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Place Hacking
January 21, 2010 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Virtual hacking is cool but place hacking makes it core again, brachiating across scaffolding to get the shot on your Digital SLR that maximizes your flickr stats, raking in the google adsense cash and conforming to a zerowork ethos if we get pro at it. Sleep in ruins, sell your photos of disgusting shit to tourists. Rinse off in a petrol station sink and repeat. We are the nerds that finally walked away from their computers and we are behind that scaffolding covering the building you ignore everyday when you walk by it going to work, we just loved on that place like no one has in 20 years. We are psychotopological terrorists and we will shove that masterlock up your ass.
A "reformed archaeologist" talks about exploration of urban ruins. Modern urban ruins.
posted by Rumple (72 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
How do you simultaneously walk away from your computer and maximize your flickr status? I think this guy's ego is making him confused.
posted by spicynuts at 8:54 AM on January 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


Some of those pictures would have been really good if there wasn't a prat in them.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 8:55 AM on January 21, 2010 [10 favorites]


In fairness, 90% of the interview is straightforward and interesting; there are only a couple sections as pretentious as the bit quoted in the FPP.
posted by Forktine at 9:04 AM on January 21, 2010


Virtual hacking is cool but place hacking makes it core again ... We are psychotopological terrorists and we will shove that masterlock up your ass.

Buddy, the only thing you're terrorizing is the English language. Go back to watching "The Matrix" while masturbating furiously.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:08 AM on January 21, 2010 [12 favorites]


Forktine: In fairness, 90% of the interview is straightforward and interesting; there are only a couple sections as pretentious as the bit quoted in the FPP.

Yeah, the interview's okay. But have a look at the web site of the "surrealist archaeologist"... absolutely intolerable!
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:10 AM on January 21, 2010


Place Hacking huh. Apparently place hacking makes things core. It makes them core again. Fascinating.
posted by delmoi at 9:12 AM on January 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


*sputter*
posted by sixswitch at 9:15 AM on January 21, 2010


What we are doing is not supposed to be possible. Most people on the anonymous city streets don’t have their gazes honed to see what we see. We are mutants, neo-sapiens. We declare that the idea of no limits to the human imagination is old news.

No 90% could make up for that.

This is basically cyberpunk LARPing, except they believe it's real.
posted by CaseyB at 9:16 AM on January 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


nice use of the "poseurs" tag.
posted by xbonesgt at 9:23 AM on January 21, 2010


This is basically cyberpunk LARPing, except they believe it's real.

That sounds like fun. Can I use a shotgun? I'm a very technical boy.
posted by Leon at 9:23 AM on January 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


We are psychotopological terrorists and we will shove that masterlock up your ass.

This dude is a blogolinguistic terrorist. Looking at his blog's About Me he appears to be well into his 30's, and thus basically has no excuse for being such a pretentious ass.
posted by nanojath at 9:23 AM on January 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


I told you I was core.

with apologies
posted by Burhanistan at 9:24 AM on January 21, 2010


So hipsters are scientists now?
posted by cmoj at 9:27 AM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


In fairness, 90% of the interview is straightforward and interesting; there are only a couple sections as pretentious as the bit quoted in the FPP.

Having read 30% of it then dismissed it as academic-speak wankery, I don't believe you.

"Subverting the illusion of spatial exclusion"? Come on.
posted by spicynuts at 9:29 AM on January 21, 2010


If there is a line forming to punch this dude, someone hold my place please, as I'm in the line to punch Omar Minaya right now.
posted by Mister_A at 9:32 AM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I rapped with reformed archaeologist ...

I flinched at the first sentence of the article, because it sounded like someone's dad trying to be hip with the youth, after watching a few 1990s-era "urban" movies. Then it got to be a "film and an academic article," and I knew it was over.

