Accepted paper:

Lines, circles and blocks


David Burrows (UCL)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explores three kinds of political action in the UK - the line, the circle and the block (or the picket line, anti-capitalist encirclement of the powerful and the Occupy movement) - to discuss how different groups make diagrammatic interventions to manifest protest and revolution.

Paper long abstract:

The paper explores the diagrammatic aspects of three kinds of political action and protest in the UK from the 80s to the present, identified as the line, the circle and the block. The three examples are: the picket line formed for the Wapping Print Dispute of 1986, which like the miner's strike that preceded this dispute, failed to oppose financial rationalisations and modernisation; the Human Chain formed in 1998 in Birmingham to protest debt in non-western nations during a G8 summit, which is related to strategies of encircling power that an number of anti-capitalist protests employed; the Occupy movement and occupations of universities and swarming protests in 2011 that opposed austerity and an increase to education fees, through massing blocks of people in public places and buildings. To discuss these social formations, a number of perspectives will be employed, including theories of diagrams as social machines that capture or present forces as well art theories and practices that attend to spatial composition and discourses concerned with the production of space. The paper will draw on first-hand experience and observation as well as attending to communications and documents produced by the events named above to explore how different groups approached space and made what might be called diagrammatic interventions in order to manifest and promote resistance, protest and revolution. The paper ends with questions concerning future social diagrammatic arrangements in the period of AI and digital tools that introduce new forms of communication but also surveillance and control through diagrammatic means.

panel Pol06
Diagrams of revolution: an experiment with social and material morphologies