Infrastructural Violence: The Smooth Spaces of Terror

An essay commissioned by The Photographer’s Gallery, London to accompany James Bridle’s project “Seamless Transitions“, February 5 – April 15 2015.

“As tracking shots and image pans move us through a sequence of locations enveloped in the computational veneer of synthetic architecture, the cinematic capture of corporate culture merges with the super-mesh of carceral space. A high-resolution labyrinth of empty corridors, closed doors, waiting rooms, and seating areas that “transitions seamlessly” into security fences, gated zones, and a secret court. The steady illumination of these interior spaces defies their temporal specificity as day becomes continuous with night. But this brightness too will soon morph into the black-hole darkness of a covert operation as we exit onto an airport tarmac where a private jet awaits, its stairway extended and cabin door agape.

There is something deeply sinister in the relentless perfection of these multiplying screen spaces emptied of human presence. Dread streams from their plasmatic pixels and violence lurks beneath their digital cladding. These are the unseen spaces of British law and order where decisions as to immigration and practices of deportation take place: Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre at Heathrow; the Special Immigration Appeals Court in the City of London with its architectural provisions for the presentation of evidence in secret; and the Inflite Jet Centre at Stansted Airport, a private terminal re-purposed after hours by the Home Office to deport migrants whose asylum claims have been rejected or whose biographies link-up with locations suspected of anti-western sympathies.”

Excerpt from essay by Susan Schuppli


PDF of catalogue from The Glomar Response exhibited at NOME. Berlin which also includes the essay