iSlaves: Presentation on Foxconn
10 hours ago
Ringing the bell of the “high striker” at the county fair appears to be easy when the operator, frequently a small man, tries it. On the other hand strong men find it difficult. The explanation is simple. At some fairs, the machine is “fixed” so that the operator controls the tension of the wire on which the counter block rides. If the wire is tight, the counter block slides freely to the top of the machine, but if the wire is slightly slack, it vibrates sufficiently to retard the progress of the block. The vibration is set up by the player’s mallet striking the trip arm. A trick lever, sometimes hidden under a loose board in the platform at the side of the machine, may be depressed by the operator by standing on the loose board. By depressing this lever, the showman forces a steel pin against the bottom bracket holding the guide wire. This causes the bracket to bend slightly and reduces some of the tension of the wire. Thus, the operator may control the play permitting the bell to be rung or preventing a strong man from ringing it.
Rather than submitting to the authority of conventional spatial boundaries, movement became constitutive of space, and space was constituted as an event. It was not the order of space that governed patterns of movement but movement that produced and practiced space around it. The three-dimensional movement through walls, ceilings, and floors across the urban bulk reinterpreted, short-circuited, and recomposed both architectural and urban syntax. The tactics of “walking-through-walls” involved a conception of the city as not just the site, but as the very medium of warfare – a flexible, almost liquid matter that is forever contingent and in flux. ("Walking Through Walls")I am drawn to the work of those who are thinking about "New Military Urbanism" -- the ways in which the urban is not only a place in which contemporary wars are increasingly waged, but becomes an actual means by which war is waged -- but I have deep suspicions that there isn't anything new, postmodern or innovative about Military Urbanism. Flux, contingency, fluidity etc: these are all very familiar themes; however, in this case, transgressive postmodern spatial practices are not being celebrated, but are seen as increasingly totalizing exercises of military might. The mobilization and reconfiguration of urban syntax is an interesting feature of both Israel's 'architecture of occupation' in a colonial context, and the growing 'occupation movement' in response to home foreclosures and University privatization across the world. The tactics and strategies of occupation and urban militancy seem to be polyvalent: that is, they can be mobilized by either side in the battle for the control of urban space. But I wonder whether or not the resurgence of the theory and practice of what Gramsci once called a "war of maneuver" -- urban warfare and armed insurrection against capitalism -- is a sign that the issues of cultural hegemony and cultural "subversion" are being outpaced by the current reality of a long-term stagnation within the advanced capitalist world. The symptoms of this passage from the cultural dominant to the primacy of urban militancy are everywhere, and the spectacular narratives of the metropolis appear to be unevenly anticipating this shift.
Haussmann tries to shore up his dictatorship by placing Paris under an emergency regime. In 1864, in a speech before the National Assembly, he vents his hatred of the rootless urban population, which keeps increasing as a result of his projects. Rising rents drive the proletariat into the suburbs. The quartiers of Paris in this way lose their distinctive physiognomy. The "red belt" forms. Haussmann gave himself the title of "demolition artist," artiste démolisseur. He viewed his work as a calling, and emphasizes this in his memoirs. Meanwhile he estranges the Parisians from their city. They no longer feel at home there, and start to become conscious of the inhuman character of the metropolis...The true goal of Haussmann's projects was to secure the city against civil war. He wanted to make the erection of barricades in Paris impossible for all time...Widening the streets is designed to make the erection of barricades impossible, and new streets are to furnish the shortest route between the barracks and the worker's districts. Contemporaries christen the operation "strategic embellishment." (Arcades, 12)These two imperatives, to make streets more difficult to barricade by widening them and by displacing workers from the city core to the peripheral "red belt" and to plan the boulevards so as to ensure the circulation of soldiers from barracks to the remaining worker's districts are perfectly clear on a map.