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So cial narrations of public space T he power of t he v iew poi nt

by Stamatina Liagki

tutors: Robin Jenkins Shibboleth Shechter course director: Kenneth Wilder

Chelsea college of Art & Design MA Interior and Spatial Design Academic year 2011-’12

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contents

Introduction

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Power and urban planning

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Determination of the axis

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Affecting the city symbols

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Joining the House of the Parliament with the civic square

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A public speaking machine

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Monolithic aesthetic

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Becoming underground: ‘the public phantoms’

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Seven days to remember

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Conclusion; site-specificity and political space

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‘The public phantoms’ : the narrative

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The final piece_capturing the experience of public speaking

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References

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General bibliography

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Online resources

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Images Acknowledgements

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Photo album: One day in Athens_ April 2012

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This book is an attempt to reconsider public design, as a dynamic act that could potentially challenge or question existing power relationships in urban space. I will talk about the relation between planning and power and how the visual narratives of public space can help us interpret our society. In addition, I will posit the idea that the human viewpoint and ‘what is seen’ from different physical locations can be a decisive factor in public design, suggesting that the visual relationship between the design element and the existing environment is dynamic, creates contrasts, analogies and possibly, infers meaning to the viewer-observer. These three points compose the “prelude” of a politically driven project unfolding at the civic square -Constitution square- before the building of the Greek Parliament in Athens, Greece. My research focuses on the civic square before the House of the Parliament, as a space of social and historic importance and also as a changing landscape where social powers are engaged in a fierce battle. The ultimate purpose of this project is to propose an installation located on on the space of the square that draws inspiration by the natural and social qualities of the surroundings and stands critically before the House of the Parlia-

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Introduction

“The Greek state (and in this is not alone) is turning fast into what Agamben called the “spectacular-democratic state”, “the final stage in the evolution of the state-form – the ruinous stage toward which monarchies and republics, tyrannies and democracies, racist regimes and progressive regimes are all rushing’’

The contemporary political scene, as has been shaped since 20081 in Greece, is defined by a series of events. “The rusty wheels of history have gone into delirious spinning. Until a few years ago, most of us would have not expected to ever witness the series of events that have since been unfolding before our eyes: the 2008 revolt; the strike-back of the state and its normality in its counter-insurrection operation that followed; the IMF/EU/ECB agreement and the misery it entailed for so many, so fast.”(Vradis, 2011) Being both a passive and active observer of this socio-economic crisis, marked by the struggles of hundreds of people fighting in the streets, it is hard to avoid bringing to mind the same images; Riots, protests, fires and then it ends....and it starts again. In the dawn of those events, one building is the absolute protagonist of the days, the House of the Parliament. Situated in the city centre of Athens before the Constitution (Syntagma) Square, the building counts 166 years of history and has always been the ‘setting’ of a fierce political discourse of monarchies, a civil war, a dictatorship, all succeeded by a democratic regime. The new social reality has three main ingredients: ‘a square2, a city, a people in spectacular turmoil’.(Vradis, 2011) Drawing from a spatial point of view, Constitution Square inevitably sometimes, reminds me of a massive theatrical stage where the same play is on, yet the ‘background’ remains the same; it is the House of the Parliament with its impos-

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Antonis Vradis 1

ing façade, always there, above all, from a Royal palace to a House of democracy, representing today a government with no clear political identity.

We have come to the point that ‘no longer matters what fraction of the unified parliamentary party is in power, and it is starting to matter less whether parliament exists at all’ (Vradis 2011, p.65) Within this social framework, Constitution Square has transformed into a dynamic ‘stage’, where the social forces of the country interact with space. As the sociologist D. Davis mentions: “Social protests are physical and political performances that unfold in and on certain ‘stages’, whose very essence will build on the ways that territorial locations have been designed or can be appropriated, represented, or re-arranged to embody power and its discontents, and whose long-term impact can change the meanings of place and space.”3 (urban design-civil protest, 2008)

1 In the book of D. Dalakoglou and A. Vradi, the December 6th of 2008 is highlighted as a key point for the crisis that followed. That day was marked by the assassination of a 15-years old boy by a riot policeman in central Athens. “The December revolt was the precise moment when an entire generation awoke to the realisation that the muted stories of the past had always been part of the present.” (D. Dalakoglou, A. Vradis , 2011 p.13-14) 2 Meaning the ‘Constitution’ or ‘Syntagma’ square which is situated before the House of the Hellenic Parliament, next to the Parliament’s square. 3 This is an abstract from the preface of an exhibition’s booklet entitled ‘Urban design & Civil Protest’, designed and curated by the Architect and Urban designer Tali Hatuka.(urban design-civil protest, 2008)


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Before the House of the Greek Parliament_ December 2008, photoŠ SuperHeroshima


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VieView of Constitution square on the night of the 5th June 2011


Power and urban planning

I will begin by introducing the idea that power shapes the urban planning, contemplating on the spatial features of my site. Completed in 1843, the current House of the Parliament was first designated as a house of the Greek monarchs. It is built in the foothills of Lycabettus Mountain, at the highest spot of the city, right in the junction of the two main boulevards. The building is placed on the axis of one of the most popular pedestrian roads -Ermou str- that leads to the historic centre of the city, whilst the height difference between the parliamentary building and the rest of the city creates a strong view of the building to those who approach it from below. The location of the building was strategically chosen (Viriraki, 2007), while two more possible locations had already been rejected at that time, the one of which was the rock of the Acropolis. It was built to be seen and see everything, right opposite of the Acropolis, the building became a power symbol of the new capital. “…this new city must, on the one hand, be a rationalistic City-Machine, functioning without impediments, expressing the myth of total control and total planning, a city which functions effectively and, on the other hand, a City-Centre, the Capital of a State—that is, the Centre of Power, a material point for the input of information and the output of directives, as well as the Symbolic Centre, the hub of organization for the realm of the nation-state”. (eie. 2012) Such understanding of the tie between power and space is outlined in the work of M. Foucault which has been cited from many planning theorists in the past.4 In his book ‘Discipline and 12

