A Defensive Incubator
This project was provoked by an event which occurred during the summer of 2016, involving the fatal shooting of Philando castile filmed and streamed live by his girlfriend on Facebook. I was particularly interested in the empowerment she felt at the time by having a phone with a video recorder. The project is underpinned by this moment, where surveillance and technology becomes a mechanism for self defence. The project explores ways in which the ‘incubator’ can act as a device which enables my activist to perform his duties as vigilante against police brutalism at a local and urban level. At an urban level, my activist repurposes telephone boxes around London into satellite photography dark rooms and surveillance nodes. These nodes in turn help him respond to events quickly and efficiently.
Who influences you graphically?
Graphically, I love the work of Perry Kupler. However, its more than just questions of aesthetics, its about the medium as a process. The drawing as a process to represent space. The collage as a process to represent space as well as experience. The process to reach a graphical style is more what excites/influences me.
To what extent do you think that’s this new level of technological devices distributed around the city under the form of traffic monitoring/surveillance etc could affect the way we plan cities?
This was a question that re-occurred quite a few times. In a way, it already exists within the city in a small form. Increasingly, we see occurrences where surveillance at a personal level is becoming the norm.
For example, policemen now carrying body cams, Cyclist with go pro helmets in case of accidents, all in the name of self-defence/evidence. What I’ve tried to do is give this phenomenon a physical form. I think what will be interesting if this was distributed around the city (inhabited by different vigilante’s), is that it throws up the question of good guy or bad guy? Yes, the activists start off trying to defend people through surveillance but at some point, I imagine the activist just becomes this annoying ‘big brother constantly spying in the name of self-defence. I don’t expect to see these hanging down the side of buildings at traffic junctions just yet.
What parameters defined the means through you construct these devices?
The construction as shown through the collages, is made from parts of devices/objects used for reconnaissance. Helicopters, Submarines, military submarines, drones.
This came from the activist character being imagined as your local mechanic who has over the years become good at pulling things apart and putting them back together.
The narrative of the project then posed the question of what happens if he decides to take up a vigilante role and creates the objects shown in the collage.
How does the use of collage help in giving a physical aspect we already recognise to these devices?
This was both critical to the project as well as destructive. It was helpful for the obvious reason that people could relate to the images very quickly and believe the idea. However, what’s not helpful is that the function comes with the aesthetic. Audiences see an exhaust pipe of a helicopter at the bottom and read it as something that flies! but rather its function was meant as something else. Access.
You neglect to show these as operable by humans but as stand-alone mechanisms, why so?
An important idea behind the project was that the devices would be handled by a network of activist. Once you start inhabiting the collages you very quickly start to specify to audiences, a race, a gender, a height etc. The activist can be everyone and no-one.
what dictated the choice of blue/pink colour palette?
The idea behind the blue (and pink ) was to add an element of realism/pragmatism to the project. It was simply trying to answer the question of how do you present something so concept driven (collages) as something plausible?
The blueprint as a traditional aesthetic was something I felt does this very well. It is aesthetic familiar not just to us architects/designers but also the public who don’t necessarily have architectural backgrounds.