I first heard of this notion as "building hacking" in the Happy Mutant Handbook, "breaking and entering without the breaking". It was less about taking photos to share with friends, but rather leaving a small, cryptic tag to show you were there. At least per the HMHb, building hackers were to re-lock the doors they opened, and not flaunt your activities. It was a personal exploration, not something to flaunt for the world. In parallel with computer hacking, it was more akin to gaining access just because you could, versus defacing websites for bragging rights. None of this "citizen journalism" stuff about giving people "a sense of how physically painful this work is." Explore the unseen because it's unseen, not because you're a badass. Or shoot film of your explorations because the world is full of beautiful things no one is allowed to see, but you've seen it and you want to share it.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:33 AM on January 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


This guy seems to be in a perpetual wankoffinous zone.
posted by snofoam at 9:35 AM on January 21, 2010


What qxntpqbbbqxl said.
posted by tybstar at 9:37 AM on January 21, 2010


I just hacked my egg salad by adding sweet pickle relish.
posted by Ratio at 9:37 AM on January 21, 2010 [10 favorites]


I have to give the guy some credit for flying that freak flag effing high. At least he's out doing something. He could be writing about his Wii Fit.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:38 AM on January 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


If there is a line forming to punch this dude, someone hold my place please, as I'm in the line to punch Cory Doctorow right now.
posted by Ratio at 9:38 AM on January 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


If there is a line forming to punch this dude, someone hold my place please, as I'm in the line to punch Omar Minaya right now.

We're not merely going to punch him.
posted by Caduceus at 9:44 AM on January 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey, if you hold my spot in the Cory line, I'll hold one for you in the Omar line, and we'll met up with snofoam around 3 to punch this dude.
posted by Mister_A at 9:45 AM on January 21, 2010


Hey, if you hold my spot in the Cory line, I'll hold one for you in the Omar line, and we'll met up with snofoam around 3 to punch this dude.

For a moment there, after seeing so many anagram and other joke subway maps, I thought you guys were going to catch a train or something.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:48 AM on January 21, 2010


What kind of person has viewed a number of joke subway maps sufficient to warp his perceptions of reality to the point where he doesn't see that we're actually joking around about western notions of Soviet-era ration lines, but instead of necessities like toilet paper, you wait around all day to punch various gits?
posted by Mister_A at 9:51 AM on January 21, 2010


I just hacked my ham sandwich by adding brown mustard! A jawdropping feat of breadcraft!

This mechanical pencil? Also a zit-popper. Hackery!

Yesterday on the bus I was a little sleepy so I wadded up my coat and used it as a pillow! Hackariffic!

That ham sandwich I mentioned before the jump? Gave me heartburn! So I hacked my wetware with a Pepcid AC! Jawdropping!
On preview: I see Ratio is still up to his hacking ways. Holy Hackery!
posted by chinston at 9:52 AM on January 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Virtual hacking is cool but place hacking makes it core again, brachiating across scaffolding to get the shot on your Digital SLR that maximizes your flickr stats, raking in the google adsense cash and conforming to a zerowork ethos if we get pro at it

One of the great things about opaque revenue sources is that people get to lie about them to look more successful.
posted by mobunited at 9:54 AM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I didn't know whether to hug this boy (for his enthusiasm for urban exploration, and for introducing me to Caitlin deSilvey) or jeer at him, until this line:

"We are in love with the ugly girl in class, the places that was ignored until we pulled out the camera and told them to look sexy."

Jeering away, and looking for the punching line.
posted by pernoctalian at 9:54 AM on January 21, 2010


Where I come from, if you want to punch a guy in the guy you zip through the drive-thru.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:55 AM on January 21, 2010


I laughed out loud at this one. What a wanker.
posted by w0mbat at 9:56 AM on January 21, 2010


He looks like that dude from the movie Chicago, you know, the palooka-looking guy?
posted by Mister_A at 9:57 AM on January 21, 2010


Wait a minute...

brachiating across scaffolding

Climbing? Are you CLIMBING across the fucking scaffold?
posted by cmoj at 10:03 AM on January 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


No parkour vids?
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:05 AM on January 21, 2010


On urban exploration: I hate that the two points of my life didn't ever really overlap; when I was breaking and entering (or not, depending on the site) to explore abandoned locations as a youth, and the photography obsessed adult that I eventually became. I could have had some really cool photos had I had a bit more foresight.

On this guy: *rolls eyes* You'd sell the activity better if you talked less.
posted by quin at 10:10 AM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


One of the great things about opaque revenue sources is that people get to lie about them to look more successful.