punish’, he suggests that power is integrated and inevitable in the process of planning and in many cases is employed for certain purposes that sustain power structures (Flyvbjerg and Richardson, 2002); He uses as an example the Penitentiary Panopticon of J. Bentham, in order to suggest that the central viewpoint of the tower- the ‘eye of the wardens’- represents the centralisation of power in modern age, ‘the principle that power should be visible and unverifiable’ (Foucault, 1975, p.201). Foucault makes also an insightful comment, discussing the work of Julius (Foucault, 1975, p.216) on the interplay between the social powers and built environment in modern age; juxtaposing it with the architecture in Ancient Greece, he says: ‘In a society in which the principal elements are no longer the community or public life, but, on the one hand, private individuals and, on the other hand, the state,…the building and distribution of buildings intended to observe a great multitude of men at the same time …We are much less Greeks than we believe. We are neither in the amphitheatre, nor on the stage, but in the panoptic machine, invested by its effects of power...’ (Foucault, 1975, pp.216-7)

4 Theorists like Yiftachel, Flyvbjerg, Roweis and Marcuse (Flyvbjerg and Richardson, 2002)


Power and urban planning

The plan of Athens as modified by Gaertner (1835) and Hoch (1837) with the Royal Palace (current House of the Parliament) in the eastern side of the city.

“A building circular... The prisoners in their cells, occupying the circumference—The officers in the centre. By blinds and other contrivances, the Inspectors concealed... from the observation of the prisoners: hence the sentiment of a sort of omnipresence—The whole circuit reviewable with little, or... without any, change of place. One station in the inspection part affording the most perfect view of every cell.” Jeremy Bentham

Plan of the penitentiary Panopticon from J. Bentham

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View of Athens from the Acropolis with the imposing Parliamentary building standing out, photoŠ Stamatina Liagki


View of Parthenon and Erechtheion from the Propylon (main entrance)_ Field of view: 30 degrees, photo© Stamatina Liagki

The rules for organising space in ancient Greek cities tried to delineate in his first book the urban planner C. Doxiadis.5 One of his main arguments was that the ancient cities, like the Acropolis in Athens, is not a static matter comprised of individual parts; it is a dynamic entity with no obvious design relationship, but an optical one. (Doxiadis, 1975). He wrote: “the ancient Greeks designed not isolated objects, as we see being done today, but the parts of a dynamic urban environment” (1975, p.4) and the determinative factor for doing so, was apart from the human scale, the human viewpoint. Doxiadis introduced the idea that we perceive the ancient cities as a whole, through the sequence of an organized revelation of its parts. A world of analogies linked by mathematical relationships based on the angles of vision and distances between the buildings.6 16

In both theories, the viewpoint not only determines the way we perceive urban space but also represents a different social reality. Yet question remains: Is the viewpoint of Foucault less ‘democratic’ than Doxiadis? And in the same sense, was the system of planning in ancient Greece more democratic than that of modern age which Foucault describes?


‘It was this system, known as the system of polar coordinates, that formed the basis of site planning in ancient Greece. The determining factor in the design was the human viewpoint. This point was established as the first and most important position from which the whole site could be observed; usually, it was the main entrance, which was often emphasized by a propylon. The following principles were used: 1 Radii from the vantage point determined the position of three corners of each important building, so that a threequarter view of each was visible. 2 Generally, all important buildings could be seen in their entity from the viewpoint, but if this was not possible, one building could be completely hidden by another; it was never partially concealed. 3 The radii that determined the corners of the important buildings formed certain specific angles from the viewpoint , equal in size on each site. These fell into two categories: angles of 30, 60 ,90, 120, and 150, corresponding to a division of the total field of 360 into twelve parts; and angles of 36, 72, 108, and 144, which resulted from the division of the total field of vision into ten parts. 4 The position of the buildings was determined not only by the angle of vision but also by their distance from the viewpoint. 5 These distances were based on simple geometric ratios deriving from the angles of vision. Normally, the foot served as the basic unit of measurement, and the distances used were 100, 150, or 200 feet or those based on simple geometric proportions that could be determined on the site. 6 One angle, frequently in the centre of the field of vision was left free of buildings and opened directly to the surrounding countryside. This represented the direction to be followed by the person approaching the site: it was the ‘sacred way’.

5 Doxiadis’ book was his doctoral thesis entitled, ‘Architectural Space in Ancient Greece’ and it was initially published in Germany, in 1937 and finally republished in English thirty-five years later. 6 The 8 principles of the ancient planning system according to Doxiadis

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7 This open angle was usually oriented toward east or west or in a specific direction associated with the local cult or tradition. 8 The building were often disposed so as to incorporate or accentuate features of the existing landscape and thus create a unified composition.’ (1975, p.5)


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Acropolis from Ares Hill ,photoŠ Stamatina Liagki


Determination of the axis

In the revised plans of Athens from Hansen and Schaubert (Viriraki, 2007), the central axis of the building extends approximately 2 kilometres towards the historic centre, composing one of the sides of the historical triangle of Athens (Syntagma- Omonia square- Keramikos). The determination of the axis makes the view of the Parliament’s building almost unavoidable as walking towards the space of the square. You start perceiving a blurred image of the building, half a kilometre away of the square, and as moving closer, the view becomes stronger. In terms of city planning, the axis is a crucial principle in the European Baroque tradition, the ‘Grand Manner’ as Spiro Kostof describes it in his book. (Kostof, 1993) We cannot actually “see” the axis but the perception it creates is definite. According to Kim Dovey, the organising of space and particularly the visibility and invisibility of certain buildings is a practice of coercion; “The subject is ‘framed’ in a situation which may resemble free choice but there is a concealment of intent.” (Dovey, 1999, p.11) As such was hinted at in the Nazistic Berlin, illustrated in the plans of A. Speer. “The new axis of the city was to be aligned with the Platz der Republik and to be extended 5 kilometres to the south” intensifying the view of the new domed Hall and the triumphal arch. “In Speer’s words, visitors ‘would be overwhelmed, or rather stunned, by the urban scene and thus the power of the Reich’.” (Dovey, 1999). The latter is a latest example of the 20th century that has never been completed. However, it is 20

Walking towards Constitution square_View of the Parliament’s building from Ermou street, photos © Stamatina Liagki

important to point out that throughout the ages; the axis has always been an ‘ally’ of the totalitarian regimes that in the subsequent years, turned into democracies. The meaning might have changed but the urban space sustains the notion of the centralised power.


