Doomsday Cartography

In political spaces and imaginaries, a sense of doom can make cooperative acts of refusal and exodus legible as strategies for survival. But this potential of doom is not exclusive to fugitive communities and undercommons – doom is also an inspiration for systems of control that perpetuate its conditions. This is exhibited by speculative scenarios devised by the Pentagon – from its »Counter-Zombie Dominance« plan to its cinematic descriptions of a future of crime and need in »Urban Future, the Emerging Complexity« – which use doom as a backdrop to strategize counterinsurgency operations.

Peter Polack / Los Angeles, CA, US — Dez 15, 2020

For the web residency, I propose a response to these doomsday scenarios that draws out their potential for new beginnings. To do so, I will develop an annotated map that takes place in the world envisioned by speculators of counter-insurgency, which appropriates fragments of their language about »adversaries« and imagery of reclaimed urban infrastructures. Instead of replicating their fear of growing mobs, underground passageways, and complexity, I will highlight the opportunities that specific doomsday scenarios give us for new means of association and perception. Drawing from my experiences with antipolitics and chronic illness, I will subvert the militaristic view of doomsday with the perspective of a persona innovating to navigate it. To ensure accessibility, I will implement an interface that enables cycling through elements of the map, which will each be described in text and audio.

Peter Polack

Peter Polack is a designer and PhD candidate at the Department of Information Studies at the University of California (UCLA), Los Angeles/USA. His work and research address how technical systems are designed to inform our perception, and the role of art-making in illustrating what technology makes perceptible. This focus is informed by his background in game design and data visualization, and by his work with the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, a grassroots organization that analyzes the social impacts of police surveillance systems.

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