I'm actually gonna quote myself here (sorry!) and say that to be fair, this kind of lying is very hacker-ish. Anybody who covered early Internet journalism in the 90s, read Mondo2000 and so forth got to read and hear about all kinds of bullshit that capitalized on the fact that graphical Internet usage was exotic and lots of people didn't know how the thing worked. People breathlessly reported that there were virtual sex clubs using immersive teledildonics and that they were transferring gajillions of bucks in schemes that sounded ripped from cyberpunk novels.

This comic panel basically describes it. And this "place hacking" is the same dynamic in action, right up to equating shilling for one of the biggest ad agencies in the world with some kind of counterculture.
posted by mobunited at 10:14 AM on January 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I laughed out loud at this one. What a wanker.

I found this photo, titled "Grace," even more effective for that purpose.
posted by jinjo at 10:19 AM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The interviewer is annoying and talky and blah-blah-blah. The person being interviewed is absolutely fascinating.

If you read the answers and skip the questions, you'll probably enjoy the piece a lot more.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:27 AM on January 21, 2010



What kind of person has viewed a number of joke subway maps sufficient to warp his perceptions of reality to the point where he doesn't see that we're actually joking around about western notions of Soviet-era ration lines, but instead of necessities like toilet paper, you wait around all day to punch various gits?
Maps are an abstraction Adam, they are a utopic representation of nationalistic and ideological power structures which do not have a 1:1 ratio with the earth’s surface.
fight the power! also,
We do not want revolution, we want to create alternative spectacles (following Debord) that are just as superfluous but that, none-the-less, cause re-analysis, confrontation and confusion. We want you to keep hitting the refresh button to see what happens next.
I think this is why Debord killed himself.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:29 AM on January 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I dont' think you get to embed ads on your Flickr page in the first place.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:44 AM on January 21, 2010


It's like a bad imitation of Hakim Bey.

Ok, I haven't read it yet, but I wanted to get on the snark train before it left the station.
posted by mecran01 at 10:52 AM on January 21, 2010


It was less about taking photos to share with friends, but rather leaving a small, cryptic tag to show you were there. At least per the HMHb, building hackers were to re-lock the doors they opened, and not flaunt your activities.

If the idea is not to flaunt, why leave any trace at all you were there?
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 10:54 AM on January 21, 2010


Metafilter: "The experience of exploration is sometimes nauseating and frustrating, why shouldn’t the record of it be as well?"
posted by mecran01 at 10:55 AM on January 21, 2010


The person being interviewed is absolutely fascinating.

Yes, in the same way that egomaniacal people with poor impulse control usually are. Urban archeology? Cool. Exploring urban ruins? Very cool. Surrealo-theoretical approaches to geography? Possibly cool. This guy? Unbelievably wankeriffic.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:58 AM on January 21, 2010


Actually, at MIT, using hacking to mean "explore restricted spaces in buildings" goes back pretty far.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 11:06 AM on January 21, 2010


I didn't know whether to hug this boy (for his enthusiasm for urban exploration, and for introducing me to Caitlin deSilvey) or jeer at him

I'd forewarn you against hugging him, based solely on his professed interest in sleeping in ruins and crawling through weird pipes.

I wanted to get on the snark train before it left the station.

Don't worry, you have a ticket for the Blue Beaut. Not only is this snark train lavish in accommodations, it also is situated on a circular track. You'll always have another chance to catch a ride even if you missed the first opportunity.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:16 AM on January 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hey, if you hold my spot in the Cory line, I'll hold one for you in the Omar line, and we'll met up with snofoam around 3 to punch this dude.

D00d! You just found a 0day in the punch-a-prat queuing system!
posted by benzenedream at 11:22 AM on January 21, 2010


If the idea is not to flaunt, why leave any trace at all you were there?

Bragging rights amongst those who know. It's not a giant flashing light on top of a mountain saying "this has been visited," but a small note to anyone who comes later: you were not first.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:24 AM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is why I call us place hackers. We are the physical manifestation of the internet pirate. We are the TAZ. We have the corporeal skills of thieves amalgamated with minds molded by an internet ethos of taking what we want, when we want it.

Hey, gimmee that. Now. Gimmee it. Or I'll show you my mad corporeal skillz.

I am the taz.
posted by taz at 11:39 AM on January 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


His website...!

- He sometimes refers to himself in the third person as "The Goblinmerchant"

- "I looked out the window while I was doing sit-ups and listening to a lecture on Heideggerian phenomenology and noticed that this really locked down construction site had entered the demolition process."