Determination of the axis

The proposed north-south axis of ‘Germania’ by Albert Speer, 1936-1942

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Affe cting the city symbols “The built environment reflects the identities, differences and struggles of gender, class, race, culture and age. It shows the interests of people in empowerment and freedom, the interests of the state in social order, and the private corporate interest in stimulating consumption. Because architecture and urban design involve transformations in the ways we frame life, because design is the imagination and production of the future, the field cannot claim autonomy from the politics of social change.” Kim Dovey

The way we perceive buildings-power symbols lies in our daily experience of the urban space. Merlau Ponty argues that vision is attached to our body movement. “We see only what we look at.” (Ponty, 1964) and in the world of M. Foucault, what we look at is a net of power structures, part of which is undisguised and gets embodied by governmental buildings like those which house the Parliaments today. The connectivity between the optical environment and the social structure raises interesting questions in relation to the effect that can potentially have the first, on the way people perceive buildings-symbols of authority in a city. Such attempt is “echoed” in the Wrapped Reichstag of Christo and Jeanne Claude, or in the projection of Krysztof Wodiczko on the South Africa House in London. The wrapping of Reichstag which represents the German excesses of the late 19th century, was a gesture that aimed to alter the optical reality of the space and therefore the way it was perceived by the Berliners. ‘The project not only effected a kind of purification rite for the home of the new Parliament, but its two week life span forced Berliners, who struggle and fail to be spontaneous, to take part in the here and now, to sit, eat, sleep, dance, listen to drums around the clock. The Reichstag project captured the imagination and may have even signalled a turning point in the city’s attitude, a positive outlook that might be taken up by its new planners: for the first time since 1989, Berliners could let go, could experience, even enjoy, one another, could occupy a space they barely knew night and day 22

Kryzsztof Wodiczko’s projection of a swastica onto the South African embassy in London during Apartheid, 1985

- a moment whose memory left them wanting more.’(Rogier, 1996, p.66) In contrast with the Reichstag project, in 1985, the Polish artist Krystof Wodiczko, known for his projections on monument or cityscapes, was invited to make two public projections on Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square in London. While preparing for the performance, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher approved a large donation of money to the government of South


Affecting the city symbols

Christo’s and Jeanne Claude’s wrapped Reichstag, 1971-95 photo© Christo and Jeanne

Africa based on race under the apartheid system. The final evening of Nelson’s Column Projection, Wodiczko rotated one of his projectors and trained it on South Africa House projecting an image of a swastika over the pediment relief of a boat, which reads “Good Hope.” Although this guerrilla work lasted only two hours before the police arrived, images of the event were circulated and published in the press the next day. (wordpress, 2009)

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In one of his interviews on ‘The Method of Projection’ Wodiczko said: “We must stop this ideological ‘ritual’, interrupt this journey-in-fiction, arrest the somnambulistic movement, restore public focus, a concentration of the building and its architecture. What is implicit about the building must be exposed as explicit; the myth must be visually concretized and unmasked. The absent-minded, hypnotic relation with architecture must be challenged by


Krysztof Wodiczko, Civil War Memorial projection, Boston, 1986, photo© 2011 artandwar

a conscious and critic public discourse taking place in front of the building. Public visualization of this myth can unmask the myth, recognize it “physically,” force it to the surface, and hold it visible, so that the people on the street can observe and celebrate its final formal capitulation. This must happen at the very place of myth, on the site of its production, on its body–the building.” (Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory, 1983)

Even though the last examples have fundamentally different scopes and different effect, both successfully manage to influence the perception that people have ‘built’ over particular buildings; they function as ‘wake up calls’ that motivate people to rethink the order and meaning of things in their societies. However, my main argument is; what happens when a public intervention goes beyond of just being merely a temporal effect on the volume of such building? 24

Krysztof Wodiczko,Victory Cokumn, Stutgart 1983, photo© 2011 Artandwar

In an attempt to elaborate on this last question my work adopted a more ‘solid’ character and initially, the focus of my practice was to design a public installation-a permanent sculptural piece to stand critically on the space of Constitution square and interact visually with the building of the Parliament. However, as this project kept evolving, my proposal began to transform from a static sculpture, into a dynamic element; a network of seven elevating pedestals-seven public speaking podiums- centred on the space of Constitution square for to encourage civic participation and alter the optical reality of a space in which the House of the Parliament is now predominant. At this point, I shall begin introducing my work step by step as it was developed in the first place.


View of the seven pedestals from the end of Ermou street

A man climbing on the pedestal

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Constitution square, Athens June 5, 2011 photoŠ Yannis Mouzakis


Joining the House of the Parliament with the civic square

The public space surrounding the House of the Parliament has undergone major changes throughout the 166 years of its lifespan. When first built, in 1843, the public space was designed as a space to encourage social exchange; historic sources show that the citizens, used to congregate in front of the gateway of the building to assert their rights. However, in 1932, the addition of a monument to the Unknown Soldier formed a massive terrace wall of the broad, -the rectangular Parliament square-. Today, the space of the civil protest has transferred on Constitution square and the spatial ‘gap’ between the building and the square has become even wider(diagr.1) Examining the occurring spatial arrangements (diagr.2), during the days of massive protests in Athens, it appears that this ‘reformation’ of space, in a way, has delimited the public voice. The lowering of the Parliament Square, has transformed the Constitution square into a huge ‘traphole’ that makes it easier for the security forces to restrain and control the crowds effectively. This objective spatial situation triggered the first purpose of my project; to find a way to reinstate the initial spatial relationship between the civic square and the Parliamentary building and join once again its entrance with the space of Constitution square. The ‘answer’ was lying on the optical environment; employing the laws of optics and visual overlapping7, the seven pedestals employ a strategic location on axis that unifies them into a square block that optically ‘raises’ the space of the square to the level of the entrance but also

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Oil painting representing the 3 September 1843 revolution

The royal palace near 1900

creates a second reference point in the space of lost analogies8. Both the axis and the viewpoint (FOV) played an important role to the placing of the pedestals on the square and determined the way objects are captured in the field of view of the observer. 7 The visual overlapping occurs when objects or parts of objects block one another’s access to sight everywhere; When the overlapping units together form a particularly simple shape, they tend to be seen as one and the same thing.’(Arnheim, 1954, pp.120-127) However, visual overlapping, to occur with binocular vision depends on several factors like lighting conditions that cause the depth effect and also the distance of the observer from the objects. 8 Making a reference to the spatial domination of authoritarian buildings in modern urban planning.


