TIM LUKE AND BENJAMIN BRATTON: The Terrors of Design

New Sciences of Protection Conference: Plenary 3 with Tim Luke (Design as Defence) and Benjamin Bratton (Dissimulation and Terrorism)

Tim Luke and Benjamin Bratton discussed the architecture of safe living in both its actual and virtual dimensions. ‘Architecture’ is concerned with both the concrete material structuring of a space, but also with the projection of form, with a particular social-political-technical imaginary. ‘Architects,’ Benjamin Bratton reminded us, are concerned with both actual and possible cities. Discussing the architecture of designs for safe living thus involves a double-referent: to the actual architecture of the design and to the promise of safe living which is always to-come.

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YOUPrison:the notion of space used as a tool of punishment

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YOUprison: Some thoughts on the limitation of space and freedom

An exhibition curated by Francesco Bonami as part of the World Congress of Architecture in Turin from June to Spetember.

Twelve reflections on the limitation of space and freedom. Twelve cells on a real scale constructed by as many architectural offices at the Sandretto Foundation in Turin. To give visitors a first-hand experience of the burning issues surrounding one of the most difficult and intriguing spaces. With over 8 million incarcerated individuals, the prison population is one of the fastest growing communities in the world. The United States, a country with only 5 per cent of the world’s population, holds 25 per cent of the world’s prison population. America’s 2 million people behind bars represent the highest per capita incarceration rate in the history of the world, making prisons the fastest growing category of housing in the country.

via Domus and UIATorino2008

Workshop 5: CASA SEGURA by Robert Ransick

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Robert Ransick (Media Artist and Professor of Digital Arts, Bennington College)
Casa Segura / Safe House

Robert’s project highlights various issues dealing with immigration, border control, those who cross the US/Mexico border and those who live near the border. His work  can be seen on his casasegura blog and is currently exhibited at the LAND WARS exhibition at the Te Tuhi centre for the arts in Southern Auckland.

Cross disciplinary practices are his interest: he is an artist and designer and currently the Professor of Digital Arts at Bennington College,Vermont USA . He visits various design classes and positions his work in visual and fine art context. Borrows from strategies of design. Gets students to read social science documentation. He is very sensitive to the ideas that Dunne + Raby address in their work.

Addressing Fear Neuroscience institute visit, spent time to meet neuroscientists. Trying to match up with their disciplines. Learnt about the amygdala. Part of the brain that dictates fear and response. Preconscious. Amygdala remembers the pain from when you get a bee sting, next time you see a bee you fear the bee and the heart rate goes up, adrenalin, you flee. Fear is a terrific motivator and controller.Government encourages this fear to allow emails to be read, pursue surveillance policies etc. Politics of fear: powerful in relation to how our brain works. The subject of Immigration is now mixed with and correlates to Osama bin Laden to immigrants crossing the border and the fear of another catastrophic disaster. The US and Mexicio border in the South West runs along California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas. Interested in the illegal immigrants, crossing the border, the property owners and the larger populous and how we learn about migrants and border control. Robert concentrates on how we try to help the populous to think about these things.

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Workshop 4: Protocols, Procedures & Institutions

Read more about the Protocols, Procedures and Institutions workshop here>

Tower Hamlets Unregulated Zone
The Tower Hamlets Unregulated Zone

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A CONFIDENTIAL MEMO discussing the IF-POLITICS membership and duties of the Lancaster University Expert Assessors of Tower Hamlets Unregulated Zone from the UK Government Regulation Office, Division 3496723. Source: ANON

Distance, anxiety and built form

David Sibley – Geography, University of Leeds

I will talk about the anxieties associated with being ‘too near’ or ‘too distant’ from others. Drawing on modern re-workings of the psychoanalytic theories of Melanie Klein, I will suggest that some kinds of socio-spatial relations can be interpreted as manifestations of psychotic and depressive anxiety. Focusing on the problem of distantiation and the representation of others as shady stereotypes, I will discuss ways in which the built environment exacerbates psychotic anxiety and consider how we might counter psychotic tendencies through design.

Buried But Not Forgotten?: The Secret of Yucca Mountain

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Brian P. Bloomfield & Theo Vurdubakis – Department of Organisation, Work and Technology, Lancaster University

ABSTRACT: Yucca Mountain in Nye County, Nevada (USA), is the site of a very ambitious project to construct an underground repository for high-level nuclear waste. The object of scientific research and planning for over 20 years, and still facing significant political and legal challenges, the project aims to transport thousands of tons of radioactive waste from sites across the USA for storage at Yucca Mountain where it is meant to be kept safe for some10,000 years. Examination of the project highlights the relationships between social boundaries (proximity), language, and risk, geology and technoscience, in which the effort to realise safety materially (through the repository, and its situation within the local geology and geography) is complemented by efforts to communicate the dangers held within the mountain to the unknown (and unknowable) peoples of the distant future.

LINKS:

US department of Energy: Civilian Radioactive Waste Management

Yucca Mountian homepage

Peter Schwartz (founder of Global Business Network & wrote The Art of the Long View: see my FOSK blog entry) writes about the future of Yucca Mountain on The Long Now Foundation blog

The prison cell and the third space

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Happiness is Door-Shaped: Issues of Control and Safety in Prison – Anita Wilson, Literacy research centre, Lancaster University

‘Happiness is door shaped’ is a phrase well-known to those of us who undertake long-term sustained prison ethnographies. We hear it uttered by disillusioned, ‘old-style’ prison officers who are uncomfortable with contemporary prison policy and its ‘modern’ ideas of prisoner rehabilitation through socialisation rather than isolation. Happiness for these officers is achieved by putting prisoners ‘behind the door’, thus creating a protective barrier that maintains the distance between ‘us’ (the keepers) and ‘them’ (the kept). Confining prisoners to their cells appears to make these officers feel secure, protecting them from risk of attack, disease, or emotional attachment to or from prisoners.

Ironically, while not exactly ‘happy’, and albeit for quite different reasons, many prisoners are agreeable to such distanciation. What officers see as confinement, prisoners see as liberation. Time spent ‘behind the door’ provides them with a much needed opportunity for contemplation, for ‘personal’ time, and for relaxation. What staff see as punitive, prisoners see as a welcome escape from their day to day proximity to shouting, jostling, fighting, bullying, anger, fear and distress.

However, while ‘door-shaped happiness’ for officers is achieved through the single act of protecting themselves from contact with prisoners, ‘ door-shaped happiness’ for prisoners involves engagement with complex and continual acts of transformation, which take on any number of subtle and personalised forms, and respond to the status of the person and the place in which they find themselves. They identify some nuanced strategies for resilience and survival, that draw on the practices of social rather than institutional worlds.

This paper takes a look behind various prison doors to reveal how prisoners create some of their own places of ‘safe living’ as a way of countering the ‘door-shaped unhappiness’ of imposed confinement.