[-empyre-] spatial flow /spatial justice

Lauren Michelle Cramer lmcleod2 at mygsu.onmicrosoft.com
Sat Apr 30 03:25:29 AEST 2016

Johannes, thank you for a second opportunity to answer your question. If I understand correctly, you would like me to explain the social justice context surrounding these somewhat abstract issues of spatiality and architecture. (?)

This is a constant concern in my research and something I am still working through, so for now I imagine my response will only be gestures toward an answer.

So far we’ve discussed some architectures of black social life and collectivity that are radical and speculative. But I think this issue of context could be clearer if we talk about the flip side of the topic. To me, the terror of anti-blackness has its own very particular space and time (we haven’t mentioned it explicitly, but time has come up throughout this week because time and space are inextricably linked). I’d like to give some examples that have motivated my work that do not originate from scholarly contexts. First, was the murder of a 12 year old black child, Tamir Rice, in 2014. Tamir Rice was playing in the park with a toy gun when a neighbor called the police to report a person holding a gun in public. Only two seconds after Officer Tim Leohmann arrived on the scene, the child was dead. Lehmann told dispatchers Tamir Rice appeared to be approximately twenty years old. That means in two seconds the police saw Tamir Rice, aged him eight years, identified him as a public danger, and took his life. I simply cannot believe that everyone is forced to live and die at that speed although the investigative report after Tamir Rice's death called the shooting "objectively reasonable."

Another example— I live in Atlanta and one of the characteristics of the city that can be bewildering or frustrating to visitors is the lack of a traditional urban grid. Instead, the city uses a street hierarchy, which is intended to slow traffic in residential areas. This design create dead ends and over the course of several urban redevelopment projects poor African Americans communities in particular have been isolated in these traps of urban planning. Over the last decade, “the trap” has been immortalized in hip-hop music as the hidden sites for criminal activity and a symbol of a cyclical lifestyle defined by danger and precarity. Again, displacing these communities was part of plans that were considered objectively good for the city because they moved in the direction of progress.

These examples do not simply occur in architectural space. “The trap” does not become black because of the presence of black communities and Tamir Rice is not killed because his blackness causes a tragic set of events. These (fast and slow) forms of violence are initiated by the architectures of anti-blackness (what De Silva calls “universal reason” or simply “the World”). I think we could understand the examples you mentioned (the war on terror and the refugee crisis…) in a similar way— inclusion/exclusion and cause/effect are only the results of these architectural logics.

So to be more “concrete” seems to simply get the physics, the order of operations, down first. That has to be the first step precisely because (I agree) we cannot simply move to the side of these architectures, step outside of them, or even turn them upside down. I do not want to present a case for the end of capital in the concluding sentences of this email (!!!!) but I think the picture you attached says it all. When President Obama looked through the goggles he said, “It’s a brave new world” and that is not reassuring.

Lauren M. Cramer
Doctoral Student, Moving Image Studies
Associate Editor, InMediaRes
Editorial Board, liquid blackness
Department of Communication
Georgia State University
From: empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au <empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au> on behalf of Johannes Birringer <Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk>
Sent: Friday, April 29, 2016 8:56:42 AM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] spatial flow /spatial justice

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