escaping the lawscape

‘Escaping the Lawscape’ is a collaborative game devised by Professor Andreas Philipoppoulos-Mihalopoulos, artist Julius Colwyn and urban planner Liu Yang, based on the theories of the Lawscape and Spatial Justice by Professor Philipoppoulos-Mihalopoulos. 

I played ‘Escaping the Lawscape’ in 2017 at Heather Barnett’s Crowd Control Festival in Hackney Wick. The experience was a journey through outside environments that illuminated the ways rules and laws sit in the physical fabric of our societies. In particular the experience highlighted to me all the ways I am complicit in existing structures of power as I move through those spaces; how I am used to obeying these rules. 

The experience went through a process of highlighting the ‘lawscape’ as it is present in the space around us, and then explicitly asked players to reimagine and play with this space. While the work wasn’t explicitly technological, it made me think about all the ways technological structures sit in the space around us, and the ways we interact with them. 

In particular, when I experienced ‘Escaping the Lawscape’ I was made aware of the volume of CCTV cameras there were around Hackney Wick, and the presence of surveillance as a digital system that exerts power and shapes behaviour in public spaces. At the time, I was also acutely conscious of the growing number of pseudo-public spaces appearing across the UK, and the ways that these spaces position corporations as arbiters of ‘acceptable behaviour’. Particularly concerning and insidious is that in these spaces there is rarely any guidance of what rules govern the environment, there is a ‘culture of secrecy’ that surrounds them. 

I created a response piece to ‘Escaping the Lawscape’ as part of Crowd Control, and share that here as a response. My response An Algorithm of Deviance was created in 2017, and specifically responds to themes and questions as raised in ‘Escaping the Lawscape’ at the time, and surveillance as a corporate tool. 

If you’d like to read more about pseudo public spaces in the UK, this is a good place to start. The article focussed on London, but has detail that is relevant in other parts of the country.

You can also see more of Professor Andreas Philipoppoulos-Mihalopoulos’s work here:

Professor of Law & Theory, University of Westminster
Director of The Westminster Law & Theory Lab

Artist at andreaspm.com