16 May 2009

Shared Horizons

The warlike range of symbols on the Map of Watchful Architecture leads to it getting some brisk readings. I have printed and distributed many copies of the map by now, and exhibited it, enough exposure to have noticed this theme. Sometimes viewers aim merely to place the map, as quickly as possible, in their pre-set political views. For this reason The Map of Connections is in some ways more successful. It not only maps a new topic, it does it with a new language. This results in it receiving closer reading. It cannot be handled any other way.

The knee-jerk reactions are too bad because my map of defensive architecture does actually tell a shared story. I work hard to make it even-handed.

Sinn Féin's map. Section only. Monaghan and Armagh.

A truly warlike and now outdated map on a Sinn Féin website marks the locations of Northern Irish security structures. It is a limited view. The map has no interest in the historical. Furthermore it completely blacks out the south of Ireland, ignoring, for example, the Irish Army barracks in Monaghan (decommissioned recently as well).

Elsewhere on the Internet is FAIR, Families Acting for Innocent Relatives. They aim “to ensure that the great sacrifice of the Unionist Community in South Armagh will never be forgotten.” This website has a grim reactionary tone, it is a surprise to read anyone still arguing for the securing of the Border. Alternative voices are dismissed thoughtlessly as “glossy chat.” But that seems harmless when compared to headlines like: “Orange Halls Attacked By Catholics In Co Tyrone.” (November 2008) The vandals were not caught, their religion is assumed, probably quite reasonably, but does FAIR consider vandalism to be a religious rite? Surely “Orange Hall Attacked by Vandals in Co. Tyrone” would be a more correct description. Or, if it is facts we are concerned with, then simply: “Orange Hall Attacked in Co. Tyrone.”

FAIR's map of security, south Armagh.

The FAIR website has a map of security structures too. They would prefer the watchtowers and checkpoints were still in place. They say it “is madness to reduce the level of security.” But, and this brings me back to defensive architecture being a shared past, where did they get their map? They lifted it from the Sinn Féin website. They just changed Sinn Féin’s oppressive term “spy post” to a friendly “surveillance tower.” On my map I call them watchtowers but whatever they are called, they are a common story.