Joining the House of the Parliament with the civic square

HP

constitution square

after 1932

HP

constitution square

before 1932

Plan of the seven pedestals centred in the space of the square within a 7 degree-field of view

HP

peaceful demonstation alignment of the police

HP

HP

when the protests begin to spread

during massive protests

(over 100 people)

(over 1000 people)

demonstrators

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Acropolis from Ares Hill ,photoŠ Stamatina Liagki


The Goddess of Democracy in Tiananmen Square, June 1989, photo© Cromarama

The attentive placing of objects in the public space often has political implications and as such was obvious in the statue ‘the Goddess of Democracy’ that was placed on the centre of Tiananmen Square, on 1989, by a number of art students.9 Seen from the axis, the statue, facing north, appeared immediately under Mao’s photo, even though it was located almost 200 metres away across the broad boulevard. (Dovey, 1999) The possible narrative function of ‘what is seen’ from specific physical locations was one of my main interests from the beginning of my practice; a strategic viewpoint that associates the de -sign element with its environment and creates a meaningful story. In my design proposal the viewpoint unifies the dispersed forms in the space-the seven pedestals- into a unified form and creates a dynamic realationship between the seen and the see-er10the observer and the occupier-. Against the ephemerality of the illusion, those 30

public pedestals seek to become more than a visual effect in certain lighting conditions; they compose a stand-alone ‘ornament’ that creates numerous visual assumptions as we move towards or away from the viewpoint and which critically blocks the view of the most controversial symbols in Greece.

9 The statue was modelled on the Statue of Liberty occupying the open centre and it was meant to appear and be destroyed on global television. (Dovey, 1999) 10 “The enigma derives from the fact that my body simultaneously sees and is seen. That which looks at all things can also look at itself and recognize, in what it sees, the “otherside” of its power of looking. It sees itself seeing; it touches itself touching; it is visible and sensitive for itself. It is a self, not by transparency, like thought, which never thinks anything except by assimilating it, constituting it, transforming it into thought”. (Ponty, 1993)


Joining the House of the Parliament with the civic square

Spatial analysis of the site

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The seven pedestals intentionally block the view of the Parliament as people walk across the square


A public sp eaking machine “Talk has not always been dealt with as collective action: The Western tradition has reduced it to words and its production to the sole speaker. Action has been neglected by a disembodied and abstract conception of discourse, often limited to its written final product; audience has been neglected by a privileged focus on speakers, forgetting the active role of hearers, considered just as listeners.”

Lorenza Mondada

Le MUR SONORE, Festival Accroche-Coeurs in Angers/France September 2011, photo© Benoit Maubrey

“Temple”, Sound Art exhibition at the ZKM / Karlsruhe , 2012, photo© Benoit Maubrey

“Public and public-spirited talk increasingly has come to be seen as the core of strong democracies. Communitarians, pragmatists, and critical theorists alike have converged on the idea that democratic legitimacy depends on the existence of a public settings in which citizens reason together about issues of mutual concern…Public discussion is thought to increase levels of civic engagement, the quality of policies, and citizens’ trust in political institutions.” (Poletta, Lee, 2006) We live in an era in which, modern communications have made the old-fashioned’ community structures completely obsolete and the physical immediacy of public talk has been lost or often subordinated to an awkward attraction -see Speakers ‘corner” in London.11 An alternative approach to public deliberation is identified in artworks like the ‘Speakers’ Corner’ by Benoit Maubrey12 (1991) or the ‘Democracy Plaza’ of Purdue University of Indianapolis (2010), but also in more performative art projects like Antony Gormley’s Fourth Plinth1 project 13 (1999).

11 . “A small area near Marble Arch in the north-eastern corner of Hyde Park, London, where a motley band of public speakers holds forth every Sunday. The name is relatively recent (it is first recorded in 1936), but the practice dates from 1855, when a large crowd gathered here to protest against Lord Robert Grosvenor’s Sunday Trading Bill. There was no right of assembly then but it was granted in 1872 and anyone may now indulge in soapbox oratory on any subject they choose, so long as it is not obscene or blasphemous, or does not constitute an incitement to a breach of the peace. By the end of the 20th century most of the speakers were religious extremists. In 1999 the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, announced his intention to set up ‘speakers’ corners’ in more than 250 British towns. Straw himself became something of an outdoor orator, frequently setting up his soapbox outside Marks & Spencer in his Blackburn constituency. ‘Speakers’ Corner is a mixed grill of apostles and propagators, of oddities and crudities, of fanatics and eccentrics.’ J.C. Goodwin” (Chambers, 2005) 12 Benoit Maubrey, since 1983 has been creating electronic ‘Speakers Corners’ [fig.]. These are outdoor sculptures equipped with a public address that enable people to express themselves directly to the public (Maubrey, 1991) 13 This project was introduced in 1999 at the empty fourth plinth in Trafalgar square in London. Antony Gormley’s purpose was to get members of the public up on the plinth around the clock, seven days a week, for 100 consecutive days. “It will be an experiment,” says Gormley, who turns 59 this year. “I imagine that there will be extroverts who will see this as an opportunity to do the biggest party trick ever. But I have no expectations. I would be absolutely happy if somebody got up there with an umbrella and just stood still for an hour. The idea is that this will be a portrait of Britain made out of 2,400 hours of 2,400 people’s lives.” s, starting in July. People could take anything with them, provided they could carry it without help.” (telegraph, 1999)