- "I become suddenly righteous behind the camera, the paladin of the forgotten, running around the rooftop screaming and capturing every angle."
posted by Spacelegoman at 11:47 AM on January 21, 2010


So, the guy makes a point to say that it is hard work getting into and out of these places right? Then he comes up with the "zerowork" neologism? huh?


Side note, I initially mispelled zerowork as serowrk. I think I like the misspelling more. Hey, I just hacked the English language. Rad.
posted by oddman at 11:48 AM on January 21, 2010


"I become suddenly righteous behind the camera, the paladin of the forgotten, running around the rooftop screaming and capturing every angle."

Pfft pallies are n00bz.
posted by Mister_A at 11:49 AM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


"We have the corporeal skills of thieves amalgamated with minds molded by an internet ethos of taking what we want, when we want it."

So, you're physically precocious two year olds?
posted by oddman at 11:52 AM on January 21, 2010


Today we are all the TAZ.

I had a friend in high school who liked to put on his ninja gear and run around in the middle of the night. He regularly broke into churches and warehouses and then snuck around with one hand on the hilt of his katana being ninjarific.

I thought it was pretty ridiculous back in high school. I am quite a bit older now. Still seems pretty ridiculous.
posted by Babblesort at 12:01 PM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's like a bad imitation of Hakim Bey.

To be fair, even a really good imitation of Hakim Bey would be awful.
posted by rusty at 12:03 PM on January 21, 2010


One might be to look back to Deleuze and Guattari, to their concept of smooth/striated city space, to see urban exploration as a method of melding striations, collapsing the haptic and the optic, bringing deeper meaning to the spectacle.

Right you are, if you say you are!

fap fap fap fap fap
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:04 PM on January 21, 2010


His website...!

Oh dear Lord.
posted by Ratio at 12:20 PM on January 21, 2010


This dude is a blogolinguistic terrorist. Looking at his blog's About Me he appears to be well into his 30's, and thus basically has no excuse for being such a pretentious ass.

No one under 30 would misuse slang so atrociously. That shit ain't core.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:42 PM on January 21, 2010


Ah, I see you've broken into a church to take some cool gothy vampire photos of yourself. What an excellent post. hackburger
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:44 PM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Back in the day I did a little building hacking; we called it vadding. I remember hearing stories from one of the greatest, including swiping a mousepad from the Joint Chief's meeting room at the Pentagon & getting into the light room at the top of the Luxor in Las Vegas & opening a trap door that looked all the way down the slope of it. In contrast, this guy sounds like he swallowed a copy of Mondo 2000 & had a toxic reaction to it that makes him spew random words. I've known the best. This guy ain't it.
posted by scalefree at 12:46 PM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


"... makes it core again..."

Oh dear.

AM SELF-IMPORTANT. AM SAYING SELF-AGGRANDIZING THINGS. AM CERTAIN AM STARTING A LEET MOVEMENT BUT ALREADY COMPLAINING ABOUT NOOBS.

AM SO VERY VERY LONELY.
posted by clvrmnky at 12:48 PM on January 21, 2010


At least he's out doing something. He could be writing about his Wii Fit.

In Wii Fit, Nintendo denies textual dematerialism; in Mario Cart, however, it affirms cultural discourse. In a sense, the subject is contextualised into a textual dematerialism that includes narrativity as a totality.

The core theme of the oeuvre of Nintendo is the difference between gaming metaidentity and truth. The characteristic theme of this form of subcapitalist appropriation is a mythopoetical paradox. It could be said that the subject is interpolated into a textual dematerialism that includes art as a whole.

Subcapitalist appropriation implies that language serves to reinforce class divisions. In a sense, the paradigm, and eventually the absurdity, of cultural discourse depicted in the main theme of the works of Nintendo is not narrative, as cultural dematerialism suggests, but postnarrative. Thus, several narratives concerning the common ground between society and narrativity exist.

Debord uses the term ‘cultural discourse’ to denote the genre, and therefore the rubicon, of predialectic class. Therefore, the characteristic theme of the dematerialism of Wii Fit is a self-supporting paradox.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:06 PM on January 21, 2010 [12 favorites]


Sorry, my ancestors didn't evolve for millions of years so that I could start brachiating again. Hell, with my knees I can barely walk upright anymore.

