Category Archives: city

Handbook of Tyranny: a guide to everyday cruelties

Handbook of Tyranny, by Theo Deutinger, an architect, writer, lecturer, illustrator and designer of socio-cultural maps.

On amazon UK and USA.

Publisher Lars Müller writes: Handbook of Tyranny portrays the routine cruelties of the twenty-first century through a series of detailed non-fictional graphic illustrations. None of these cruelties represent extraordinary violence – they reflect day-to-day implementation of laws and regulations around the globe.

Every page of the book questions our current world of walls and fences, police tactics and prison cells, crowd control and refugee camps. The dry and factual style of storytelling through technical drawings is the graphic equivalent to bureaucratic rigidity born of laws and regulations. The level of detail depicted in the illustrations of the book mirror the repressive efforts taken by authorities around the globe.

The twenty-first century shows a general striving for an ever more regulated and protective society. Yet the scale of authoritarian intervention and their stealth design adds to the growing difficulty of linking cause and effect. Handbook of Tyranny gives a profound insight into the relationship between political power, territoriality and systematic cruelties.

Animals slaughtered per second worldwide and slaughterhouse floor plan

Animals slaughtered per second worldwide

The Handbook of Tyranny‘s infographics and texts bring to light the nonhuman entities that restrict, govern and guide our daily existence. They lay bare a vast ecosystem of coercion that is (often insidiously) interwoven into the fabric of cities, of society, of every day life.

Some of these ‘small cruelties’ are engineering innovations, others are small design tweaks. Some are massive and overwhelming, others are subtle, their unpleasantness concealed behind a veneer of propriety, comfort or security. Some affect the existence of only a limited part of humanity (the refugees or the prisoners, for example), others target each and everyone of us as we walk around the neighbourhood, go on holiday or look for a place to sit in the park.

Bunker Buster

Prison cells

We might resent some of these objects and strategies of control but that doesn’t mean that will will automatically condemn them. At least not if we are told that they have been designed to ensure our safety and protect us from undesirable behaviour.

Handbook of Tyranny is a sharp, enlightening and beautifully designed book. It told me about anti-injecting blue light, urine deflectors that ‘pee back‘ at you and bunker busters that delay their explosion until after they have penetrated layers of earth or concrete. It also made me think about the responsibility for the authoritarian features of modern life: they do not reside entirely into the hands of ‘the powers that be’ but also in the ones of architects, designers, engineers and, to a certain extent, the rest of us.

Theo Deutinger & Lars Müller Publishers present Handbook of Tyranny at Pakhuis de Zwijger

Refugee Camps

Crowd Control

Crowd Control

Walls & Fences

Related story: Book review – Unpleasant Design and Design and Violence. Part 2: violence where you wouldn’t expect it.

Public Space? Lost and Found

Public Space? Lost and Found, edited by Gediminas Urbonas, Ann Lui and Lucas Freeman.

On amazon USA and UK.

Publisher MIT Press writes: “Public space” is a potent and contentious topic among artists, architects, and cultural producers. Public Space? Lost and Found considers the role of aesthetic practices within the construction, identification, and critique of shared territories, and how artists or architects—the “antennae of the race”—can heighten our awareness of rapidly changing formulations of public space in the age of digital media, vast ecological crises, and civic uprisings.

Public Space? Lost and Found combines significant recent projects in art and architecture with writings by historians and theorists. Contributors investigate strategies for responding to underrepresented communities and areas of conflict through the work of Marjetica Potrč in Johannesburg and Teddy Cruz on the Mexico-U.S. border, among others. They explore our collective stakes in ecological catastrophe through artistic research such as atelier d’architecture autogérée’s hubs for community action and recycling in Colombes, France, and Brian Holmes’s theoretical investigation of new forms of aesthetic perception in the age of the Anthropocene. Inspired by artist and MIT professor Antoni Muntadas’ early coining of the term “media landscape,” contributors also look ahead, casting a critical eye on the fraught impact of digital media and the internet on public space.

Krzysztof Wodiczko, The Homeless Vehicle, New York, USA. 1988-89

Matthew Mazzotta, Open House, 2013

Yet another book about public space and how it needs to be creatively defended against the attacks of rampant privatization!? I hear you but this one is not your run-of-the-mill publication on public space, i promise.

First of all because the authors. The book brings together the texts and views of artists, architects, critics, designers, practitioners and theorists whose work i’ve been admiring for years: Beatriz Colomina, Brian Holmes, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Andres Jaque, Antoni Muntadas, Metahaven, Timothy Morton, Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman, Marjetica Potrc, i could go on and on. I also discovered new voices such as the one of Matthew Mazzotta whose Open House looks like a private home but unfolds to create a theater that hosts free concerts, movie screenings and plays for people living in York, Alabama. Or Angela Vettese who wrote a long and fascinating essay about the function of the national pavilions at Venice Biennale in a time of gloablization, fragmentation of the national identity and questioning of what a modern state can be.

A second reason why i found the book so interesting is that it looks at public space through two timely yet often overlooked lenses (at least in this type of book): technology and the anthropocene. The section titled Ecologies extends beyond the environmentalist movement and looks at the new shapes and forms that public space might adopt in a geologically transformed and constantly shifting world. The last section of the volume, Signals, attempts to re-situate our understanding of and access to public space in a digital age characterized by information overload, social media, unbridled surveillance, blending of the physical and virtual but also by ‘post truth’.

Antoni Muntadas, This Is Not an Advertisement, 1985. Photo

Public Space? Lost and Found is a truly exciting book. It has a more optimistic outlook on the issue of public space than i would have myself and it backs its confidence with plenty of examples and thoughts that illustrate the role that creative minds can have in devising, realizing and redefining public space. There is enthusiasm in this book but also lucidity. Many of the projects discussed built a public space but only temporarily. And most of them are not the magical results of the cogitation of a lone, brilliant mind but of a collective effort that has often involved marginalized communities.