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A public speaking machine

One & Other, 2009 , The Mayor’s Fourth Plinth Commission, Trafalgar Square, London, photo© Antony Gormley

The above projects effort to readdress the concept of public deliberation in the modern era but in a way that lacks the most distinctive virtue of public talk;the reflexive participation of a speaker and an audience. In this project, the seven pedestals become a medium for the re-introduction of the collective function of public speech, as part of the politics14 of a country where the dialogue between the government and its people has shattered. The robust podiums become the dynamic parts of a ‘new-age’ public speaking machine; speakers can occupy the pedestals having a chance to be heard, while the crowd takes up ‘the active role of the listener and not just the hearer’. (Latour, et al.,1995, p.876)

According to Lorenza Mondada: “Public talk is a way of examining politics in action as accomplished by multiple forms by which speakers and audiences act to constitute relevant aggregates in front of a particular problem or a specific situation.” (Latour, et al., 2005) 35

Woman protests on the 4th plinth, photo© Tim Dalinian Jones


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Speakers Corner, Hyde Park London, 2011, photoŠ John D Fisher


Monolithic aesthetic

“If man has no need for the machine to live in his natural environment, he needs the machine to survive in a hostile one.”

I am still having this image of a man standing on a small stepladder, talking nervously on the global misery that latest capitalism has caused and I was thinking, how difficult it is today to get people to stay still and listen. But then again, it is always that first impression that engages people nowadays and the phrase ‘looks over substance’ is perfectly applicable here. My point is that phenomena like the “Speakers’ corner”11 are defined by an informality in the way they are presented in the public space which sometimes, makes it really hard to be taken seriously. Besides, that is the reason why public speeches, given by the contemporary political leaders always end up to be demonstrations of power with massive speaking podiums. It is not about conformity, it is a communication tactic and it is working. In my proposal, the seven podiums adopt the monolithic aesthetic of the concrete plinth inspired by the monolithic architecture of the bunkers 15, the “survival machines” as Paul Virilio calls them in his book, Bunker Archaeology. The extreme contrast outlined here, between the ‘fascistic’, warlike appearance of the pedestals and their ‘democratic’ use is a decision drawn from my impulse that design must be a kind of debate among contrasting views and memories like the same essence of the socio-political sphere.16 After all, in a society that the democratic values are in question and the social bonds have loosen up, maybe we need a strong statement on site to make us pay attention to people.

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Paul Virilio

The Watten bunker – V2 launching site: the first of huge works designed to harbor stratospheric arms, photo© Paul Virilio

15 The bunkers are a kind of defensive military fortification designed to protect the inhabitants from falling bombs or other attacks. They are concrete shelters and became the marker for the evolution of the Hitlerian space.(Virilio,1994) 16 A view that is also held by Richard Buchanan in his article Rhetoric, Argument, and Demonstration in Design Practice ( Buchanan, 1985, pp.4-22)


Monolithic aesthetic

Close view of the pedestal- the concrete shell with the metal details

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Be coming underground ‘the public phantoms’

“Democracy is a phantom of bodies, a deceptive illusion of bodies, the dynamic network of moving and acting subjects.”

Yoann Le Claire

The last phase of this project was the most challenging, because certain concerns arose in relation to ‘what’ this installation represents and how it interacts with people. So, what remained was a good scenario, to help me bond together all the small bits of information into a cohesive story; “the public phantoms”. Borrowed by an anthology by Bruce Robbins, the expression “Public phantom” is an expression of democracy in which all powers emanates from people but they cannot be pinned down as an entity and identified. (Le Claire, 2005) In this sense, along with the ephemeral character of protesting in our societies - “having a day off ’ from protesting, occupying” 17 (Mason, 2011) – my proposal adopts the same fleeting character and turns into an underground network of seven elevating pedestals, seven phantoms which appear and disappear under the norms of a plot according to which, briefly: The “public phantoms” have a dual function; they are both a memorial and a ‘new-age’ public speaking ‘machine’. In terms of the first one, the seven pedestals represent seven determinant days of fierce protesting when crucial events marked the latest history of Greece; in commemoration of those days and only for those seven days, the pedestals rise to their maximum height forming the illusionary block before the House of the Parliament; a loud statement, a reminder of people’s fights. The rest of the year these public elements are the dynamic parts of an underground installation of seven pedestals operated by the administra

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tors of an online social platform, through which people interact claiming an opportunity to go up and talk in public. 17 The bunkers are a kind of defensive military fortification designed to protect the inhabitants from falling bombs or other attacks. They are concrete shelters and became the marker for the evolution of the Hitlerian space.(Virilio,1994)


Becoming underground; the public phantoms

The pedestals at their maximum height

The pedestals when used as podiums (same level)

When the pedestals are occupied by the public speakers

It is necessary to stress that this scenario is the ‘adhesive’ for all the issues raised in this project and has a supportive role in my research. However, this story is the starting point for the production of a series of illustrations that depict the essence of my design proposal; the experience of space and people under given circumstances. Section of the pedestal-the elevating mechanism

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Seven days to remember

each of the seven pedestals represent a determinative day of fierce protesting that marked the latest history of Greece international press wrote:

6 December 2008

“Rioters rampaged through Athens and the northern city of Thessaloniki Sunday, hurling Molotov cocktails, burning stores and blocking city streets with flaming barricades after protests against the fatal police shooting of a teenager erupted into chaos. [More riots in Greece over fatal police shooting of teen _source: USAtoday]

5 May 2010 “Three people, one of them a pregnant woman, were killed when Greeks protesting against government austerity measures threw petrol bombs at a bankin Athens on Wednesday.” [Greek anti-austerity march erupts in violence, 3 dead _source: Reuters]

25 May 2011 “Outraged Greek youth has taken its lead from the Arab spring and Spanish protests over unemployment. Thousands of mostly young people have heededa Facebook campaign and demonstrated for a second night in Constitution Square,in front of the Greek parliament.” [Outraged Greek youth follow Spanish example _source: euronews]