Smartass...
posted by Splunge at 1:09 PM on January 21, 2010


Great! I love all place roguelikes!
posted by fuq at 3:22 PM on January 21, 2010


Brachiating: Brachiation (from "limb" or "branch") is a form of arboreal locomotion in which primates swing from tree limb to tree limb using only their arms.

I can see how that might be tricky on scaffolding.
posted by empatterson at 6:06 PM on January 21, 2010


'Dude isn't even Prime on this.
Someone should hack him some serious PHITD.
These guys have ETHICS.
Also a book that was funny, and engaging.Access All Areas.
Ninjalicious. (On RTA, he mentions Ninjalicious, but I still don't want to give him a pass, Ninjalicious was definitely not pretentious. Just curious about exploring the world around him. thank you for the book.)





.
posted by infinite intimation at 9:41 PM on January 21, 2010


This is supremely irritating, and more so because some of the stuff he references is fascinating in itself; I love a good mish-mash of geography and culture, and ruins have been causing people to experience complicated emotions-- and recording them-- since the 18th century (at least). But this dunderheaded macho half-baked half-understood spewing of "theory" is obscuring just how cool some of the ideas around this stuff are. I could do without the casual sexism, too. He seems both to have read widely but understood poorly.
posted by jokeefe at 11:09 PM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, you guys are harsh, sure he is throwing out a bunch of cumbersome language, and hacking is as tired as 'epic'. But I would have never heard of Hakim Bey without him, and he isn't that much worse. Not that Hakim is especially readable.

As far as the post, perhaps the topic would be better served with some alternate viewpoints. I love old buildings and have spent many a night exploring what was available, physically and far more often virtually. It is the only way to see some of the old asylums anymore.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 1:05 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


So yeah, I see the failures of capitalism and industrialization all on an almost daily basis and I’ve read some brilliant work that has tried to reason through those issues. A collapse of a building is also a collapse of corporate power structure, of industrial social systems. The failed company town stands vacant, profits drained from the mine, workers dismissed from their homes and lives as a result. We poke the corpse, probing the last remnant of life there, the underpaid security guards left behind to limit insurance lawsuits.
I think about this kind of thing a lot when I see abandoned buildings - at one time this was new. At one time, this place had a grand opening and someone had great hopes for this. It was something its builders put faith in to be a success and it just... wasn't. No one puts up a store or a restaurant thinking "Oh yes, in twenty years, this is going to be totally abandoned in ten years" and yet, so many towns are littered with abandoned store fronts with new buildings cropping up all the time.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:41 AM on January 22, 2010


I think about this kind of thing a lot when I see abandoned buildings - at one time this was new. At one time, this place had a grand opening and someone had great hopes for this. It was something its builders put faith in to be a success and it just... wasn't.

I disconcur. While some buildings get grand openings, others just open with the idea that someone wants to run their business in this part of town. Old, dated buildings are torn down, only to be replaced by new designs that will be dated in 10 years. "Building starts" are one key criteria that construction economists track, but to start something new, you need vacant land or you tear down something old. In built-out cities, that means demolition to make way for construction. For every one Frank Lloyd Wright or Frank Gehry, there are hundreds of architects turning out another building because it's a job that they thought would pay well.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:26 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only thing this guy is missing is a red cape, a balloon, and a pair of goggles.
posted by ErikaB at 11:11 AM on January 22, 2010


Thanks for the love and venom everyone, it is all appreciated. I find it rather amusing that so many are people apparently frustrated by the fact that I am actually out in the world doing something, as opposed to sitting in the library reading about it - that is the real masturbation, form without substance. Good luck to you all rocking whatever it is you love.

Wanking on...

-Bradley L. Garrett
posted by Goblinmerchant at 4:17 AM on January 24, 2010


Welcome to metafilter. I hope you stick around and enjoy the place.

I find it rather amusing that so many are people apparently frustrated by the fact that I am actually out in the world doing something, as opposed to sitting in the library reading about it

Cute, but that's not what was actually being said. There were a lot of criticisms of your writing as pretentious and goofy, but no one was saying "gee, how much more awesome would it be if he were to stay in the library?" Good for you that you are doing what you love and getting paid for it; too bad for you that your writing style isn't beloved by readers here.
posted by Forktine at 6:32 AM on January 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


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