Public Space? Lost and Found originated as a symposium and exhibition at MIT’s Program in Art, Culture and Technology. But don’t let this seemingly theoretical background fool you: there’s cultural criticism, rebellion and backbone in this book!

atelier d’architecture autogérée (AAA) / studio for self-managed architecture, The EcoHab unit, 2014

Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas, River Runs, 2012

Otto Piene, Das Geleucht (Mining Lamp), 1998-2007 (Halde Rheinpreußen, Moers, Germany)

Marjetica Potrč, The Soweto Project: Ubuntu Park, 2014. Photo by Terry Kurgan

Here’s what the book looks like inside:

Inside the book Public Space? Lost and Found. Photo via abitare

Inside the book Public Space? Lost and Found. Photo via abitare

Inside the book Public Space? Lost and Found. Photo via abitare

Inside the book Public Space? Lost and Found. Photo via abitare

The HYBRID CITY 3: Data to the People [Athens]

The HYBRID CITY 3: Data to the People — Conference, Workshops and Parallel Events :: September 17-19, 2015 :: University of Athens, Athens, Greece. Call for Papers: Deadline for Abstracts: March 15, 2015.

Hybrid City is an international biennial event dedicated to exploring the emergent character of the city and the potential transformative shift of the urban condition, as a result of ongoing developments in information and communication technologies (ICTs) and of their integration in the urban physical context. It aims to promote dialogue and knowledge exchange among experts drawn from academia, as well as researchers, artists, designers, advocates, stakeholders and decision makers, actively involved in addressing questions on the nature of the technologically mediated urban activity and experience. The second installment of the Hybrid City, that took place in 2013 boasted seven keynote speakers, sixty-eight paper presentations and diverse parallel events, that were documented in the printed volume of proceedings.

Hybrid City Conference 2015 in Athens, Greece will consist of three days of paper presentations, panel discussions, workshops and satellite events, under the theme “Data to the People”. The events are organized by the University Research Institute of Applied Communication (URIAC), in collaboration with New Technologies Laboratory, of the Faculty of Communication and Media Studies, of the University of Athens. The main venue of the conference is the central, historic building of the University of Athens, while workshops, projects’ presentations and parallel events will take place in other University venues and collaborating centers and institutions, in the center of Athens.

The 2015 theme: Data to the People

So far in the 21st century, we have experienced a multifaceted crisis that’s challenging the current structural paradigm at a global scale. This crisis is not only economic; it is also social, political and environmental. As such, it has a very prominent urban dimension, exposing cities to a diverse spectrum of distress. Acute natural disasters -earthquakes, fires, or phenomena related to climate change; floods, severe snowfall, fires etc. - precarious access to basic resources such as food and water, lack of opportunities for employment, inefficient social services, e.g. healthcare and education, along with ever increasing unforeseeable acts of violence -a complex and manifold phenomenon on its own right- render living in urban areas vulnerable.

The third Hybrid City Conference seeks to investigate Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) as means of supporting more Sustainable Cities and Resilient, Self-Reliant Communities and for empowering Citizens. By proclaiming “Data to the People” the Hybrid City Conference adopts a citizen centered approach and seeks to highlight bottom-up projects and initiatives and processes of technological mediation, which assist individuals, communities and cities in responding and adapting to challenges. The Hybrid City Conference aims to offer insights into the complexity of factors that weaken the city fabric and affect urban wellbeing. Furthermore, it aims to investigate the potential of ICTs to support proactive and collective design towards future cities, focusing on real needs and away from a smart-everything rhetoric.

Hybrid City cordially invites papers both employing a theoretical and/or a practical approach that present concepts, case studies, projects, works of art and best practices promoting the discussion on the theme. Emphasizing the inherently interdisciplinary nature of technologically mediated urban activity, we welcome proposals discussing concepts or documenting projects of urban innovation, that through originality contribute to shaping the future of the hybrid city and offer useful insights to the hybridization process of the urban environment.

Submissions may critically examine the following topics, or suggest other relevant lines of research within the Hybrid City context:

. Environmental sensing and the Internet of things: regaining control
. Open urban data, capturing and visualization
. Environmental perception, cognition, immersion and presence in the context of hybrid urban spaces
. Psychosocial perspectives into the impact of locative and pervasive media use
. Placemaking, place attachment and place identity in the hybrid city
. New public spaces: From creative spatial re-use to urban farming
. Peer to peer urbanism: From open source to doing it with others
. Collaborative economies and sharing cities practices
. Urban self-reliance: Alternative collectives and support networks
. Resilience and sustainability: Emerging citizen-driven toolkits, methodologies and prototypes
. Artworks, and urban interventions for citizen empowerment
. Transmedia location-aware storytelling
. Performative bodies, gendered spaces and technofeminism in the Hybrid City
. Infrastructural fails and alternative communication systems: Critical perspectives and responses to stacktivism
. Autonomous, offline file-sharing and communication networks
. Open hardware and sustainability

Author’s Guidelines

Submissions should include:

. Extended abstract of 750 - 1000 words, (including references).
. Biographical statement of no more than 250 words.
. Keywords (at least five).

All abstracts will undergo a double, blind peer review. Selected authors will be asked to submit a full paper (8 pages), or short paper (4 pages) to be included in the printed conference proceedings. Further details will be announced right after the notification of acceptance.

Important dates

Deadline for extended abstract submissions: 15/3/15
Response to authors: 22/4/15
Camera ready full paper submission: 22/6/15


Please submit your contribution using the online platform.

For any queries or further info please contact us at: hybridcityathens [at] gmail [dot] co