28 June 2011 “Protests turned violent Tuesday in Greece as police fired tear gas in Athens to disperse stone-throwing demonstrators who had taken to the streets to voice their objection to austerity measures...Police in riot gear had set up barricades outside the Greek Parliament..” [Austerity sparks riots in Athens _source: CNNnews ]

20 Oct 2011 “Thursday’s protests come a day after a demonstration by more than 100,000 people degenerated into violence, with groups of black-clad demonstrators pelting riot police with chunks of marble, paint and gasoline bombs. Police responded with volleys of teargas and stun grenades that reverberated across the Greek capital’s main square” [Greek parliament prepares for austerity vote as protests rock Athens _source: guardian.co.uk ]

12 Feb 2012

“Protests have spread in central Athens, amid anger over austerity measures being debated by

parliament...Protesters hurled flares and chunks of marble torn up from the square. Some tried to break through a cordon of riot police around the parliament” [Buildings ablaze as Greek MPs vote on austerity plan _source: BBC]

4 April 2012

“Violent protests broke out in Athens last night after an elderly man committed suicide near

to the country’s Parliament building, claiming he was distraught at the prospect of “looking in the garbage to feed myself ”.” [Violent protests erupt in Athens over debt suicide _source: BBC]

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View of the illusionary block from a strategic physical location on Ermou street


C onclusion site-sp e cificity and p olitic al space

Rosalyn Deutsche(1992) arguing on the nature of public art, makes an important distinction between the public interventions that tend to assimilate ‘harmoniously’ in the public space and those that interrupt the existing order of a site, bringing into play concepts of publicness, spatial politics18 and visual representation. My practice, placed in between art and architecture has a distinct duality in terms of meaning and physical presence; it is a site-specific intervention that deals with conflicting conceptsephemeral/permanent, reality/illusion, democracy/fascism- so as to raise questions and challenge the very same concept of the ‘public’. Deutsche doubts on the actual existence of the ‘public space’ within the modern societies of surveillance and exclusion and introduces public art- architecture too I will argue- as a means to equate the public with the state by engaging people into a political debate. In a ‘political space’19 like Constitution square that forms an integral part of the social reality of Greece, for a design element to be placed there, cannot remain detached from the socio-political sphere of the country and also from the very same story of the place. In my opinion, it ought to upset the order of living-the daily experience of space-, so as to ‘force’ people to critically rethink the existing social values and relations within a social system that tends to privatize everything, including the public space. Of coure this project is not to be treated as a ‘recipe’ able to democratize the public space of the civic square; it rather efforts to describe a general notion that links inextricably three main points: 46

the design element, the public space where is placed and our bodily experience of the urban space. 18 Meaning all the spatial arrangements that conceal power relationships. 19 “The political space uses the aesthetic, disciplinary and biological means to put people in certain positions. It is characterised by conditions of control, by the markings of appropriation and by distancing mechanisms, which identify the subjects and stabilise them in the hierarchical (genealogical, and the like)relationships they have with each other ( for example hospitals, schools, prisons, parliaments). In the political sphere power can therefore be exercised and reproduced, whereas the public space cannot be cordoned off and controlled” Ludger schwarte (Latour, et al., 1995 p.789)


conclusion_site-specificity and political space

Riot policeman stand in front of a parliament as protesters throw back tear gas canisters during clashes in Syntagma square, June 29, 2011 photo© Petros Karadjias

“Your sole reaction was this sense of bewilderment at being together in the streets and an urge to do and write thousands of meaningful things that made no sense.” Dimitris Dalakoglou & Antonis Vradis

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the stor y

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The ‘Public Phantoms’ is a project developped within the frame of my MA research; it is a design proposal for an underground installation formed by seven elevating pedestals located in the space of ‘Constitution’ square in Athens, before the House of the Hellenic Parliament. The 7 pedestals –the 7 phantoms- have a dual function; they constitute both a memorial and a ‘new-age’ public speaking network. In terms of the first one, the seven pedestals represent seven determinant days of fierce protesting when crucial events marked the latest history of Greece; in commemoration of those days and just for those seven days, the pedestals rise to their maximum height forming an illusionary block before the House of the Parliament; a reminder of lives lost and people’s fights. The rest of the year the 7 elements become the dynamic parts of an underground interactive installation of seven podiums operated by the administrators of an online social platform through which people interact claiming the opportunity to go up and talk in public. * This is a work of fiction. Characters and incidents are used fictitiously to support my project.

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LOCATION: CONSTITUTION SQUARE_ HOUSE OF THE GREEK PARLIAMENT_ ATHENS, GREECE DATE: DECEMBER 2012

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SATELLITE IMAGE OF THE CIVIC SQUARE BEFORE THE HOUSE OF THE GREEK PARLIAMENT _THE SEVEN UDERGROUND PEDESTALS ARE CENTRED IN THE SPACE OF THE SQUARE

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PLAN OF CONSTITUTION SQUARE_ SPATIAL ANALYSIS OF THE PEDESTALS 56


THE UNDERGROUND NETWORK OF THE PEDESTALS 57


ATHENS_CONSTITUTION SQUARE 4 DECEMBER 2012

58 pm 17:00


PEOPLE INTERACT WITH THE PEDESTALS VIA AN ONLINE SOCIAL PLATFORM OPERATED BY ITS 7 ADMINISTRATORS

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THE POPULARITY OF THE ISSUES RAISED BY THE ONLINE USERS DETERMINES THE NEXT PUBLIC SPEAKER TO OCCUPY ONE OF THE PEDESTALS

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ATHENS_CONSTITUTION SQUARE 4 DECEMBER 2012

62 pm 18:30


MORE THAN ONE SPEAKER MAY GIVE A SPEECH AT THE SAME DAY AND TIME

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6 December 2008 “ Rioters rampaged through Athens and the northern city of Thessaloniki on Sunday, hurling Molotov coctails, burning stores an blocking city streets with flaming barricades after protests against the fatal police shooting of teenager erupted into chaos.� [More riots in Greece over fatal police shooting of teen: Alexandros Grigoropoulos _source: USA today]

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2 days later...

