Neotraditional Design's Social Prescription: Postmodern Placebo or Remedy for Suburban Malaise?" Journal of Planning Education And Research 13 (3): 161-173. Spring 1994.

[17] Zizek, S. 1999. "The Matrix, or, two sides of perversion." From Inside the Matrix: International Symposium at the Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany. Distributed via nettime, a mailing list for net criticism.

[18] Sorkin, M., (ed.) Variations on a Theme Park: The New American City and the End of Public Space, New York, Hill & Wang, 1992.

[19] See Friedmann, J., Planning in the Public Domain Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987; and Dunn, Jr., E.S., Economic and Social Development: A Process of Social Learning, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Press, 1971.

[20] Wachowski, L. and A. Wachowski, op.cit., p. 47.

[21] Andrew Niccol, The Truman Show, shooting script, available at

[22] Gleick, J. "Seeing faster," The New York Times Magazine, included in the series entitled "Old Eyes and New: Scenes from the Millennium," 1999.

[23] Gibson, W. Count Zero, New York, Ace Books. 1987; and Gibson, W., Neuromancer, New York, Ace Books, 1994.

Samuel Nunn is Associate Professor and Associate Director of the Center for Urban Policy and the Environment at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis. His current research focuses on the effects of high technology on economic development and the impacts of law enforcement technology on urban life.