Shane Reiner-Roth is a writer and co-founder of Tall Work (Instrumental Plausibility). Through publications, exhibitions and speculative projects, his work examines the means by which certain objects appeal to an economy of expression by communicating higher values than their own on the cheap. He is currently a research fellow at the MIT department of architecture.

Satellite City

Satellite City

Featured on City Vision website

Fall 2014

China incorporates the specific, and disperses the generic.

The satellite cities that cover China depict a country that has produced the world within its borders: a scaled Paris pried apart from its roots, a medieval slice of Austria rebuilt brick by brick, a Manhattan devoid of life... all while the spitting image of the Plan Voisin flickers by every highway. Beijing's satellite cities are often the exhaustion of ideas and their hasty executions; what sounded good at one board meeting are now limping monstrosities. Not always intended to be inhabited but rather seen as immense hood ornaments, these satellite cities impress the world by reproducing it.

Meanwhile, what China gives the world is the matter that we all ignore: the plainest pencils, anonymous tennis shoes, the most standard shipping containers you've never seen... China offers the world ubiquity at alarming quantities and accepts debased artifacts in exchange. And though it adorns the bottom of virtually every generic object you encounter between your bedroom and your office, the only place we rightfully expect the stamp 'Made in China' is on the goods of all the world's various Chinatowns.

The Chinese government recently developed a new satellite city for Beijing, aptly named The Satellite City (TSC). Modeled not on the western culture that China has adopted as its own, but rather on the generic objects that it has been known to export unceasingly, TSC is the first city in China that represents the country's contemporary face to the world. In its borders, mixed typologies are modeled after plungers and stacks of plates; infrastructure toggles through the three dimensions as the eye travels; and the names of neighborhoods are as coinable as “The Toilet Top District” and “The Chess Piece Corridor.”

Like those preceding it, TSC is unobtainable to the citizens of Beijing. Alluring it may be yet insurmountable to the touch, TSC is not intended to alleviate the population density of Beijing and is instead another opportunity to generate empty labor for a government eager for work. And though its perimeter - visible from around and above Beijing - tells a different story than the advertisements suggest, Beijingers yearn for it and to break apart from the masses. They wish to forge a relationship with TSC, yet find their love unrequited.

The following is from an advertisement for the Beijing Beautytek Plastic Surgery Center in Zhiyin Magazine:

“Looking to get to The Satellite City but can’t quite make it? Find information on highly trained board-certified plastic surgeons in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery in Beijing. Our surgeons have been trained to practice rhinoplasty with your preference of tape dispenser, waffle cone, clothes hanger, and light bulb...Other surgeries have covered: wine bottle lifts, teacup tucks, and several types of augmentation such as arm/plunger, leg/screwdriver, and torso/bicycle frame.

We help you be the city you want to live in.”


I Was An Important House That Day

I Was An Important House That Day

Figural Monuments