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ATHENS_CONSTITUTION SQUARE 6 DECEMBER 2012 21:05 66 pm


AT 21:00 PM OF 6TH THE SEVEN PEDESTALS RISE UP TO THEIR MAXIMUM HEIGHT FOR 24 HOURS

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ATHENS_CONSTITUTION SQUARE 6 DECEMBER 2012 21:30 pm

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A STRATEGIC VIEWPOINT UNIFIES OPTICALLY THE 7 PEDESTALS INTO A BLOCK THAT JOINS THE LEVEL OF THE SQUARE WITH THE ENTRANCE OF THE PARLIAMENT'S BUILDING

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demonstrators gather to commemorate the 16 yearold boy’s murder on the 6th of December 2008 but soon...

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ATHENS_CONSTITUTION SQUARE 6 DECEMBER 2012 22:10 74 pm


POLICE CLASHES WITH THE PROTESTORS AND VIOLENCE ERUPTS

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SMOKE COVERS THE SPACE OF THE SQUARE... RIOTERS ARE FIGHTING WITH THE POLICE FORCE WHILE UNDERGROUND... UNDERCOVER POLICEMEN ARE DRESSING UP...

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And a new day begins...

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ATHENS_CONSTITUTION SQUARE 6 DECEMBER 2012 22:10 86 pm


SOON THE 7 PEDESTALS WILL ALL DISAPPEAR AGAIN UNTIL THE NEXT TIME...

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The public phantoms Stamatina Liagki 2012

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The final pie ce c apturing the exp erience of public sp eak ing

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Pro cess of mak ing

materiality base: -raw steel plates -steel pole -aluminium tubes platform: - timber -sterling board shell: - timber lengths - plasterboards covering: -plaster with concrete sand -black dust -acrylic colors for the rust details

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process of making

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References

Dalakoglou D., Vradis A., et al., 2011. Revolt and Crisis in Greece: Between a present yet to pass and a future still to come. London: AK Press & Occupied London Virilio, P., 1994. Bunker Archeology. New York: Princeton Architectural Press Kostof, S., 1991. The city shaped. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, pp.209-238 Latour, B. et al., 1995. Making things public: Atmospheres of Democracy. London: MIT Press Dovey, K., 1999. Framing Places: Mediating power in built form. London: Routledge Vradis, A., 2011. A funny thing happened on the way to the square. In: A. Lunghi, S. Wheeler, ed. 2011.Occupy everything: reflections on why it’s kicking off everywhere. New York: Minor Compositions, pp.62-67 Viriraki, D. C., 2007. The Old Royal Palace of Athens. Athens: Hellenic Parliament, pp.17-31, 119-131 Doxiadis, K.A., 1972. Architectural Space in Ancient Greece. Translated from German by Jaqueline Tyrwhitt. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press Rogier, F., 1996. From the Opening of the Wall to the Wrapping of the Reichstag. Assemblage [e-journal] 29 (33) Available through: JSTOR database [Accessed 09 April 2012] Flyvbjerg, B., Richardson, T., 2002. Planning and Foucault, in Search of the Dark Side of Planning Theory. [pdf] Available through JSTOR < http://www.jstor.org/> [Accessed 26 March 2012] Polleta, F., Lee, J., 2006. Is Telling Stories Good for Democracy? Rhetoric in Public Deliberation after 9/11. [pdf] Available through JSTOR < http://www.jstor.org/> [Accessed 22 June 2012] Maubrey, B., 1991. Speakers’ Corners. [pdf] Available through JSTOR < http://www.jstor.org/> [Accessed 22 June 2012] Tali Hatuka, 2008. Urban Design & Civil Protest [online] Available at: http://www.urbandesign-civilprotest.com/curator.htm [Accessed 2 April 2012] O’Riley. T., 1998. Representing Illusions: space, narrative and the spectator. Ph.D. Chelsea College of Art & Design Ponty M.M.,1993. Eye and mind. Available through: http://http://www.biolinguagem.com/biolinguagem_antropologia/merleauponty_1964_eyeandmind.pdf Foucault, M., 1991. Discipline and Punish, the birth of the prison. London: Penguin Books Deutsche, R., 1992. Art and Public Space: Questions of Democracy [pdf] Available through JSTOR < http://www.jstor.org/> [Accessed 10 May 2012] Kwon M., 1997. One Place after Another: Notes on Site Specificity [pdf] Available through JSTOR < http://www.jstor.org/> [Accessed 3 November 2011]

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Deutsche, R., 1992. Art and Public Space: Questions of Democracy [pdf] Available through JSTOR < http://www.jstor.org/> [Accessed 10 May 2012] Kwon M., 1997. One Place after Another: Notes on Site Specificity [pdf] Available through JSTOR < http://www.jstor.org/> [Accessed 3 November 2011] Eie,2012. Athens in the 19th century [online] Available at: < http://www.eie.gr/archaeologia/ En/chapter_more_.aspx> [Accessed 10 April 2012 ]. Wordpress, 2010. Democracy Plaza: A Signature Practice of Civic Engagement [online] Available at: < http://adpaascu.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/democracy-plazas-a-signaturepractice-of-civic-engagement/> [Accessed 17 June 2012 ].

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G eneral bibliography

Habermas J., 1989. The structural transformation of the public sphere. Great Britain: Polity Press Arnheim, R., 1974. Art and visual perception. 2nd ed. London: University of California Press. Ch.2 Crary, J., 1996. Techniques of the observer, on vision and modernity in the nineteenth century. London: MIT Press. Ch.4 Gombrich, E.H., 1982. Mirror and Map: Theories of Pictorial Representation. In: E.H. 4. Gombrich. The image and the eye. Oxford: Phaidon Press Limited, pp.173-214,189-191 Lacan, J., 1973. The Line and Light. In: J.A Miller, ed.1977.The Four Fundamental concepts of pchyco-analysis. London: Hogarth Press Panofsky E., 1991. Perspective as symbolic form. New York: Zone Books Massey,L., 1997. Anamorphosis through Descartes or Perspective Gone Awry. Available through: <http://www.jstor.org/stable/3099406> [Accessed 21 Dec 2011] Berger, J., 1972.Ways of seeing. Britain: Penguins Books Ltd Collins, D.L.,1992. Anamorphosis and the Eccentric Observer.Berkeley: Leonardo Ponty M.M., 2002. Phenomenology of perception. London: Routledge Classics Charlson P., 1963-1964. Distortion. Art Journal 23(2),pp.127-129 Veltman, H.K., 1986. Anamorphosis and vision. Available through: <http://www.jstor.org/ stable/1348664.> [Accessed 24 Oct 2011] Adams, R.K., 1972. Perspective and the viewpoint. Available through: http://http://www.jstor.org/stable/1572377 . Bishop C.,2005. Installation Art. London: Tate publishing Ranciere, J., 2007. On the shores of Politics. London: Verso

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Online resources http://eliaserver.elia.org.gr/elia/site/content.php http://www.biblionet.gr/book/143090 http://www.biblionet.gr/book/143090 http://www.smh.com.au/photogallery/world/athens-protest-20110629-1gq3v. html?selectedImage=0 http://www.justseeds.org/blog/general/ http://artshiftsanjose.com/?p=803 http://artshiftsanjose.com/?p=803 http://news.kathimerini.gr/4dcgi/_w_articles_ell_100004_03/04/2011_437775 http://perastekosme.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/blog-post_21.html http://thedogsbarkbutthecaravanmoveson.blogspot.co.uk/ http://roarmag.org/2011/05/debtocracy-documentary-greek-debt-crisis/ http://artblart.com/tag/eugene-atget/ http://istorikesphotografies.blogspot.co.uk/ http://adpaascu.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/democracy-plazas-a-signature-practice-of-civicengagement/ http://www.vosizneias.com/86511/2011/06/29/athens-greece-in-photos-greece-violent-protest-intensifies/ http://www.gpidesign.com/_blog/Beneath_the_Surface/post/Thursday_Salute_to_Originals_ An_Illusory_Point_of_View/ http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/category/1-news/2-politics/ http://www.nlg.gr/digitalnewspapers/ns/main.html http://archive.org/details/constantineigree00hibb http://www.bln.de/k.weiss/te_wrapped.html http://stoxasmos-politikh.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/greece-memorandum-of-understandingon.html http://publicintelligence.net/greece-riot-photos-december-2011/

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Images Acknowledgments

p.9 https://athens.indymedia.org/local/webcast/uploads/metafiles/dsc_0870.jpg p.10-11 http://www.real.gr/DefaultArthro.aspx?page=arthro&id=72133&catID=3 p.13 from above: http://www.eie.gr/archaeologia/En/chapter_more_9.aspx http://merlepatchett.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/prison-art/ http://zgeitecture.tumblr.com/post/1584932621/presidio-modelo-model-prison-isla-de-la p.19 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_146III-373,_Modell_der_Neugestaltung_Berlins_%28%22Germania%22%29. jpg p.22 http://imageobjecttext.com/2012/03/24/projections-of-power/ p.23 http://donaldeubank.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/11_reichstag.jpg p.24 from left http://www.flickr.com/photos/63587895@N08/5928839707/in/photostream/lightbox/ p.26-27 http://theprodigalgreek.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/syntagma_5_june_2011.jpg p.28 from above http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3_September_1843_Revolution http://www.ebay.com/itm/1800s-photo-Athens-graphic-Panoramic-view-Athe-/250654566971 p.30 http://cromarama.tumblr.com/post/27982165951/mao-and-the-goddess-tiananmen-square-june-1989 p.34 http://www.benoitmaubrey.com/?p=1963 p.35 from above http://www.antonygormley.com/sculpture/chronology-item-view/id/2484/page/99 http://london.indymedia.org/articles/1832 p.36-37 http://goodphotolocations.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Speakers-Corner.jpg p.38 http://historyofourworld.wordpress.com/2010/02/15/bunker-archeology-paul-virilio/ p.42 The pictures are scenes taken from the following youtube videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZeGPiqOqUQ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9elalMetJM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ydu7tO_5y0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trDWC7UsvTs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zo2TgnKTI_0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOvwMRVI9Rk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xF0gQGqIodw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rshdJZruH_0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29Wqwgna09U https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1Ka4b0ohBU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-mp0cPHicw

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‘One day in Athens’ photos from Athens_April of 2012

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‘One day in Athens’_April 2012

Young immigrant on Constitution square, photo© Stamatina Liagki

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Performer near the Agora, photoŠ Stamatina Liagki

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‘One day in Athens’_April 2012

Performer near the Agora, photo© Stamatina Liagki

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Old woman selling balloons in Monastiraki square, photoŠ Stamatina Liagki

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‘One day in Athens’_April 2012

African performer in Monastiraki square, photo© Stamatina Liagki

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Tourist on Ares Hill, photoŠ Stamatina Liagki

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‘One day in Athens’_April 2012

Graffiti on inscription next to Acropolis, photo© Stamatina Liagki

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Constitution square, photoŠ Stamatina Liagki

Distorted logo of the former ruling party, photoŠ Stamatina Liagki

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‘One day in Athens’_April 2012

Graffiti on the marble column of Constitution square, photo© Stamatina Liagki

‘It is not important to stay alive but to stay human, Constitution square, photo© Stamatina Liagki

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‘One day in Athens’_April 2012

Graffiti’s on the National Capodistrian Univerisity of Athens, photo© Stamatina Liagki

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‘Freedom’ _demonstrators in constitution square, photo© Stamatina Liagki

Demonstrators in Constitution square, photo© Stamatina Liagki

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‘One day in Athens’_April 2012

Constitution square, photo© Stamatina Liagki

A vandalized sculpture of Constitution square, photo© Stamatina Liagki

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Demonstrators on Constitution square, photoŠ Stamatina Liagki

Young protestors in Constitution square, photoŠ Stamatina Liagki

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‘One day in Athens’_April 2012

Demonstrators marching after a memorial service for the man that shot himself dead on 4th Apri in fron of the Parliament, photo© Stamatina Liagki

Garlands, candles and notes of tribute, photo© Stamatina Liagki

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‘One day in Athens’_April 2012

Performer in Monastiraki square, photo© Stamatina Liagki

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Social narrations of public space; the power of the viewpoint